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9/21 -- Jon Fernandez V O'Shaquie Foster
9:45PM ET/9:45PM PT
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4:30PM ET/1:30PM PT
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11:00PM ET/8:00PM PT
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9:45PM ET/9:45PM PT
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9:00PM ET/6:00PM PT
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10:00PM ET/7:00PM PT
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September, 2018

BELLATOR MMA!

ILIMA-LEI MACFARLANE V VALERIE LETOURNEAU TO HEADLINE BELLATOR EVENT IN HAWAII

The Neal S. Blaisdell Arena in Honolulu, Hawaii will host the homecoming of Ilima-Lei Macfarlane (8-0), as she puts her undefeated record and Bellator women’s flyweight title on the line against No. 1 contender Valérie Létourneau (10-6) in the main event on Saturday, Dec. 15 LIVE on DAZN. The monumental event marks Bellator’s first trip to Hawaii and the first major MMA show to be held there since 2008.

In addition, Bellator Hawaii will also feature the promotional debut of Lyoto Machida (24-8), where he is welcomed to the Bellator cage by former middleweight champion Rafael Carvalho (15-2). Also, the first-round of Bellator’s Welterweight World Grand Prix rolls on when two undefeated 170-pounders, Neiman Gracie (8-0) and Ed Ruth (6-0), square-off for a shot at the world title against the winner of Rory MacDonald vs. Jon Fitch in the semi-finals.

The card will air exclusively on DAZN, the world’s first truly dedicated live sports streaming service, at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT. Tickets go on sale this Friday, Sept. 21 at 12 p.m. HT and can be purchased through Bellator.com, as well as Ticketmaster.com. A special presale will take place the morning of Friday, Sept. 21 from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. HT.

Fans can sign up for DAZN for only $9.99 per month – following a one-month free trial – by registering at DAZN.com or by downloading the DAZN app on a wide range of connected devices, including smart TVs, PCs, smartphones, tablets and game consoles. For more information, fans can follow DAZN’s U.S. social channels: @DAZNUSA on Facebook, @DAZN_USA for Twitter and DAZN_USA for Instagram.

A native of Honolulu, current Bellator women’s flyweight champ Macfarlane made her pro debut in 2015 with a KO victory that went viral and has not looked back since, remaining undefeated in her career. With impressive victories over Emily Ducote and Jessica Middleton, “The Ilimanator” earned a shot a Bellator gold at Bellator 186 in a rematch with Ducote, winning via submission. Most recently, she defeated Alejandra Lara and now looks for the biggest win of her career in front of her hometown fans. A proud graduate of Honolulu’s Punahou High School in 2009, Macfarlane later attended San Diego State University, where she would go on to earn her Master’s degree in liberal arts and science with a focus on indigenous issues – a subject she remains passionate about, launching “The Ilimanator Scholarship” for indigenous girls earlier this year.

The Canadian-born Létourneau, a former UFC strawweight title challenger, carries an impressive track record of thrilling fights, highlighted by a world title contest against former champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk. Since signing with Bellator, “Trouble” is undefeated after moving up to her more natural weight class, convincingly defeating Kristina Williams and Kate Jackson. At Bellator Hawaii, the American Top Team-product will look to improve upon her 10 victories as a professional, a tally that includes five finishes, with four coming by way of knockout, en route to becoming the next Bellator women’s flyweight titleholder.

After signing with Bellator in June of 2018, Machida will make his highly anticipated debut on one of the biggest cards of the year. The former UFC light heavyweight champ, known as “The Dragon,” will step inside the cage for the first time in a co-main event contested at middleweight. The two-division threat, who spends time training in both his native Brazil and Los Angeles, joins the organization on the heels of a highlight-reel KO over Vitor Belfort. The karate specialist owns notable career wins over Tito Ortiz, “Shogun” Rua, Dan Henderson, Rashad Evans and Randy Couture, and is looking to make an immediate impact on the roster.

The always-dangerous Carvalho has his sights set on reclaiming his middleweight world title and it begins on December 15 against Machida. Previously, the Brazilian was riding a 15-fight win streak that included three successful title defenses and victories over Melvin Manhoef (x2), Alessio Sakara and Joe Schilling. Fighting out of Curitiba, Brazil, “The Blessed” has plans to prove that he is once again one of the best middleweights in the world.

Fighting out of New York City, Gracie has established himself as the next dominant force of the famed family. Following a successful grappling career, the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt made his pro MMA debut in 2013 with an impressive performance. With seven of his eight wins coming via submission, the Renzo Gracie-trained fighter is a threat to anyone in the welterweight division.

A former three-time NCAA Division 1 National Champion wrestler from Penn State University, Ruth will face the toughest test of his young career when he returns to action on Dec. 15. While boasting an extraordinary wrestling background, “EZ” has finished five of his opponents with strikes. The Fresno, Calif.-based fighter put the 170-pound division on notice following a second round-TKO of his most recent opponent in his welterweight debut.

All Bellator Welterweight World Grand Prix on DAZN contests will consist of five rounds. Beginning with MacDonald versus Fitch, each time an athlete enters a tournament bout as champion, the Bellator welterweight title will be on the line, culminating in the Welterweight World Grand Prix on DAZN winner becoming the undisputed Bellator welterweight champion.

Bellator MMA

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BELLATOR MMA!

TO SIGN WFL’S ‘FINAL 8’ HEAVYWEIGHT GRAND PRIX AND MMA LIGHTWEIGHT TOURNAMENT CHAMPIONS

Bellator announced today the organization will reward the winner of World Fighting League’s upcoming “Final 8” Grand Prix, as well as the MMA Lightweight Tournament Finale, with a Bellator contract. The events take place over two days on Saturday, Sept. 22 through Sunday, Sept. 23 from Topsportcentrum in Almere, Netherlands and are set to air on Spike Netherlands.

Owned by famed Dutch kickboxer Melvin Manhoef, the Netherlands-based promotion is currently home to many of the best Dutch kickboxers and mixed martial artists. Following an impressive combat sports career that spans two and a half decades, including successful runs in DREAM, Cage Rage and Bellator, Manhoef began promoting fights under his WFL banner in 2015. Most recently, Manhoef defeated Remy Bonjasky in the final bout of his kickboxing career at WFL 16.

Similar to renowned K-1 events, the kickboxing tournament on Sept. 22 commences with eight competitors who will need to claim victory three times in one evening to become champion. The “Final 8” Grand Prix kicks off with several explosive first-round heavyweight matchups, including Murat Aygun vs. Fabio Kwasi, Sam Tevette vs. Clyde Brunswijk, Andrei Stoica vs. “Boy Boy” Martin and Fred Sikking vs. Nordine Mahieddine. Sikking vs. Nordine replaces the previously announced contest between Ibrahim El Bouni and Levi Rigters.

In the MMA Lightweight Tournament Finale on Sept. 23, Pieter Buist (13-4) meets Soli Abdeselam Mohamed (4-3), better known to fans as “Sully Bull,” in a battle to determine the victor at 155 pounds. Buist, nicknamed “The Archangel,” is currently riding a four-fight win streak, including two WFL victories, while Bull has also won his previous two bouts inside the WFL cage.

In addition to the “Super 8” Grand Prix on Sept. 22, the card will also feature Bellator Kickboxing’s Jorina Baars (44-0-3) in a highly anticipated superfight with two-time WFL World Champion Anissa Haddaoui (42-3-1). Fighting out of Den Helder, Netherlands, the 29-year-old Baars remains one of the most dangerous kickboxers and Muay Thai fighters on the planet, famously defeating Cris Cyborg in 2014. Having earned gold in both professional kickboxing and Muay Thai, the Dutch-born Haddaoui looks to make a name for herself against a fellow veteran in Baars. Fans can expect fireworks between these two exciting and elite fighters.

Bellator MMA

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MMA Pro League!

Full Lineup Set

The newest entity in MMA, MMA Pro League, is just days away from their inaugural event with an exciting lineup of fights that pits fighters from Team New Jersey, which is led by head coach Dan Miller of the Miller Brothers, against Team Pennsylvania and their head coach, Daniel Gracie of the renowned Gracie family.

The fighters square-off this Saturday, September 15 at the new Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City in bouts streaming live on FloCombat.com (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT). Tickets for the inaugural installment of "MMA Pro League At The Hard Rock" are available at Ticketmaster.com.

The MMA Pro League event will see Claudio Ledesma taking on Andre Bernardo in a bantamweight fight, Gabriel Ruiz in a featherweight clash against Cody Hier and a light heavyweight contest that pits Emmanuel Walo against Rafael Celestino.

Featherweight action will feature Mike Pagano in a bout against Zedekiah Montanez, plus Kevin Sears takes on Ahmed Samir in a heavyweight attraction and a bantamweight affair that sees Turpal Khamzayev battle Joseph Penafiel.

Rounding out the exciting inaugural night of MMA Pro League fights are Mark Kolker facing Zulkarnaiyn Kamchybekov in a middleweight fight, a lightweight showdown between Shan Cella and Francisco Muniz and a welterweight matchup between Justin Osborn and Andy Jimenez.

Ledesma is a native of West Orange, NJ and currently holds a 14-7 record as a professional fighter. Bernardo is originally from Botucatu, Sao Paulo, Brazil and has a professional record of 8-4.

Ruiz fights out of Woodland Park, NJ with an 0-1 record as a professional fighter and an amateur record of 5-2-1 in the flyweight division. Hier is originally from Daison, MI. He later moved to Philadelphia to train at Gracie Gym. Hier has a record of 1-1 as a professional fighter in the bantamweight division.

Walo was borni n Cleveland, OH and spent the first few years of his life there before moving to Liberia at a very young age. Walo eventually returned to the U.S. to join the United States National Guard and was stationed as a guard in an Iraqi prison. While in Iraq, Walo was exposed to mixed martial arts and quickly fell in love with the sport. When Walo returned home, he began training and made his professional debut in December 2010. He has accumulated a professional record of 12-2-1. Celestino is from Brasilia, Brazil and has a 5-2 record as a professional fighter in the Middleweight division.

Pagano, a United States military veteran, is originally from Fayetteville, NC. He later moved to New Jersey to train with Dan Miller's Miller Brothers MMA. Pagano is also a trainer at the gym and serves as the head instructor for the gym's Little Spartans youth martial arts and anti-bullying program. He is a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu with an 0-1 record as a professional fighter. Montanez is a mixed martial arts fighter based in Pennsylvania. He has a 3-2 record in the featherweight division.

Originally from Colorado Springs, Colorado, Sears is an eleven-fight MMA veteran who owns seven wins after a strong amateur career. Representing his native Egypt, Samir won his only professional MMA fight by knockout and owns an 11-1 record as a professional boxer.

Bantamweight brawler Khamzayev was born in New Jersey and turned professional in May of this year when he lost his debut. He takes on Orlando's Penafiel, who won a decision in his professional debut in April.

Kolker will represent New Jersey, but was born and raised in Alabama. He made his professional MMA debut in June 2017 with a decision victory. After amassing an amateur record of 4-0, Kamchybekov will make his his professional MMA debut on Saturday night.

