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Mitch Raposo plans to beat Raymond Yanez at Cage Titans 45 and fight on Dana White’s Contender Series

Coming off a highly successful amateur career that saw him go undefeated and capture multiple titles, flyweight prospect Mitch Raposo kept things going in his pro debut this past April at Cage Titans 43 versus Rob Fuller.

In just over a minute and a half, Raposo was able to submit Fuller, and pick up his first pro win in his debut.

“I was stoked,” Raposo told MMAWeekly.com. “I put a lot of… not to say unnecessary pressure… but it was my pro debut, I had a 6-0 record, a belt, and I felt I had a lot to live up to. I think I went out there, handled it like a professional, and took care of business like I was supposed to.”

For Raposo, the amateur experience he picked up was invaluable toward helping him make a successful jump to the pro ranks.

“I needed the rounds,” said Raposo. “A lot of people said I have a UFC-level skillset, but that doesn’t mean much because if I don’t have the experience and being comfortable in the cage, it’s completely different.

“You see that in each performance, you see a little bit more from me. It’s the idea that from being an amateur to a pro where the work in the gym is showing up in the cage, in the beginning it’s not necessarily like that because you’re hesitant to do things and stuff like that.”

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On Saturday in Plymouth, Mass., Raposo (1-0) will look to remain undefeated when he takes on Raymond Yanez (5-14) in a main card 125-pound bout at Cage Titans 45.

“He’s like a veteran,” Raposo said of Yanez. “A lot of prospects have fought him. My expectations are to finish him and beat him more impressively than anybody has.”

While Raposo wants to take things one fight at a time, he does have a clear-cut goal he’d like to achieve sometime next year.

“I’m definitely focused more on fight by fight, but I still have my plans,” said Raposo. “I’m a 20-year-old kid and young in the game, but my goal is to be 4-0, maybe 5-0, going into the Contender Series next year.

“I was bulking up to 135, but now the UFC is building back up the 125s, so that’s the opportunity next year; the Contender Series in Las Vegas at 125 or 135; that’s the plan.”

Nick Newell intends to be ‘aggressive and mean’ at Bellator 225

Following a 10-month layoff, lightweight Nick Newell returned to fighting this past May with a first-round submission win over Antonio Castillo Jr. at CES 56.

For Newell, the time off didn’t hinder his performance. He was able to come back off his second career loss in his fight prior to getting himself back on track with the win over Castillo.

“Props to (Castillo), he stepped on short notice,” Newell told MMAWeekly.com. “It was a different fight than what I was supposed (to have). I was just so well prepared and so ready that I was ready to do what I did, which was finish the fight in the first round.

“I’m not the type of guy who when he takes time off he stops training. I have a huge stable of fighters at my gym and people who are getting ready for fights, and I’m training with them all the time and getting them ready. I’m always in shape (and ready to fight).”

Now a decade into his pro fighting career, the 33-year-old Newell feels like his maturation not only as a fighter but as a man has been the biggest area of growth he’s seen in himself over the recent past.

“A lot of the time before I was still a little boy, and I’m not gonna lie, but I’m still a little childish in some of the things I do and some of the things I find funny, but that’s just how I am, but as a man as far as responsibility as a human I have stepped things up,” said Newell.

“I have a lot of stuff going on in my life and I’m really trying to kill everything I’m doing, and I think I’m doing a pretty good job of it. It’s seeing different things and your attitude. I’ve matured a lot as a man.”

At Bellator 225 on Saturday in Bridgeport, Conn., Newell (15-2) will look for his second straight win when he faces Corey Browning (5-2) in a preliminary 155-pound bout.

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“I just have to do my thing and be myself,” Newell said. “Be that aggressive fighter that got me to where I am.

“I know how good I am, but I think people have only seen a fraction what I’m capable. I’m going to go out there, be aggressive, be smart, be mean and be a lot for him to deal with – it’s going to be a lot for anyone to deal with.”

For Newell, his upcoming fight in Bellator is an opportunity to start a new chapter in his career, and it’s definitely something he plans to capitalize on.

“I’m going to defeat Cory and from there talk to Bellator,” said Newell. “I appreciate the chance and would like to negotiate a long term contract with them for some opportunities to fight some of the bigger names in the division, but also really don’t want to get ahead of myself.”

Kam Arnold game plan is to apply ‘pressure and intensity’ in Cage Titans 45 main event

Looking back on his first round TKO win over Henry Clark at NEF 38 this past April, bantamweight Kam Arnold gives a lot of credit to his opponent, but feels the outcome was a direct result of his opponent’s ability.

