Posts Tagged ‘Ariel Helwani’

Former Bellator MMA champion Hector Lombard has struggled in his UFC stint thus far, and it appears he feels a change of scenery is necessary as the 35-year-old will reportedly look for a fresh start with a drop to the welterweight division later this year.

Hector Lombard has teased a drop to the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) welterweight division in recent weeks, and now the switch in weight class is official.

According to a report by Ariel Helwani on Tuesday’s (June 18, 2013) edition of “UFC Tonight” on FUEL TV, “Lightning” has formally announced that he will cut the additional 15 pounds from middleweight to compete at 170 pounds for the first time in his 38-fight career.

Lombard (32-4-1, 1 NC) said a few weeks back he would attempt a “test cut” to see if he could efficiently make welterweight with the help of nutrition guru Mike Dolce, and apparently that test went well enough to believe he can make it happen.

The former Bellator MMA champion already knows who he would like to fight in his first bout in the weight class, too, and that man is former Strikeforce champion Nate Marquardt.

Lombard, who is reportedly currently tipping the scale at 190 pounds opposed to his usual 220, has fought his first three UFC bouts as a middleweight, failing to live up to expectations with a sub-par record (1-2).

The 35-year-old entered the UFC in July 2012 on a sensational 25-fight unbeaten streak, but has struggled against the physically larger opponents in the weight class such as Tim Boetsch and Yushin Okami.

Helwani stated in his report that Lombard would like to return to the Octagon sometime in the fall, and managed to get a comment from Marquardt on the potential match up.

“Yeah, why not,” he said.

It sounds like we might have ourselves a fight.

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USA TODAY Sports/Mike Bohn MMAMania

UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St. Pierre will put his title on the line for the ninth time against No. 1 contender Johny Hendricks on Nov. 16, 2013, in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) President Dana White made the Georges St. Pierre vs. Johny Hendricks welterweight title bout official last week, and now the highly anticipated fight has a date and location.

According to a report by Ariel Helwani on Tuesday’s (June 18, 2013) edition of “UFC Tonight” on FUEL TV, the 170-pound title match up will take place in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Nov. 17, 2013.

At this time a venue has not been announced for the card; however, it will likely take place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena or the Mandalay Bay Events Center.

White has said for a while now that he wants to bring “Rush” back to “Sin City” for his next fight, and now it’s official.

Hendricks earned his shot at the French-Canadian’s belt after stringing together six-straight victories inside the Octagon, highlighted by wins over Jon Fitch, Josh Koscheck, Martin Kampmann and most recently, former interim UFC champion Carlos Condit.

The 29-year-old claims he has an “easy as that” game plan to defeat St. Pierre and once he does, expects that he will have to give an immediate rematch and defeat St. Pierre for a second time.

It was viewed as a possibility that Hendricks was going to get skipped over for a shot at a world championship if St. Pierre opted to participate in a “super fight” with middleweight champion Anderson Silva.

However, since St. Pierre “absolutely knows” that “The Spider” is going to be defeated by Chris Weidman at UFC 162 next month, he is going forward and taking on the next big challenge in his own weight class.

At the conclusion of UFC 161 last night (June 15, 2013) in Las Vegas, UFC President Dana White appeared on the FUEL TV post-fight show and provided his thoughts on the key storylines to come out of the event. Watch the video interview above or check out transcribed highlights below.

Following UFC 161: “Evans vs. Henderson” Saturday evening (June 15, 2013) in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) President Dana White shared his thoughts on all the major story lines to come out of the card with MMA Fighting and FUEL TV correspondent Ariel Helwani on the UFC 161 post-fight show on FUEL TV.

Among the issues discussed in the interview were White’s thoughts on Rashad Evans‘ split decision win over Dan Henderson in the main event, Stipe Miocic‘s upset victory over Roy Nelson in the co-headliner, Nelson’s future, and much, much more.

Check out highlights of Dana White’s UFC 161 post-fight interview below, or check out the video embedded above.

On How He Scored The Main Event
“Rashad. I mean, it was one of those fights that was so close that if it went either way I wouldn’t have, ‘Oh.’ I would have said what I said during the Woodley fight. I thought Woodley won that fight two rounds to one and I think Shields barely won the second round.”

On The Number Of Close Decisions
“There’s always interesting decisions in this sport it drives me crazy.”

On Miocic’s Upset Of Nelson
“I was surprised at how tired Roy was, but no [I wasn’t surprised]. Stipe is a good fighter, man. He’s nine and one, the kid is a talented heavyweight, he hit Roy with some big shots.”

