Robert Whittaker: ‘I Am the Real Champ’

UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker will get his chance put his stamp on the title when he faces former titleholder Luke Rockhold on Feb. 11 in the UFC 221 main event.

The 26-year-old New Zealander is on eight-fight winning streak and captured the interim belt by defeating top contender Yoel Romero at UFC 213 in July.  Three months earlier he knocked out highly regarded contender Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza.  In the fight prior to the Souza knockout, Whittaker finished Derek Brunson. While Whittaker was defeating contenders, then-champion Michael Bisping was either fighting non-contenders or sidelined with injuries.

After a 13-month period of inactivity, Bisping returned at UFC 217 on Nov. 4 and was defeated by former welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre.   St-Pierre had been away from the sport for four years and had never fought as a middleweight.  On Dec. 7, St-Pierre relinquished the title, and Whittaker was elevated to unified champion, but the Aussie fighter says that he was the real champion all along.

“I don’t think there was a doubt in anyone’s mind who the real champ was. I fought my way up through some hard dudes to get to where I am, and yeah, I am the champ, I was the champ,” Whittaker told Submission Radio.

Facing the former champion in the first defense of the belt will be the biggest fight of Whittaker’s career, but a fight against St-Pierre would have been something special to “The Reaper.”  Whittaker used to idolize St-Pierre. 

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“I wanted to fight Georges out of respect more than anything. I idolized him as a child coming up and as a young man coming up in my career.  He was always one of my biggest idols. To be able to fight him would’ve been great. To put him on my resume and say I fought Georges St-Pierre, that would have been great,” he said. 

While St-Pierre’s legacy is set in stone as one of the greatest fighters to ever compete inside the Octagon, Whittaker believes he would have been too much for “Rush.”  In fact, he never really thought St-Pierre would actually fight him. 

“I don’t think I ever really convinced myself that he would fight me. I think it was a dangerous fight for him, a hard fight for him and it is what it is.”

Now that St-Pierre has vacated, Whittaker and the division can move on, starting with Whittaker’s showdown with Rockhold in Perth, Western Australia.

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Josh Emmett: ‘My Goal was to Shock the World… I Think I Might Have’

(Courtesy of UFC)

Hear from featherweight Josh Emmett after his knockout win over No. 3 ranked Ricardo Lamas at UFC on FOX 26 in Winnipeg, Canada on Saturday.

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Vitor Belfort Returns to Georges St-Pierre’s Gym for Next UFC Fight

Vitor Belfort is in camp preparing for his next fight, and he’s doing so at former UFC welterweight and middleweight champion Georges St-Pierre‘s home gym in Montreal.

Belfort actually began training at Tristar, alongside St-Pierre under famed coach Firas Zahabi, before his fight with Nate Marquardt in June. 

Having shifted between numerous gyms throughout his more than two-decades-long career, Belfort found success at Tristar. With Zahabi in his corner, Belfort won a three-round unanimous decision over Marquardt, as part of the UFC 212 fight card in Rio de Janeiro.

Sticking with what works, St-Pierre tweeted a photo of Belfort alongside him back in the Tristar Gym, as he undergoes final preparations for his UFC Fight Night 124 bout opposite Uriah Hall on Jan. 14 in St. Louis.

TRENDING > Robert Whittaker: ‘I Am the Real Champ’

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Victor FC 59 Results and Fight Highlights: Champions Hold On To Gold

Bantamweight champ Raufeon “Supa” Stots and welterweight beltholder Yuri Villefort both scored lightning-quick finishes and retained their respective titles at Victory Fighting Championship’s VFC 59: Stots vs. Berdon on Saturday night.

A packed house at Baxter Arena in Omaha, Nebraska, and those watching live on UFC FIGHT PASS® saw both champs get their work accomplished inside the opening round. In the main event, birthday boy Stots (9-1) manhandled Arnold Berdon (6-2) on the mat and locked in a rear-naked choke to earn the tapout at 4:36 of the first.

“Everyone knows where I want to be … the UFC,” said Stots, who defeated Rob Emerson to claim the title in his appearance inside the VFC’s famed square cage.

The co-main event saw Villefort barely break a sweat in his first title defense against veteran Victor Moreno. Last time out in the very same cage and arena, Villefort (11-6) outgrappled then-champion Kassius Holdorf in a five-round marathon to take the belt. This time, Villefort slipped away from a wild-swinging Moreno (37-24) and locked onto his foe after the off-balance challenger slipped to canvas. Villefort squeezed down on a guillotine choke and notched the submission win only 29 seconds into the bout.

Stots vs Berdon - VFC 59 Fight HighlightsThe VFC 59 card opened with hot prospect Austin “AK 47” Vanderford (4-0) scoring a second-round submission victory over Kenny Licea. After sustaining some damage from a well-placed knee strike from Licea, Vanderford got himself together and nearly finished the bout late in the opening round with a head-and-arm choke. The end did come after Vanderford earned the mount with Licea (4-5) surrendering his back and then tapping out to a rear-naked choke at 4:03 of the second.

