Alistair Overeem vs. Augusto Sakai targeted to headline Sept. 5 UFC card
by Alexander K. Lee on July 15, 2020 at 5:30 pm
Alistair Overeem | Esther Lin, MMA Fighting Alistair Overeem’s next challenge will be to stop the surging Augusto Sakai. MMA Fighting confirmed with sources that Overeem and Sakai are expected to meet in a heavyweight bout at a UFC event on Sept. 5 at a location to be determined. The matchup was first reported by ESPN. For Overeem (46-18, 1 NC), this marks his 66th pro MMA bout and his 19th appearance for the UFC. He has won three of his last four fights, most recently defeating Walt Harris by second-round TKO in May. Prior to that he suffered a fifth-round knockout loss to Jairzinho Rozenstruik that followed back-to-back first round TKOs of Aleksei Oleinik and Sergei Pavlovich. Sakai (15-1-1) has yet to taste defeat since earning a contract on the Contender Series in August 2018. He is 4-0 in the UFC with split decision wins over Blagoy Ivanov and Andrei Arlovski and knockouts of Marcin Tybura and Chase Sherman. Overall, the former Bellator standout has won six straight fights. A bantamweight bout between Nicco Montano and Julia Avila and a flyweight bout between Montana De La Rosa and Maryna Moroz are also expected to take place on the Sept. 5 UFC show as well.
Justin Tafa out; Tanner Boser steps into face Raphael Pessoa at UFC on ESPN 14
by Damon Martin on July 15, 2020 at 5:17 pm
Thomas Lakes, MMA Fighting Heavyweight Tanner Boser will make a quick turn around following his last win to step into a fight against Raphael Pessoa at UFC on ESPN 14 on July 25 after Justin Tafa was forced off the card. Multiple sources confirmed the new fight to MMA Fighting on Wednesday with bout agreements already issued. MMA Junkie initially reported the change. According to additional sources, Tafa suffered an injury that knocked him out of the fight and ultimately Boser stepped up to accept the fight with Pessoa on short notice. The 28-year-old Canadian is coming off a huge knockout win over former PFL heavyweight season champion Phillipe Lins on June 27. Now he’ll return to action four weeks later with a trip to UFC Fight Island to face Pessoa on short notice. Pessoa enters the fight off his first win in the UFC after earning a unanimous decision over Jeff Hughes this past October. The July 25 card on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi will be headlined by a middleweight showdown between former champion Robert Whittaker and Darren Till.
The A-Side chat live now
by Jose Youngs on July 15, 2020 at 5:06 pm
Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC This is The A-Side Live Chat. For this episode, Jose Torres and Din Thomas join José Youngs and E. Casey Leydon break down some of the top stories in MMA. Some possible topics include — fallout of UFC 251, Kamaru Usman’s succuesful title defense against Jorge Masvidal, Alexander Volkanovski’s controversial win over Max Holloway, Petr Yan’s win over Jose Aldo, and more. The four will also look ahead to this weekend’s card, headlined by a featherweight fight between Calvin Kattar and Dan Ige, and discuss Din Thomas’ experience during quarantine. There’s plenty to talk about, so join us at 1 p.m. ET / 10 a.m. PT on Wednesday, July 15. As usual, we will answer any questions you might have if you post them in the comments below. For the comments you deem the most deserving, please click the “rec” button. Comments in green will get first priority. Audio-only versions of the podcast can be found on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, iHeartRadio, Stitcher and YouTube.
