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CW94: Tonny Van Dijk vs Tomek Langowski

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Europe's finest MMA stars went to war at CW94 in Belgium on June 16th 2018, a night which saw athletes from 8 European countries battle on the biggest card the country had ever seen.

Check out this pro prelim bout between Tonny Van Dijk and Tomek Langowski.

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CW94: Leah McCourt vs Manon Fiorot

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Europe's finest MMA stars went to war at CW94 in Belgium on June 16th 2018, a night which saw athletes from 8 European countries battle on the biggest card the country had ever seen.

Check out this pro prelim bout between Leah McCourt and Manon Fiorot.

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Yan entering UFC at ‘perfect time’

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By Thomas Gerbasi
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The buzz has been building about Petr Yan for a while now, and it’s only going to get louder as the time ticks down to the Russian bantamweight’s UFC debut against Teruto Ishihara on Saturday.

And though Yan has heard all about the first-time UFC jitters, the 25-year-old is calm, cool and collected at the moment.

“I don't really have any nerves right now but, of course, closer to the date it may start bothering me,” said Yan through a translator. “I will focus on not thinking about it and I believe once the Octagon door shuts, there will be no nerves.”

Nerves have not been an issue for the Omsk product as of yet in a career in which he’s won eight of his nine bouts, avenging his lone split decision loss to Magomed Magomedov last year. And with that business settled, Yan got his call to the big show.

“I feel this is the perfect time,” he said. “I won and defended the belt in my previous organization (ACB), proved that I'm the best there and now I'm ready to crash the rankings in the UFC.”

Yan is an ambitious sort, coming a long way in less than five years as a pro, but he’s no combat sports neophyte, having become a Master of Sport in Boxing, a sport he competed in since the age of 13. But seven years after putting the gloves on for the first time, he moved to a new pair of gloves in the world of MMA.

“I saw more career potential in MMA rather than in boxing,” he said. “The fact that in MMA you can strike, wrestle or go for submissions, the richness of available techniques, and the opportunity to mix it up makes it very attractive. I fell in love with this sport from the beginning and I enjoy doing it.”

And he’s good at it, making him a welcome addition to the roster’s ever-growing lineup of elite Russian fighters like lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and Alexander Volkov.

“Russia always had a rich history in combat sports and a good base in amateur sports,” Yan said. “And MMA is becoming more and more popular. In fact, only soccer is more popular than MMA in my country. MMA been developing for a while in Russia now, so seeing more Russian fighters doing well in UFC is a logical outcome. But I think it's only beginning and more Russian fighters will make their mark in UFC.”

Sounds like perfect timing for the UFC’s first visit to Russia in September, and if Yan has his way, he’ll win on Saturday, come out unscathed and make a quick turnaround to fight in Moscow.

“I think it's an important first step and hopefully more events will follow,” he said. “It will mean a lot and I really hope to be the part of the first UFC card in Russia.”

But first up, it’s Ishihara in Singapore. And “No Mercy” will be bringing the heat.

“Expect a high-paced, exciting fight from me,” Yan said. “I will try to make a good first impression and go for the finish.”

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By Thomas Gerbasi
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Historic night for UFC hopefuls on Week 2 of DWTNCS

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By E. Spencer Kyte
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Fresh off an entertaining start to its second season, the action on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series continued this week with a loaded collection of contests that left everyone in attendance at the Ultimate Fighter Gym and those watching on UFC FIGHT PASS thoroughly entertained.

All five bouts ended inside the distance, with only two of the bouts escaping the first round, making it far more difficult for UFC President White to make his contract decisions than it was in Week 1.

For the first time in the history of the series, White handed out four contracts, offering featherweight Matt Sayles, welterweight Dwight Grant, middleweight Anthony Hernandez and light heavyweight Ryan Spann the opportunity to compete in the UFC.

It was a thrilling and historic evening in Las Vegas. Here’s a look at what transpired on Week 2.

MATT SAYLES vs. YAZAN HAJEH

Featherweight hopefuls each with six professional victories under their belts collided in this week’s finale.

Having already earned a victory in front of the UFC President on a previous episode of Lookin’ for a Fight, Sayles was looking to make a strong second impression by adding a second straight win to his resume after suffering the first loss of his career at the close of 2016. For the 25-year-old Hajeh, this was a chance to maintain his perfect professional record by putting on a show in front of the organization’s chief decision-makers.