A back-and-forth all-Nebraska bout followed between up-and-coming lightweights as Troy Nawrocki (3-0) capitalized from the outside, including a number of timely body kicks, to take a unanimous decision from his former amateur rival Tower Robinson (1-1) by scores of 30-27, 30-27, and 29-28. 

Bryce Logan (8-2) continued his rise in VFC’s lightweight ranks as he picked up his fourth straight win by outlasting Josh Pfeifer (6-4). The Sioux Falls, South Dakota product got the nod from judges 29-28 on all three scorecards.

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Scott Futrell notched the upset of the night in convincing fashion. A late replacement, Futrell (7-5) squared off against prospect Seth Bass and brutalized the fan favorite from Omaha at the end of the first round with a vicious barrage of elbow and punches from the top. Bass (4-2) survived but fared no better in the second as Futrell, who fights of out St. Louis, Missouri, connected with a blistering standing elbow to the right side of Bass’ head and dropped him to the canvas. The bout was brought to a halt by the referee at 17 seconds of the middle frame.

Another fan favorite fell victim to an opposing invader. Minnesota’s Dan Moret (13-3) made quick work of Midwest veteran Alonzo Martinez (41-19-1), moving from mount into a fight-finishing rear-naked choke only 1:39 into their bout.

(Courtesy of VictoryFighter)

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UFC 219: Cyborg vs. Holm Full Results and Live 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 UFC 219 bout is scheduled to begin on Saturday, Dec. 30, at 7 p.m. ET / 4 p.m. PT.)

Cris “Cyborg” Justino puts her UFC women’s featherweight champion on the line for the first time when she squares off with Holly Holm in the UFC 219 main event in Las Vegas.

Cyborg won the championship by defeating fellow former Invicta FC champion Tonya Evinger. Inaugural 145-pound titleholder Germaine de Randamie was stripped of the title because she refused to fight Cyborg.

Holm was the first woman to defeat Ronda Rousey, but lost the belt to Miesha Tate in her first title defense. She went on to lose a controversial decision to de Randamie in the inaugural featherweight title fight, but has since rebounded by defeating Bethe Correia in a return to bantamweight.

Holm makes the move back to featherweight to give Cyborg the first challenge to her championship.

Check out the MMAWeekly.com Rumors page for more scheduled events and rumored fight cards.

UFC 219: Cyborg vs. Holm Full Results

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

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Relive Holly Holm’s Head-Kick Knockout of Bethe Correia (UFC 219 Free Fight)

(Courtesy of UFC)

Holly Holm bounced back with an impressive finish of Bethe Correia at Fight Night Singapore earlier this year. Holm faces featherweight champion Cris Cyborg in the main event of UFC 219 on December 30, live on Pay-Per-View.

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Tune in to MMAWeekly.com on Saturday, Dec. 30, for UFC 219: Cyborg vs. Holm Full Results and Live Fight Stats. UFC featherweight champion Cris Cyborg puts her belt on the line for the first time in the night’s main event, squaring off with former bantamweight champion Holly Holm. Khabib Nurmagomedov also returns at UFC 219 for a pivotal lightweight contender’s bout with Edson Barboza with the winner eyeing a shot at a title.

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Longtime MMA Coach Robert Follis Has Died

The mixed martial arts community was shocked on Sunday, waking up to news that longtime coach and trainer Robert Follis had passed away. 

While speculation ran rampant on Sunday, Follis’ girlfriend Myra Fukuno confirmed his death, posting on Facebook, “Robert Follis, a man who has touched and changed so many lives, passed away on Dec. 15, 2017. Please know that the Follis Family will need considerable time. We would like to request peace and privacy at this time.”

After having struggled with the suicide of one of his brothers for some time, there has been much speculation that Follis ended his own life. While Fukuno’s post did not confirm this, and Las Vegas authorities were unable to confirm as much on Sunday, longtime friend Randy Couture seemed to be saying as much in his tribute to Follis. 

“Robert was a friend, coach, mentor, and philosopher of martial arts to many of us. It is with a very heavy heart that I write this tribute to a man that touched so many,” wrote Couture. 

“Death is like the sun. There is no escaping it. It infuses every part of our lives, but it doesn’t make sense to stare at it too long. That becomes a real challenge when someone you know, love, and respect ends their life. This is where Robert has been since his brother’s passing a couple years ago and where we are left now. It is very easy to get caught up in the urgency that comes from the limited span of our lives. It can push us to obsess over life’s meaning in the time we have. But obsessing over it, and staring directly at it too long can blind us to the possibilities of living.”

Robert Follis - UFC 216Follis has been in the mixed martial arts industry for many years. He was a part of Team Quest, which housed many of the biggest names in the sport, including Couture, Matt Lindland, Chael Sonnen, Chris Leben, Dan Henderson, Evan Tanner, Ed Herman, Nate Quarry, and numerous others.

