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After first FFC title defense, Ben Egli looking forward to more opportunities

After claiming a FFC title in his last bout of 2018, welterweight Ben Egli was looking to successfully defend it for the first time in his first bout of 2019 on April 19 against Joey Holt.

While the bout against Holt didn’t quite go the way Egli had envisioned, he was able to pick up the win with a second-round submission and put himself on a two-fight winning streak in the process.

“I got the result I wanted,” Egli told MMAWeekly.com. “Joey Holt was a very tough opponent. We knew he was wanting to throw hands, and we knew when he hit me he was going to hit hard, so we tried to move a little bit, and try to work my game and get him to the ground.

“I didn’t work my strategy quite like my coach or I would have liked, and got hit with a huge shot, and the rest of the fight was kind of a blur. I had to rely on my instincts and it just kind of worked out.”

With Holt having been a late replacement, it was Egli’s training that helped him make an adjustment to his new opponent and pick up the victory.

“I think a lot of fighters like me who have been doing it for a while know where we are really at and where we need some improvements, so as long as we can work on our weaknesses in between fights and we can continue to protect those weaknesses with our strengths and work on being well-rounded, it’s a pretty easy shift (from one opponent to the next),” said Egli.

“My skills and things that I’ve trained to be well-rounded are going to keep me safe and get the win.”

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Though Egli is able to work on his game between fights, he understands that he’s not going to be able to change everything at once, so he’ll be a constant work in progress going forward.

“Some of those things are things I’ve wanted to change since day one,” Egli said. “Some of it takes time. It’s not going to be done in just a few practices. There’s always going to be little adjustments.

“Every time you fight there’s always something to learn. Even with wins, there are always things that I want to do better. It’s about putting things together and making sure those (negative) things don’t happen again.”

For Egli, as long as he’s making those improvements, he’s happy to continue down the path he’s headed, regardless of what may come his way.

“I’m just trying to be the best fighter I can be,” said Egli. “That’s always been my goal: To be the best fighter I can be and go as far as I can and see where it can take me.

“I hope to get in at least two more fights in before the end of the year. I’m not going to look past anybody. I’m going to take whoever comes my way. I just plan on improving and continuing to win. With every win comes more opportunities, and I’m just happy and ready for whatever comes my way.”

Adrian Guzman expects to ‘bang it out’ with Jose Estrada at Combate Americas 35

When it comes to his February victory over Ryan Reneau at Combate Americas 31 this past February, featherweight Adrian Guzman is happy to have gotten the win, but he feels like he didn’t have his best performance.

While Guzman was able to pick up a second round TKO and finish his fourth opponent in four fights, he always feels there is room for improvement.

“I was satisfied with the victory, but I felt like I could have done a lot better in there,” Guzman told MMAWeekly.com. “Right now the goal is to learn from what I didn’t do right and go in there and perform a lot better; fix the mistakes I made in my last fight.”

Having previously competed at lightweight, Guzman is making the move down to featherweight, and can already feel the difference in how he moves compared to before.

“I feel I can move around a lot more easier right now,” said Guzman. “I’m a lot lighter on my feet. My footwork has gotten better. I’m starting to get more technical with my punches and learning to use my range more, and set up my attacks. My game has changed quite a bit.

“I’m going to work towards building myself up and getting a little bit bigger, so I’ll consider the 155-pound division for the future, but right now I want to try out the 145-pound division and see how it goes.”

On Friday in Los Angeles, Guzman (4-0) will look to remain undefeated when he faces Jose “Froggy” Estrada (5-2) in a 145-pound main card bout at Combate Americas 35.

TRENDING > UFC veteran killed in hit and run by rideshare driver

“He looks like a technical brawler type, who when he gets you against the cage likes to take you down,” Guzman said of Estrada. “I’m working on countering his flurry, when he comes in with punches, so I’m going to keep my hands up, roll some punches and throw straight down the line. If I hit him with a good one, I’ll put him down.