A 23-year-old from New Jersey, Cella will return to action for his second professional MMA fight. Muniz is originally from Caguas, Puerto Rico. His preferred discipline is Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Muniz has fought five times in his native Puerto Rico, attaining a record of 4-1.

Osborn is originally from Tennessee before representing New Jersey. He emerged victorious in his professional debut in August. Fighting out of New York, Jimenez was 3-0 in amateur MMA bouts and will fight for the first time professionally on Saturday's card.

MMA PRO

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GET TO KNOW MMA PRO LEAGUE'S!

TEAM PENNSYLVANIA

As the inaugural fight night approaches for the newest entity in MMA, MMA Pro League, get to know the fighters for head coach Dan Miller's Team New Jersey before they battle Team Pennsylvania Saturday, September 15 from the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City and streaming live on FloCombat.com.

Tickets for the inaugural installment of "MMA Pro League At The Hard Rock" on Saturday, September 15, featuring Team New Jersey vs. Team Pennsylvania, are available at Ticketmaster.com.

Here is what Daniel Gracie's Team Pennsylvania fighters had to say as they prepare to take on head coach Dan Miller's Team New Jersey:

ZEDEKIAH MONTANEZ

Weight Class: Featherweight

Hometown: North Philadelphia, PA

Why do you fight?

"I fight because it is what I love. There's no better feeling than the rush of overcoming the uncertainty in a cage or ring with complete faith and belief in your ability."

Do you have a favorite fighter or someone you try to emulate?

"I always pay my homage to the fighters that led me towards this path. Boxers like Fernando Vargas and Floyd Mayweather. Plus, MMA champions like Connor McGregor, Michael Chandler and more. But I am my own self. I do take a bit of every fighter, shake it up and come out with whatever I've been working on."

What is your fighting background and style?

"I don't try to focus on one solid background. I am a mixed martial artist now. I always keep an open mind, and try to dig into all aspects of the game."

Why is MMA Pro League the right fit for you?

"I'm excited to be working with MMA Pro League, and by the looks of it, everything is great! They're a good up-and-coming, humble and respectable organization that's trying to bring change to the game, and together the sky is the limit for all of us."

What is your favorite thing about Pennsylvania?

"The whole experience of being from here. It's where I was raised. My family and all of my ups and downs happen here."

CODY HIER

Weight Class: Bantamweight

Hometown: Davison, MI

Why do you fight?

"I fight to give my family the things I never had."

Do you have a favorite fighter or someone you try to emulate?

"I'm a fan of lots of fighters, but my style is all my own."

What is your fighting background and style?

"I have a strong wrestling background that has led to my MMA career."

Why is MMA Pro League the right fit for you?

"MMA Pro League is the next big thing and I'm glad to be a part of the ground floor. It's going to be a great ride."

What is your favorite thing about Pennsylvania?

"The sports fans! There's really nothing like them."

JOE PENAFIEL

Weight Class: 130 lb catchweight

Hometown: Orlando, FL

Why do you fight?

"I fight for pride, family and money."

Do you have a favorite fighter or someone you try to emulate?

"Bruce Lee, but I steal from everyone."

What is your fighting background and style?

"I practice jeet kune do and have experience wrestling."

Why is MMA Pro League the right fit for you?

"Because they're going to put together challenging fights and they have top-class treatment of their fighters."

What is your favorite thing about Pennsylvania?

"I like the ladies and the Philly cheesesteaks."

ANDY JIMENEZ/P>

Weight Class: Lightweight

Hometown: Queens, NY

Why do you fight?

"I fight because I have a passion for mixed martial arts and I'm a badass."

Do you have a favorite fighter or someone you try to emulate?

"My favorite MMA fighter is Georges St-Pierre."

What is your fighting background and style?

"My fighting background is jiu jitsu under Renzo Gracie."

Why is MMA Pro League the right fit for you?

"MMA Pro League is the right fit for me because I have a versatile background and I would like to portray this within the team structure."

What is your favorite thing about Pennsylvania?

"My favorite thing about Pennsylvania is Renzo Gracie PA."

To access live and on-demand coverage of all MMA Pro League action, visit FloCombat.com and become a monthly or annual PRO subscriber. Either subscription unlocks access to premium content across the entire FloSports network. Watch the games on all screens by downloading the FloSports app on iOS, Roku, or Apple TV 4.

MMA PRO

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GET TO KNOW MMA PRO LEAGUE'S!

TEAM NEW JERSEY

As the inaugural fight night approaches for the newest entity in MMA, MMA Pro League, get to know the fighters for head coach Dan Miller's Team New Jersey before they battle Team Pennsylvania Saturday, September 15 from the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City and streaming live on FloCombat.com.

Tickets for the inaugural installment of "MMA Pro League At The Hard Rock" on Saturday, September 15, featuring Team New Jersey vs. Team Pennsylvania, are available at Ticketmaster.com.

Here is what Dan Miller's Team New Jersey fighters had to say as they prepare to take on head coach Daniel Gracie's Team Pennsylvania:

CLAUDIO LEDESMA

Weight Class: Flyweight

Hometown: West Orange, NJ

Why do you fight?

"I fight because I love the sport and I feel I was gifted the ability to do it competitively. So I can't let it go to waste."

Do you have a favorite fighter or someone you try to emulate?

"My favorite fighter is actually a blend of Frankie Edgar and Marlon Moraes. I look up to both of them as fighters and try to put a little piece of each of them in my game."

What is your fighting background and style?

"I'm a jiu jitsu black belt. Jiu jitsu is what got my foot in the door but now I'm a complete fighter and don't really favor any single style."

Why is MMA Pro League the right fit for you?

"I love New Jersey. I was born and bred here. MMA Pro League allows me to represent my state!"

What is your favorite thing about New Jersey?

"It's the diversity. Jersey is a melting pot of different cultures and backgrounds. I believe this state breeds the toughest guys around."

TURPAL KHAMZAYEV

Weight Class: 130-pound Catchweight

Hometown: Clifton, NJ

Why do you fight?

"I fight because it's in my blood. I was born to fight and that's what I do best."

Do you have a favorite fighter or someone you try to emulate?

"Growing up as a kid I used to watch boxing, and some of the boxers I really enjoyed watching were Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson and Prince Naseem Hamed. I also steal a little bit of everyone's styles from different contact sports, because you can't be a one-dimensional fighter in modern MMA."

What is your fighting background and style?

"My fighting background is pretty much all aspects of contact sports. I've earned a second-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do, I have multiple grappling titles, multiple kickboxing/Muay Thai titles and three amateur MMA titles in two different promotions and in two different weight classes."

Why is MMA Pro League the right fit for you?

"MMA Pro League is the right fit for me because they are doing something new. It's something that has not been done before, having two states compete against each other to see who wins. It is also a little different from other promotions because in other promotions you just go and fight for yourself, but in MMA Pro League you have a whole state behind you, and all the pressure is on you because you don't want to let your team down."

What is your favorite thing about New Jersey?

"My favorite thing about New Jersey is that we always bring the heat in any competition against anyone."

KEVIN SEARS

Weight Class: Heavyweight

Hometown: Newark, NJ

Why do you fight?

There's a lot of different reasons why I fight. The first reason was because I was a fan. I love the sport and entertainment, but the real reason why I fight is for my daughter and to show her you can chase your dreams and be great at something you're passionate about.

I visited the UFC Expo at the first one they had in Las Vegas. It was a totally life-changing experience. I was just a fan of UFC and MMA, but when I went down there I knew that I was destined to be a fighter, gladiator and a badass."

Do you have a favorite fighter or someone you try to emulate?

"My favorite fighter more recently was Kimbo Slice, may he rest in peace. I did have a favorite fighter growing up, and yes, it was the one and only Georges St-Pierre. If it wasn't 'GSP' then it was Tito Ortiz, just some all-around badass dudes.

Nowadays I really don't follow fighting, but if I had to say my favorite active fighter fighting now, it's definitely Jose Aldo. I'm an old school UFC guy from back in the day. Now I just see competition."

What is your fighting background and style?

"My fighting style is just brawl and cause damage in there. I really don't have a style. I go in there and try to get the job done even if it's sloppy. You could say I'm emulating Kimbo combined with a wrestler."

Why is MMA Pro League the right fit for you?

"MMA Pro League is for me because it's my next challenge and I can't wait."

What is your favorite thing about New Jersey?

My favorite thing about New Jersey is my Aunt Denise, my grandma and my cousin Jazz. They lived in Newark most of their lives. Those are my people."

MARK KOLKER

Weight Class: Welterweight

Hometown: Mobile, AL

Why do you fight?

"I like to fight because fighting is one of the few things in life I'm truly passionate about and gives me purpose. Also fighting provides the opportunity for a better life."

Do you have a favorite fighter or someone you try to emulate?

"I don't really emulate any one fighter. I try to pick up as much as I can from different fighters and coaches and mix them into my game."

What is your fighting background and style?

"I am a mixed martial artist and have been fighting as an amateur and professional for four years now."

Why is MMA Pro League the right fit for you?

"I am excited to fight for MMA Pro League because it is a well-run organization, and the opportunity to fight on their first show in Atlantic City seems like a great opportunity."

What is your favorite thing about New Jersey?

"I am not from New Jersey although I train there. I am representing Mobile, Alabama. My favorite thing about Mobile is that on the coast we are a family, and we are eager to show the talent we have on the Gulf Coast."

SHAN CELIA

Weight Class: Featherweight

Hometown: Wayne, NJ

Why do you fight?

"I fight for many reasons. I have a lot of passion for this sport and am looking to become the best."

Do you have a favorite fighter or someone you try to emulate?

"My favorite fighter other than myself would have to be Muhammad Ali because of the impact he had around the world. I wish to do the same one day, in my own way. I watch many fighters and am always studying combat, taking techniques from all the greats in all combat sports."

What is your fighting background and style?

"I started in full on MMA, not one specific background."

Why is MMA Pro League the right fit for you?

"MMA Pro League is the right fit for me because they are professionals and take it seriously just like me."

What is your favorite thing about New Jersey?

"My favorite thing about New Jersey is most people from here are blue collar, hard-working people, and it pushes me to chase my dreams."

FRANCISCO MUNIZ

Weight Class: 140-pound Catchweight

Hometown: Caguas, Puerto Rico

Why do you fight?

"Because I have a huge chip on my shoulder."

Do you have a favorite fighter or someone you try to emulate?

"I don't have a favorite fighter, I just try to be me."

What is your fighting background and style?

"Brazilian jiu jitsu is my style."

Why is MMA Pro League the right fit for you?

"Because they're giving me a shot that I'm worthy of."

What is your favorite thing about New Jersey?

"It's close to so many great things, like New York."

GABRIEL RUIZ

Weight Class: Bantamweight

Hometown: Woodland Park, NJ

Why do you fight?

"I fight because I love to compete and the rush of going out there to the cage and being the best man of the night."

Do you have a favorite fighter or someone you try to emulate?

"My favorite fighter is Rich Franklin. I kind of got my style from him. I just go out and fight and put my heart out there."

What is your fighting background and style?

"I have an all-around background, but I love to stand up. I feel comfortable anywhere though."

Why is MMA Pro League the right fit for you?

"MMA Pro League is the right fit for me because we are taken care of and it has a lot of benefits that people are going to see both immediately and over time."