Right out of the chute, Sayles connected with a clean right hand, backing up Hajeh, who countered with a series of kick attempts before pressing forward for a takedown. While Hajeh looked for flashy attacks, Sayles kept it fundamental, flooring “Yazzle Dazzle” with another right hand before climbing into mount and punching out a first-round finish.

Official Result: Matt Sayles def. Yazan Hajeh by TKO (Strikes) at 1:57 of Round 1

ANTHONY HERNANDEZ vs. JORDAN WRIGHT

Unbeaten middleweight hopefuls clashed in the penultimate bout of this week’s five-pack of fights, with the Jackson-Wink standout Wright squaring off with Hernandez, a member of the MMA Gold Fight Team that also includes UFC fighters Max Griffin and Aspen Ladd.

After avoiding a couple early kicks from Wright, Hernandez continued to press forward and unleashed hell on “The Beverly Hills Ninja,” swarming him with a string of punches. With Wright stumbling to the canvas after eating a big left hand, Hernandez pounced and pounded out the finish.

Official Result: Anthony Hernandez def. Jordan Wright by Knockout (Punches) at 0:40 of Round 1

GIGA CHIKADZE vs. AUSTIN SPRINGER

While last week’s swing bout in the middle of the card drew eyeballs as a clash between two former NFL defensive linemen, this week’s third fight captured people’s attention as it marked the Octagon debut of Chikadze, a respected kickboxer with a 5-1 mixed martial arts record, in a showdown against Springer, a veteran of the Pacific Northwest regional scene who came up short in his bid to make the cast on Season 22 of The Ultimate Fighter.

After a minute of feeling each other out, Chikadze launched a high kick that grazed the head of Springer, prompting a takedown attempt from the more seasoned MMA fighter. But Chikadze defended well and connected with a clean left hand as Springer rushed in. The fight hit the canvas midway through the round after Chikadze missed with a flying knee and Springer was able to keep him there for a large portion of the frame, scoring with ground-and-pound from top position.

Early in the second, Chikadze connected with a thunderous kick to the body, but Springer simply ate it, trying to turn the connection into a takedown attempt to no avail. Late in the frame, Springer finally drove forward with a takedown attempt and dumped Chikadze on the canvas, landing in half-guard, but he wasn’t able to keep the kickboxer there for long and didn’t do much damage when he was there.

As the third opened, it was Chikadze once again initiating the offense, mixing strikes to different levels, keeping Springer guessing and preventing him from offering any real offense of his own. A right hand off a caught kick put Springer on the canvas, but Chikadze couldn’t follow up and that would prove to be crucial.

With two minutes left, Springer dropped down for a takedown, eating a knee on the way in before finishing and advancing to mount. As Chikadze gave up his back, Springer fished his arm under the neck, securing the choke and earning the victory.

Official Result: Austin Springer def. Giga Chikadze by Submission (Rear-Naked Choke) at 4:10 of Round 3

RYAN SPANN vs. EMILIANO SORDI

Back for a second time, Spann hoped things would go differently this time around after landing on the wrong side of a rapid finish when he took on Karl Roberson on Week 3 of the Contender Series last season. The 27-year-old Sordi, meanwhile, was looking to replicate Roberson’s performance and push his own winning streak to three while taking the next step forward in his career.

Ten seconds into the fight, Spann put Sordi on the canvas with a clean right hand, and as the Argentinian tried to get to his feet, “Superman” locked up a deep modified guillotine choke, getting the tap and a measure of redemption after last year’s disappointing performance.

Official Result: Ryan Spann def. Emiliano Sordi by Submission (Guillotine Choke) at 0:26 of Round 1

DWIGHT GRANT vs. TYLER HILL

Business kicked off in the welterweight division with a pair of fighters with ties to UFC talents locking horns.

Fighting out of the American Kickboxing Academy, Grant got a shout out from his teammate Justin Willis after one of his victories and looked to make good on “Big Pretty” name-dropping him by adding a seventh straight victory to his record. Working out of the same D’Iberville, Mississippi gym that Jason Knight, Brandon Davis and Chase Sherman call home, Hill has incredible size for the division and has picked up consecutive victories after suffering the first and only loss of his pro career.