Knowing Clark would be a difficult task if he let the fight ride out, Arnold sprung immediately to action, picking up a 21-second victory in the process.

“That was a really big fight for me on many levels,” Arnold told MMAWeekly.com. “Henry is a really tough guy. He can go pro at any time. He’s very well-rounded. He’s very smart and has a very high fight IQ.

“Needless to say I had to make that fight into my fight and turn it into a brawl. I had to turn it up a notch and I had to show him what I’m about and what I’m going to bring. I ended it fairly quickly; a lot quicker than I thought it was going to happen.”

While some fighters might lament the lack of cage time that getting a series of first round finishes produces, such as Arnold has done, he doesn’t see it as a negative.

“Honestly I don’t care how much time I have in that cage,” said Arnold. “My job is to get in, get out, to finish somebody.

“I didn’t get really any trouble at all until I fought Killian Murphy (in June, 2018). Even though I knocked him out in the fourth, I know that I can last. Me going in there and doing my job and finishing people as viciously and violently and quickly as possible is good my eyes.”

This Saturday in Plymouth, Mass., Arnold (5-0) will look to add another title to his collection when he faces Jeff Joy (3-0) in the 135-pound championship main event of Cage Titans 45.

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“(Being from Maine) we know down in Massachusetts decisions don’t go our way,” Arnold said. “I’m going to go in there and finish (Joy) in the first round, second round, whatever it may be.

“He’s not going to be able to maintain my pressure or my intensity.”

Approaching double digits in fights, with possibly multiple titles in toe, a move up to the next level could be right around the corner for Arnold, but that’s not where his focus is at this time.

“This is another step on the ladder, another notch on the ladder,” said Arnold. “I take fights one fight at a time. But that doesn’t negate the fact that we have a schedule in place as well.

“Barring injuries and stuff like that we have a set schedule and know where we’d like me to be next year or by the end of this year.”

David Rickels looking forward to handing undefeated Bellator 225 opponent his first loss

David Rickels at Bellator 130

After picking up a win in his last fight of 2018, welterweight David Rickels was looking to build some momentum with a victory in his first bout of 2019 when he faced AJ Mathews at Bellator 219 in March.

Halfway through the second round it became clear that Mathews could not continue due to injury. Thus, Rickles picked up a TKO win for his first back-to-back victories since 2017.

“It was good to get a couple (wins) in a row,” Rickels told MMAWeekly.com. “Beating AJ, it’s a fight that was talked about for a long time and finally got to happen. It played out kind of how I expected; a lot of Muay Thai back and forth until somebody lost.”

Twelve years and nearly 30 fights into his career, Rickels still has a desire for fighting that he’s carrying with him through his 2019 campaign.

“One of the things about fighting is, I am a veteran, I have the most fights in Bellator and this and that, but I’m still very passionate about finding my place amongst the greats in Bellator and kind of solidifying that,” Rickels told MMAWeekly.com.

“The training has been hard, of course, we always train hard, but I’ve been pushing it and have been good on my diet and doing my best to get this (upcoming) win.”

This Saturday in Bridgeport, Conn., Rickels (21-5) will seek to pick up his third win in a row when he faces Yaroslav Amosov (21-0) in a Bellator 225 main card 175-pound catchweight bout.

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“I feel like getting a 21-0 fighter and knocking them off and being the first to give them a loss is really important and has fired me up,” Rickels said of facing Amosov.

“He likes to slow the fight down with his grappling and force his will on you; make guys tired by carrying around his weight. He’s good at stuff like that. We’re preparing my gas tank for a really hard three-round fight. I think putting some volume on him and make him respect me early will be a pretty important thing.”

For Rickels, the main goal is to keep his winning ways going and see where it takes him to close out this year and carry him into 2020.

“The thing for me I’d really love to get a good little streak going here,” said Rickels. “Getting a third win would be really important to me.

“I could definitely fight before the year’s up. The big thing is making sure my body is healthy as well. I have to make sure I get through this fight in a healthy manner, and after that we can go from there.”

Watch Dustin Poirier knock out Justin Gaethje (UFC 242 fight video)

(Courtesy of UFC)

Interim lightweight champion Dustin Poirier looks to unify his title with that of champion Khabib Nurmagomedov in the UFC 242 main event on Saturday, September 7, in Abu Dhabi.

Before that happens, watch Poirier knock out Justin Gaethje in their UFC on FOX 29 headliner.

