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Martin Nguyen Intends to Make a Statement About His Championship Credentials

At ONE: Quest for Power on Saturday (local time) Martin Nguyen is going up against one of the most experienced and successful featherweights in Japanese MMA. His opponent at the Jakarta Convention Centre is two-division Deep champion Kazunori Yokota.

Yokota dropped to featherweight in 2011 and put together an incredible 13-fight winning streak, which was only ended by Marat Gafurov last year. He’s a veteran of 34 fights but Nguyen is not intimidated by his opponent’s career or credentials.

“His professional career is amazing. He has had 30 plus fights and I’m pretty sure we all know who the most experienced guy is but that’s all he has.”

Nguyen is facing off against all types of featherweights. He’s already fought the reigning champion, Gafurov handed him his first and only career loss, and in his most recent bout the Australian finished undefeated teenage contender Christian Lee.

Martin Nguyen for MMAWeeklyThe Singaporean has five-straight stoppage wins inside the ONE Championship cage, and Nguyen was delighted to be the man who ended this streak.

“The win over Christian hit the sweet spot and I was pretty happy with my performance. Everything we had been working on during camp was picture perfect, the plan was to knock him but putting him to sleep was just as good.”

The 27-year-old has been preparing for his forthcoming fight in Australia and feels he will be well equipped to deal with the threat posed by Yokota.

“My camps have always been training for the worst scenario, my opponent’s advantages. Judging from his win record, they have all been to the judge’s decision, so cardio and patience I would say is his advantages as well as his judoka and grappling background. This fight might possibly be going 15 minutes.” 

Nguyen’s pro record currently stands at 7-1 and he hasn’t been the distance since his amateur days.  He doesn’t feel Yokota has any obvious weaknesses, but is confident of finding some flaws in the veteran’s game once the fight starts.

“During a fight, you can see many holes open up. I’m just going to fight this fight and whatever weaknesses I see arise I will capitalize on them.”

Nguyen is a family man who is married with three young children. Being in fight camp mode during Christmas has been tough on him, but he just sees it as another source of motivation.

“It’s been very difficult training over the holiday break. Missing out on all the good food my wife and family went through to put on the table for us, celebration nights ending early… Seeing my wife and team work double-time to keep my nutrition on point motivates me.”

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Nguyen’s first title shot arrived unexpectedly. He had initially been booked to face Bashir Ahmed in Indonesia in 2015, but was elevated to main event status when Jadambaa Narantungalag was stopped by immigration officials at the Jakarta airport.

The undefeated champion is dominating the featherweight division at present, but Nguyen wants another crack at him and believes a win over Yokota would be enough to earn it.

“ONE never say if it’s an eliminator or not, but for me this fight is definitely a title eliminator.  It’s a high caliber fight because both of us have losses to the champ and want to redeem ourselves.”

Given the gulf in experience Nguyen predicts his opponent might be taking this fight lightly. However, he has a point to prove and believes a win over the Japanese veteran would send out a strong statement about his title credentials.

“I’m sure he’s fought much more seasoned fighters than me and might see me as less of a threat than his previous opponents, but Jan. 14 is when everyone will see that I am a threat not only to Yokota, but to the whole featherweight division.” 

(Follow @JamesGoyder on Twitter)

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Rashad Coulter LFA 1 Opponent Joel Moore ‘Doesn’t Like Getting Punched’

Across multiple combat sports and multiple weight classes, heavyweight Rashad Coulter made the most of his year in 2017, going undefeated for the third straight year.

“I fought a total of three times last year and did great,” Coulter told MMAWeekly.com. “I won a belt for a local (MMA) promotion, the XKO, at 205lbs. I had a boxing match back in August, so I went to 4-0 boxing with that win with a first round knockout. I made my Legacy debut in October and got another first round KO for them.

“So 2016 was a good year for me. I fought three times and got three first round knockouts.”

While he has fought in two weight classes this year, Coulter realizes that there’s more opportunity in one division in the other.

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“Right now I kind of want to stay at heavyweight, but I would love to fight at light-heavyweight too,” said Coulter. “The heavyweight division is a little more open and is and needs more talent. I believe I can rise faster at heavyweight than I can in the 205-pound division. But I am open to taking fights at 205-pounds.”