Do you agree with White’s overall assessment of the UFC 161 main card? Why or why not?

Photo via @AlexTheMauler on Twitter

Jon Jones is pushing back an expected return to action from the summer to fall, reportedly interested in defending his light heavyweight title against Alexander Gustafsson.

Give me a date!?!

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) light heavyweight titleholder Jon Jones has apparently decided to not rush back to the Octagon, eyeing a return to mixed martial arts (MMA) competition this fall against Swedish sensation Alexander Gustafsson.

Jones and Gustafsson have crossed paths several times in recent weeks, sending messages to each other on Twitter and coming face-to-face in Russia for a staredown.

While the 205-pound match up has yet to be formally announced, Gustafsson told MMA Fighting last week that he expects a title shot to be offered “soon.”

That offer has yet to come through, but according to a report by Ariel Helwani on Tuesday’s (June 11, 2013) edition of FUEL TV‘s “UFC Tonight,” Jones’ injured toe is healing at a steady pace and he would like to put his belt on the line for a record-breaking sixth time against “The Mauler.”

Jones teased a few weeks back that he had a major decision on the horizon, and it appears that decision was whether or not to take a fight or allow his toe more time to recover. This latest report, if accurate, would suggest he went with the latter, targeting return date went from summer to closer to the end of the year.

Accordingly, a potential date or location for the 205-pound title match up — if it even comes to fruition — has not been announced at this time.

Photo via @ArielHelwani/Thomas Myers MMAMania

All the top Middleweight contenders want to see Michael Bisping inside the Octagon, now they can’t because of an eye injury. And neither can “The Count.”

When Michael Bisping scored a rare technical decision win over Alan Belcher at UFC 159, which took place at Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., April 27, 2013, many mixed martial arts (MMA) fans, as well as “The Talent” feared the worse.

That’s because the Middleweight showdown ended early in the third round after Bisping delivered an accidental eye poke that floored Belcher, who had previously underwent surgery to repair a career-threatening detached retina in 2010.

Belcher ended up being fine, receiving eight stitches to close a gash on his eye lid (see pic here). Bisping, however, appears to have somehow sustained a more significant eye injury.

Ariel Helwani delivered the bad news on the latest edition (June 4, 2013) of “UFC Tonight” on FUEL TV:

“After the fight against Alan Belcher, Michael Bisping completely lost all peripheral vision in his right eye. He went to see an eye on doctor on Tuesday and he found out that he had a detached retina. On Thursday, he had surgery to fix the detached retina. He’s hoping to return to the UFC in October.”

Odd indeed.

The good news, at least for now, is that the procedure does not appear it will keep Bisping on the sidelines for an extended period of time. In addition, he might need the extra time off to fully recover from a separate planned “minor procedure” to correct a “nagging nerve issue in his vertebrae.”

And he’ll need all the rest he can get with just about every fighter in the 185-pound division calling him out, including Rich Franklin (more here), Luke Rockhold (more here), Constantinos Philippou (more here) and Cung Le (more here), among others.

Of all his current suitors, Bisping apparently appears most interested in Le, a former Strikeforce champion who competes sparingly thanks to a hectic Hollywood acting schedule. One that could magically open up right around the same time Bisping is fit enough to return to the Octagon in Fall 2013.

No problem here.

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

The natural course of business negotiations often produces several stops and starts. Parties must continually reassess their own wants and needs, as well as the shifting economy beneath their feet. Throw in complicating factors like outside suitors, market pressures and public relations, and the recipe for reaching a deal can grow far more complex.

Most of the time, it comes down to one single thing, and it’s whether the two parties want to work together. When they do, any barrier can be jumped, and a true middle ground can be found on even the most problematic of issues.

From the sounds of it, the possible deal between Josh Barnett and the UFC could be trending in that direction. Or more accurately, that is Barnett’s hope. Appearing on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour, Barnett indicated in several different ways that the UFC would be the most logical home for his services.

The 35-year-old, who has been a free agent since submitting Nandor Guelmino in January on the last Strikeforce show, said that there was only one stumbling block in reaching a deal with the Las Vegas-based promotion. Though he declined to say what it was out of respect to the promotion, he suggested the two could still reach a deal, saying that the one issue is “a very, very simple thing, in my mind.”

Asked by host Ariel Helwani if he wants to fight in the UFC next, Barnett didn’t mince words.

“I would love to fight in the UFC next,” he said, before noting how many times fans have quizzed him about the possibility of fighting Frank Mir over the years.