“I feel like we have similar styles because I like to come forward as well. I feel like we’re going to bang it out, and who ever moves backs up first will probably have to go for the takedown, which isn’t going to be me. Either way, whichever way the fight goes, I’ll be ready for whatever he brings. It’s going to be a fun night.”

When it comes to 2019, Guzman wants to remain as active as possible and build himself into a recognizable figure in the featherweight division.

“I’m looking to get in as many fights as possible,” said Guzman. “If I can, I’d like to get in another three fights this year.

“I’m looking to go in there, every single one of these fights, and get my hand raised. The ultimate goal is to get some experience, improve my record, and fight the best fighters out there. I’m trying to get some recognition and make a name for myself.”

Ex-UFC champ Nicco Montano among four fighters suspended six-months by USADA

Former UFC women’s flyweight champion Nicco Montano is one of four fighters facing a six month suspension from USADA for violating the UFC’s anti-doping policy.

USADA (United States Anti-Doping Agency) officials made the announcement on Tuesday.

Montano, Sean O’Malley, Augusto Mendes and Marvin Vettori all tested positive for trace elemnts of the banned substance Ostarine, which was ‘consistent with supplement contamination’.

“The trace amounts of ostarine found in each of the athlete’s samples was made possible by sensitive laboratory detection capabilities,” USADA officials stated. “However, as detection windows increase and the potential time between ingestion and detection lengthens, it has become more difficult for athletes to identify a contaminated product that may be the source of their positive test.

“As a consequence, the investigation period in ostarine cases is frequently relatively long, as has been the case in each of the cases announced today.”

Here’s how the suspensions broke down with their eligibility date to return:

Nicco Montano — tested positive for ostarine following an out of competition drug test on Oct. 25, 2018. Suspension started Nov. 15, 2018, which means she will be eligible to return after May 15.

Sean O’Malley — tested positive for ostarine following out of competition tests conducted on Sept. 5, 2018 and Dec. 8, 2018. Both positive tests were treated as a single occurrence because of the amount of ostarine in both samples ‘consistent with ingestion prior to Sept. 5, 2018’. His suspension began on Sept. 19, 2018 and he’s already eligible to compete again.

Marvin Vettori — tested positive for ostarine following an out of competition drug test conducted on Aug. 24, 2018. His suspension started on Aug. 24 and he is already eligible to compete again.

Augusto Mendes — tested positive for ostarine following an out of competition drug test conducted on March 7, 2018. His date of suspension started on March 20, 2018, which means he is also eligible to return to action.

Ostarine has been a common problem with drug testing in the UFC with numerous athletes testing positive for the banned substance in the past.

In addition to these four athletes, fighters such as Josh Barnett, Marco Polo Reyes, Tom Lawlor and Tim Means have also tested positive for ostarine under the UFC’s anti-doping program over the last few years.

Luke Rockhold expects Jon Jones showdown later this year

Luke Rockhold - UFC fighter

Luke Rockhold believes that UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones is simply racking up wins in a division where he’s mostly run out of suitable challengers. Rockhold intends to change that. 

The white-hot talk over the past few weeks was a verbal feud between Jones and newly minted interim middleweight champion Israel Adesanya. Rockhold points to that as a key example of Jones floundering around for a fight that will draw the spotlight.

“I think Jon is just looking for anything that can get traction. Jon is in a dead pool up there. There’s not a lot of fish in the pond, so I think he’s just struggling. He’s trying to pick off these easy fights,” Rockhold said during a recent interview with Submission Radio. “He’s trying to make people relevant, like Anthony Smith. I don’t know. He’s trying to pick off style match-ups.”

Jones is next scheduled to face Thiago Santos in the UFC 239 main event on July 6 in Las Vegas. Santos is only three fights into his tenure at 205 pounds, but he has reeled off victories over Eryk Anders, Jimi Manuwa, and Jan Blachowicz, whom Rockhold is slated to face at UFC 239.

Santos is a worthy challenger, but oddsmakers have him as a massive underdog to Jones. MyBookie, for instance, has Jones listed at -650 to Santos at +450. That’s a huge disparity in modern-day mixed martial arts. 

