About Rich Mitchell

http://groundforcefights.com

Posts by Rich Mitchell:

TJ Dillashaw Isn’t Concerned About What Happens to the Flyweight Division After Saturday Night

TJ Dillashaw Post-UFC 227 with belt

T.J. Dillashaw has a lot on his mind heading into his main event showdown against Henry Cejudo on Saturday night but the future of the flyweight division isn’t one of them.

The current bantamweight champion is dropping down to 125 pounds for the opportunity to win a second world title in hopes of becoming the fourth fighter in recent UFC history to hold two championships simultaneously.

With the title fight have also come a lot of questions about the future of the flyweight division after several fighters were released just recently while claiming that the UFC was axing the 125-pound weight class.

Meanwhile, former champion Demetrious Johnson was traded away to ONE Championship only furthering the speculation that the UFC is cashing in its chips after first launching the flyweight division back in 2012.

For his part, Dillashaw isn’t losing any sleep about the future of the flyweight division after he attempts to wrestle the title away from Cejudo this weekend.

Dillashaw maintains that his goals revolve around his own career and he can’t be worried about what the UFC will ultimately decide to do with the rest of the 125-pound roster assuming he’s victorious.

“I’m not really too worried about it,” Dillashaw said about the future of the flyweight division. “This is a selfish sport. I’m not worried about what they’re going to do with the weight class or what they’re doing with everyone else. I’m worried about being the greatest of all time.”

As soon as the fight with Cejudo was official, Dillashaw stated that the UFC was sending him down to flyweight as a paid assassin of sorts to eliminate the champion and thus close down the division.

In reality, Dillashaw says he’s had no formal conversations about what happens to the flyweights after this fight is finished but none of that really matters anyways until he gets past Cejudo.

“There’s always rumors of stuff going on,” Dillashaw said. “The first conversation is me taking over and winning that belt.”

 

UFC on ESPN+ 1 Gets Around the Clock Coverage on ESPN Platforms

UFC is set to make its UFC Fight Night on ESPN+ debut, with the showdown between UFC flyweight champion Henry Cejudo and UFC bantamweight champ TJ Dillashaw for Cejudo’s 125-pound title belt, live from Brooklyn’s Barclays Center this Saturday, Jan. 19. The main event on the preliminary card features Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone in a lightweight bout against Alex Hernandez.

The event will start and conclude on ESPN+, with main card bouts (10 p.m. ET) and early prelims (6 p.m. ET, prior to the ESPN television broadcast) streaming live in both English and Spanish. The prelims will air nationally on ESPN and ESPN Deportes (8 p.m. ET). This is the first fight card of the five-year media deal between UFC and The Walt Disney Company’s Direct-To-Consumer & International segment and ESPN, announced last year.

ESPN’s lead-up, surround coverage throughout the week includes streamed, on-air and online content via MMA shows, news and information, exclusive features and interviews and archival UFC events, along with Friday Weigh-ins and a livecountdown clock at event start.

On ESPN+, UFC is always on – 24/7/365 – including the groundbreaking new documentary series UFC: Destined, exclusively on ESPN+. UFC: Destined chronicles the journeys of UFC superstars in the moments leading up to, during and after a pivotal bout. Each of the two installments of UFC: Destined follows two featured athletes – set to fight each other in an upcoming PPV, UFC Fight Night on ESPN+ or UFC Fight Night on ESPN – as they prepare for their showdown in the Octagon. Part one is available now on ESPN+ and part two streams on ESPN+ the week following it. Part one will show and tell the athletes’ stories and backgrounds, plus follow the personal and professional storylines in the days and weeks leading up to the fight. Part two picks up the athletes’ stories in the moments immediately before, during and after their fight. This will include never-before-seen footage and access – from inside the locker room, pre-fight superstitions, meals, workouts and more – as well as post-fight reactions and emotions, including the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.

Also on ESPN+, fight fans have anytime access to more than 150 hours of high-quality, on-demand UFC content – including the UFC’s greatest fights, biggest stars and full replays of select events and more (including the recent blockbuster UFC 229: Khabib vs. McGregor event).

Production for all UFC events on ESPN+ and ESPN is provided by UFC. Calling the live action will be lead play-by-play man Jon Anik alongside current UFC heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier as the color commentator. The desk team will be on-site in Brooklyn featuring analysis from former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Rashad Evans and former UFC Middleweight champion Michael Bisping. Karyn Bryant will serve as host and Megan Olivi is on all reporting duties.

