Pedro Munhoz vs. Frankie Edgar targeted for UFC event on July 11
by Guilherme Cruz on May 23, 2020 at 10:57 pm
Frankie Edgar (pictured) will finally make his bantamweight debut in July. | Esther Lin, MMA Fighting Frankie Edgar has a date and opponent targeted for his bantamweight debut. “The Answer” and Pedro Munhoz have agreed to a 135-pound clash at UFC’s upcoming card on July 11, multiple sources told MMA Fighting. The UFC has to yet to officially announce the event and its location. Edgar (23-8-1) decided to make his first cut down to bantamweight after coming up short in his third attempt to win the featherweight belt, losing a decision to Max Holloway in July 2019. The former UFC lightweight champion postponed the weight class change for a January bout with Cory Sandhagen to agree to a short-notice bout with Chan Sung Jung in December, but was stopped by “The Korean Zombie” inside one round. Edgar left the 155-pound weight class after losing the title to Ben Henderson in 2012 and racked up a 8-4 record as a featherweight, defeating the likes of B.J. Penn, Charles Oliveira, Cub Swanson (twice), Chad Mendes and Yair Rodriguez. Munhoz (18-4, 1 no-contest) is looking to get back on track after a decision loss to Aljamain Sterling in June 2019. “The Young Punisher,” a former RFA titleholder, rode an impressive winning streak over Cody Garbrandt, Bryan Caraway and Brett Johns prior to the upset. The Brazilian bantamweight is five years younger than his opponent and recorded half of his 18 wins by way of submission, including six guillotine chokes. Edgar has never been submitted in 32 professional MMA bouts.
While Julia Avila waited for next fight, she used her sewing skills vs. COVID-19
by Mike Heck on May 23, 2020 at 9:00 pm
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting Julia Avila has made the most of an uncertain time in the world. After her scheduled fight with Karol Rosa was thrice postponed, with two dates scuttled by the COVID-19 pandemic, Avila saw a much-needed gap that needed to be filled in the battle against the coronavirus. “So over the last month (and a half) or so, I have been making face masks,” Avila said while appearing on What the Heck. “I have a sewing machine – I got it years ago – and as much as I love to destroy in the ring, I really love to create. I’m a very artsy person and I like to make things. “One day, I saw on Facebook that a hospital had requested face masks and asked for seamstresses. I looked at the mask and said, ‘I can do that. I have the material. I have the stuff.’ I went ahead and made a couple and it was pretty fast, and I hit up grandma, asked if she had these materials and told her, ‘Alright, let’s make face masks.’” The Oklahoma native has made well over 1,000 masks to this point that have made their way all over the United States, and even as far north as Canada. While some companies have used this pandemic to make a couple of extra bucks, Avila hasn’t made a dime off of her philanthropic venture. “I saw on an app that people were charging for them,” Avila explained. “I said, ‘No, no, no, no.’ I will never charge for your safety, because your safety is my safety, right? I hit up the people who were charging and said, ‘Hey, I’ll give you some for free. Just drive by my house and pick them up off of the porch.’ “So I just started handing them out and posted on my Instagram that if anyone needs any masks, I did fundraise for my Portland fight and I had the money. Every penny has gone towards making masks. For shipping, I hit up several military bases, made hundreds for them all across the U.S., coast to coast, border to border. So I work full-time, train full-time and whenever I get five minutes here or there, I make face masks.” Not only is Avila a rising bantamweight in the UFC, but she’s also a full-time geologist. Like most of the country, Oklahoma was under a strict set of restrictions in the hopes of stopping the spread of the virus. While the state has begun the process of opening up over the last couple of weeks, Avila has not only been able to make and ship a wide array of masks, but she’s been able to inspire some of her fans to join in the fight. “It’s one of those crafts that are really getting lost,” Avila said. “Like Home Ec? A lot of people don’t know how to cook anymore, a lot of people don’t know how to change their oil, and a lot of people don’t know how to sew. “A couple of my fans reached out and said they Amazon’d a sewing machine, taught themselves, and now they’re making face masks. If I can spark just a little change in a couple of people to try something new, or to help out, I’ve done my job.” For the less sewing-inclined, several other “Raging Panda” fans provided assistance by donating supplies to Avila so she could continue to pump out masks. In a time where things seemed bleak, the support from her followers meant the world to her. “I have so many loyal and good fans,” she stated. “They’re not just following me because they think I’m a pretty face, or because I’m a good fighter – hopefully they think I am – but they follow me because they like me as a person. That speaks to the quality of them more than it does about me, and they’ve been really coming through, supporting, and helping out. “It’s just been an overwhelmingly positive thing for people to see that there is hope.” Following a second-round TKO win over Alexa Connors at Invicta FC 32 in November 2018, Avila got her opportunity with the UFC and picked up a one-sided unanimous decision over Pannie Kianzad at UFC 239. Fans have been waiting to see Avila’a sophomore appearance inside the octagon and it looks like they will get it as the UFC is close to finalizing a fourth booking with Rosa for June 13. “I know a lot of other people are very hungry to get back in the cage,” Avila said. “I’ve been blessed to have my primary career, so it’s not a need for me to get back in that cage, it’s just a want. “I’m not getting any younger and I want to make my claim in the bantamweight division. I can’t do that being at home.”
