Three-time UFC title challenger, retired fighter and ESPN MMA analyst Chael Sonnen takes nothing away from Jose Aldo’s accomplishments. But he still believes the UFC featherweight champion missed a career-making opportunity – one that could even hurt his career down the road.
“I don’t think the UFC is going to be in a big hurry to put Jose Aldo back in the ring,” Sonnen today told MMAjunkie Radio. “He is the champion, so per the competitive architecture, they’re going to have to. But – he burned them five times. As quick as you can get that belt off Aldo and not give him a shot to get it back, not only has he burned you five times, but he is the worst drawing champ of all time.”
Harsh words, indeed, for Aldo, who this past week suffered a fractured rib while in the final stretch of preparation for a meeting with Conor McGregor at next week’s UFC 189, which has been promoted as one of the biggest events of the year and is expected to break box office records. It was the fifth time an injury prevented him from defending his UFC belt, including previously canceled bouts at UFC 125, UFC 149, UFC 153 and UFC 176, though his level of activity is comparable to other champions on the UFC’s roster.
Several doctors, including MMAjunkie’s own medical consultant, say the champ’s injury is serious enough to eliminate any thought of Aldo competing. It’s unclear why UFC President Dana Whitesaid the fighter had been cleared to fight on July 11. But like White, Sonnen questions why the champ was ever in the position to be injured.
As previous reports indicated, Aldo suffered a rib fracture when a new sparring partner, Alcides Nunes, caught him with a spinning back kick during practice. The strike is one McGregor frequently executes in the cage, but Sonnen believes it’s too high risk in training, especially with a new partner.
“You’ve got to have training partners you can trust,” Sonnen said. “I could be sparring with a guy and he forgot his mouthpiece, it wouldn’t matter. I’m not going to loosen his tooth, ever. If he goes with me, he’s going to leave in the same condition that he showed up in. He can trust me. Those are the kind of guys that you want to be working out with.
“Accidents happen. This could have been an accident. But it was a spinning kick to the midsection. That’s a very hard strike to control – it’s the same reason we don’t throw elbows in practice. They’re just too hard to control, and if one gets away, even a light one, it can cut your opponent and he’s going to need stitches. There are some things you just don’t do on a partner; you save it for the heavy bag. I’m very confused as to how this even happened 10 days before a title fight.”
While Aldo’s (25-1 MMA, 7-0 UFC) injury prior to UFC 176 caused the cancelation of the pay-per-view, the promotion, which reportedly spent millions promoting the headliner between the champ and McGregor (17-2 MMA, 5-0 UFC), is moving ahead with McGregor opposite two-time title challenger Chad Mendes (17-2 MMA, 8-2 UFC). McGregor reported Wednesday that 2,500 Irish fans are headed to Las Vegas’ MGM Grand Garden Arena. White said the event is expected to earn $7 million at the box office. The UFC executive also has said UFC 189 will break the one million mark in pay-per-view buys, though that prediction came prior to Aldo’s withdrawal.
Sonnen agrees with McGregor that the headliner’s new prize, an interim UFC featherweight belt, should be switched to the undisputed title.
“I couldn’t imagine pulling out of a fight, ever, for any reason, let alone a title fight, and he’s done it five times,” Sonnen said. “You can call it an interim championship – I guess that’s what you have to do. If I’m in charge, we strip him.
LINK to full story: Chael Sonnen: I don’t think the UFC is going to be in a big hurry to bring Jose Aldo back | MMAjunkie
It's no secret that former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight title contender, Josh Koscheck, feels he left the promotion at the right time.
UFC's new Reebok sponsorship deal goes into effect at UFC 189, which takes place next weekend (Sat., July 11, 2015) at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. While company president has praised it as "awesome," a majority of the mixed martial arts (MMA) community remains unimpressed.
The misspelled names in UFC's "Fight Kit" didn't help. Neither did including Koscheck in the roll out, considering he made the jump to Bellator MMA official this past weekend.
Koscheck's concern wasn't that Reebok would spell his name wrong on the checks. It's that banning sponsors other than Reebok would cut into his checks and effect his livelihood.
"I'd be tied up into a shit Reebok deal right now and not be able to make any money whatsoever. At the end of the day it’s business for me, and I’ve got to get paid."
Those remarks must have ruffled some feathers with his former boss because Koscheck took to Instagram to reveal that his phone had been blowing up with calls.
As mentioned earlier, Reebok actually made a "Fight Kit" for Koscheck -- it was apparently too late in the printing process for them to realize he was no longer in the promotion.
Regardless, Koscheck was not happy ... at all:
LINK to full story: Dana White blows up Josh Koscheck's phone after new Bellator MMA fighter bashes UFC/Reebok deal - MMAmania.com
Rashad Evans has said it before, and he said it again on UFC Tonight - he thinks that a great return fight for him is a bout with Ryan Bader. This time though, the feeling appears to be mutual. Managers of both men confirmed interest in the fight, and they're targeting UFC 192 in Houston as the place for it to go down.