TRENDING > Watch Khabib Nurmagomedov take out Michael Johnson (UFC 242 fight video)

Tune in Saturday, Sept. 7, at a special EARLY START TIME of 10 a.m. ET / 7 a.m. PT for full UFC 242: Khabib vs. Poirier live results from Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov looks to unify his belt with that of interim lightweight titleholder Dustin Poirier in the UFC 242 main event.

Gustavo Lopez is giving opponents more to worry about heading into Combate Americas 42 title defense

Looking back on his first round TKO of Jose Alday this past March at Combate Americas 33, bantamweight Gustavo Lopez notes a difference in attitude more so than technical skills that made for such a strong performance.

Lopez notes that when things are going well for him outside the cage that things tend to go well inside the cage and it showed in his win over Alday.

“Everything has been going pretty well; no issues, no drama; my mind has been so happy recently, and that was one of the biggest assets was that my mind was in a happy place,” Lopez told MMAWeekly.com.

“There’s a couple of photos of me smiling in the cage. It’s what I love to do. Everything just felt right.”

While his mental state helped him claim his first major MMA championship in the victory against Alday, Lopez feels there has been a big leap forward in one particular area of his game.

“My hands looked so much better than in previous years,” said Lopez. “In that fight I moved very well, striking looked very crisp, angles are going right and I finished that fight with a TKO.

“Overall I have a heavy pace, good pressure, great wrestling, but now people have to worry about my striking. I think that’s going to open up my takedowns even more. Now if you keep your hands down to try to stop my takedown I’ll hit you in the face. Now I give people more to worry about than just my wrestling.”

On Friday in Lake Tahoe, Nev., Lopez (10-4) will look to successfully defend his title for the first time when he faces Joey Ruquet (7-2) in the 135-pound main event of Combate Americas 42.

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“I feel like in the first fight we had (in 2015), in the first round he felt like he was losing, so he pressured me a little forward, and then got taken down and pretty much got ran over after that,” Lopez said of Ruquet. “If it hits the ground I feel I’m deadly against anyone.”

Now that he’s a title holder, Lopez is looking forward to seeing how things shake out in the bantamweight division below him to determine who he faces in his next title defense.

“I want to continue to fight the best Combate has,” said Lopez. “I feel there are a lot of fighters in Combate that deserve a shot. I feel that people have to start fighting each other to get a shot at me.

“A lot of our 135ers are amazing fighters; they’re great, so just picking one is going to be hard. I feel we’re going to have a lot of great events with 135ers headlining the card, fighting each other to see who is going to fight for my title.”

Jeff Joy is out to show who is No. 1 in the Northeast at Cage Titans 45

After picking up an impressive 63-second submission victory in his amateur debut in June of 2018, bantamweight Jeff Joy was looking to keep his momentum going when an injury sidelined him for the remainder of the year.

Shortly after he picked up his debut win against Ton Vivieros at Cage Titans 39, Joy suffered the injury that would cost him seven months of action.

“I broke my foot about a month after I fought at the end of July/August, then had rehab, and started training again,” Joy told MMAWeekly.com.

Finally recovered and ready to fight again, Joy has since gone on to pick up back to back victories in 2019 and claim the Cage Titans bantamweight title in the process.

“January hits and I fight Will Alfano and it goes great,” said Joy. “It was a good fight, back and forth, and I think my hands and submissions were deeper than his.

“I took a month and a half off and just trained for that (Arthur Mpofu title) fight. That was a real emotional fight and everything worked out like it was supposed to.”

This Saturday in Plymouth, Massachusetts, Joy (3-0) will look to defend his title for the first time when he faces Kam Arnold (5-0) in the 135-pound championship main event of Cage Titans 45.

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“He’s a big puncher,” Joy said of Arnold. “Obviously I can’t stand flat-footed in front of him like a lot of people did and give him easy shots. I have to be in and out.

“I have to work for the takedowns. I can’t get silly with him. I can’t keep my hands down. I’ve always got to be on my toes with him and use a lot of movement to get this win.”

Being undefeated with a title in hand, Joy could make a case for turning pro sooner than later. Rather than force it, Joy would rather let the move happen when it happens.

“In my personal experience things work out best when you don’t force them,” said Joy. “I can’t really think about that. I’ve talked about and have probably talked about it too much during this camp anyway, so I’ve just got to focus on camp.

“This fight is to see who is number one in the Northeast, and anything after that can happen. Like my trainer has said, we’ll talk about all that shit after.”

Conor McGregor admits he was ‘in the wrong’ punching a pub patron; addresses retirement comments

Conor McGregor following Floyd Mayweather sparring

Conor McGregor, speaking to ESPN on Thursday, made his first public statement about punching a pub patron in the face back in April of this year. McGregor admitted he was “in the wrong.”