Coulter (7-1) will look to keep his winning ways going when he takes on Joel Moore (3-0) in a main card heavyweight bout at Legacy Fighting Alliance 1 on Friday in Dallas.

“He’s undefeated, he’s 3-0, but he beat the same person twice,” Coulter said of Moore. “The thing with him is that he doesn’t commit to anything. He doesn’t throw punches, he just kind of waits for you to come to him. Or he runs or he doesn’t like getting punched in the face, if that’s it.

“In order to get the win against him, I have to press the action, go forward and stop the takedowns. I just need to press forward and push the pace. He’s a big guy, so I have to make him use his cardio. I don’t think his cardio will be there in the later rounds, so I have to make him fight at my pace.”

Looking ahead to 2017, Coulter is focused on making the next step in his career, whatever that may be.

“Honestly the goal for 2017, I am looking at trying to make it to the UFC,” he said. “Yeah I don’t want to rush, but that is my ultimate goal. If I can win impressively (against Moore), hopefully I can get the call from the UFC; or if Legacy would like me to have one more fight with them, I would love to the LFA heavyweight belt.

“That’s something I would like to do as well. So for 2017 it’s either the belt or the UFC – that would be a great accomplishment for me.”

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Cynthia Calvillo Looking to Knock Out Montana Stewart at LFA 1

Originally the plan was for strawweight up and comer Cynthia Calvillo to make her pro MMA debut in 2014, however circumstances caused that to be delayed for over two years.

“I broke my forearm and kept re-breaking it, so I sat out for about two and a half years,” Calvillo told MMAWeekly.com. “I wanted to make my pro debut, but I couldn’t because of the injury. Once I was 100% I finally came in. I felt like I was ready for pro right when I ended my amateur career. It is what it is, and I’m here now.”

Calvillo was able to make her transition to the pros last year, and has since picked up two straight victories to start off her career.

“I made my professional debut in August and I got a second round TKO,” she said. “I fought against in November and did pretty good, I got a decision. I didn’t get the finish, but I felt like it was a very dominant performance.

“I came out pretty heathy from both fights. I’ve just been trying to stay active, and hopefully I can keep it going this year and hopefully get noticed.”

One of the things that has Calvillo off to a strong start is her work with Team Alpha Male and their multiple UFC veterans including fellow strawweight Paige VanZant.

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“Whatever your goals are, you want to be around people who have accomplished those goals or are on their way or have the same mentality or aspirations,” Calvillo said. “I knew once I got here, I knew I wanted to get to the top I needed to be here, and it’s definitely paid off.

“I do think everybody has their own journey. (VanZant) has her own talents, and I have my own talents. It’s great working with Paige, but I want to be me and be someone for people to look up to one day.”

Calvillo (2-0) will kick off her 2017 campaign in a main card 115-pound showdown with Montana Stewart (7-3) in the inaugural Legacy Fighting Alliance show on Friday in Dallas.

“She’s a strong wrestler and has good Jiu-Jitsu, and has been working on her stand-up,” said Calvillo of Steward. “I feel like I’m more well-rounded and that I’ll be more prepared. A lot of it has to do being with the team I’m with and the sparring partners I have.

“Hopefully we can just bang it out. I really want the knockout. I’ve been getting more comfortable in my stand-up and I hope I can show that in this fight.”

Finally with her pro career in full swing, Calvillo is looking to step things up in 2017 and climb the ranks quickly and finish out the year at the highest level.

“I want to get in there and get into the mix,” she said. “It’s been a little bit hard sitting on the sideline for so long and seeing my teammates make big waves, so hopefully by the end of 2017, I’ll be in the UFC and people will know who I am.”

(Photo by World Combat Series)

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Vitaly Bigdash: ‘This is My Belt; I’m Not Giving It Away’

Vitaly Bigdash is an undefeated champion, but remains something of an unknown quantity. The Russian has only fought once for ONE Championship, but it was enough to earn him the middleweight belt and several “fight of the year” nominations.

That was well over a year ago and the 32 -year-old did not fight once in 2016 due to injury. He returns to the cage at ONE: Quest for Power in Jakarta on Saturday and is desperate to be successful in his first title defense.

“Defending this title is my main priority for the near future. I want to remain a champ and defeat all my opponents.”