Also making its debut on the ESPN App and ESPN.com is MMA Fightcenter, the new live, data-driven digital experience featuring live fight statistics (including strikes – by significance and body region, time in control, takedowns, and more), fight cards for every fight from UFC events, fighter profile cards and more. Each Fight Night, MMA Fightcenter will visualize the strikes and damage absorbed by fighters through dynamic color-represented animations, providing fight fans an innovative companion experience to the live event. For ESPN+ subscribers, MMA Fightcenter also includes integrated live streaming video during live events (and when UFC action is on ESPN, viewers with “TV Everywhere” access have integrated streaming video).

TRENDING > UFC Poised for Optimal Growth as ESPN Finally Enters the Octagon (Yahoo Sports Special)

In addition to on-site news and analysis from Brooklyn throughout the week, ESPN, ESPN.com and the ESPN App will have exclusive editorial features on TJ Dillashaw, Donald Cerrone and Henry Cejudo and a SportsCenter feature on Greg Hardy from Jeremy Schaap. Other ESPN.com content includes in-depth statistical analysis, betting advice and Brett Okamoto’s complete guide to the fight. Fans can also check out the UFC’s must-see moves in an interactive format filled with photos and video.

As part of UFC Fight Night on ESPN+ debut, fans will have the opportunity to experience their own UFC journey to ESPN+via Brooklyn-based fan experiences set up across the city. Follow @ESPN and @UFC on Twitter for location details.

The ESPN social team will also produce an all-access Instagram Story on-site, capturing the most compelling sights and sounds for fans. Fans can join the @ESPNMMA conversation on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

ESPN Deportes will provide extensive Spanish-language coverage throughout the week, including special reports and fighter interviews on SportsCenter, Raza Deportiva and Jorge Ramos y Su Banda. On Fight Night, the network will air UFC Origenes: Henry Cejudo, a 30-minute special on Cejudo’s life, family and journey to the UFC. Extensive lead-up coverage will also be on ESPN Deportes Radio and ESPN Deportes’ digital and social platforms, including ESPNDeportes.com and onTwitter, Facebook and Instagram. Fans can join the conversation throughout the week by tagging tweets with #UFCxESPN.

UFC’s Spanish-language commentary for UFC Fight Night on ESPN+ will be provided by UFC athletes Victor Dávila (play-by-play), Santiago Ponzinibbio (analyst), and Brandon Moreno (analyst).

Till vs. Masvidal, Edwards vs. Nelson Headline UFC Fight Night in London in March

A pair of welterweight fights will headline the UFC’s return to London with Darren Till facing Jorge Masvidal in the main event while Leon Edwards meets Gunnar Nelson in the co-main event.

UFC president Dana White made the announcement via ESPN on Wednesday.

Till was expected to fight in the main event for quite some time but it was just a matter of finding him an opponent.

The Liverpool native is looking to bounce back from a second round submission loss to welterweight champion Tyron Woodley in his last fight from this past September.

As for Masvidal, he didn’t compete in 2018 and comes into the fight off two straight losses including his most recent performance against Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson.

Meanwhile, Edwards has quietly been climbing up the welterweight ranks while picking up his most high profile win last year with a victory against Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone.

Nelson is coming off a submission win over Alex Oliveira in his last fight from UFC 231 this past December in Toronto.

The two welterweight fights will headline the card that airs live in the United States on ESPN+.

Check Out Ryan Bader’s Finish of King Mo Lawal in Slow Motion

Ryan Bader atop Bellator 199 cage

(Courtesy of Bellator MMA)

Ryan Bader is headed to the Bellator Heavyweight World Grand Prix Finals. Revisit his first-round TKO finish of King Mo Lawal, as he prepares to fight Fedor Emelianenko at Bellator 214. 

TRENDING > Bellator 214: Fedor vs. Bader Media Call (Plus Full Fight Card)

The winner between Fedor and Bader will be crowned the Bellator heavyweight champion.

Joseph Benavidez Believes the Whole Flyweight Division is Rooting for Henry Cejudo Over TJ Dillashaw

Joseph Benavidez

The future of the flyweight division in the UFC remains a question going into the historic showdown on Saturday night between 125-pound champion Henry Cejudo and current bantamweight king T.J. Dillashaw.