Luke Rockhold sees a quick path to Jon Jones at light heavyweight

Rockhold, however, feels that a win in his light heavyweight debut over a Top 10 fighter like Blachowicz, should quickly put him on the path to Jones, a fighter that he knows well from having pretended to be him.

“I’d jump on (a fight with Jones) in a heartbeat. I’ve been training as Jon Jones for (teammate Daniel Cormier) for so many years and I know his style, and like what we have here. So I’m gonna go focus on what I’m doing here this summer and if everything works out, me and Jon will be dancing later this year or 2020.

“Thiago Santos just got a world title fight after beating Jan Blachowicz, so I figure if I go out there and put a performance on him, what’s to deny me? I mean, what else is there? These guys are scouring around, not taking fights. So I’m gonna go out there and I’m gonna perform and do my job, and then I’m gonna let the chips fall where they may.”

Luke Rockhold believes skill-for-skill, nobody can match him

Rockhold could find a quicker path to the title than most because he has already held the UFC belt as a middleweight, where it’s become harder and harder for him to make weight in a healthy manner. With the size he’s added in moving up to 205 pounds, Rockhold believes his skills translate well opposite the man oft-argued as being the greatest fighter of all time.

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“I can strike with him, I’m no slouch in the wrestling game, and top of it, with the size I have now, it’s different. And I’m gonna give a lot more power, I’m gonna bring it on the feet, and I don’t believe there’s a man in this game that can f— with me on the ground,” said Rockhold.

“When you start implementing punches and grappling, there’s no one. I don’t believe there’s anybody who can dance with me in that realm.”

UFC heavyweight Walt Harris accepts USADA suspension for contaminated substance

Walt Harris - UFC 197

USADA announced on Monday that Walt Harris, of Homewood, Ala., has accepted a four-month sanction for a violation of the UFC Anti-Doping Policy after testing positive for a prohibited substance from a contaminated supplement.

Harris, 35, tested positive for LGD-4033 as the result of an in-competition urine sample he provided on December 29, 2018 that was collected by the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) at UFC 232 in Inglewood, Calif. LGD-4033 is a non-Specified Substance in the class of Anabolic Agents and prohibited at all times under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy (UFC ADP), which has adopted the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Prohibited List.

Following notification of his positive test, Harris provided USADA with information about a dietary supplement product he was using before and at the time of the relevant sample collection. Although no prohibited substances were listed on the supplement label, analysis conducted on both the open and independently sourced, unopened containers of the product by the WADA-accredited laboratory in Salt Lake City, Utah, indicated that the product contained LGD-4033.

The presence of an undisclosed prohibited substance in a product is regarded as contamination. Accordingly, the product has since been added to the list of high-risk supplements maintained on USADA’s online dietary supplement safety education and awareness resource – Supplement 411 (www.Supplement411.org).

Under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, as well as the World Anti-Doping Code, the determination that an athlete’s positive test was caused by a contaminated product may result in a reduced sanction. Where contamination is established, the sanction for a doping offense involving a non-Specified Substance ranges from a reprimand and no period of ineligibility, at a minimum, to a two-year period of ineligibility, at a maximum.

TRENDING > Darren Till reportedly arrested, fined for stealing taxi and trashing hotel in the Canary Islands

CSAC announced a four-month suspension and $4,000 fine stemming from Harris’ December 29, 2018 sample that CSAC collected. Taking into consideration the circumstances that resulted in Harris’ positive test and CSAC’s suspension and fine, USADA has determined that a four-month period of ineligibility is an appropriate sanction under the UFC ADP for his violation.

Harris’ four-month period of ineligibility began on December 29, 2018, the date his positive sample was collected. Under the rules, any decision concerning competition results is handled by the Commission and the UFC.

UFC veteran killed in hit and run by rideshare driver

Rodrigo de Lima - UFC fighter

Former UFC fighter Rodrigo de Lima was reportedly killed in a hit-and-run incident on Sunday following an argument with his rideshare driver in Belém, Brazil.

The incident was confirmed to Oliberal.com by friend and teammate Michel Prazeres, who is a UFC welterweight. 