Shayna Baszler shares story of Ronda Rousey’s legendary submission skills on TUF 18
by Alexander K. Lee on May 23, 2020 at 8:00 pm
Ronda Rousey | Esther Lin, MMA Fighting WWE star Shayna Baszler has known Ronda Rousey for a long time, so if anyone can speak to the former UFC champion’s skills, it’s her. Aside from their close friendship, Rousey also served as Baszler’s coach on season 18 of The Ultimate Fighter and while the future WWE superstar did not succeed in winning that program’s bantamweight tournament, she did prove to be a foil for Rousey in training. However, according to Baszler, her ability to stifle Rousey on the mat only lasted so long. Responding to an online fan question alongside friend, TUF teammate, and fellow WWE performer Jessamyn Duke, Baszler offered an anecdote as an answer to the question of who would emerge victorious in a submission match between Rousey and herself. @QoSBaszler with a great story of making fun of @RondaRousey on TUF and Ronda then immediately shutting her up. pic.twitter.com/1IB3HLEg2S— Austin (@rondarouseyszn) May 16, 2020 “We were on The Ultimate Fighter for seven weeks,” Baszler said. “We trained every single day, twice a day, and that was the only thing we had to look forward to. There was nothing in the house, no entertainment, no books, no music, no magazines, no computers, no TVs, it was horrible. And training every day, twice a day. “We were on the last training session, like the show’s wrapping up, we know it, we were all antsy. It was like The Shining, everybody’s going crazy just being locked up, and we’re rolling. Ronda and I are grappling. It’s like the last training session, the show’s gonna be over, we get to go home, we’re grappling, we’re grappling, and I look at the clock. Rounds are, like, five minutes... I look at the clock and there’s two minutes left. I was like, ‘Well, well, Ronda Rousey, looks like I made it through the entire season without getting armbarred by you.’” Considering Rousey’s well-known prowess with the armbar, a technique that she used to win multiple championship bouts in short order during her reign atop the UFC and Strikeforce, Baszler’s boast carries some weight. During Baszler’s own 14-year fighting career, she only tapped out on two occasions. However, Baszler learned quickly that lording this fact over Rousey’s head was a bad idea. “In the next two minutes, I got armbarred probably seven times. Seven or eight times.” Duke corroborated the story, but jokingly added, “We had been training for seven weeks. We were worn down by that time, okay? To be fair.” “All I’m saying is it really would depend on what’s on the line,” Baszler said of a hypothetical submission match with Rousey. “And the rule set and a lot of factors. But Ronda will tell you I was one of her best and favorite grappling partners.” Seeing the clip, Rousey responded in amusement on Twitter. Hahahaha I forgot all about that https://t.co/kpR8rkkYB8— Ronda Rousey (@RondaRousey) May 16, 2020
Colby Covington wants ‘unsanctioned’ match with WWE star Drew McIntyre
by Alexander K. Lee on May 23, 2020 at 7:00 pm
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting Should Colby Covington make the move to pro wrestling, he’s targeting one of its biggest stars. In April, Covington teased that a move to the WWE could take place as early as next year, vowing to “make wrestling real again” and bring his brand of showmanship to the wrestling company. Current WWE Champion Drew McIntyre caught wind of Covington’s comments and he welcomed “Chaos,” suggesting that they meet in an unsanctioned match. “If he wants this unsanctioned fight outside of WWE, I’m willing to fight him in a bar or something,” McIntyre told ESPN. “There’s a reason there’s different weight classes [in MMA]. I’m about 100 pounds heavier than the guy, I’m a foot taller than the guy. I’m willing to have an actual fight with him if he wants an unsanctioned fight. It’ll put more eyes on the product, perfectly happy with me. “I’ll smash his head in, I’ll shut him up. I’ll break his jaw like [Kamaru] Usman did, and