What is your favorite thing about New Jersey?

"My favorite thing in New Jersey is the people. We're Jersey strong. Also, the food is great here."

MIKE PAGANO

Weight Class: Featherweight

Hometown: Stanhope, NJ

Why do you fight?

"I fight because when I was growing up I was picked on and bullied a lot. I had to learn how to stand up for myself. Also, later on in my youth I had to take care of my father who was very sick with brain cancer, which took his life in 2008.

Seeing my father go through his daily battles and frustrations made me realize I could overcome anything in life. My father was and will always be my hero. He was one of the toughest, stubbornest, hardest workers I had the pleasure of knowing and had the pleasure of calling my dad. Each time I step into that cage I know he`s with me."

Do you have a favorite fighter or someone you try to emulate?

"My favorite fighter, or fighters if I could merge them together, would have to be Georges St-Pierre, Dominick Cruz, Mike Tyson and Buakaw Banchamek. As far as emulating their styles, each has something I like within their fighting styles or fighter I.Q., but for me I like to be my own fighter. I never want to be a paper cut out version of someone else. That`s the beautiful thing about MMA, all these different styles can mesh into one and you can create your style how you want."

What is your fighting background and style?

"I`m a wrestler, boxer and black belt in jiu jitsu under Sean "Shorty Rock" Santella."

Why is MMA Pro League the right fit for you?

"I feel MMA Pro League is the right fit for me because they are starting their own chapter in MMA and I love being a part of it! I like the concept as far as team versus team and the way you can collect points for your team by either KO/TKO, Submission, or Decision. It definitely makes a fighter want to push harder for that big win!"

What is your favorite thing about New Jersey?

"The Pizza!"

JUSTIN OSBORN

Weight Class: Lightweight

Hometown: Mobile, AL

Why do you fight?

"It's what I love to do. This is what comes naturally to me. I was born to fight, plain and simple."

Do you have a favorite fighter or someone you try to emulate?

"I'm trying to emulate the best Justin Osborn possible."

What is your fighting background and style?

"Wrestling is my style."

Why is MMA Pro League the right fit for you?

"They are giving me a cage to fight in and an opponent to fight. I'm here to fight my heart out and they are giving me a platform to do so."

What is your favorite thing about New Jersey?

"I've never been on the East Coast before, so I'm looking forward to experiencing it."

To access live and on-demand coverage of all MMA Pro League action, visit FloCombat.com and become a monthly or annual PRO subscriber. Either subscription unlocks access to premium content across the entire FloSports network. Watch the games on all screens by downloading the FloSports app on iOS, Roku, or Apple TV 4.

MMA PRO

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Scaling Problems!

The Worsening Issue Of Weight Cutting In Combat Sports
By Krakrabbit

Darren Till

At the time of this article, an elite athlete in mixed martial arts’ premiere organization, the Ultimate Fighting Championship, is draped in a glorified trash bag, drenched in sweat, training his ass off and praying to an omniscient force that the next time he steps on the scale, several pounds will have been shed from his weak body.

Darren Till, a young upstart in the sport, is challenging for the UFC’s welterweight title, squaring off against a worthy champion in Tyron Woodley next week at UFC 228 in Dallas, Texas in a bout that requires both men to weigh in at 170lbs the morning before the contest. The 25-year-old challenger who hails from Liverpool, England has garnered quite a name for himself since entering the UFC’s deep welterweight talent pool, but not just for the reasons you may suspect.

Till’s 17-0 record may be impressive, and his ten stoppage victories may attract some eyes, but what many fight fans have taken notice to is are the countless battles Darren wages against a timeless, difficult, soul-draining opponent: the weight scale. Standing at a not-insignificant 6’0”, Till has missed weight for two separate bouts in the UFC alone and continues to struggle to weigh in at the 170lb limit, forcing his body, mind and spirit to the darkest, deepest regions it can muster to at least get close to making weight for his bout.

Darren is a persistent, mentally strong competitor with experience in the practice of “weight cutting”, a difficult and aggressive endeavor that sees competitors of all combat sports, but primarily boxing and MMA, rapidly shed pounds as they chase and hope to reach, just for moments, an elusive weight far below their natural one.

Most people reading this article understand what weight cutting is, but not everyone understands the seriousness of what the practice is doing to the sport’s athletes. Health is being sacrificed at every turn, on every event around the country, because the worth of an athlete is seemingly being measured in increasing quantities by how much weight they can unnaturally shed off their body and how low of a weight class they can fit into.

The practice has been around for quite a while and is something of a tradition in combat sports. Even high school and collegiate wrestlers have been known to be pushed, persuaded and commanded to be the smallest possible functioning man they can be when they slim into their spandex for competition. Not because it makes them a better wrestler, boxer or martial artist, but because it makes them a larger one relative to the rest of their division.

The advent of day-before weigh-ins was brought about by ringside physician Dr. Edwin Homansky, who advocated the switch for a number of medical reasons – the majority of which pertained to reducing the effects of dehydration. The change was put in place by the Nevada State Athletic Commission in the mid-1980s, and the rest of the commissions followed soon after.

However, what was originally implemented to spare the sport’s athletes from the dangerous effects of cutting weight and being forced to fight in a less-than-optimal state has since ironically enabled the very dangers that it sought to minimize. As fighters abuse the day-before system to cut more and more weight and fit into lower and lower divisions, more fighters are suffering the ill effects of weight cutting than perhaps ever before, with an increasing number of fighters getting hurt, injured or sick during weight cuts or, even worse, dying during the process.

Darren Till, the man challenging for a title next week, is, if you will remember, going to (or will make his best attempt to) weigh in at 170lbs on Friday morning. By the time he steps into the cage for his actual bout the next night, he will likely have jumped up to around 190lbs. Just a month after the fight has happened, he will be back to his standard walkaround weight of 215lbs.

In an attempt to make weight, Till employed a variety of tactics that not only put his body at risk of injury or failure but put his entire life at risk. In the leadup to his bout in May, Till was seen on tape collapsing on his treadmill. After crawling around on the floor, he was laid under layers of blankets and towels and essentially passed out. In the same video, he’s seen telling his trainers and teammates that he cannot see – Till literally went temporarily blind due to the severity of his weight cutting pursuit.

Now, is Darren Till an extreme example in the sport of cutting far too much weight and trying to squeeze into a division that is, as far as health is concerned, far too small for him? To a degree, yes, but in many ways his struggles are not so far off from what many other fighters endure as they race to beat the scale.

Donald Cerrone, a longtime veteran in the sport of MMA, contested the majority of his career in the 155lb division. Although never winning a title, Cerrone has consistently performed at a high level in the sport and is regarded as a man with championship skills. Standing 6’0”, Cerrone is naturally a thinner, lankier man than Darren Till is despite standing at the same height. However, Donald also suffered greatly from his weight cutting endeavors and any number of weigh-in photos featuring Cerrone are apt to draw comparison to recently deceased corpses propped up on a weight scale.

Mentally, weight cutting takes a tremendous toll on a fighter. It makes the brain foggy, it increases irritability, it increases aggression, it aggravates pre-existing mental conditions like anger issues or depression and, at the end of every day while cutting weight, they feel bad. Mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually – drained and exhausted. The process is miserable and in turn makes any who suffer through it miserable, as well.

But I am not concerned so much with fleeting feelings of angst and annoyance, as much as I am the permanence of bodily damage weight cutting inflicts on a body. Dehydration, starvation, over-training, enemas, laxatives, vomiting, saunas and more are all tools that are used by fighters to cut weight quickly and effectively, as they look to weigh in lighter on the scale every time they step on. Regard for performance will only slow down the process of cutting weight for many fighters, who suffer through subpar workouts and mediocre lives for their entire training camp leading up to a contest – sometimes the biggest contests of their lives.

The techniques used to shed pounds rapidly do their job, and it is within the realm of possibility to lose 10-15lbs on a single day if that is required to make weight and keep their fight – and their paycheck – on. However, the long, and even short-term ramifications of these extreme measures are mounting rapidly in an ever evolving and endlessly difficult world of combat sports.

Dehydration alone, one of the most common, consistent and overly used methods of weight cutting can lead to decreased fluids surrounding the brain, decreased muscle function and recovery, decreased organ function (or an entire organ shutdown), decreased joint and bone durability and an increased risk of concussion and brain trauma – just to name a few. Some estimates say that as little as 3% dehydration can lead to up to a 30% decrease in overall performance of an athlete – yet studies have suggested that up to 39% of MMA fighters step into the cage in some state of dehydration.

What happens when you put a dehydrated fighter with a body barely running into the cage with another grown, violent man? A drastically increased risk of permanent, irreparable brain or organ damage (a long-term downside) and an increased risk of being knocked out of consciousness, dropping in rankings, getting paid less and having your career sidetracked (a short-term downside).

Therein lies the issue here, as Darren Till - amongst many other fighters across combat sports - is putting his body and mind at serious risk in an attempt to be a significantly “bigger” man than his opposition in the division. However, what is quickly beginning to happen in the sport is that since everyone is getting to be so experienced in the practice of sweating, defecating and working pounds off their bodies, fewer and fewer people are seeing a proportionate reward for the amount of suffering they endure prior to a weigh in.

The majority of weight cutting methods have permanent impact on metabolic and digestive systems within the body, as well as the body’s ability to recover from illness, injury or traumas. Weight cutting has become a prominent standard in the sport but most ringside physicians and doctors, including the very man to suggest it Edwin Homansky, agree that the mid-1980s experiment of day-before weigh-ins is a failure that has been abused and caused more harm than good.

Despite boxing and mixed martial arts being sports based around incapacitation of their participants, weight cutting has become a practice so blatantly and objectively dangerous that its widespread and haphazard use within the sport threatens the health, both long and short-term, of every athlete that participates.

In this era of what is damn near “competitive weight cutting”, fighters are having their performances, careers and lives prematurely shortened by the brutal practices of shedding pound after pound to gain a perceived advantage over other weight-cutting athletes who are hoping to gain the same advantage. In what is becoming a vicious cycle, athletes who do not wish to participate in such severe weight-loss tactics are then placed into bouts with fighters that are significantly larger than they are, enabling the idea that in order to compete and succeed as a professional, cutting substantial, ridiculous amounts of weight is a necessity – lest one be placed in the ring/cage against a man who is 4” taller and 20lbs heavier than one is.

Fans and fighters alike will see no negative impact on the quality of performance, showcases or matchups if competitors are led into weight divisions that are appropriate for their weight and build. Fights of the century will still take place, but instead of it being contested between two tired, sub-optimally conditioned fighters, it will take place closer to their natural, healthy, in-shape weights.

But no coordinated effort or unspoken agreement amongst fighters will do the trick – it relies on the overseeing bodies of boxing and mixed martial arts to make the change and force the sport in a healthier direction. Much like championship boxing bouts were brought down in duration from “until somebody cannot fight any longer” to 15 rounds to 12 rounds, a change in the sports for the benefit and longevity of its athletes is necessary.

