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Free Live Stream: Bellator 166 Prelims (7 p.m. ET)

Watch the Bellator 166 prelims live and free on Sherdog at 7 p.m. ET.

Brandon Vera Facing a Monster in First ONE Heavyweight Title Defense

Brandon Vera began his career competing in the U.S., but he has deep roots in the Philippines. The reigning ONE heavyweight champion speaks fluent Tagalog and people there have really taken him to their hearts.

He is in the process of making the Philippines his permanent home and Vera will be making the first defense of his title at ONE: Age of Domination in Manila on Friday.

It’s his third time fighting at the MOA Arena. The 39-year-old says he is feeling the weight of expectation.

“It’s honestly like fighting in front of your family, but your family is the entire country. It’s a double-edge sword. It’s a blessing and a curse (because) I cannot let them down, but it pushes me and drives me. It keeps me motivated, it keeps me hungry, and it keeps me wanting more.”

Having lived in the U.S. his entire life, Vera made the decision to relocate to the Philippines on a full-time basis and has had his hands full with commitments outside of the cage.

Brandon Vera“I’ve been so busy in the Philippines since we’ve moved that I don’t think it’s even hit us that we’ve moved yet. Doing stuff for movies, stuff for the Philippines, stuff for my citizenship; it doesn’t feel like I’ve moved yet.”

On Friday night, he is going up against undefeated Japanese heavyweight Hedeki Sekine. It’s a challenge unlike any Vera has faces in his career to date, but the UFC veteran says he is ready for it.

“I’ve seen him. He’s a giant monster. He has a lot of power. For him to be so strong he’s going to have to be slower than me. So in my game plan, I need to stay fast and stay quick and stay out of his range for his power.”

Vera spent much of his UFC career competing in the light heavyweight division. But on Friday night, he’s going up against an opponent who has frequently fought at super heavyweight and open weight. The 39-year-old is expected to be the lighter of the two men on fight night, but feels this could be a factor that plays in his favor.

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“I would say his weakness is going to be his size. He’s huge a dude. If we go past the first and second round, I’m going to expect his mouth to be open and his heart to be beating through his eyes.” 

Sekine brings some impressive grappling credentials into this fight and Vera only needed to glance at his opponent’s record to realize the Japanese fighter had something special.

“One of his submissions has been a knee bar and that in itself is impressive because to grab a knee bar in MMA isn’t impossible, but it’s a really high-level move to pull off during an MMA fight because there are so many things that can go wrong. He is is a huge dude with an amazing jiu-jitsu pedigree. He’s rolled against some of the best guys in the world.”

Vera is already talking about following in the footsteps of multiple-division boxing champion Manny Pacquiao by running for senate. He has political ambitions, but for the time being the inaugural ONE heavyweight champion is fully focused on Friday night.

“I need to make sure that I’m in shape, I’m on point, I’m fast, I’m explosive, and that all my defenses are correct if we do hit the ground.”

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UFC Reshuffles 2017 Pay-Per-View Events, Anaheim Postponed

Many changes have been made since WME | IMG assumed ownership of the UFC, and it doesn’t appear the changes are going to stop any time soon.

The latest significant move is the shifting of UFC 208 from Jan. 21 to Feb. 11. UFC officials announced the moved on Thursday.

UFC 208 - Brooklyn SquareThe initial scheduling had UFC 208 taking place in January at Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., with UFC 209 in February at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. 

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In announcing the change, officials noted that UFC 208 would replace UFC 209 on the Feb. 11 date in Brooklyn. The promotion still intends to operate a pay-per-view in Anaheim, but shifted the date of said pay-per-view to Aug. 5.

No reason was given for the schedule change, although it’s interesting to note that Bellator 170, which features Tito Ortiz vs. Chael Sonnen, was also scheduled for Jan. 21 at the Forum in Inglewood, Calif. The two events would have been vying for audience, as the two California venues are a mere 35 miles apart.

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Relive Max Holloway’s Win Over Ricardo Lamas (UFC 206 Free Fight)

(Video Courtesy of UFC)

Max Holloway extended his winning streak to nine fights with his victory over Ricardo Lamas at UFC 199. Holloway now looks to push his streak to double digits and become interim featherweight champion when he faces off against Anthony Pettis at UFC 206 on Dec. 10 live on Pay-Per-View.