Dan Ige knows inactivity from top contenders – and a big win – could put him in title contention
by Damon Martin on July 15, 2020 at 5:00 pm
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting Dan Ige is a man who knows that when opportunity knocks, you better answer. That’s been his philosophy throughout this entire year, and he’s already picked up two big wins. He’ll try for a third on Wednesday in the main event of UFC on ESPN 13 opposite Calvin Kattar. After earning a split-decision win over Mirsad Bektic in February, Ige welcomed former lightweight contender Edson Barboza to the featherweight division three months later and picked up another win. When the UFC struggled to book a headliner for its July 15 event on Fight Island, they gave him a call. “This is what the sport is all about,” Ige told MMA Fighting. “It’s not like I could have been like, ‘Let’s wait, I need eight weeks and we’ll do it later.’ No, they need a main event for Abu Dhabi, who’s willing to step up? No one was. Myself and Kattar were willing to step up. That’s what happens. “The closed mouths don’t get fed, and the ones not willing to take an opportunity won’t get the reward.” Ige believes that’s the necessary attitude for an eventual run at the UFC featherweight title. The Hawaiian-born fighter sees his willingness to step up as something that get propel him up the featherweight ladder even faster. There are rumors that Zabit Magomedsharipov will return against Yair Rodriguez in August, and one-time title challengers Brian Ortega and “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung have been engaged in a verbal war for months without getting a date to actually fight. Many of the top-ranked contenders in the division are sitting idle right now. It’s frustrating for Ige, who wants the chance to advance his career by beating Kattar and then hopefully graduating to one of those fights to earn a title shot. “Sometimes I don’t understand it,” Ige said. “You’ve got Brian Ortega – I feel like he retired after Max [Holloway] beat him up. He hasn’t fought in two years. I have a lot of respect for that guy, too, but he hasn’t fought for two years and he’s still ranked like No. 2 in the world or something. “Then you’ve got Yair [Rodriguez] and Zabit [Magomedsharipov], a guy we manage, but then again same thing. I’m not talking bad about my guys, but they’re not active and they’re not fighting. Even if these guys are scheduled to fight or whatever in August, who even knows when they’ll fight again. I’m just focusing on me right now. I’m doing what I have to do to get a title shot.” With the Kattar fight, Ige has a chance to face a higher-ranked opponent with a style made for exciting fights. Of his five wins in the UFC, Kattar has earned four by knockout. Of course, Ige respects the kind of danger Kattar represents, but he also knows that’s exactly the kind of opponent that plays into what he does best. “We both put ourselves into that fire fight,” Ige said. “We both take risks, and the ones who take risks, that’s why he’s getting these great knockouts and crazy finishes. I’m super honored to face a guy like Calvin. I have a lot of respect for what he’s done in the division. “I have a lot of respect for his skill set, but when I’m in the cage, it will be my night. I will do everything possible to put it on him, and he will do the same and that will make an extremely fun fight for the fans.” Assuming he can make a statement with a win in his first UFC main event, Ige knows the sky is the limit when it comes to the rest of the year. With featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski already taking notice of him during a Twitter exchange, Ige knows anything is possible when it comes to his title aspirations — and he’s definitely not going to turn down that fight when the opportunity comes. “It’s very, very possible,” Ige said about a potential title shot this year. “I truly believe I will be. I’ve wrote these goals down, I think since 2018, I have a note somewhere that says I will be a UFC champion in 2021. I tweeted something about it and I got Volkanovski’s attention. He wrote nope, and I told him no disrespect champ, but I’m coming. “You never know what’s going to happen in this division. I could go out there and get a big win over Kattar and get a title shot. The guys in the top-five aren’t active. I’m active. I’m out there. I’m winning. This is my third fight this year. If I keep going out there and I keep winning, pretty soon you can’t deny.”
Bellator 242 official for July 24, full card announced including return of Aaron Pico
by MMA Fighting Newswire on July 15, 2020 at 4:35 pm
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting After a five-month absence, Bellator MMA has officially announced its return show on July 24 from the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Conn. The promotion confirmed the news on Wednesday. As MMA Fighting previously reported, Sergio Pettis will clash with Ricky Bandejas in a bantamweight showdown that will headline Bellator 242. Both fighters are coming off statement victories and the winner of this matchup will undoubtedly move closer to title contention. The co-main event will feature former UFC welterweight Jordan Mein taking on Jason Jackson in a welterweight showcase. Also announced for the main card is the return of highly touted prospect Aaron Pico as he faces off with Chris Hatley Jr. in a featherweight matchup that will kick off the main card on the Paramount Network at 10 p.m. ET on July 24. The final fight on the main card will see Tywan Claxton square off against Jay Jay Wilson. “On July 24, Bellator is back,” Bellator MMA President Scott Coker said in a release. “I am thrilled to announce our return event this month at Mohegan Sun, which has always been an incredible venue partner for us. The team has worked tirelessly to make this show happen and I know the fighters are ready to compete. “We put together an exciting card with great matchups, featuring some of our best rising prospects. We look forward to our fans joining us on Paramount Network for what will surely be a memorable night of action inside the Bellator cage.” The three fight preliminary card will also feature the return of former Minnesota wrestling standout Logan Storley as he seeks to extend his perfect record against Mark Lemminger. Bellator hasn’t staged a show since February with numerous cards being cancelled due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The MMA promotion will share a residency at the Mohegan Sun with Showtime Boxing as well. While no exact details were revealed, Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment president Tom Canton promised a “comprehensive and extensive safety plan for all guests, team members and partners.” Here’s the full card for Bellator 242: MAIN CARD (10 p.m. ET on Paramount Network) MAIN EVENT: Sergio Pettis vs. Ricky Bandejas Jason Jackson vs. Jordan Mein Tywan Claxton vs. Jay Jay Wilson Aaron Pico vs. Chris Hatley Jr. BELLATOR 242 PRELIMS (8:45 p.m. ET on Bellator’s YouTube Channel) Logan Storley vs. Mark Lemminger Raufeon Stots vs. Cass Bell Steve Mowry vs. Rudy Schaffroth
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