The World Boxing Council, one of the four “major” and significant sanctioning bodies in the sport of boxing attempt their own spin on the weigh-in problem for their championship fights, and it has done decently in making sure that the men fighting each other are near the same weight on fight night. The WBC introduced a rule in 2012 that requires both competitors to weigh in at 9:30am the day of the fight and re-weigh-in; the rule stipulating that neither fighter can gain more than 10% of the weight they weighed in at the day prior. For, say, a 154lb bout, that means both men must be 169.4lbs when they step on the scales the day of the bout.

The California State Athletic Commission is attempting to put into place the same rule as the WBC has in effect, allowing only a 10% increase in weight from the number shown on scales the day before. For 147lb fighters, they have 14.7lbs to work with in terms of rehydration, something much more reasonable than what many fighters are actually putting into practice. For instance, Scott Quigg, a fighter who tipped the scales at an overweight 128.8 for his featherweight (126lb) title bout against Oscar Valdez earlier this year, stepped into the ring at a monumental 149.6lb, gaining 20.8lbs following the official weigh-in the day before – an increase of over 15%.

The International Boxing Federation, the IBF, meanwhile also has a weight-related rule in place for their champions that strips champions of their belt (or prohibits challengers from winning a title fight) if the competitor’s fight day weigh-in figure is 10 pounds over what they tipped the scales at the day prior for those fighting at 140lbs or less, or 7.5lbs over for those fighting at 147 and heavier weights.

Same day weigh ins are not the answer to every solution, but it will sort out many problems in a number of avenues as it pertains to one of the riskiest, yet widespread practices in combat sports today. Fighters that choose to continue cutting more weight than their bodies can do in a healthy manner will suffer the ill consequences of severely decreased performance and subsequently derailed careers. Fighters that pursue a healthier direction and fight closer to their natural weight - much like Frankie Edgar (MMA) and Floyd Mayweather Jr. (boxing) to name a couple are known for – will see a sizable increase in overall health, longevity and consistency throughout their careers and perhaps most importantly, after they hang up the gloves for good.

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Ilyaz Mamadaliyev V Jake Leeson!

Set For Championship Title Fight

Ilyaz Mamadaliyev V Jake Leeson

Premier MMA Championship 10 will take place Saturday November 17th at the Hits Sports & Entertainment Complex in Covington Kentucky presenting a night full of live MMA featuring Jake Leeson and Ilyaz Mamadaliyev entering the cage to see who will become the Premier MMA Championship Lightweight Title holder in one of four already scheduled title fights on the fight card.

Both fighters have found major success inside the Premier MMA Championship cage throughout 2018 having not only their hands raised in victory in each fight they have competed in this year but each fighter claiming a fight of the night performance or KO of the night performance each time they have stepped inside the cage.

Jake Leeson entered the Premier MMA Championship ranks in late 2017 making his debut against the extremely tough Tim Hughes out of Ohio in a fight of the night performance that earned him a decision victory that had the fan’s on their feet in excitement, Jake continued his winning streak into 2018 with a KO of the night victory in February and followed that up with another decision victory in yet another fight of the night performance against the very talented Andrew Crabill in a potential fight of the year candidate. We asked Jake about this upcoming fight and he had this to say:

"He’s a talented fighter. I’m excited for a fight always. I respect guys who are cool so That makes it better to fight a guy like that. It’ll be a fun show. Don’t miss it. It’s always an awesome card at Premier MMA."

Ilyaz Mamadaliyev has emerged as fan favorite to watch compete, At just 20 years old his exciting style and talent keeps fans invested in every second of his fights, Ilyaz made his Premier MMA Championship debut in August 2017 in a fight of the night performance where he earned a decision victory, In 2018 Mamadaliyev has added two more fight of the night performance victories,The first in April and most recently on August 11th as he defeated former AAMMA Champion Cody Harris in yet another potential fight of the year candidate. We asked Ilyaz his thought’s on this upcoming fight and here is what he had to say:

"Lesson is a very tough opponent who’s fights I’ve watched many times. I knew we would meet either for a title fight or in the pro rankings one day so why not make that day November 17th for the 155 Premier MMA belt. I know he is a respectful fighter just like me who doesn’t trash talk and I respect that. We will throw down on November 17th in a 5 round Fight, I think it will be a great stand up fight for fans to watch. It will be my 3rd Fight this year and I hope to end it with 3 wins ! Make sure you don’t miss out, I am sure the card will be stacked again like always."

Fight fan’s this is the type of fight that doesn’t happen often, Having two fighters in the same weight class who provide exciting fight of the night quality performances each time they step inside the cage facing one another to determine who will become a champion and who will suffer their only defeat in 2018 makes this fight one you will want to witness live and in person on Saturday November 17th at the Hits Sports & Entertainment Complex in Covington Kentucky. Tickets are available now at CINCYFIGHTS.COM

Premier MMA

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MMA PRO LEAGUE!

TO RELEASE ORIGINAL DIGITAL & PHOTO CONTENT

The newest entity in MMA, MMA Pro League, is rolling out exclusive, original digital content beginning with the first of a six-episode "Inside MMA Pro League" series and the first of their multi-episode "MMA Pro League Fighter Profiles" seriesthat will be available on MMA Pro League's YouTube, Facebook and Twitter channels.

This content will be released starting now, through the events leading up to the inaugural fight. Please share with your followers as they are uploaded and credit MMA Pro League. Be on the lookout for additional content in your inboxes leading up to fight night.

"Inside MMA Pro League" gives fans a behind the scenes look at how MMA Pro League came to be and how preparations are going leading up to the inaugural fight. The "MMA Pro League Fighter Profiles" series will consist of up-close interviews which offer insight into who the fighters are and will give fans the first chance to connect with them.

Additionally, MMA Pro League will roll out regular photo gallery content of Team New Jersey and Team Pennsylvania fighters from training camp as Coaches Dan Miller (NJ) and Daniel Gracie (PA) prepare them for battle in the inaugural MMA Pro League match on Saturday, September 15 at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City. This exclusive photo content will be available on the MMA Pro League's social channels.

Tickets for the inaugural installment of "MMA Pro League At The Hard Rock" on Saturday, September 15, featuring Team New Jersey vs. Team Pennsylvania, are available at Ticketmaster.com.

To access live and on-demand coverage of all MMA Pro League action, visit FloCombat.com and become a monthly or annual PRO subscriber. Either subscription unlocks access to premium content across the entire FloSports network. Watch the games on all screens by downloading the FloSports app on iOS, Roku, or Apple TV 4.

MMA PRO MMA

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IMPACT Wrestling!

To Stream Live On Twitch

IMPACT Wrestling

IMPACT Wrestling has announced the company’s first live event in the UK in almost three years will stream live Sunday, Sept. 9 at 5:00 p.m. UK time (12:00 p.m. ET) exclusively on Twitch.tv.

IMPACT vs. The UK emanates from Wrestling MediaCon in Manchester. Tickets are on sale now from Ringside World at www.ringsideworld.co.uk.

IMPACT Wrestling’s official Twitch channel (www.Twitch.tv/impactwrestling) features exclusive monthly live events, original weekly live shows such as “Prestigious Tuesdays with Joe Hendry,” plus a 24-hour stream showcasing the past, present and future stars of IMPACT Wrestling, including memorable pay-per-view events, original series, weekly highlights and more.

Several matches have already been confirmed for IMPACT Wrestling’s return to Britain:

LAX vs. Jody Fleisch & Jonny Storm (IMPACT Tag Team Championship)

Barbed Wire Baseball Bat Death Match: Sami Callihan vs. Jimmy Havoc

Eli Drake vs. Joe Hendry

Su Yung vs. Lana Austin

Rich Swann vs. Matt Sydal vs. Trevor Lee

IMPACT Wrestling stars Eddie Edwards and Moose are also confirmed to be in action.

Fans can watch IMPACT Wrestling every Friday night at 11 p.m. on 5Spike on Freeview, Sky and Virgin Media. The show is also repeated in prime time on Saturdays and Sundays on the recently launched Fight Network, which can be found on Sky Channel 455.

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PATRICIO PITBULL V EMMANUEL SANCHEZ!

HEADLINES BELLATOR IN TEL AVIV, ISRAEL ON NOV. 15

PATRICIO PITBULL V EMMANUEL SANCHEZ

Bellator returns to Tel Aviv, Israel for the third-consecutive year on Thursday, Nov. 15 with a featherweight world title clash pitting Patricio “Pitbull” Freire (27-4) against Emmanuel Sanchez (17-3) set to anchor Bellator 209 inside Menora Mivtachim Arena. In addition, Haim Gozali (8-5) looks to get revenge against Ryan Couture (11-6) in co-main event welterweight action, while Phil Davis (19-4, 1 NC) will take on Vadim Nemkov (9-2) at light heavyweight. Additionally, a women’s featherweight contest between undefeated Israeli Olga Rubin (4-0) and veteran Cindy Dandois (12-3) will be featured on the card.

Tickets are on sale now and are available at Eventim.co, as well as Bellator.com. The event will air Friday, Nov. 16 at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT on Paramount Network and can also be streamed on DAZN.

Bellator has partnered with Ananey Communications, an Israeli television conglomerate boasting 14 channels, including the EGO and EGO TOTAL channels, which have broadcast Bellator in Israel since 2012.

Hailing from Natal, Brazil, two-time featherweight champ Patricio “Pitbull” will enter the Bellator cage for a promotional record 20th time on Nov. 15. With 15 wins under the Bellator umbrella, “Pitbull” will be making his second title defense since reclaiming the world title at Bellator 178 against Daniel Straus last year. Most recently, “Pitbull” defeated Daniel Weichel, edging out his opponent via split decision at Bellator 203 in Rome. Having earned a finish in 20 of his 27 wins as a professional, the reigning champion has become synonymous with excitement and fans can certainly expect more fireworks when he enters the cage on Nov. 15.

Sanchez has officially emerged from prospect to title contender when he challenges for the featherweight title in Tel Aviv. Unlike his opponent, Sanchez will find himself in unfamiliar territory on Nov. 15, as the 28-year-old Milwaukee, Wis.-fighter will make his first professional appearance outside of the United States. “El Matador” will be seeking his 10th promotional win and his fifth consecutive victory, a streak that began in January of last year. With his last defeat coming over two years ago and with recent victories over former Bellator champions Daniel Straus and Marcos Galvao, as well as Sam Sicilia, there may not be another athlete on Bellator’s roster more deserving of a title fight than the Roufusport Academy-product.

A member of Team Renzo Gracie, Gozali returns to the Bellator cage for the fifth time in his 20-year career. The Israeli fighter will once again fight Ryan Couture on Nov. 15, following a three-round thriller at Bellator 180 last summer. Fighting out of Bat Yam, Israel, “Batman” favors events on home turf, notching two opening round submission wins in each of his las two bouts inside Menora Mivtachim Arena. Now, with seven of his eight career victories coming by way of submission, the former Israeli army soldier hopes to keep his rematch with Couture out of the judges’ hands.

Couture looks to duplicate the success he had in his first matchup with Gozali, when he picked up a unanimous decision win inside Madison Square Garden last June. A veteran of UFC and STRIKEFORCE, Couture has appeared six times in the Bellator cage and will make the jump back up to welterweight in hopes of collecting the 12th win of his career. A member of Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas, the Seattle native will look to play the role of spoiler to Gozali when the two rematch in Tel Aviv.