then more people watch WWE. So, Colby, I’ll fight you. No title shot though, that’s reserved for the WWE superstars.” Covington, in turn, took another swipe at McIntyre on What the Heck, warning everyone involved that they’re responsible for what he might do to McIntyre in a match. “Last time I was on here, we were talking about Drew McIntyre,” Covington said to What the Heck host Mike Heck. “You signed a man’s death certificate. Now you’re gonna have to get Drew McIntyre’s blood on your hands. Because now he’s talking all crazy out there like he wants to fight in an unsanctioned fight. I’m not afraid of a fight, I love to fight. “The world is a strange place right now. Usually, I can fight anybody whenever I want, just ask Dana White. But the world’s a strange place, so I’m having a hard time fighting Drew McIntyre, [but] I’m gonna fight him soon.” McIntyre is a star in pro wrestling. But matches with predetermined outcomes and sports entertainment isn’t new to Covington. He had a very brief run with Impact Wrestling in 2017 as part of a storyline featuring American Top Team owner Dan Lambert (who’s a huge pro wrestling fan), and the brash persona he’s emphasized as he’s ascended the UFC welterweight ranks is straight out of the pro wrestling playbook. Because of his MMA credentials and willingness to stir the pot, Covington sees himself as a perfect foil for McIntyre and anyone else in the WWE that wants to step into the ring. At the moment, he’s leaving any negotiations with the WWE to his management, as he still has his sights set on potential fights with rivals Kamaru Usman and Jorge Masvidal. “I’m not surprised,” Covington said of McIntyre acknowledging his callout. “He sees the way I draw. I’m the king of the UFC right now. I’m the most controversial and talked-about fighter. Everybody can’t keep my name out of their mouth. I’m living rent-free in every fighter’s head. Everybody talks about me and everybody wants to be me. The thing with the WWE is everybody thinks that I’m just gonna leave the UFC and go to the WWE. No, I can do both at the same time. I’m still young, I’m 32 years young, I’m not even in my prime yet. I’m still getting better every single day, stronger every day, better cardio, and everybody knows how good my cardio is. They call me ‘The Cardio King’ for a reason. “So I want to do both at the same time. I want to go whoop Drew McIntyre’s ass in an unsanctioned fight, maybe over in Saudi Arabia, maybe in his home country of Scotland. And I want to go whoop ‘Marty Fakenewsman’’s ass and ‘Street Judas’ Masvidal’s ass, and nothing’s changing. It’s gonna happen.” After a clip from Covington’s interview hit Twitter, the WWE champion responded. “King of the UFC” I doubt you can even point to Scotland on a map https://t.co/W1MOiOoCfv pic.twitter.com/ZcqT5KRqGM— Drew McIntyre (@DMcIntyreWWE) May 21, 2020
Alexandre Pantoja vs. Askar Askarov targeted for July 18 UFC event
by Guilherme Cruz on May 23, 2020 at 6:45 pm
Alexandre Pantoja will return to the octagon against undefeated flyweight Askar Askarov in July. | Esther Lin, MMA Fighting Top-ranked flyweights Alexandre Pantoja and Askar Askarov will collide in the UFC octagon on July 18, multiple people with knowledge of the booking confirmed to MMA Fighting after Askarov announced it on social media. The summer event’s location has yet to be announced and could take place in the U.S. or on the promotion’s “Fight Island,” which reportedly is set to open in July. The flyweight title will be on the line that night between Deiveson Figueiredo and Joseph Benavidez. Pantoja (22-4) is coming off a first-round knockout of Matt Schnell, returning to the win column after a decision loss to Figueiredo this past July. The former RFA champion is 6-2 since joining the UFC in 2017. Askarov (11-0-1) is a former ACB flyweight titleholder who fought to a draw with Brandon Moreno in his octagon debut. “Bullet” scored his first victory under the UFC banner in January, defeating Tim Elliott via decision in Las Vegas.
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