The fate of the weight class could already be sealed but Cejudo believes if he can stand his ground and defend the title against the bantamweight champion that the 125-pounders will still have a home in the UFC.

On the flipside, Dillashaw has stated that he believes the UFC is paying him to drop down to flyweight to win the title and effectively kill off the division by defeating Cejudo on the debut card on ESPN+ this Saturday night.

Top ranked flyweight contender Joseph Benavidez, who serves as the backup to the main event this weekend and previously trained with Dillashaw, obviously has a vested interest in the outcome, especially if the future of the division really does lie on Cejudo’s shoulders.

No one from the UFC has said flat out that a Cejudo win could save flyweight any more than a Dillashaw win would kill it but that is definitely the narrative the fighters are painting ahead of their showdown.

For his part, Benavidez would never go as far as ‘rooting’ for one fighter over another because he understands the work that goes into a training camp and how heartbreaking a defeat can be.

That said, Benavidez can’t deny the picture that’s being painted ahead of this fight that Cejudo could potentially help convince the UFC to keep the flyweights employed if he’s able to get the job done against Dillashaw.

“It’s a weird thing ‘rooting’ cause I don’t wish a loss on anyone. I don’t,” Benavidez explained when speaking to MMAWeekly. “Because I know how that feels and how much work I put into it when I fight. On a bigger notion, you look at like a team or who’s behind you, or what side you’re on, I’m on the side of flyweight forever.

“In a way T.J. made it about ‘I’m crushing the division, I’m getting paid to do it, I’m killing it’. So I don’t think any flyweight out there doesn’t want Henry to go out there and prove how good we are and being able to do it against a guy like T.J., who is considered one of the best pound-for-pound [fighters] in general coming down to the weight. I don’t think there’s any flyweight out there not rooting for the champion at our weight to go out there and prove what we can do.”

If the flyweight division is being dissolved it’s definitely news to Benavidez, who just recently inked a new four-fight contract with the UFC.

Still, Benavidez knows the rumors that have been floating around about the fate of the division ever since former champion Demetrious Johnson was traded away from the UFC in a deal that sent him to ONE Championship.

When you then see Dillashaw’s comments about him being a paid assassin to eliminate the flyweight division, Benavidez can understand the intense feeling behind everybody at 125-pounds getting behind Cejudo.

“How could you not root for [Cejudo] after things T.J. is saying about flyweight?” Benavidez stated. “He’s out there representing flyweight and I want to fight him. That’s a whole other weird dynamic. I have a lot of respect for [Cejudo] and that’s another rivalry that could live on.”

Benavidez does hold a victory over Cejudo and he hopes that they are both victorious this weekend so they could compete for the flyweight title later this year. Benavidez has his own fight scheduled for Saturday night against Dustin Ortiz.

While Benavidez is a heavy favorite in his fight, Cejudo remains an underdog according to the odds makers but the former WEC title contender warns that counting out an Olympic gold medalist who just defeated the longest reigning champion in UFC history is not to be underestimated.

“He’s a beast,” Benavidez said about Cejudo. “You don’t become an Olympic champion without having everything. That’s what it was against Demetrious, it was execution. Everyone is obviously athletic in the division but he went out there and executed and put his mind on something and took out the best of all time.”

TJ Dillashaw Willing to Defend Both Belts if He Wins UFC Flyweight Title

TJ Dillashaw - UFC Brooklyn Pre-Fight Luncheon

(Courtesy of Karyn Bryant)

UFC bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw is chasing history when he steps into the Octagon opposite flyweight titleholder Henry Cejudo on Saturday in Brooklyn. With a victory, he would become only the fourth fighter in history to hold UFC belts in two different weight classes simultaneously.

He had been hoping to do so in a bout opposite Demetrious “Might Mouse” Johnson, who had long held the 125-pound belt and is considered one of the greatest fighters of all time, but Cejudo upset Johnson. 

So Dillashaw has shifted his focus from one champion to another – not to mention that Cejudo is also an Olympic Gold Medalist – but his goals have not changed. 

Ultimately, he wants to be considered the greatest fighter in the world, perhaps even moving up in weight class to challenge Max Holloway at 145 pounds and win a third UFC title.

But first, Dillashaw must get past Cejudo, who is riding his own wave of confidence.