According to the report, de Lima argued with his rideshare driver and then left the car. The driver, whom authorities later identified as Jefferson Roger Maciel, then allegedly ran de Lima down from behind and drove away. Police are currently searching for Maciel. 

De Lima was married with two children. He was 28 years of age.

TRENDING > Darren Till reportedly arrested, fined for stealing taxi and trashing hotel in the Canary Islands

De Lima finished his career with a 8-3-1 record. He fought his way into the Octagon by competing in his home country of Brazil. He didn’t find the same success under the UFC banner, losing both of his bouts, most recently in 2015. 

De Lima returned to fighting last year, winning a bout under the Shooto Brasil banner.

(Photo courtesy of UFC)

Darren Till reportedly arrested, fined for stealing taxi and trashing hotel in the Canary Islands

Former UFC title contender Darren Till was reportedly arrested and later fined for his role in stealing a taxi and trashing a hotel while on vacation on the Canary Islands.

An initial report from the Daily Mail in the U.K. stated that Till was taken into custody after he allegedly drove off in the taxi that had dropped him off at a hotel while the driver was removing his bags from the car.

Till was reportedly vacationing in Tenerife in the Canary Islands along with four other friends who were also charged by authorities over the altercation.

Till and his friends allegedly got kicked out of a luxury hotel after smashing furniture and emptying fire extinguishers before they were taken to a different hotel where they apparently stole the taxi before police apprehended them shortly afterwards.

Court officials then later confirmed to the Daily Mail that Till was among a group of five friends who were detained and later released after being fined for stealing the cab and ordered to pay restitution to the hotel that was damaged.

“Court of Investigation Number Four in Arona, acting as a duty court on Saturday, sentenced five British men for different incidents that occurred last Thursday,” court officials said.

“The men admitted wrongdoing. The sportsman D.T. (Darren Till) and another man were sentenced as authors of a crime of damage and unauthorized use of a vehicle.”

According to the report, Till was fined just over $941 for the damage done to the taxi as well as the fine for stealing the car in the first place.

Till and his friends were also on the line for over $11,000 in damage done to the hotel that they were ordered to pay in restitution.

TRENDING > Luke Rockhold expects Jon Jones showdown later this year

The report states that Till and his friends were held in custody for two days by local authorities after the arrest until they could head to court where they admitted to the charges and agreed to pay the fines.

Till hasn’t made any public statement regarding his alleged arrest.

The 26-year old British slugger last fought in March where he suffered a second round knockout to Jorge Masvidal, which marked his second straight defeat after falling to former welterweight champion Tyron Woodley last year.

Thomas Gifford plans to punish Roosevelt Roberts at UFC Ft. Lauderdale

Looking back over the last two years, lightweight Thomas Gifford couldn’t be much happier with how things have turned out.

Not only has Gifford gone undefeated over the course of his last five fights, but he’s particularly happy with how he was able to handle himself in his most recent win over Chris Brown last October in V3 Fights.

“I’m on a five-fight winning streak,” Gifford told MMAWeekly.com. “I’ve finished all my opponents (during that streak) but one. At the end of the year I had a three round war with A Jackson-Wink guy (in Brown) and it really put me on the map, showing that I could take a beating and still pull out the outcome over a fighter of that caliber.

“I put it in my mind to beat him, and I did. I didn’t do it how I wanted to; I almost got him in the first round, but he ended up pulling out of the submission and taking me all three rounds. It was a hard fight. I took a lot of punches, he took a lot of punches, but I just kept coming forward and pushing through, and got the decision.”

What has worked particularly well for Gifford over his winning streak is a change in his strategy; in particular how he deals with wrestling-based opponents.

“I hated getting beat by a wrestler because they would hold me down and I couldn’t hit them,” said Gifford. “That was my problem – I would lay there and get beat up. I’ve lost teeth because of it. I’ve had concussions. I’ve had lots of trouble just from being like that.

“I changed my game plan up to where I would stay long, stay lengthy, and I would make them shoot a bad shot. I would let them get close. I wouldn’t over-throw my punches. I wouldn’t start leaning forward trying to chase them. I would stay back and use my reach.”