Hailing from Harrisburg, Penn. Davis has earned impressive victories over elite competition during his illustrious 10-year career, including wins over the likes of Lyoto Machida, “King Mo” Lawal, Liam McGeary and most recently Linton Vassell at Bellator 200 earlier this year. Fighting out of San Diego, Calif. the former four-time NCAA Division-1 All-American wrestler out of Penn State University holds a near flawless mark of 6-1 in Bellator. “Mr. Wonderful” trains alongside current Bellator bantamweight champ Darrion Caldwell, Dominick Cruz and A.J. Matthews amongst others at Alliance MMA.

Fighting out of Stary Oskol, Russia, 26-year-old knockout artist Vadim Nemkov will make his third appearance with Bellator when he meets Davis. A protege of Bellator heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko, Nemkov will be looking to build on his pair of knockout wins, which includes a win over former light heavyweight champion Liam McGeary at Bellator 194. With eight of his nine career victories coming by way of first round stoppage, the former Sambo world champion does not waste much time inside the cage. His ability for finishing fights will be tested when he meets Davis, an athlete who has yet to be finished in his career.

Israeli women’s featherweight Olga Rubin steps back inside the Bellator cage for the third time to put her undefeated streak on the line in her home country. With her previous promotional victories at Bellator 164 and Bellator 188 coming via TKO, “Big Bad” has developed a reputation as one of the more dangerous prospects in the division. She is now set to take on UFC and Invicta FC veteran Cindy Dandois, who owns career wins over Marloes Coenen, Jorina Baars and Megan Anderson. Training out of Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas, “Battlecat” is currently riding a four-fight win streak, which includes a victorious appearance in RIZIN.

Bellator MMA

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IMPACT Wrestling!

Heads To Mexico City For Television Tapings

IMPACT Wrestling

IMPACT Wrestling today announced television tapings will take place on Thursday, Sept. 13 and Friday, Sept. 14 at Frontón México in Mexico City, Mexico, marking the first time the flagship weekly show IMPACT! will emanate from south of the border.

Featuring top professional wrestling stars such as IMPACT World Champion Austin Aries, Johnny Impact, Eli Drake, Moose, Eddie Edwards, Sami Callihan and Mexican superstars “The Lucha Brothers” Pentagon Jr. and Fenix, IMPACT! is broadcast across Mexico on Saturday nights at 9:30 p.m. on 52MX.

“We are excited about this historic trip to Mexico as we continue to expand our live event schedule globally,” said IMPACT Wrestling president Ed Nordholm. “We look forward to working closely with our promotional partners at Lucha Libre AAA and our broadcast partner 52MX to bring an unforgettable experience to our passionate fan base in Mexico heading into the final stretch for Bound for Glory this October.”

The iconic Frontón México is a world-class entertainment complex located near the central square in Mexico City known as Plaza de la Republica. After being closed for two decades, the state-of-the-art facility reopened its doors last year.

Further information about ticket availability and event start times will soon be announced.

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BELLATOR 204!

RESULTS

Bellator

Featherweight Main Event: Darrion Caldwell (13-1) def. Noad Lahat (12-4) via TKO (punches) at 2:46 of round two

*Caldwell’s bantamweight title was not on the line

Welterweight Co-Main Event: Logan Storley (9-0) def. A.J. Matthews (9-8) via TKO (punches) at 3:56 of round two

Bantamweight Main Card Bout: Ricky Bandejas (11-1) def. James Gallagher (7-1) via KO (strikes) at 2:49 of round one

Featherweight Main Card Bout: Tywan Claxton (3-0) def. Cris Lencioni (3-2) via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

Preliminary Card:

Lightweight Preliminary Bout: Omar Morales (7-0) def. Troy Nawrocki (3-1) via KO (strikes) at 0:58 of round one

Lightweight Preliminary Bout: Demarques Jackson (9-2) def. Bryce Logan (9-3) via split decision (28-29, 29-28, 30-27)

Welterweight Preliminary Bout: Jason Jackson (8-3) def. Jordon Larson (9-5) via TKO (punches) at 3:52 of round one

Welterweight Preliminary Bout: David Michaud (13-4) def. Corey Davis (3-1) via KO (punches) at 1:42 of round one

Middleweight Preliminary Bout: Romero Cotton (3-0) def. Willie Whitehead (2-3) via TKO (strikes) at 4:12 of round one

Welterweight Preliminary Bout: Tyler Ray (3-1) def. Seth Bass (4-3) via KO (strikes) at 3:30 of round 1

Lightweight Preliminary Bout: Keith Phathaem (1-1) vs. Micah Peatrowsky (2-1) via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)

Flyweight Preliminary Bout: Lloyd McKinney (8-5) def. Robiel Tesfaldet (2-2) via submission (arm triangle choke) at 4:17 of round three

Middleweight Preliminary Bout: Jeff Nielsen (2-0) def. Wyatt Meyer (1-1) via TKO (punches) at 2:53 of round one

Bellator MMA

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Jeremiah Wells!

Captures Vacant World Welterweight Title

Whether he’s on the road or fighting in his own backyard, Philadelphia’s Jeremiah Wells is right at home inside the confines of the CES MMA cage.

Wells celebrated his homecoming in grand fashion Friday at the 2300 Arena in the main event of “CES MMA 52,” overwhelming Jason Norwood of New Jersey en route to a 49-45, 49-45, 49-46 unanimous decision win to capture the vacant CES MMA World Welterweight Title.

Headlining CES MMA’s Philadelphia debut on AXS TV, Wells won for the third time with CES MMA and improved his record to 6-1-1, turning up the pressure after a sluggish first round to bring home the title recently vacated by former champion and current UFC welterweight Chris Curtis.

The first two rounds weren’t easy to score. Norwood (18-6) gained an early edge with a takedown in the opening round, bulldozing his way through Wells and simply wrestling him to the canvas. Norwood controlled most of the action after that while a frustrated Wells had no luck wriggling free.

In the second, Wells did a much better job gaining separation and landed a series of critical uppercuts and knees to the midsection to stall some of Norwood’s progress. The fight took an interesting turn in the closing seconds of the round when Norwood slipped during a head kick, giving Wells a brief opening to lower the boom as Norwood landed hard on his back, but he ran out of time.

Wells opened the third with a key takedown and finally began to wear down Norwood, an ironic twist considering Wells entered as the superior striker hoping to avoid a wrestling match with the strong, sturdy Norwell. Earlier in the fight, Norwood walked the cage to wrestle his way out of Wells’ grasp, but had no answer in the third as fatigue began to set in. With a nasty welt over his right eye, Norwood spent most of the round on his back with Wells suddenly taking control of the fight.

The fourth round was more of the same as Wells turned the tables and muscled through Norwood with a hard, overhand right that sent Norwood crashing to the canvas, by far his cleanest shot of the night. Norwood did his best to keep Wells close and not let him gain separation, but Wells’ right arm slipped from Norwood’s grasp and the Philly native began to soften his opponent with short right hands and elbows mixed with an occasional forearm to the jaw. A worn-out Norwood, blood trickling from his mouth, again had no answer.

Wells entered the fifth in complete control and again knocked Norwood to the canvas in he opening minute with a right cross that clipped Norwood’s temple. Norwood refused to tap as Wells poured it on, smothering his opponent with his forearm pressed against his face as he nudged Norwood to the edge of the canvas. Cool as ever on a humid night in Philadelphia, Wells blanketed Norwod and eventually busted open his forehead with more elbows until the final bell. Norwood somehow survived Wells’ closing flurry, but lost the final four rounds decisively as Wells captured his first world title in just his eight professional fight.

Three-time UFC vet Ron Stallings (15-8) of Temple Hills, Md., pulled off a minor upset in the co-main event and spoiled the Philadelphia homecoming for Nah-Shon Burrell (15-11) courtesy of a close, hard-earned, 29-28, 29-28, 30-27, unanimous decision win.

Neither fighter appeared to be in much trouble, but Stallings simply displayed better technique in defending takedowns and putting in the work on the ground to frustrate Burrell, who’s now lost his last four bouts.

Stallings never panicked and occasionally toyed with Burrell, at one point shaking Burrell’s head with both hands while his opponent tried to press him against the cage. Burrell had no answer until the third round, but couldn’t earn the finish to erase the deficit on the scorecards. Stallings has won three of four dating back to 2015 and Friday was his first win in more than two years, ending a frustrating stretch in which four potential bouts got canceled over the last 24 months.

Philadelphia featherweight prospect Pat Sabatini (9-2) stole the show with his fifth first-round finish and eighth career submission win, forcing Nebraska’s Boimah Karma (5-5) to tap due to a rear-naked choke at the 2:19 mark.

Coming off his first loss in nearly three years in April, Sabatini wasted no time putting pressure on Karma, finishing a hearty exchange in the opening seconds with a well-executed spinning back kick. Sabatini quickly caught Karma trying to scramble off the cage, hooked the leg for an effortless takedown and began to wear him down with effective ground-and-pound. Once Sabatini flattened his opponent, he locked in the choke, rolled to his back to lock it in and forced an immediate submission for his seventh win in his last eight fights.

Philadelphia middleweight prospect Joe Pfyer (2-0) kicked off the AXS TV main card with a dominant performance against Atlanta’s Derek Wilson Jr. (2-2), winning all three rounds decisively for a 30-27 unanimous decision on each scorecard.

An accomplished high-school wrestler, Pfyer put his pedigree on display early and often, scoring takedown after takedown and simply smothering Wilson the entire fight. Wilson had no answer and couldn’t stuff any of Pfyer’s hip tosses or single-leg takedowns and wound up on his back most of the night.

In complete control on the ground, Pfyer stayed busy with vicious elbows to the head, softening Wilson’s defense, and all Wilson could do to avoid a stoppage was cover up and wait for the bell.

Two Philadelphia middleweights made their pro debuts against one another in a three-round televised bout with Eugene Aubrey (1-0, 1 KO) stopping Ed Shupe at the 2:36 mark of the opening round.

Aubrey was the aggressor from the opening bell, driving Shupe into the cage and staying active with elbows and knees. As the onslaught continued, Aubrey’s shots began to crack Shupe’s defense. The elbows and overhand lefts started to land flush on Shupe’s temple and Aubrey poured it on with a series of unanswered knees upstairs before referee Dan Miragliotta eventually stopped the fight.

Philadelphia heavyweight and police offer Chris Daukaus (6-2, 5 KOs) looked sharp in his CES MMA debut, stopping New Yorker Jahsua Marsh (3-4) at the 2:16 mark of the second round with a series of unanswered strikes. Daukaus’ striking was too much for Marsh to handle. He peppered Marsh with jabs, overhand rights and two- and three-punch combos and when Marsh went for the takedown to stop the bleeding, Daukaus simply sprawled out, stuffed each takedown attempt and continued to chip away at the overmatched Marsh.

Out of gas by the middle of the second round, Marsh absorbed an overhand left to the chin that stopped him dead in his tracks. Daukaus stuffed another sloppy takedown attempt and began dropping hammerfists as Marsh tried to cover up. The referee mercifully stopped it with just under two minutes to go in the round, sealing Daukaus’ fourth consecutive win.