Bigdash had initially been schedule to face Karate specialist Marcin Prachnio, but the Polish middleweight pulled out of the title fight a few weeks ago and was replaced by the far more experienced Aung La Nsang.

Vitaly Bigdash finishes Igor SviridThe Burmese middleweight spent over a decade fighting on the highly competitive U.S. circuit and has won four fights out of four for ONE Championship.

“He is a completely opposite opponent and I had to change everything for this fight and opponent, but I think I am a well rounded fighter. A champion must be ready to defend the belt against any opponent, so I will be ready for this new contender,” Bigdash said.

Bigdash sees similarity between his style and La Nsang’s, but says he isn’t intimidated by the prospect of facing a 30-fight veteran.

“Our styles are pretty close, so we both will use the same weapons in this fight, and only in the fight we will know who is better in every area of fighting. I respect him as a fighter and respect his skills, but I do not see anything to be frightened of.”

This fight is scheduled for five rounds, but Bigdash has finished all eight of his previous opponents inside the distance. He has a reputation as being a finisher and says stoppages just come naturally to him once he steps inside the cage.

“It just happens; it’s always unplanned. I simply want to show beautiful spectacular fights. It just happens that they never come to a decision. It doesn’t mean anything. I am sure there will be wins via decision in the future and more difficult fights. Now I just try and finish before the match is over.”

Bigdash has a background in Karate, but it isn’t obvious from his style, and the Russian believes he has evolved over the years into a complete mixed marital artist.

“Kyokushinkai Karate is where I started. I did it for a bit and then moved to Thai boxing and MMA. I do not practise Kyokushinkai now and don’t follow its tournaments or ratings. It is just a sport where I started.” 

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Long before he became the middleweight champion with Asia’s biggest MMA organization, Bigdash developed an interest in Japanese culture. It was not just the violent aspect of Karate which lured him into a lifelong obsession with martial arts.

“I liked the culture of oriental martial arts. The beautiful kimonos, bows, and the kata enchanted me when I was little, but many years have passed and there is only one sport in my heart now, MMA. I have devoted my whole self to it.”

His career is delicately poised at present. A loss to La Nsang could cause people to regard the fine win over Svirid as something of a fluke, whereas a win would have fight fans discussing exactly where the undefeated Russian stood in relation to the world’s best middleweights. 

Bigdash is at a crossroads ahead of ONE: Quest for Power, but he knows exactly which direction he is going to turn on Saturday night.

“This is my belt, I am not giving it away.”

(Follow @JamesGoyder on Twitter | Photos courtesy of ONE Championship)

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Yair Rodriguez: ‘It’s My Turn’ (UFC Phoenix video)

(Video Courtesy of UFC)

Yair Rodriguez is excited to be facing a UFC legend in BJ Penn, but says it’s his time to chase the belt. Rodriguez and Penn face off in the main event of UFC Fight Night Phoenix live on FS1 on Sunday.

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LFA 1 Set After Championship Main Event Gets Heated at Weigh-ins (video)

(Video courtesy of AXS TV Fights | Viewing may be limited by broadcast rights restrictions)

AXS TV FIGHTS presents a historic night for mixed martial arts on Friday as two of the sport’s leading promotions, Resurrection Fighting Alliance and Legacy Fighting Championship, officially become one with the inaugural Legacy Fighting Alliance (LFA) event. Broadcast live from The Bomb Factory in Dallas, AXS TV FIGHTS: LFA 1 also represents the network’s official time shift to an hour earlier, 9pE/6pP on Friday nights for its 45 scheduled events in 2017.

Following LFA 1’s weigh-in event today, the inaugural bantamweight title unification bout between RFA champion Leandro Higo (16-2) and Legacy FC champion Steven Peterson (14-4) is official as both fighters came in one pound under the limit for the title fight (135 pounds). 