This one started as a kickboxing match with both men content to keep it standing, Hill pressing forward with Grant playing the role of the counter-fighter, stinging “The Zombie” with sharp lefts and rights as he came in. Late in the first, Grant caught a low kick and turned it into a brief takedown, opening Hill up over the right eye as he returned to his feet before following up with a heavy kick to the body.

In the second, Hill initially found more success, catching Grant as he had him moving backwards, but midway through the round, the AKA product unleashed a hellacious overhand right that landed flush, followed by a big left hook that put Hill on the canvas and brought the fight to a close.

Official Result: Dwight Clark def. Tyler Hill by Knockout (Punches) at 2:08 of Round 2

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

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

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Eye: ‘I know what lane I’m supposed to be in’

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LIVE w/ Jessica “Evil” Eye ahead of #UFCSingapore! Ask her anything

Posted by UFC on Tuesday, 19 June 2018

It's fight week here in Singapore, and in the midst of her final preparations for her main card bout with Jessica-Rose Clark, Jessica Eye sat down to do a Facebook Live session and answer your questions.

Asked about what she perceived as her weakness, Eye reflected back to her time in the UFC women's bantamweight division, where she came out on the wrong side of close fights with the murderer's row of Miesha Tate, Julianna Pena and Sara McMann.

“One of my weaknesses was my wrestling, and you know, I really worked on it. I went and looked back at some of the things I did wrong. Obviously being a bantamweight was just the wrong weight class. Before I came to the UFC, I wasn't a bantamweight, I was a flyweight, so when the UFC came knocking I had to take an opportunity and try to do my best, and I'm proud of what I did.”

RELATED: Eye's Right Weight, Right Time

“I know what lane I'm supposed to be in, and that's why they moved me to flyweight, and I won my first one and we're just gonna [keep climbing] all the way up to the top.”

In the hilariously wide-ranging session, Eye answers questions about the foods that are her weakness, her favorite boxers, living in Ohio, and whether or not she thinks should could beat a male fighter, among many others.

You can catch the entire session above or by clicking here.

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Week 1 Highlights | Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series

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Season 2 of Dana White's Tuesday Night Contender Series kicked off last Tuesday on UFC FIGHT PASS and saw two UFC contracts awarded.

Don't miss an all-new episode tomorrow and every Tuesday only on UFC FIGHT PASS.

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Longtime UFC cutman Leon Tabbs passes away at 86

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By Thomas Gerbasi
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Leon Tabbs, beloved cutman and a seminal figure in the history of the UFC from the early days to the modern era, passed away Friday at the age of 86.

The original UFC cutman, Tabbs was a fighter’s first and last line of defense in the Octagon, whether wrapping their hands before a bout, or keeping them in a fight while treating their battle wounds between rounds. And though he was a familiar sight to fans for nearly two decades, there was more to him than what was seen on fight night.

An amateur boxer, Tabbs saw his career interrupted by a stint in U.S. Navy during the Korean War. When he returned home, he became a police officer yet also kept his love of the sport going through his work as a boxing trainer and cutman.

In 2004, the New Jersey native led Michael Stewart to a pair of world title shots against Sharmba Mitchell and Ricky Hatton, but he may be best remembered in boxing for his work with future Hall of Famer Bernard Hopkins.

But to MMA fans, Tabbs was always the man in the corner, soft spoken but no nonsense when it was time to work. The fighters knew it, too, and with a man of his experience and expertise on their side, it removed a layer of stress because they knew if something went awry, he would be there to right the ship and give them a level playing field to win the fight.

On a personal level, Leon was one of those people who you could talk to for hours and never get bored. His knowledge of the fight game – and of life – was endless, and there were several long stays in the airport made considerably more pleasant thanks to his company. And while I was introduced to him through his work with the UFC, I did get to see him in a different light as part of Team Hopkins when the longtime middleweight champion was preparing for his bout with Oscar De La Hoya.