The incident, according to a TMZ report, occurred on April 6 at The Marble Arch Pub in Dublin. McGregor apparently stepped into the pub to buy a round of his Proper No. Twelve Irish whiskey for the patrons, lining up glasses for each and pouring it himself.

One man apparently refused the whiskey, which allegedly led to McGregor throwing a punch at the man. Two other men immediately grabbed McGregor and removed him from the pub, but the incident was caught on camera.

There was no sound on the recording, so it was unclear what was said between McGregor and the pub patron that refused his hospitality.

UFC president Dana White recently discussed the incident on The Jim Rome Show, saying, “That happened in April, and I knew that happened. They just got the video, and, yeah, it’s pretty bad.”

RELATED > Video surfaces of Conor McGregor punching bar patron for refusing his whiskey

McGregor apparently agreed with White’s sentiment.

“In reality, it doesn’t matter what happened there. I was in the wrong,” he told ESPN’s Ariel Helwani. “That man deserved to enjoy his time in the pub without having it end the way it did. I tried to make amends. And I made amends back then. That doesn’t even matter; I was in the wrong.

“I have to realize, that’s not the attitude or behavior of a leader or martial artist, of a champion,” McGregor continued. “I must get my head screwed on and just get back in the cage (and) fight for redemption, retribution, respect. The things that made me the man I am. And that’s what I will do.”

McGregor has been somewhat quiet about his fighting career recently, even having mentioned retirement. That’s nothing new, however, as McGregor has stated his retirement in the past, only to return to the Octagon.

With his latest remarks, that appears to be the case once again, as McGregor said, “Sometimes you just need to take a back step. I don’t think I will ever retire from this game.”

RELATED > Joe Rogan after old guy punch: ‘Conor McGregor is living like you’re supposed to live if you’re Conor McGregor’

Conor McGregor targets Khabib Nurmagomedov, but open to other fights in UFC return

Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Conor McGregor - UFC 229 NY Press Conference

(Video courtesy of ESPN MMA | Viewing may be limited by broadcast rights restrictions)

UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov is the top target on Conor McGregor’s radar for a UFC return, which he hopes to make by year’s end, but he’s open to many other options, as well.

Saying that he was injured and half-committed going into their bout at UFC 229 last year, McGregor wants to dial back the bout with Nurmagomedov.

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Austin Vanderford ‘excited’ for ‘great match-up for him’ at Bellator 225

Following a couple of years on the regional circuit, middleweight up and comer Austin Vanderford got his opportunity to step up to the national stage when he made his Bellator debut this past February.

Facing Cody Jones at Bellator 251, Vanderford was able to have one of the strongest performances of his two year career with a first round submission victory in the fight.

“It was an amazing experience,” Vanderford told MMAWeekly.com. “It’s something that I’ll remember for the rest of my life; making my Bellator debut and fighting their organization. The cherry on top was getting the first round finish.

“I had always dreamed about fighting for a major promotion and it’s just kind of the waiting game and picking up fights on the local circuit and whatnot; when the opportunity arose we jumped on it right away. I’m really fortunate and happy to be in this position.”

Since the win over Jones, Vanderford has continued to work on his game as a whole rather than focus on individual areas.

“It’s more the little things (I focus on working on),” said Vanderford. “I try to be as well-rounded as I can be, so I really haven’t worked on anything specific, but more try to make my game as well-rounded and bring along my skillset all the same.”

On Saturday in Bridgeport, Conn., Vanderford (7-0) will look to remain undefeated when he takes on Doug Usher (10-3) in a preliminary 185-pound bout at Bellator 225.

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“He’s a very talented fighter in his own right,” Vanderford said of Usher. “He’s 10-3 and has got six wins a row. I think it’s a great match-up for me.

“He comes out with really heavy hands. I think I also have knockout power. I also possess the skill of take people down and wrestle people. I’m excited for the fight, and if I stick with my game plan and what I’m best with I’ll be successful.”

While Vanderford would like to close out 2019 with an additional bout, he does acknowledge that such a fight could be conditional barring personal business involving his wife, UFC veteran Paige VanZant.

“If I’m going to be completely honest, I’d like to fight one more time before the end of the year,” said Vanderford. “I’ll have this fight and take whatever time I need. I’m always training. I don’t really take that many breaks.

“My wife and I got married about a year ago and I haven’t taken her on our honeymoon yet, so that’s kind of my only obligation, but other than that it’s training and getting ready for the next one.”