CES MMA

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MMA PRO LEAGUE!

ANNOUNCES PROMOTIONAL & APPAREL PARTNERS

The newest entity in MMA and professional team sports, MMA Pro League, has struck an apparel partnership with Jab Apparel, as well as six promotional partners, ahead of their inaugural fight card on Saturday, September 15 at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City and streaming live on FloCombat.com.

In addition to Jab Apparel, the companies providing their promotional support for MMA Pro League are Everlast, the preeminent boxing brand since 1910, Select, a U.S.-based premium benefits card company, Everipedia, the world's largest English encyclopedia by content, Captiv8, a full-service promotional product and marketing agency, the Village Pourhouse a New York City sports bar and cigar company Q Cigar. All promotional partners will also be distributing MMA Pro League video and photo content across their websites and social media platforms.

"We are very encouraged by the breadth of promotional support being provided by this great group of companies who believe in MMA Pro League and our team concept," said MMA Pro League CEO Hani Darwish. "We are very excited that they are with us at the launch of a new era in MMA."

"I'd like to thank all of our promotional partners, as well as FloSports and the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City, for their support of MMA Pro League," said MMAPL president Mark Taffet. "Their efforts not only enhance our brand but also extend the reach of MMA Pro League to fans across many demographic groups."

Amongst the many ways that these companies will be engaging fans heading into September 15 include various discounts and special offers for purchasing tickets through their vendors. Ticket buyers using their Select card will be given significant discounts, while purchasing tickets at a Q Cigar location will net fans free Robusto and Churchill cigars. Fans who buy tickets at Village Pourhouse will receive a free drink with their purchase and be rewarded with a discount meal after the fight.

The Everipedia database will house the biographies of each MMA Pro League fighter and be accessible from the league's website. Everipedia will also present the "Tale of the Tape" for each fight and service other statistical information.

Jab Apparel, a UK-based company that launched in March, will provide training apparel and fight night uniforms for MMA Pro League teams and employees. Everlast will be the official glove provider of MMA Pro League, while Captiv8 will deliver MMA Pro League promotional items.

These partnerships are on top of the previously announced deals with the beautiful new Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City, which will host a series of MMA Pro League matches, and FloSports, who will exclusively stream all MMA Pro League team fight action live on their worldwide combat sports site, FloCombat.com.

Tickets for the inaugural installment of "MMA Pro League At The Hard Rock" on Saturday, September 15, featuring Team New Jersey vs. Team Pennsylvania, are available at Ticketmaster.com.

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CES MMA!

Makes Philly Debut Friday

CES 52

Three months after successfully launching its New York division, CES MMA continues its east-coast expansion Friday night in the City of Brotherly Love.

The region's leading mixed martial arts promotion makes its Philadelphia debut at the famed 2300 Arena with "CES MMA 52" live on AXS TV.

The event features six televised bouts, highlighted by the homecoming of Philly native Jeremiah Wells (5-1, 2 KOs), who fights for the vacant CES MMA World Welterweight Title in the five-round main event against Moorestown, N.J., native Jason Norwood (18-5, 5 KOs), plus four amateur bouts on the preliminary card.

The AXS TV main card begins at 9 p.m. ET with preliminary amateur bouts beginning at 7. Tickets for "CES MMA 52" are priced at $55.00, $75.00 and $125.00 and are available online at www.cesmma.com or www.2300arena.com.

Ohio'sChris Curtis reigned as CES MMA's welterweight champion for two and a half years, including a successful defense against Norwood at "CES MMA 49," before vacating the belt to compete on Dana White's Tuesday Night Contender Series. Curtis won his fight, but didn't earn a UFC contract and promptly retired.

Curtis is the second CES MMA welterweight champion to vacate the belt in the last three years; Dominique Steele, who won it from former title-holder Chuck O'Neil, signed with the UFC shortly after capturing the title on AXS TV. Curtis defended it twice, but the belt is now vacate again with two worthy challengers ready to add their name to the short list of CES MMA champions.

Wells is making his third appearance with CES MMA this year. His debut put him on the map as he landed a killer right hand that pulverized fan-favorite Gary Balletto Jr. at "CES MMA 49." Two months later, Wells dominated Jon Manley to earn a unanimous decision win at "CES MMA 50" in the promotion's welterweight title eliminator, setting the stage for Friday's championship showdown.

Norwood will be his toughest test to date. The 34-year-old New Jersey native had won six of seven prior to his bout against Curtis at "CES MMA 49" and boasts experience with a number of different promotions, including Bellator and King of the Cage.

Wells is joined by six additional Philadelphia fighters on the main card, including Strikeforce, UFC, Bellator and CES MMA vet Nah-Shon Burrell (15-10, 10 KOs), who battles Temple Hills, Md., native Ron Stallings (14-8, 6 KOs) in a middleweight showcase.

Burrell made his first and only appearance with CES MMA at Foxwoods Resort Casino in 2016, defeating Curtis in a non-title bout at "CES MMA 34." The well-traveled Burrell has also competed overseas in Russia with Absolute Championship Berkut. Friday will be his first fight on U.S. soil since June of 2017. The three-time UFC vet Stallings makes his long-awaited CES MMA debut after his scheduled bout with Justin Sumter at "CES MMA 50" was postponed following Sumter's appearance on DWTNCS.

Fellow Philly native and submission specialist Pat Sabatini (8-2) makes his promotional debut against Omaha's Boimah Karmo (5-4, 1 KO) in a three-round featherweight bout and heavyweight knockout artist Chris Daukaus (5-2, 4 KOs) of Philly faces Brentwood, N.Y., Jahsua Marsh (3-3, 2 KOs).

Seven of Sabatini's eight wins have come by submission, including a win via rear-naked choke against Francisco Isata in December and a heel hook submission win over John de Jesus in September. Daukaus has won three in a row overall and back-to-back fights by knockout, most recently defeating Plinio Cruz in December in the first round of a scheduled three-round bout. Marsh makes his second appearance with CES MMA after defeating Ras Hylton in New York in May.

In the middleweight division, Philly's Joe Pfyer (1-0, 1 KO) faces Derek Wilson Jr. (2-1, 1 KO) of Atlanta and Philly natives Eugene Aubrey and Ed Shupe make their pro debuts against one another in the opening bout of the main card. Pfyer earned his first career win via first-round knockout over Steven Covington in May. Wilson Jr. debuted with Bellator in 2017 and has won back-to-back fights since then, including his first career knockout over Brooks Conley in July.

The amateur preliminary card features six additional Pennsylvania fighters, among them light heavyweight Mark Khavinson, lightweights Shawn Stefanelli and Jace Kendle and welterweight Nick Bord.

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MMA PRO LEAGUE!

ANNOUNCES BROADCAST TEAM & RING ANNOUNCER

The newest entity in MMA, MMA Pro League, will feature a top-flight broadcast and in-arena experience led by UFC Hall of Famer Pat Miletich on color commentary along with play-by-play veteran T.J. De Santis, while ring announcer Jazz Securo will call the fighters into the ring for MMA Pro League's inaugural event Saturday, September 15 streaming live on FloCombat.com from the new Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City.

The show will pit fighters from Team New Jersey, which is led by head coach Dan Miller of the Miller Brothers, against Team Pennsylvania and their head coach, Daniel Gracie of the renowned Gracie family.

MMA Pro League CEO Hani Darwish said, "I can't think of a better way to kick off MMA Pro League's new era and team concept than with a team of broadcast professionals like Pat Miletich, T.J. De Santis and Jazz Securo. MMA Pro League viewers on FloCombat are in for a real treat."

"I am thrilled with the depth and breadth of experience and the great passion which Pat Miletich, T.J. De Santis and Jazz Securo will bring to MMA Pro League's inaugural telecast on September 15 from the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City," said MMA Pro League president Mark Taffet. "Our viewers will be informed, engaged and entertained at the highest level by this great group of broadcasters."

Tickets for the inaugural installment of "MMA Pro League At The Hard Rock" are available at Ticketmaster.com.

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IMPACT Wrestling!

Slammiversary 2018 To Air Live Exclusively On FITE.tv

IMPACT Wrestling, a subsidiary of Anthem Sports & Entertainment Corp., announced today that its marquee annual summer pay-per-view extravaganza Slammiversary will be streamed live exclusively on FITE.tv in the UK and other international markets.

Emanating from Rebel Entertainment Complex in Toronto, Canada on July 22 at 8:00 p.m. ET (July 23 at 1:00 UK time), Slammiversary will be streamed live and subsequently available on-demand, marking the first time a live pay-per-view event will be available for purchase for fans in the UK, Ireland, Australia and many more countries.

In the main event at Slammiversary, former NFL offensive lineman Moose will challenge Austin Aries for the IMPACT World Championship, plus “The Undead Bride” Su Yung defends her Knockouts Championship against former five-time titleholder Madison Rayne. Slammiversary will also feature the returns of Johnny Impact, who will be featured on the 37th season of Survivor, and New Japan Pro-Wrestling star “The Bone Soldier of the Bullet Club” Taiji Ishimori.

FITE.tv is a premium digital live streaming network that has presented over 1,000 live professional wrestling, mixed martial arts, boxing and other combat sports events since its launch in 2016. It is available online at www.FITE.tv, as an app on all iOS and Android devices, as well as Roku, Apple TV and Android TV boxes.

“Slammiversary will be one of the biggest events in our company’s history,” said Ed Nordholm, president of IMPACT Wrestling. “Through our partnership with FITE.tv, I am very excited that, for the first time ever, we can stream this monumental event live to our incredible fans all over the world, including the UK, ahead of our return at Wrestling MediaCon in September.”

FITE.tv Chief Operating Officer Michael Weber added: “Slammiversary is shaping up to be one of the summer’s biggest events and we are delighted to have it as a part of FITE.tv.”

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BELLATOR 201!

Official Results

Ilima-Lei Macfarlane

Ilima-Lei Macfarlane (8-0) defeated Alejandra Lara (7-1) via submission (armbar) at 3:55 of round three

Saad Awad (23-9) defeated Ryan Couture (11-6) via TKO at 4:29 of round one

Valerie Letourneau (10-6) defeated Kristina Williams (2-1) via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

Juan Archuleta (19-1) defeated Robbie Peralta (19-9) via KO at :14 of round two

Bellator 201 Preliminary Results:

Tyrell Fortune (5-0) defeated Giovanni Sarran (5-3) via TKO at 4:35 of round two

Joey Davis (4-0) defeated Craig Plaskett (2-3) via unanimous decision (30-26 x3)

Ed Ruth (6-0) defeated Andy Murad (15-3) via TKO at 4:59 of round two

Jordan Young (9-0) defeated Jamal Pogues (4-2) via submission (armbar) at 3:15 of round three

Keri Taylor-Melendez (2-0) defeatedd Tiani Valle (1-1) via submission (rear-naked choke) at 3:15 of round three

Jay Jay Wilson (1-0) defeated David Conte (0-1) via submission (rear-naked choke) at :59 of round one

Jacob Rosales (8-4) defeated Joshua Jones (7-3) via unanimous decision (30-27 x3)

Ricky Furar (2-1) defeated Victor Rosas (3-2, 1 NC) via unanimous decision (30-27 x3)

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Andre Ewell!