Evans (19-3-1, 14-3-1 UFC) has been out with injuries since December 2013, where he defeated Chael Sonnen in the first round at UFC 167. Bader (19-4, 12-4 UFC) is one of the few light heavyweights on a winning streak, which he raised to four with a split decision win over Phil Davis in January.
Bader had been eyeing a title fight with new champion Daniel Cormier, but the UFC opted to give that shot to Alexander Gustafsson instead.
LINK to full story: Ryan Bader and Rashad Evans want to fight at UFC 192 - Bloody Elbow
Rory MacDonald admits his passion for competition had fizzled prior to his first encounter with Robbie Lawler at UFC 167. The Canadian wasn’t the first to make that claim and there’s a good chance he’s not the last, either.
Unfortunately for MacDonald (18-2 MMA, 9-2 UFC), his low point came at a crucial time. A time in which had not lost to Lawler (24-10 MMA, 10-4 UFC) by split decision at the November 2013 event, he would have earned a UFC welterweight championship fight.
MacDonald will finally get his title shot nearly 19 months later in a rematch with now-champion Lawler at UFC 189 on July 11. Although he experienced stumbles along the way, MacDonald believes that sometimes the longer and more difficult road is ultimately the best one.
The 25-year-old said he wasn’t in the proper physical or mental state for the first meeting with “Ruthless.” MacDonald claims he went into the fight with a lingering injury and did not have the “fire” needed to defeat an opponent of Lawler’s caliber.
“I had a couple things in training and my body wasn’t feeling good; I just lost motivation,” MacDonald told MMAjunkie. “I couldn’t train as hard as I usually did and the injury kind of made me not focused. It just made me not into it. I think it was just my hunger was not there. I wasn’t really into the fight at that point.
“Before that fight I was like, ‘Oh, I just kind of want this to be over.’ I wasn’t really interested in fighting. I just wanted to get it over and done with and just relax.”
MacDonald said the severity of the ankle injury raised questions about whether he should compete. Injuries have forced MacDonald to withdraw from five UFC fights during his career and he said he wasn’t interested in pulling out again.
“I had people telling me I shouldn’t fight, but I did it anyways,” MacDonald said. “I said that I was going to do it. I don’t think the fight was signed, but I said I was going to do it. I had got injured like two or three fights in a row and I was just sick of it. I kind of came to the conclusion that you can’t be perfect in every fight.”
Despite the training camp hindrances and a lack of motivation, MacDonald put up a solid, and arguably even winning, effort against Lawler. It was a closely contested three-round fight, but the most significant moment came in the third round when Lawler connected with a left hook that briefly dropped MacDonald.
One judge thought MacDonald won the fight, the other two sided with Lawler, who got the win then captured the UFC belt just a few fights later.
MacDonald said he expects the complexion of the rematch to be entirely different. Injuries and mental focus are non-issues, MacDonald said, and the 25-minute time period provides “Red King” with more time and freedom to implement his tactics. The first fight was closely contested and MacDonald believes only minor adjustments are necessary to get the edge.
“My skills come a long way; my focus has changed since that fight and I’m just a little more determined to get in there and actually fight,” MacDonald said. “I don’t think I was focused on the actual fighting. I was a little distracted, a little less motivated to actually do martial arts at that point in my life.
“It was a close fight. Technical. My heart wasn’t in it and I just wasn’t there. That’s how I felt anyway. … I have a lot more techniques (now). I have a lot more skills to show in this fight than what we had last time. I’ll be better prepared mentally and physically. That’s going to show itself.”
LINK to full story: UFC 189’s Rory MacDonald: ‘My hunger was not there’ in first fight with Lawler | MMAjunkie
Though Chad Mendes only received official word that he’ll be facing Conor McGregor for the featherweight interim title on Tuesday evening, he’s already mentally playing out what’s going to happen on July 11.
And reiterating what he said on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour, the division’s No. 1 contender said during Wednesday’s UFC 189 media call that he won’t let emotion dictate how he performs. Even if McGregor lit a fire under Mendes last fall by insulting him during a spot on BT Sport just before his rematch with current champion Jose Aldo atUFC 179.
McGregor has also disparaged Mendes for his height (he is 5-foot-6) and for being a career runner-up. Yet asked what specific thing it was that created the bad blood between he and McGregor on Wednesday, Mendes said it all goes back to that episode ahead of the Aldo fight, which caught him unawares.
"I mean, the short sh*t, I don’t give a sh*t about that kind of stuff, I’ve been short my whole life," Mendes said. "But, for me it was we had to do an interview right before my Aldo fight and he was talking about putting balls on my head and just being very unprofessional. This is something that, that made it personal. And for me, you don’t f*cking do that. This is the fight game, where somebody could get seriously injured, and that’s what I’m looking to do when I get in there against Conor McGregor."
It was made official by UFC president Dana White that Jose Aldo would be out of the fight on Tuesday night during an appearance on SportsCenter. During the spot, McGregor was asked how quickly he would finish the wrestler Mendes. The Irishman declared that by the four-minute mark of the first round, Mendes would be unconscious.