TRENDING > Conor McGregor Granted Boxing License

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Joseph Benavidez: ‘I Don’t Think Henry Cejudo’s Wrestling is Great’

(Video Courtesy of UFC)

Before he takes on former flyweight title challenger and No. 2 ranked Henry Cejudo at The Ultimate Fighter 24 Finale this Saturday night on FS1, No. 1 ranked Joseph Benavidez gives his thoughts on his upcoming opponent and his predictions for the fight.

TRENDING > Conor McGregor’s Coach Criticizes UFC for Stripping Featherweight Title

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TUF 24 Finale Media Day Staredowns: Don’t Look Up! (video)

(Courtesy of UFC)

The stars of The Ultimate Fighter Finale faceoff for the first time druing fight week at Media Day.

TRENDING > Submission Loss Overturned, Tonya Evinger Regains Invicta FC Belt

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Bellator 166: Dantas vs. Warren 2 Weigh-in Results and Video

(Courtesy of BellatorMMA)

Watch the Bellator 166: Dantas vs. Warren 2 weigh-in from Thackerville, Okla. Bantamweight champion Eduardo Dantas puts his belt on the line against former Bellator multiple-division titleholder Joe Warren in the main event.

TRENDING > Stop the Conor McGregor vs. Floyd Mayweather Talk

Bellator 166: Dantas vs. Warren 2 Weigh-in Results

Main Card: (Spike TV – 9 p.m. ET)

  • Bantamweight World Title Main Event: Eduardo Dantas (134.6) vs. Joe Warren (133.7)
  • Featherweight Co-Main Event: A.J. McKee (145.8) vs. Ray Wood (145.8)
  • Catchweight Feature Bout: Marcos Galvao (137.6) vs. L.C. Davis (136)
  • Catchweight Feature Bout (195 lbs.): Chris Honeycutt (194) vs. Ben Reiter (194.1)

Preliminary Card: (Bellator.com – 7:15 p.m. ET) 

  • Catchweight Preliminary Bout (159 lbs.): Treston Thomison (155.4) vs. Dawond Pickney (159)
  • Catchweight Preliminary Bout (163 lbs.): Chris Jones (163.7) vs. Derrick Adkins (161.9)
  • Middleweight Preliminary Bout: Gregory Babene (185.7) vs. Emiliano Sordi (185.5)
  • Catchweight Preliminary Bout (210 lbs.): Kinny Spotwood (208) vs. John King (207.7)

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Hideki Sekine Plans to Submit Brandon Vera, Take His Belt at ONE: Age of Domination

Hideki Sekine will be fighting outside of Japan for the first time at ONE: Age of Domination on Friday night. He’s challenging Brandon Vera for the heavyweight title in Manila and is looking to do something that has never been done before.

No Japanese heavyweight has ever won a title outside of their homeland. Sekine, who brings a perfect professional record of 7-0 into his ONE Championship debut, will write his name into the record books if he can defeat the UFC veteran.

It is an opportunity that has arrived comparatively late in the career of the 43-year-old. Sekine has sometimes struggled to find opponents in MMA, but recently decided to become a full-time fighter.

“If I become the champion, it means my decision to quit my job as a cop and putting everything to MMA has succeeded and I can prove to my family and friends that my decision was right. I will be able to send out a message to both young and same generation guys that chasing your dream is beautiful and great.”

TRENDING > Stop the Conor McGregor vs. Floyd Mayweather Talk

Shinya Aoki’s loss to Eduard Folayang last month leaves Yoshitaka Naito as the promotion’s only reigning Japanese champion. It’s a situation Sekine will be hoping to change, as he feels fighters from his homeland have a work ethic which is unrivaled.

“The reason Japanese fighters are good in MMA is because we are hard working. In all the gyms, there are no lazy fighters and everyone is focused and training hard every day.  If I can defeat Brandon Vera and bring home the belt, it will be a honor for the Japanese fans, my gym, and myself.”

Hideki SekineSekine has a background in jiu-jitsu and has competed in some of the biggest BJJ and grappling tournaments in the world. His strength is clearly his submission game and he hopes it will make the difference against Vera.

“My strength is takedown and ground techniques, (so) if we go to the ground I definitely have an advantage. I’m going to take him down and submit him.”

However, Sekine also acknowledges that he will be at a disadvantage in striking and that it is imperative he takes Vera down.