Stuns Dinis Paiva

CES MMA

Andre Ewell came through on his promise Friday to silence the crowd at Twin River Casino and returned to California a world champion.

The Riverside native stunned the crowd in the main event of “CES MMA 50,” submitting fan-favorite Dinis Paiva (11-7) 36 seconds into the third round of their scheduled five-round bout to capture the vacant CES MMA World Bantamweight Title on AXS TV.

Paiva looked sharp as ever through the first two rounds, peppering Ewell (13-4) with overhand rights and scoring a key takedown in the second, nearly locking in a rear-naked choke in the process. Paiva paid the price for his early aggression, sustaining a nasty cut over his left eye in the second round that left him bloodied as he retreated to the corner between rounds.

That’s when the tide turned in Ewell’s favor. With two solid rounds under his belt, Paiva shot for a takedown to open the third. Ewell stuffed it brilliantly, locked in the choke against the cage and submitted Paiva within seconds to silence the home crowd and capture the title.

Ewell, fighting on the east coast for the first time, has now won four consecutive bouts while Paiva suffered his first defeat since 2015.

Welterweights Jon Manley (11-5) of Ludlow, Mass., and Philadelphia’s Jeremiah Wells (5-1) staged an epic battle in Friday’s co-feature with Wells earning his second consecutive victory with CES MMA, defeating the former UFC vet by unanimous decision, 30-27, 30-26, 29-28.

Fresh of his stunning knockout win over Gary Balletto Jr. at “CES MMA 49,” Wells again came out firing against the taller, rangy Manley, landing punishing blows in the opening round that left Manley a bloody mess at the end of the first three minutes.

Showing off his sturdy chin, Manley absorbed more punishment in the second before finally getting to the fight to the ground, where he briefly controlled the pace, only to have Wells break out of a rear-naked choke attempt in the closing minutes.

Manley needed a miracle in the third to pull out the win, but instead ate a stiff left jab early in the round that sent him to the canvas again. Wells stayed out of harm’s way for the remainder of the fight to win the round and earn the victory on the scorecards.

In a rematch of their bout at “CES MMA 47” in November, Woonsocket flyweight Jose Lugo (3-0) dominated Cortland, N.Y., vet Michael Taylor (1-2) for the second time, again earning the win by rear-naked choke, this time in the second round at the 1:31 mark.

Lugo softened Taylor in the opening round with repeated elbows, but Taylor somehow survived three submission attempts in the closing minute before Lugo finally finished the fight in the second. Taylor took the fight on short notice when his original opponent, Josh Ricci, broke his foot in camp.

Red-hot middleweight Reginaldo Felix (5-2, 4 KOs) won his fifth consecutive fight on Friday’s main card and his fourth by knockout, punishing Pat McCrohan (3-2) of Berkley, Mass., before referee Bryan Miner mercifully stopped the bout at the 4:42 mark of the second round.

Felix found his rhythm in the closing minutes of the round, clipping McCrohan with lefts and rights as his opponent tried desperately to regain his composure. Felix stayed patient as McCrohan stumbled across the cage and landed one last left to the jaw, prompting Miner to wave it off.

Milford, Mass., bantamweight Kris Moutinho (5-2, 2 KOs) brought the crowd to its feet with a thrilling, first-round knockout win over New York’s Alfred Jones (3-4) courtesy of a clean, three-punch combination 1:58 into the opening round.

Moutinho found an opening in Jones’ defense with a hard right hook to jaw followed by a straight left and another right that sent his opponent crashing to the canvas. The win snapped Moutinho’s two-fight losing streak.

Making his CES MMA debut all the way from Las Vegas, bantamweight Adam Acquaviva (7-3, 2 KOs) outclassed Providence’s John Douma (3-1), finishing the fight by knockout at the 2:47 mark of the third round.

Douma entered with two knockout wins on his resume, but Acquaviva had no trouble standing toe-to-toe with the previously-unbeaten righthander and eventually earned the finish in the third when he gained side mount and pulverized Douma with elbows to the forehead, forcing referee Kevin MacDonald to stop the fight.

In the opening bout of the televised main card, light heavyweight Fabio Cherant (2-0) of Wrentham, Mass., ended a stalemate in the opening round with a guillotine submission win over Marquis Allen (1-2) at the 3:55 mark.

Allen scored a one-punch knockout in his first and only appearance with CES MMA in 2016, but had no such luck against Cherant, who pressed the action and didn’t allow Allen to gain enough separation to throw his right hand. Cherant eventually locked in the guillotine to force the submission, his second win of 2018 after notching a victory via submission in his pro debut at “CES MMA 48.”

Also on the preliminary card, featherweight Brendan Marotte (2-0, 2 KOs) of Hampstead, N.H., earned his second consecutive first-round knockout win, this time stopping pro debut Arslan Otchiyev (0-1) of West Haven, Conn., with just 13 seconds remaining in round.

Marotte was simply too strong for Otchiyev and frequently got the better of their exchanges. It appeared Otchiyev wasn’t going to make it too far past the opening bell, but withstood a few early flurries in the first few minutes, only to get caught with a knee to the face that all but ended the fight and forced Miner to stop the action at the 4:47 mark.

Searching for her first career victory following a loss in her debut, Norfolk, Mass., flyweight Hilarie Rose (1-1) dominated Miami’s Thaias Sousa (0-3), earning the win via guillotine submission at 2:16 of the opening round.

Rose set the tone from the opening bell, first exchanging blows with Rose in the center of the cage. Later in the round, she scored a crucial takedown with a well-executed hip toss, then proceeded to lock in the choke, which immediately forced Sousa to tap.

Fall River, Mass., light heavyweight Yorgan De Castro (2-0, 2 KOs) remained unbeaten in the preliminary opener and scored his second career knockout at the 2:20 mark of the third round against veteran David White (0-3) from Cumberland, Md.

White controlled the action in the first two rounds, smothering White with his superior ground game, and almost locked in a guillotine choke in the third before finishing his opponent with a series of unanswered strikes. White also earned a knockout victory in his professional debut at “CES MMA 47,” stopping James Dysard in just 39 seconds.

Milford, Mass., welterweight Toby Oden (3-2) closed the preliminary card with his first win since 2015, beating pro debut Jeremy Puglia (0-1) of Long Island by unanimous decision, 29-28, 29-28, 30-27.

CES MMA

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Weigh In Alert!

Weights From Twin River

CES MMA

Listed below are weights for all the participants in “CES MMA 50,” scheduled for Friday, June 15th, 2018 at Twin River Casino.

Tickets for “CES MMA 50” are priced at $47.00, $57.00, $102.00 and $127.00 (VIP) and can be purchased online at www.cesboxing.com, www.twinriver.com, www.cagetix.comor www.ticketmaster.com, by phone at 401-724-2253/2254 or at the Twin River Casino Players Club. All fights and fighters are subject to change.

The preliminary card begins at 7 p.m. ET with the televised main card beginning at 9 on AXS TV Fights.

ANDRE EWELL 135 V DINIS PAIVA 135

JEREMIAH WELLS 170 V JON MANLEY 171

JOSE LUGO 130 V MICHAEL TAYLOR 129

PAT MCCROHAN 185 V REGINALDO FELIX 185

KRIS MOUTINHO 134 V ALFRED JONES 136

JOHN DOUMA 136 V ADAM ACQUAVIVA 134

HILARIE ROSE 115 V THAIS SOUSA 118

TOBY ODEN 175 V JEREMY PUGLIA 176

FABIO CHERANT 205 V MARQUIS ALLEN 203

BRENDON MAROTTE 145 V ARSLAN OTCHIYEV 147

YORDAN DE CASTRO 206 V DAVID WHITE 205

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Andre Ewell!

Hopes To Silence The Crowd Friday At Twin River

Andre Ewell

Andre Ewell is fully aware the entire crowd at Twin River Casino will be rooting for hometown favorite Dinis Paiva when the two face one another Friday for the vacant CES MMA Bantamweight World Title.

"Sweetbread" Paiva (11-6, 6 KOs) practically owns the arena, having fought there 17 times, more than any fighter in CES MMA history.

The cage? Ewell (12-4) says that still belongs to him.

"When I'm on that stage, I don't get nervous," Ewell said. "I'm at home."

"Even though I'm coming out to his hometown, it's more like, hey, you're actually visiting my house."

The Riverside, Calif., native is beaming with confidence as he prepares for the fight of his life against the red-hot Paiva, the East Providence, R.I., bantamweight who has won four in a row and eight of his last nine entering Friday.

Their five-round title bout headlines "CES MMA 50" on AXS TV, the promotion's 50thshow since its inception in 2010. Paiva earning top billing is fitting considering he debuted at "CES MMA 6" in 2011 and has remained with the promotion ever since, regardless of losing streaks, coaching changes or the typical ebbs and flows that come with being a professional fighter.

Paiva considered walking away after losing five of his first eight fights, but reworked his inner circle and is now on the precipice of winning a world title, an unlikely storybook ending for a fighter who has sacrificed in and out of the gym to get to where he is today.

While Ewell is impressed with Paiva's rise to stardom -- "He definitely has heart and determination," he said -- the 30-year-old former professional boxer is intent on writing his own fairytale finish on the sport's biggest stage. Winning a world title on AXS TV against the fan-favorite could provide the boost he needs to get to the next level.

"I already know he's the superhero of Rhode Island," Ewell said. "I've got to come into his territory and do what I do best. Coming into someone else's backyard and proving you are the top dog is the best feeling in the world.

"I know I'm the best fighter out there. This is going to be my doorway to the UFC. The next fight is definitely the most important fight. All I've got to do is do my job and perform."

Tickets for "CES MMA 50" start at $40 and are available to purchase online at www.cesmma.com, www.twinriver.com, www.ticketmaster.com, by phone at 401-724-2253 or at the Twin River Box Office. The preliminary card begins at 7 p.m. ET, followed by the televised main card at 9.

Ewell is used to being out of his comfort zone, whether it's in life or mixed martial arts. Growing up as the oldest in a family of nine, he and his siblings moved frequently from California to Texas and back again -- four times, to be exact. Being the new kid at every school also forced him to keep his guard up.

"I was always fighting," he said.

"Me being the oldest, I had to take on a bigger role in the family. I had to grow up a lot faster than most kids. Everything ended up molding me into an adult."

Ewell wrestled as a youth, then transitioned to taekwondo and boxing. He eventually began his professional fighting career in the boxing ring at the age of 23 in 2011, but the "politics" of the sport drove him away. He was merely fodder for up-and-coming prospects supported financially by well-established promotors. He felt used and walked away from the sport in 2013.

Two years later, following the birth of his son, Eli, he switched to MMA and immediately felt at home.

"I pick things up fast, especially when I have people preaching to me," Ewell said. "I ended up grasping it quickly."

With no amateur bouts under his belt, Ewell won his first three fights as a pro before losing three of his next five. Since a split-decision loss to Ryan Lilley in February of 2017, he's gone on a Paiva-like stretch with wins in seven of his last eight, including three in a row entering Friday.

The bright lights of AXS TV won't be a factor; he recently fought on the network at Legacy Fighting Alliance 36, defeating Trent Meaux by first-round knockout.