Matching wits with Hopkins’ trainer Bouie Fisher, Tabbs worked the corner of Hopkins’ nephew, Demetrius, as the two pugilists sparred, and the gym in Upper Darby, PA went silent, with the only sounds being those of battle and of Tabbs and Fisher. It was something to see, and it was clear in that moment that combat sports wasn’t a job for Tabbs, but a lifelong passion. And it explained his longevity in both boxing and MMA.

In 2012, Tabbs, a cancer survivor, retired after a career to remember, and in 2013, he was honored with a lifetime achievement award for his contributions to the sport at the Fighters Only World MMA Awards.

Fighter. Trainer. Cutman. Husband. Father. Friend.

It was an honor to know him.

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On the Rise: Singapore Edition

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By E. Spencer Kyte
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Bright and early Saturday morning, the action returns to the Octagon for the first time since UFC 225 as 13 sets of combatants will step into the cage in Singapore for UFC Fight Night: Cowboy vs. Edwards.

Emanating from Singapore Indoor Stadium, the international event is headlined by a key matchup in the welterweight division pitting perennial contender and all-action gunslinger Donald Cerrone against Leon “Rocky” Edwards, the West Midlands man who has quietly racked up five straight victories to emerge as a threat in the 170-pound weight class.

Supported by a light heavyweight showdown between Tyson Pedro and Ovince Saint Preux and a crucial women’s flyweight clash between Jessica-Rose Clark and Jessica Eye, this weekend’s card should get your weekend off to an electric start.

In addition to the matchups noted above, Saturday’s event also features the promotional debut of one of the top prospects in the sport, as well as the return of two hopefuls looking to stand out in deep, talent-rich divisions.

Here’s a look at those athletes.

This is On the Rise: Singapore Edition.

Petr Yan

Fighting out of Tiger Muay Thai & MMA, Yan garnered the attention of prospect watchers during his time competing under the ACB banner with his split decision loss to Magomed Magomedov in March 2016 introducing him to a wider audience. In the two years since that contest, the 25-year-old Yan has avenged that loss and earned two additional victories, pushing his record to 8-1 as he readies to step into the Octagon for the first time.

While bantamweight is brimming with talent, Yan has the opportunity to make an impact right out of the gate by collecting a victory on Saturday when he squares off with Teruto Ishihara, who has seen mixed results during his UFC tenure, but has become a fan favorite thanks to his flamboyant personality and aggressive approach inside the cage.

Beating “Yashabo” isn’t going to vault Yan into title contention right away, but it would establish a solid baseline for the Russian newcomer. Ishihara is a known commodity and a tough out, and for Yan to step into the Octagon for the first time and post a quality win over the 26-year-old would be an excellent way to start his UFC career.

The upper echelon in the 135-pound weight class is flush with quality contenders and battle-tested talents, so cracking the Top 15 will take time, but collecting a debut victory over someone like Ishihara would earmark Yan for bigger and better in the second half of 2018.

Song Yadong

With 15 professional bouts under his belt already, it’s hard to believe that Song is only 20, but after beginning his career in 2013 and logging six appearances two years ago, the Chinese featherweight arrives for his sophomore appearance in the Octagon with an 12-4, 1 NC record overall and riding a four-fight winning streak.

His last victory came last November in Shanghai when he collected a first-round submission win over Bharat Khandare to cement his place on the UFC roster. Now he gets the opportunity to make a considerable jump up the list of contenders with a challenging assignment against Felipe Arantes.

The 30-year-old Brazilian has alternated between competing at featherweight and bantamweight during his UFC tenure, amassing a 5-5-1 record over his 11 appearances. Seasoned in the cage and savvy in all areas during the fight, “Sertanejo” is the type of talented veteran that can serve as a serious litmus test for his young opponent on Saturday.

If Song can roll into the Octagon and replicate his debut performance this weekend, he’ll not only position himself on the fringes of contention in the featherweight ranks, but also establish himself as one of the top young talents on the entire roster.

Hector Aldana

Selected to take part on Season 2 of The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America after racing out to a 4-0 start to his career, Aldana is poised to end a three-year hiatus and step into the Octagon for the very first time on Saturday when he steps in against Song Kenan.

A member of Team Gastelum during the 2015 competition, Aldana scored an opening round win over Alvaro Herrerra before falling to eventual runner-up Enrique Marin in the semifinals. Various things have kept the now 29-year-old on the sidelines since then, however that chapter of Aldana’s career closes this weekend.