He said the same thing during Wednesday’s press call.
When Mendes was presented the same question, he said McGregor wouldn’t last the fight.
"Yeah, Conor I’m going to give you a little more respect buddy," he said. "I’m going to finish you within the first three."
The two argued with each other sporadically throughout the call. When asked how his striking would hold up against McGregor, Mendes said that his stand-up was just part of the tool-set that would ultimately doom arguably the UFC’s biggest star.
"I think my striking is going to be great," he said. "Conor’s never faced anybody like me before. I have the athleticism, the strength, the power, the speed, and I have wrestling to put him on his back to finish this fight. This fight is mine."
LINK: Chad Mendes says he’ll finish Conor McGregor ‘within the first three’ rounds - MMA Fighting
As Jose Aldo tried to battle through a rib injury ahead of his title defense against Conor McGregor at UFC 189, the contingency plan -- Chad Mendes -- began preparing himself as if Aldo were already out.
On Tuesday, as UFC president announced on SportsCenter, that became a reality. In what was one of the stranger situations heading into a big pay-per-view event, Mendes will now step in and fight McGregor for the interim featherweight title on July 11.
His leap of faith paid off.
"As soon as I got this call and they said get ready I basically just shut out any possibility that Aldo was coming back," Mendes said during an appearance on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour, a full day before he got the news. "I’m basically treating this like I’m fighting Conor for the title. I have to get my weight down. I’m coming up with a game plan and going over it, fine-tuning cardio. I’m pretending like I’m getting in there, and I’m fighting. That’s my mindset. I wake up every morning, I sit there and game plan stuff while I’m laying in bed before I get out."
"And I’m excited, man. I think this is a great match-up for me. Conor’s a tough guy, but Conor’s a guy I know I can beat. He better pray that Aldo can go in there and fight because I’m going to mess that dude up."
Mendes said that part of the reason he was confident about stepping in was that he keeps himself in fight shape year-round. As of Monday he was walking around 163 to 164 pounds -- close to the weight he’s usually at two weeks before a fight.
Even when he was still uncertain as to whether or not he'd be facing McGregor at UFC 189, Mendes said he felt fortunate for the opportunity. Mendes was deadlocked with fellow featherweight Frankie Edgar to get the next shot, and he wasn't promised the winner should Aldo have fought McGregor as planned. To get the opportunity ahead of Edgar did make him feel for the former lightweight champ.
"I feel for him," he said of Edgar, who is coming off a victory over Mendes’ teammateUrijah Faber. "I have nothing against Frankie. Me and Frankie are right there in the same spot. Ultimately that was up to the UFC. Obviously I feel very honored that they chose me, but yeah, I feel like Frankie could make a case just as much as I could."
Mendes, who is coming off a huge TKO victory of his own over Ricardo Lamas in April, said that he’s been watching McGregor going back to his UFC debut against Marcus Brimage in 2013. Though this was an opportunity he said he couldn’t refuse, Mendes was very surprised that McGregor agreed to fight him -- a 5-foot-6 wrestler -- when the UFC came to him with the alternative plan.
"[McGregor] just went through an entire training camp for a guy that’s a Muay Thai fighter, and now he’s facing a guy that’s going to put him on his back," Mendes said. "It definitely changes the whole game plan but, I just heard his coach [John Kavanagh] talking. This is a fight that a lot of people from Ireland are coming to see, taking out big loans and stuff. So it would be pretty messed up on his part to have to back out now with all his friends and family coming. There’s a lot of pressure on that, a lot riding on him to keep that fight going. So I don’t think he has a choice."
As one of McGregor’s frequent targets in the media, Mendes and McGregor have had a contentious history together. Yet asked if the fight was personal to him, Mendes said he would present a stoical face once he stepped inside the Octagon.
"He’s definitely said things to make this personal…the guy just loves talking crap, though, I mean, that’s Conor," he said. "He’s an actor, he’s a guy that’s selling fights. I’m not going to get in there and fight emotionally. I’m going to love to beat the crap out of this guy, don’t get me wrong, but there’s nothing that dude’s going to say to take me out of my game, push me too far or make me fight emotionally. I’m going to get in there and do what I do every single time. I’m going to put the pace on him, I’m going to put him on his back and I’m going to make him uncomfortable and I’m going to beat the crap out of him. Bottom line is this is what I was born to do, and it’s time."
As for how he foresees beating the Irish firebrand McGregor, Mendes said it could go a variety of ways.
"If I could go out there and knock this dude out, I definitely think that’s a possibility," he said. "He takes a lot of punches in fights and comes in with his hands down a lot and he gets cocky in there a little bit. I feel like I have the power and the speed to put this guy out. If not I can see myself taking this dude out by taking him down and submitting him. I’ve seen past fights where he’s lost, got submitted. The guy, he’ll tap. He’s got that give up, that quit in him.
LINK to full story: Chad Mendes on Conor McGregor: ‘I'm going to mess this dude up' - MMA Fighting
Let the fun begin!!
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