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LFA 1 Weigh-in Results
(each fighter’s record and official weight in parenthesis)

  • Main Event – Inaugural Bantamweight Title Fight – Leandro Higo (16-2, 134) vs. Steven Peterson (14-4, 134)
  • Co-Main Event – Featherweight Fight – Charles Cheeks III (11-5, 146.5) vs. Damon Jackson (10-1-1, 145)
  • Bantamweight Fight – Ulyses Aguila (6-1, 134) vs. Eli Tamez (9-0, 135)
  • Strawweight Fight – Cynthia Calvillo (2-0, 115) vs. Montana Stewart (6-3, 115)
  • Catchweight Fight (130 pounds) – Cameron Miller (2-0, 129) vs. Oscar Ramirez (3-0, 129)
  • Welterweight Fight – Armando Servin (4-4, 170) vs. Sean Holden (4-2, 168)
  • Featherweight Fight – Jessie Vasquez (2-1, 144) vs. Rob Butler (1-0, 145)

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BJ Penn Chimes in on Dana White Offering Mayweather and McGregor $25M Each (video)

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BJ Penn talks about the changes in the sport and his approach to it as fight time nears. He even chimed in on Dana White’s $25 million offer to Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor to get them to fight each other. His response might not be what you’d expect.

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Penn returns to the Octagon to resume his Hall of Fame career at UFC Fight Night 103 on Sunday in Phoenix. He squares of with rising star Yair Rodriguez in the main event.

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UFC Phoenix: Rodriguez vs. Penn Live Results and Fight Stats

(Click on the fight below and then scroll down to see in-fight live analytics and the latest results, courtesy of Fight Analytics. The first fight is scheduled to begin on Sunday at 6:15 p.m. ET / 3:15 p.m. PT.)

UFC Phoenix: Rodriguez vs. Penn Full Results

Click here to make your fight picks in the comments section below!

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Invicta FC 21 Weigh-in Results & Video: Title Fight Set, but One Bout Canceled

(Courtesy of Invicta Fighting Championships)

Invicta FC returns to Scottish Rite Temple in Kansas City on Saturday for Invicta FC 21, headlined by 26-year-old featherweight contender Megan Anderson (7-2) squaring off against veteran Charmaine “Not So Sweet” Tweet (9-5) for the interim Invicta FC featherweight championship.

The seven-fight card streams live and exclusively via UFC Fight Pass at 8 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. CT.

Invicta FC 21 was originally scheduled as an eight-fight card, but a 120-pound catchweight bout between Jodie Esquibel and Kali Robbins was canceled after Esquibel weighed in at 118.8 pounds and Robbins missed weight at 126.4 pounds. Esquibel will receive her show money.

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Invicta FC 21: Anderson vs. Tweet Weigh-in Results 

  • Interim Featherweight Title: Megan Anderson (144.5) vs. Charmaine Tweet (143.5)
  • Bantamweight: Pannie Kianzad (135.8) vs. Raquel Pa’aluhi (135.0)
  • Featherweight: Elizabeth Phillips (145.9) vs. Leah Letson (145.6)
  • Bantamweight: Sijara Eubanks (135.7) vs. Aspen Ladd (135.3)
  • Flyweight: Andrea Lee (125.1) vs. Jenny Liou (126.0)
  • Strawweight: Amy Montenegro (115.7) vs. Celine Haga (115.1)
  • Flyweight: Rachael Ostovich (126.0) vs. Christina Ferea (125.3)

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Anderson Silva Returns at UFC 208

Former middleweight champion Anderson Silva last fought inside the Octagon as a light heavyweight, stepping in to face champion Daniel Cormier at UFC 200 in July after Jon Jones was forced out of the event due to an anti-doping violation three days before fight night.

The former pound-for-pound king will be back in action on Feb. 11 at UFC 208 facing Derek Brunson at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. UFC president Dana White made the announced via Twitter on Friday.

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Brunson (16-4) is ranked eighth in the UFC’s 185-pound division and is coming off a loss to sixth ranked Robert Whittaker in his last outing at UFC Fight Night 101 in November. Heading into the Whittaker loss, Brunson was riding a five-fight winning streak.

Anderson Silva Post UFC Fight Night 90Silva (33-8, 1 NC) hasn’t officially won a fight since 2012. He last competed as a middleweight last February, losing to Michael Bisping by unanimous decision. Prior to the Bisping fight, Silva had a decision win over Nick Diaz overturned after he Diaz failed drug tests. The 41-year-old former champion hopes to recapture past glory when he faces Brunson in New York.

UFC 208 takes place on Feb. 11 and is headlined by the inaugural women’s featherweight title fight between former bantamweight champion Holly Holm and Germaine de Randamie.

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