Song scored a victory in his promotional debut last winter, knocking out Bobby Nash in 15 seconds to emerge as one of the standouts from the promotion’s debut event in Shanghai. Having already logged 17 fights, the 28-year-old welterweight is far more experienced than his Mexican opponent and an intriguing addition to the 170-pound ranks.

This has the potential to be Fight of the Night this weekend, and if Aldana can get his UFC tenure started with an eye-opening performance, it will make his extended hiatus a footnote in his story, rather than a key talking point.

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Pedro embracing the grind, learning along the way

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A loss is just a learning experience. A sports cliché that’s easier to say than to live by.

Tyson Pedro, who fights Ovince Saint Preux this Saturday at UFC Fight Night: Cowboy vs Edwards, was undefeated in the lead-up to his September 2017 fight against Ilir Latifi at UFC 215.

While the world buzzed about his 6-0 record comprised of six first-round finishes, Pedro didn’t seem attached to his “0.” A lifelong practitioner of martial arts, Pedro told UFC.com before the Latifi bout that he was used to losing in training.

“Every day I’m taking a loss, so that’s how you’re learning and getting better and that’s why it doesn’t worry me.”

That’s a nice idea in theory, but tapping out behind the closed doors of a gym is a world apart from being an undefeated UFC prospect losing in front of viewers around the globe.

So when Pedro lost a unanimous decision against Sweden’s Latifi after being outwrestled for three rounds, it remained to be seen how he would take the reality of his first professional loss.

Fast forward nine months. Did a lifetime of training prepare Pedro for the loss, or did it sting much more than he thought it would?

Pedro appears to have passed the test with flying colors.

“It didn’t bother me at all. I win the same way that I lose. I’ve always learned that from when I was a kid, from my dad with martial arts. Humble in victory and defeat, it was just a learning experience,” said Pedro, who rebounded quickly with a first-round kimura finish over Saparbek Safarov in February at UFC 221. “That’s what fighting is. I was all smiles, and as soon as I got out all I wanted to do was get back in the gym and train and learn from what I messed up.”

Life at Jackson-Wink and the BMF Ranch, where uphill mountain biking in the arid conditions of New Mexico is considered an “off day,” is not for the faint of heart.

But Pedro isn’t concerned that he might burn himself out with the intensity of training.

“Not at all. The reason I went with Jackson’s is because they’re such a smart camp. They spar five times a week but it’s all controlled and it’s never with the intent to maim your training partners. Everything is a learning experience and they’ve done very well in how they teach and train at their camp.”

Pedro will also benefit from some of the brainstrust from Jackson-Wink in game planning for the biggest fight of his career against Ovince Saint Preux. In his corner will be Jackson-Wink striking coach Brandon Gibson and bantamweight fighter Cameron Else, together with Pedro’s father, John.

The No. 7-ranked Saint Preux (22-11) comes off a first-round submission loss to common opponent Ilir Latifi in February.

While the 35-year-old OSP has come up short in a few matches against the UFC light heavyweight division’s elite fighters, he has had moments of brilliance.

OSP can finish a fight on the feet, as in his 2014 first-round KO of former champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, or his third-round KO victory against Corey Anderson at UFC 217 last November.

Saint Preux can also finish you on the ground, with three Von Flue choke victories in the UFC, most recently using the technique to put Yushin Okami to sleep in the first round of their clash at UFC Fight Night last September.

Pedro believes Corey Anderson authored a partial blueprint on beating OSP. Anderson found success with his wrestling against OSP in rounds one and two before being finished with a left high kick early in the third stanza.

RELATED: Thunder from Down Under in Singapore on June 23rd

Pedro acknowledges OSP is powerful physically, but believes he may fade if the fight wears on.

“Corey Anderson had probably the perfect game plan for it (beating OSP) if you want him to go a three-round fight, but he just got caught in the end,” said Pedro “(Anderson was) dragging it out and wearing him out. (OSP) is freakishly strong like a lot of the other muscled guys in that first round.”

That said, Pedro isn’t looking to wear Saint Preux out unless he has to. All Pedro’s wins have come in the first round, and he’s looking to keep it that way come Saturday.

“I’m always going for that first-round finish. Always.”

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