“I’ve been a top 10 fighter longer than anybody active in mixed martial arts at this time,” he said. “And there’s a real good reason for that. To be in the UFC would mean to go back to where I already won the belt, to go back to where I was a champion at 24 years old, and try to cement my legacy as an MMA fighter. I don’t really feel I can create that legacy and finish on a high point unless I’m there.”

The admission will no doubt create new buzz, as in February, Barnett officially declined the UFC’s offer and turned his attention elsewhere.

Barnett said his management team is talking to all available suitors and has received offers, but that “the UFC would be the most attractive place to ply my wares.”

Barnett had a five-fight run in the UFC in the early 2000s, capturing the heavyweight championship in March 2002, though he was stripped of the belt after testing positive for steroids.

After leaving the promotion, he became something of a fighting mercenary, competing in PRIDE, Sengoku, Affliction and Strikeforce, among other places. With a 32-6 record, he is considered by most of the sport’s observers to be the best heavyweight not under Zuffa contract.

There was a time when Barnett was being linked with Bellator, but he said he wasn’t as close to signing with Bellator as he was of signing with the UFC.

“Well, I think the right deal just hasn’t put itself together,” he said. “There’s been a lot of good pieces. These promotions have a lot to offer in terms of competition, promotional value, and opportunity to show the fights to a large audience. The fighting part of it, I’m game for all of it. I think it’d be a blast no matter where. But you can’t just run out and start punching people without thinking about the business aspects of it. Between me and my manager, the right scenario just hasn’t presented itself just yet.”

Barnett said he would like to finalize something as soon as possible. In regards to the prospects of him fighting Mir, he said he’d be open to it, even though he predicted Mir would find out he wasn’t in his league.

“With Frank, it’s just the one fight everyone brings to me,” he said. “I think part of that stems from us being American submission guys, and being big dudes, and having the fight between [Antonio Rodrigo] Nogueira and Mir, me and Nogueira, there’s some commonality between opponents. I can understand why fans look at it in that way. And honestly, yeah, Frank’s been around a long time. I’d have absolutely no issue fighting him in any way, shape, or form. I think it would be something that would get people excited, but I’ll be honest. If I’m just being humble, I think I get people excited anyway.”

As the days and months tick by, time is of the essence, but Barnett’s public statements make it clear that he’s ready to return to the negotiating table and try again to reach a deal.

Photo by Anton Tabuena

6 months removed from his KO loss to Cung Le, Franklin is finally talking about what’s up next for his fight career. He’s not ready to call it quits just yet and he’s eyeing The Count for his return to the cage.

In the headlining fight for UFC: Macao in November, Rich Franklin was brutally knocked out by a counter right from Cung Le. The loss killed any momentum Franklin had built in winning a decision over Wanderlei Silva at UFC 147. Since then, “Ace” has been markedly quiet about what his next move would be.

Franklin broke his silence with an appearance on last week’s episode of The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani. Before anything else, Rich wanted to assure his fans that he has no plans to retire just yet:

“I haven’t been sitting on my end thinking about retirement,” Franklin told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour Monday. “I don’t want any of the fans out there to think, ‘Oh, Rich is just out there contemplating retiring.'”

“The loss to Cung was a big setback for me. Unexpected in my camp,” Franklin said. “I’m kind of sitting here thinking what’s my next move going to be. And I realized I’m 38 years old and my time is limited in the sport. I know that I’m not going to be fighting another 10 years. I have to start think about the things that I’m doing outside of MMA.

In an interview with MMA Weekly, Franklin admitted that he knows another title run is beyond his grasp at this point. The 2-2.5 years he thinks it would take him to reach contendership is more than he can continue to fight. However, he wants to compete 1 or 2 more times for the UFC and he has someone in mind for his next bout:

I look at my Twitter and a lot of people talk about (Michael) Bisping. That would be an exciting fight and something the fans would want to see. I’m an exciting fighter, he’s an exciting fighter, and we both like to throw down.

From a rankings perspective, this fight makes almost no sense. Franklin is coming off a brutal loss to Le, who’s never really made it close to the top of the heap at Middleweight. On the other hand, Bisping is ranked in the top 5 and coming off a win over borderline top Alan Belcher. However, Franklin has always been a “company man” and the UFC may see fit to grant him this boon. Regardless of the opponent, Rich is hoping to return to the Octagon before the end of the year.

UFC 159 Preview Show

Posted: April 27, 2013 in The Reel
Tags: ,

Get warmed up today before the pre-lims go down! Watch Ariel Helwani in this exclusive UFC 159 Preview Show