TRENDING >  Nate Diaz Slaps His Way into Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Conor McGregor Feud

Tune in to MMAWeekly.com on Saturday, Jan. 19, for full UFC Fight Night: Cejudo vs. Dillashaw Live Results and Fight Stats. The first bout is scheduled to start at 6 p.m. ET / 3 p.m. PT with Henry Cejudo vs. TJ Dillashaw finishing out the night.

Watch TJ Dillashaw’s Greatest Highlights Ahead of UFC on ESPN+ 1

TJ Dillashaw



(Courtesy of UFC)

Before TJ Dillashaw challenges Henry Cejudo for his UFC flyweight title at UFC Fight Night: Brooklyn on ESPN+, look back the best bouts in the two-time bantamweight champions’ career.

If Dillashaw defeats Cejudo, he will become only the third man to win UFC titles in two different weight classes simultaneously. And if he does that, Dillashaw hopes to move on to win a third… something no other athlete in UFC history has ever done.

TRENDING > Daniel Cormier Previews UFC Fight Night Brooklyn: Henry Cejudo vs. TJ Dillashaw

Tune in to MMAWeekly.com on Saturday, Jan. 19, for full UFC Fight Night: Cejudo vs. Dillashaw Live Results and Fight Stats. The first bout is scheduled to start at 6 p.m. ET / 3 p.m. PT with Cejudo vs. Dillashaw finishing out the night.

Bellator 214: Fedor vs. Bader Media Call (Plus Full Fight Card)

Bellator 214 Fedor vs Bader Media Call

(Subscribe to MMAWeekly.com on YouTube)

Former Pride FC champion Fedor Emelianenko and current Bellator light heavyweight champion Ryan Bader fielded questions on Tuesday about their pending heavyweight title fight, which takes place at Bellator 214 on Jan. 26 in Inglewood, Calif.

The two have moved through the first-ever Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix, each having defeated two other men to get here. Fedor rolled through former UFC champion Frank Mir and Chael Sonnen, defeating each by way of technical knockout. Bader was no less impressive, scoring wins over Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal and Matt Mitrione, a man that holds a win over Fedor.

Joining them on the call were Jake Hager and J.W. Kiser, who are also fighting on the Bellator 214 fight card. You might shake your head and say what, who? But Hager is better known as Jack Swagger, the moniker he performed under while on the WWE roster and promises to be a significant draw for the fight promotion.

TRENDING > Check Out Ryan Bader and Fedor Emelianenko Highlights Before Their Bellator 214 Showdown

Though Hager is following in the footsteps of fellow former WWE star CM Punk, who lost back-to-back bouts under the UFC banner, he insists that his foray into the cage will be much different from the disappointing results from CM Punk.

Bellator 214: Fedor vs. Bader Fight Card

Main Card

  • Heavyweight World Grand Prix Final: Fedor Emelianenko (38-5, 1 NC) vs. Ryan Bader (26-5) 
  • Featherweight Co-Main Event: Aaron Pico (4-1) vs. Henry Corrales (16-3) 
  • Heavyweight Main Card Bout: Jake Hager (Pro Debut) vs. J.W. Kiser (1-1)
  • Bantamweight Main Card Bout: Juan Archuleta (21-1) vs. Ricky Bandejas (11-1)

Preliminary Card

  • Bantamweight Preliminary Bout: Weber Almeida (1-0) vs. Odan Chinchilla (1-0)
  • Featherweight Preliminary Bout: Jay Jay Wilson (1-0) vs. Tyler Beneke (Pro Debut)
  • Heavyweight Preliminary Bout: Sean Johnson (3-1) vs. Art Rivas (5-2)
  • Lightweight Preliminary Bout: Jorge Juarez (3-0) vs. David Pacheco (0-0)
  • Welterweight Preliminary Bout: Jesse Merritt (5-4) vs. Thor Skancke (10-8-1)

UFC’s Jennifer Maia Latest Brazilian Fighter to Receive Sanction for Contaminated Substance

Jennifer Maia - Invicta FC

USADA announced on Tuesday that Jennifer Maia, of Curitiba, Brazil, has accepted a six-month sanction for a violation of the UFC Anti-Doping Policy after testing positive for prohibited substances from a contaminated dietary supplement.

Maia, 30, tested positive for furosemide, hydrochlorothiazide, chlorothiazide, and the thiazide metabolite 4-amino-6-chloro-1,3-benzenedisulfonamide (ACB), following an out-of-competition test conducted on Aug. 16, 2018. These substances are Specified Substances in the class of Diuretics and Masking Agents and are prohibited at all times under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, which has adopted the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Prohibited List.