On Saturday in Sunrise, Fla., Gifford (17-7) will look to extend his winning streak when he faces Roosevelt Roberts (7-0) in a 155-pound preliminary bout at UFC on ESPN+ 8.

“I think my experience is really going to take this fight; not because I’ve had all these fights; but because he’s never been to the second or third round after a war,” Gifford said of Roberts. “He’s never been punished. He’s always been the puncher or aggressor; he’s never been on the side of that. I’m planning on sticking and moving and making him be on the other side.”

TRENDING > Darren Till reportedly arrested, fined for stealing taxi and trashing hotel in the Canary Islands

Now that he’s made it to the UFC, Gifford will leave the details to his team and keep his mind to whatever gets lined up for him next.

“I’m leaving everything to my management team,” said Gifford. “They’re going to take good care of me. I also believe in my coaches, and I’m going to trust them and let them guide me. They know way more about this than I do. I’m just relying on the good lord and them to guide me through.”

Benson Henderson continues his quest to become champion at Bellator 220

While he was able to go undefeated in 2018, having only two fights didn’t sit well with lightweight veteran Benson Henderson.

A second round submission of Roger Huerta in April was followed up in October with a unanimous decision victory over Saad Awad, both in Bellator, yet, Henderson wanted more.

“I did not fight enough,” Henderson told MMAWeekly.com. “I wanted to stay busier. I had two fights last year, and that’s probably one of the slowest years of my entire career. I want to stay busier than that. They were good wins for me, but I want to build on that, grow on that, and fight as much as possible.”

Though he’s been fighting for 13 years and is approaching 40 fights, Henderson maintains continual growth, with the help of those around you, is essential for continuing to perform at the highest level of MMA.

“You have to be aware of any holes in your game, any mistakes you’ve made, and fix them,” said Henderson. “You can be darn sure that your next opponent’s coaches are scouting, MMA coaches are smart, so you have to be aware of what you’re doing and how much success you have with whatever.

“Definitely I’m a strongly highly self-motivated, but that being said, you need a team to do things. My team definitely helps motivate me. The young guys push me, but I push them back and show them what the old dog has. They definitely continue to push me and inspire me to be better every single day.”

On Saturday in San Jose, Calif., Henderson (26-8) will look to add to his current two-fight winning streak when he faces Adam Piccolotti (11-2) in a Bellator 220 main card lightweight bout.

TRENDING > Luke Rockhold expects Jon Jones showdown later this year

“He’s a good prospect coming up,” Henderson said of Piccolotti. “He took two losses in a row, but he’s had two wins since then, so he’s the hot prospect coming up. It’s going to be a tough pick.”

For Henderson, the immediate task of picking up a win in his upcoming fight with Piccolotti will lead to the next fight and hopefully sometime before the end of the year the achieving of his goal to once again be a champion.

“Long term goals, short term goals, you definitely have to take it fight-by-fight,” said Henderson. “Those short term goals lead to the long term goals.

“To me, winning every single fight I have; every single Jiu-Jitsu match, every single wrestling match, every boxing smoker that I go to; I want to win everything and by the end of 2019 I want to make sure I have the Bellator belt around my waist.”

Watch ‘Jacare’ Souza knock out Chris Weidman (UFC Ft. Lauderdale Free Fight)

Ronaldo Jacare Souza

(Courtesy of UFC)

Last year Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza defeated former middleweight champion Chris Weidman in the Fight of the Night at UFC 230 at Madison Square Garden.

Souza faces Jack Hermansson next in the main event of UFC Fight Night Fort Lauderdale on Saturday, April 27. He was supposed to have fought fellow contender Yoel Romero in a rematch, but Romero had to withdraw following a bout with pneumonia.

TRENDING > Luke Rockhold expects Jon Jones showdown later this year

Tune in Saturday, April 27 to MMAWeekly.com for UFC on ESPN+ 8: Jacare vs. Hermansson full live results from Fort Lauderdale, Florida.