He was more recently a coach at Xtreme Couture, working alongside fighters such as Miesha Tate during her championship run and lightweight contender Kevin Lee.

Follis recently left Xtreme Couture after four years to pursue other interests after apparent differences with gym management. He remained a personal coach to several of the gym’s fighters.

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Robert Follis, a man who has touched and changed so many lives, passed away on Dec. 15, 2017. He was kind. He was…

Posted by Myra Fukuno on Sunday, December 17, 2017

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Robert Follis’ Final Interview with MMAWeekly.com

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Fighters Post Emotional Tributes Following Death of MMA Coach Robert Follis

Veteran mixed martial arts coach Robert Follis passed away over the weekend. A coach to many of fighters and practicing martial artists, Follis will be missed by many.

The outpouring of emotion was immediately evident, as word of Follis’ passing quickly spread.

RELATED > Longtime MMA Coach Robert Follis Has Died

As one of the founding members of Team Quest and Xtreme Couture MMA it is with great sorrow that we say good bye to Robert Follis. Robert was a friend, coach, mentor, and philosopher of martial arts to many of us. It is with a very heavy heart that I write this tribute to a man that touched so many. Death is like the sun. There is no escaping it. It infuses every part of our lives, but it doesn’t make sense to stare at it too long. That becomes a real challenge when someone you know, love, and respect ends their life. This is where Robert has been since his brothers passing a couple years ago and where we are left now. It is very easy to get caught up in the urgency that comes from the limited span of our lives. It can push us to obsess over life’s meaning in the time we have. But obsessing over it, and staring directly at it too long can blind us to the possibilities of living. Robert was a Hero to many. Heroes have the whole earth as their tomb . . . There is, enshrined in the chest of every person he touched, a record unwritten with no tablet to preserve it. It’s that which he imprinted on our hearts. What lives on is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what he has woven into the lives of others. Those who have lived with us become a part of us. We honor the dead by living their values. Through our efforts, we ensure that the good things they stood for continue to stand even when they are gone. Robert stood for many good things. Let’s let Our actions become a living memorial to Robert Follis. R

A post shared by <a href="” style=”color:#c9c8cd;font-family:Arial,sans-serif;font-size:14px;font-style:normal;font-weight:normal;line-height:17px” target=”_blank”> Randy Couture (@xcnatch) on Dec 17, 2017 at 3:34pm PST

You don’t realize how much of an impact you had on my life. A good coach is so much more than someone to teach techniques. Through the darkest moments in my career and life you’ve helped me see the light and keep pushing. I thank you for everything and apologize for everything more. The next gold belt is for you.

A post shared by <a href="” style=”color:#c9c8cd;font-family:Arial,sans-serif;font-size:14px;font-style:normal;font-weight:normal;line-height:17px” target=”_blank”> MTP (@motownphenom) on Dec 17, 2017 at 9:57am PST

Had the pleasure of training with @robertfollis a few times this year. Great man! Rip ?? #Repost @robertfollis (@get_repost) ・・・ Great having @babyfacebenoit swing by the gym to get some work while he’s here. #follismma #mma #ufc #kickboxing

A post shared by <a href="” style=”color:#c9c8cd;font-family:Arial,sans-serif;font-size:14px;font-style:normal;font-weight:normal;line-height:17px” target=”_blank”> Ryan Benoit (@babyfacebenoit) on Dec 17, 2017 at 12:57pm PST

R.I.P coach thank you for always having my back brother ?????

A post shared by <a href="” style=”color:#c9c8cd;font-family:Arial,sans-serif;font-size:14px;font-style:normal;font-weight:normal;line-height:17px” target=”_blank”> Noad Lahat (@noad_lahat) on Dec 17, 2017 at 11:41am PST

So saddened to hear about the passing of coach Robert Follis. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends and his fighters. #Rip

A post shared by <a href="” style=”color:#c9c8cd;font-family:Arial,sans-serif;font-size:14px;font-style:normal;font-weight:normal;line-height:17px” target=”_blank”> John Wood (@bigwoodmma702) on Dec 17, 2017 at 5:03pm PST

More than a team. This picture might look different in a few months but it’s the same.

A post shared by <a href="” style=”color:#c9c8cd;font-family:Arial,sans-serif;font-size:14px;font-style:normal;font-weight:normal;line-height:17px” target=”_blank”> MTP (@motownphenom) on Dec 17, 2017 at 12:55pm PST

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Julian Marquez Challenges Tyron Woodley to an Out-of-the-Octagon Contest

(Courtesy of UFC)

Hear from middleweight Julian Marquez after his successful outing at UFC on FOX 26 in his UFC debut in Winnipeg, Canada on Saturday.

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Josh Emmett Flatlines Ricardo Lamas With One Punch

Round 1: Emmett lands a nice leg kick and comes in with some nice kicks. Another hook lands for Emmett and he comes forward with a few more. Lamas lands a nice leg kick and has a high kick blocked. A nice combination from Emmett ends with a leg kick and he lands a few […]