During an investigation into the circumstances of her case, opened and sealed containers of a dietary supplement she was using at the time of the Aug. 16 sample collection, and that she declared on her doping control form, were sent to the WADA-accredited laboratory in Brazil for analysis. Although no prohibited substances were listed on the supplement label, the analysis revealed that both contained the prohibited substances for which Maia tested positive.

Accordingly, this product has been added to the High Risk List of supplements maintained on USADA’s online dietary supplement safety education and awareness resource – Supplement 411 (www.Supplement411.org). Further, USADA reminds athletes that dietary supplement products marketed for weight loss carry significant risk to contain prohibited prescription medications, such as diuretics. 

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. The sanction for a doping offense resulting from the use of a contaminated product ranges from a reprimand and no period of ineligibility to a two-year period of ineligibility.

Maia’s six-month period of ineligibility began on Aug. 31, the date on which she was provisionally suspended from competition. 

TRENDING > Jon Jones’ Coach Says He Has a Scary Level of Motivation Heading into 2019

Maia last set foot in the Octagon at UFC Fight Night: dos Santos vs. Ivanov on July 14, 2018, where she lost a unanimous decision to Liz Carmouche. Maia is a former Invicta FC flyweight champion.

Pursuant to the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, all UFC athletes serving a period of ineligibility for an anti-doping policy violation are required to continue to make themselves available for testing to receive credit for time completed under their sanction.

UFC Poised for Optimal Growth as ESPN Finally Enters the Octagon (Yahoo Sports Special)

Dana White UFC 230 Post-Fight Press Conference

(The following report comes from MMAWeekly.com content partner Yahoo Sports, written by Kevin Iole.)

On Nov. 12, 2011, the day that the UFC made its debut on Fox with a heavyweight title fight between Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos, it was competing with a pay-per-view boxing card in Las Vegas headlined by Manny Pacquiao.

On Saturday, the UFC will open the ESPN era with a flyweight title fight between champion Henry Cejudo and bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw. And yes, Pacquiao will once again be doing his thing in Las Vegas, taking on Adrien Broner in yet another pay-per-view boxing match at the MGM Grand Garden.

Despite the similarities, though, things are dramatically different in 2019 after the UFC finished its seven-year run with Fox and transitions to a new rights deal with ESPN with Saturday’s card at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The UFC is infinitely stronger than it was in late 2011, and much of that is due to the exposure it received on Fox. Even though the ratings never approached the 5.7 million peak it received for the Velasquez-dos Santos fight, not only did more U.S. fans than ever see the UFC on Fox, but they got an education in mixed martial arts from Fox’s shoulder programming that they hadn’t gotten before.

TRENDING > UFC 235 Odds: Jon Jones a Massive Favorite Over Anthony Smith and Divide Widening

The most remarkable thing, perhaps, about the UFC’s Fox era is the broadcast talent it discovered among its fighters. Heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier is in a class all his own, both in the cage and behind the microphone. Cormier is a magnificent broadcaster who helped explain a sometimes difficult-to-understand sport clearly, simply and articulately.

Former bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz seems to know what a fighter is going to do before the fighter does. Cormier and Cruz stand out, but so many have excelled at the job like Tyron Woodley, Rashad Evans, Michael Bisping, Paul Felder and Miesha Tate, among others.

They helped make the fanbase more knowledgeable and that impact can’t be underestimated. The UFC still controls the production, and so most of ESPN broadcasting team will be familiar. For Saturday’s debut, it will be Jon Anik doing play-by-play with Cormier doing color. Karyn Bryant will be the studio host with Evans, Bisping and Megan Olivi.

ESPN executives sought out the UFC’s rights even when the network already had an overwhelming amount of live sports rights and had recently entered into a seven-year partnership with Top Rank for boxing coverage.

Saturday’s card will be on both ESPN and its online streaming service, ESPN+. In a twist, though, preliminary fights will be on ESPN before it transitions to ESPN+.

Russell Wolff, the executive vice president and general manager of ESPN+, said it was important for ESPN to be in the UFC business because it is a global sport with a large — and growing — fan base.

Just like it did when Fox launched FS1 in 2012, the UFC is going to help push the growth of ESPN+, which debuted in April.

Partnerships only work, though, if they help both sides and…