“Brandon is a striker and I’m a grappler. If Brandon is going to win, it will be a big KO. If I’m going to win, it will be a submission.”

One other advantage which Sekine should have in this fight is his size. The jiu-jitsu specialist has spent much of his career competing at super heavyweight or open weight, while Vera was at 205 pounds as recently as 2012. He’s one of the biggest Japanese fighters to compete in MMA and is proud to be competing against some of the biggest men in the sport.

TRENDING > Submission Loss Overturned, Tonya Evinger Regains Invicta FC Belt

“Japanese are built small and there are not many heavyweight fighters. If you look at me, I am sturdy built and have thick bones, so I can gain muscle and compete with top fighters from all around the world.”

The gameplan for Sekine is simple. He needs to take Vera down and submit him, but the veteran grappler also hinted he might try something a little less conventional.

“(I must) prevent his striking and go for a takedown. When it goes to the ground, I will aim for a choke. If I show him a different way to fight in the cage, which he has never seen. I’m sure he will be confused.”

Sekine will be looking to surprise Vera at ONE: Age of Domination. He will also need to upset the odds because the Japanese heavyweight is a big underdog, but if he can secure that takedown, all bets are off.

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Submission Loss Overturned, Tonya Evinger Regains Invicta FC Belt

In the Invicta FC 20 main event on Nov. 18 in Kansas City, Yana Kunitskaya locked an armbar on bantamweight champion Tonya Evinger. Evinger worked to free her arm from the submission attempt by placing her foot on Kunitskaya’s face for leverage. She was warned by the referee to not do that and seconds later she was verbally submitting to the armbar.

Yana Kunitskaya vs Tonya Evinger Invicta 20 weighBut there was a problem with that scenario. Placing your foot on an opponent’s face is not illegal.

Following the loss, Evinger filed an appeal with the Missouri Office of Athletics. On Thursday, the athletic commission ruled in Evinger’s favor, overturning the loss. The result was ruled a no contest due to the referee’s actions and Evinger will retain the title of Invicta FC bantamweight champion.

Evinger first broke the news via Twitter.

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The Missouri Office of Athletics reviewed the video and audio along with a statement from the referee of the Tonya Evinger vs. Yana Kunitskaya contest at Invicta FC 20 on November 18, 2016, according to the Missouri Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions and Professional Registration. The Missouri Office of Athletics determined the official result of this bout must be changed to a no contest. The MMA database has been notified, and should update the record within the next couple of days.

In a statement released by the promotion following the athletic commission ruling, Invicta FC president Shannon Knapp added that the promotion is “working on scheduling a potential rematch” of the bantamweight championship bout between Evinger and Kunitskaya as soon as possible.

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The Ultimate Fighter 24 Finale: Johnson vs. Elliott Fight Card

elliot-johnson-tuf24-750TUF 24 Finale
(The Ultimate Fighter 24 Finale)

Team Benavidez vs Team Cejudo
Date: December 3, 2016
Venue: Palms Casino Resort
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada

 

TUF 24 Finale Articles

TUF 24 Finale Videos

 

TUF 24 Finale Fight Card

Main Card (on FS1)
Demetrious Johnson (24-2-1) vs. Tim Elliott (10-6-1)*
Joseph Benavidez (24-4) vs. Henry Cejudo (10-1)
Jake Ellenberger (31-11) vs. Jorge Masvidal (30-11)
Ion Cutelaba (12-2) vs. Jared Cannonier (8-1)
Sara McMann (9-3) vs. Alexis Davis (16-6)
Brandon Moreno (12-3) vs. Ryan Benoit (9-4)

Prelims (on FS1)
Gray Maynard (12-5-1, 1NC) vs. Ryan Hall (5-1)
Rob Font (12-2) vs. Matt Schnell (9-2)
“Maestro” Dong Hyun Kim (13-8-3) vs. Brendan O’Reilly (6-2)
Kailin Curran (4-3) vs. Jamie Moyle (3-1)

Early Prelims (on UFC Fight Pass)
Elvis Mutapcic (15-4) vs. Anthony Smith (25-12)
Josh Stansbury (8-2) vs. Devin Clark (6-1)

*For UFC flyweight championship

 

TUF 24 Finale Start Times
Main Card on Fox Sports 1:
 10 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. PT
Prelims on Fox Sports 1:
8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT
Prelims on UFC Fight Pass:
7 p.m. ET / 4 p.m. PT

 

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