Aside from being the visitor in Paiva's hometown Friday, Ewell draws motivation from his upbringing, reminiscing about watching his parents put in long hours to provide for his family. He has also had custody issues with his son, now five years old, which motivates him even more to be the best he can be Friday night in what will be the biggest fight of his life.

"Growing up, watching my mom work, my pops always pushing me, I automatically see that grind," he said. "We didn't have everything, so that automatically makes you want to push and have something. When it comes to my son, everything, all the emotion, comes out in that moment.

"I know my whole background, how I was raised, where I come from. This is me. I want to be something better than I was yesterday."

Having been through so much himself, Ewell respects Paiva for battling back despite his early struggles, but the camaraderie goes out the window once the bell rings Friday. This is the opportunity of a lifetime for both fighters and the winner moves one step closer toward achieving his goals.

"To take his record from being not so good and pushing it in the right direction, that's a product of hard work and positivity, but now he's meeting someone who works harder and is more dedicated," Ewell said. "Everything will show inside that cage. He's a cool cat. I especially like his nickname, but now it's my lunchtime, because I'm hungry."

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Maria Rivera!

Makes Network TV Debut

Maria Rivera

A decade removed from her last professional fight on the worldwide taekwondo circuit, then 25-year-old Maria Rivera never thought she'd get the chance to showcase her talents on national television.

"Life happens very fast," said the unbeaten female flyweight from Framingham, Mass., "It's very interesting to see the path it takes you on."

With only three mixed martial arts fights (one amateur and two as a pro) under her belt, Rivera (2-0, 1 KO) now finds herself in the enviable position of fighting in front of a much larger audience Friday night on AXS TV as she makes her network television debut on the main card of "CES MMA 50" at Twin River Casino.

Rivera, born in Puerto Rico, but now living and training in Framingham, faces Mallory Martin (3-2, 1 KO) of Colorado, a two-time Invicta Fighting Championships vet, in what could be a breakthrough for both fighters.

Women's MMA has grown exponentially over the years with female fighters headlining major Pay Per View cards and gaining worldwide notoriety. CES MMA president Jimmy Burchfield Sr., one of many pioneers for female boxers through the years, has aided the cause in mixed martial arts by showcasing some of the region's top female talent through the AXS TV platform.

On a night in which it celebrates its 50th event, CES MMA achieves another first Friday with two female fights on its 12-fight card. Flyweight Hilarie Rose (0-1) from Norfolk, Mass., faces Thais Sousa (0-2) of Miami on the preliminary card.

The televised main card of "CES MMA 50" airs live on AXS TV beginning at 9 p.m. ET with prelims beginning at 7.

Rivera, a mother of three, turns 31 at the end of the month, but women's MMA does not discriminate against late bloomers. In fact, Rivera has more opportunities now than she would've had she peaked in her early 20s, making Friday's television debut even more impactful as she looks to take her career to the next level.

"I'm very grateful to CES for giving me this opportunity," Rivera said. "My preparation doesn't change because I'll be on TV. I just have to be aware. You'll feel a little more pressure because it's on TV and you want to perform well, but I've been in tournaments all over the world and that's pretty much the feeling I always get."

Tickets for "CES MMA 50" start at $40 and are available to purchase online at www.cesmma.com, www.twinriver.com, www.ticketmaster.com, by phone at 401-724-2253 or at the Twin River Box Office.

Friday will be Rivera's first fight since March of 2017, but not by choice. She was scheduled to fight on the preliminary card of "CES MMA 44" last May, but her opponent suffered an injury a week before the event. The cancellation may have been a blessing in disguise. Rivera was dealing with a nagging leg injury at the time, but didn't think much of it.

"I just thought it was tightness in my calf," she said.

The day her fight got cancelled, Rivera went to the gym for a routine training session. Later that night, she could barely walk. As it turned out, Rivera needed surgery on her right knee, so she went under the knife in September. The recovery went smoothly, but she wasn't out of the woods yet. Just as she was ready to begin training again later that month, she fell down at home and broke her pinky finger. Doctors inserted a pin to stabilize the injury, forcing her to sit out for another five weeks.

"It was so frustrating, especially because neither injury had anything to do with my training, just everyday life, ironically," Rivera said. "In all my years of fighting and training, I had never injured myself. The knee injury was my first injury. I had never gotten injured in any of my camps or in practice."

"That part was frustrating. I didn't want to rush in and take a fight just because I felt anxious. I wanted to give my body that time to heal. It took a long time, but everything happens for a reason."

As fate would have it, Rivera's long-awaited comeback happens to be her toughest test to date in front of a much larger audience than usual. Having fought since she was a child, Rivera is past the point of needing a tune-up fight at this point in her career. She competed in taekwondo tournaments throughout the world, from Mexico to Puerto Rico, until she was 15 years old. When she moved from the United States back to Puerto Rico, she stopped fighting for the next 10 years.

She eventually found her way back into the gym when her children wanted to learn martial arts. Fighting was never part of the plan -- "I figured I could use the workout," she said -- but things changed quickly. Rivera began losing weight and soon rediscovered her love for competing.

Within three years, she transitioned to MMA and fought her first and only amateur bout in New Hampshire before making her professional debut shortly thereafter on the preliminary card of "CES MMA 41," knocking out Sarah Click in the opening round of their scheduled three-round bout.

Aside from the potential payout and the unlimited exposure, MMA offers Rivera more opportunities than taekwondo, especially for a fighter her age. Former UFC bantamweight champion Holly Holm, a professional boxer who transitioned to MMA at a later age, was 33 when she defeated Ronda Rousey three years ago for her first world title and recently starred at UFC 225 with a win over 28-year-old Megan Anderson. Cristiane Justino -- a.k.a. "Cyborg" -- is the reigning UFC featherweight world champion at 32.

The time is now for female fighters in their 30s, making Rivera's leap from the CES MMA prelims to the bright lights of AXS TV the most important move in her young career.

"I think I'm still at a good age for this," she said. "With everything going on in women's MMA, this is the time to do this. I have a lot to bring to the table."

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Jeremiah Wells!

"I Will Make Manley Fold"

CES MMA

Gary Balletto Jr. never saw it coming. Jon Manley doesn't anticipate getting in the way.

The punch heard 'round New England -- the right cross from Jeremiah Wells that broke Balletto's jaw at "CES MMA 49" and sent the Rhode Island welterweight to his first loss in five fights -- has become sort of a talking point as Manley prepares to face the hard-hitting Philadelphia native who halted the progress of one of the region's hottest prospects just two months ago.

Manley battles Wells on Friday night in the highly-anticipated co-feature of "CES MMA 50" live on AXS TV from Twin River Casino in a matchup of two fighters with contrasting resumes. The Massachusetts-born Manley (11-4, 2 KOs) boasts three times as many pro fights as his opponent, including a stint on Season 16 of The Ultimate Fighter, but those who get too comfortable in front of Wells (4-1, 2 KOs) tend to pay the price.

Manley has watched enough of the video from "CES MMA 49" -- all 57 seconds of it -- to know what not to do Friday when he sees for himself whether or not Wells hits as hard as advertised.

The televised main card of "CES MMA 50" airs live on AXS TV beginning at 9 p.m. ET.

"Good, straight one-two. Good jab, good right cross," Manley said of the shot that ended Balletto's five-fight win streak, "but I'm not going to be there.

"No fucking way."

Manley makes his first appearance with CES MMA since May of 2017 when he lost a unanimous decision to Manny Walo at "CES MMA 44." Since then, he's won his last two on the regional circuit, but missed the fanfare of fighting under the bright lights of AXS TV. When a scheduled bout against longtime UFC vet Drew Fickett fizzled several weeks ago, Manley signed up to make his Twin River return on CES MMA's 50th anniversary show, a stacked fight card featuring 12 pro bouts.

"This is awesome!" Manley said. "I kind of got lucky. CES jumped in and gave me Jeremiah, who's obviously a super tough dude. Big show, obviously the top promotion around and all the exposure -- it's just awesome.

"My last fight [against Ryan Sanders in March] was pretty good, but it's not like people will see it as much when it's for CES."

Don't expect Wells to be star-struck come Friday. The Philadelphia looked cool and calm in April as the underdog against Balletto and used quick thinking inside the cage to expose a flaw in his opponent's defense, leading to the biggest win of his young career.

"I saw him coming in with that leg kick and I just wanted to show what I've got," Wells said. "I showed my power. When I hit him the first time, I saw him try to breathe a little more. Then as soon as he kicked me, I came in with the right cross."

Wells expects more of the same against Manley despite a significant difference in height between he and Balletto. The 6-foot-1 Manley boasts an impressive height and reach advantage over the shorter, more compact Balletto, which means Wells will have to adjust his attack. The same goes for Manley, however, who has to strategize against the shorter, 5-9 Wells.

"If he stands up, that just leaves him vulnerable. I can catch him with the overhand," Wells said.

"I know he used to be on The Ultimate Fighter and he's well-rounded, tall, and probably has a lot of cardio. I know he likes to brawl and grind it out, take fighters down. Once he feels my power and sees my speed, I think he's going to crack. He's going to fold."

Manley may have to lean on his experience to get him over the hump. While he doesn't necessarily draw on technique or any other details from his UFC stint, Manley has learned to simply have more fun with MMA than he did in the past. The schedule for TUF was brutal at times -- four fights in six weeks -- so the pressure Manley faces now pales in comparison, even under the coveted bright lights associated with CES MMA and AXS TV.

"This shit is serious to me. I want to win and I want to advance my career," Manley said. "I used to get really nervous -- and I still do a little bit -- but now it's just fun.

"I've been in so many fights the process of dealing with the fight itself has gotten easier. The Ultimate Fighter helped a bunch. I'm not putting as much stress on myself. I have a lot more tools now. On The Ultimate Fighter, I tried to throw heavy hands, but I wasn't too technical. Now I'm well-rounded. I can have fun anywhere instead of being tense."

East Providence, R.I., native Dinis Paiva (11-6, 6 KOs) faces California'sAndre Ewell (12-4, 7 KOs) for the vacant CES MMA Bantamweight World Title in the five-round main event.

Tickets for "CES MMA 50" start at $40 and are available to purchase online at www.cesmma.com, www.twinriver.com, www.ticketmaster.com, by phone at 401-724-2253 or at the Twin River Box Office. The preliminary card begins at 7 followed by the televised main card at 9.

CES MMA

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Dinis Paiva!

Fights For Vacant World Title

CES MMA

This signature moment in Dinis Paiva's career, this elusive shot at a world title, almost never came to fruition for the 30-year-old East Providence, R.I., native.

Five years ago, shortly following a loss to Rob Sullivan that dropped his record to 3-5, Paiva decided he was done with mixed martial arts.

"That was it," Paiva said. "I wanted to quit. I had accepted being a loser."

It took some convincing, but veteran coach Mike Gresh talked Paiva off the ledge. The rest is history. Paiva (11-6, 6 KOs) has won eight of nine fights since working with Gresh and now fights for the vacant CES MMA Bantamweight World Title next Friday at Twin River Casino against California's Andre Ewell (12-4, 7 KOs).

The five-round headliner of "CES MMA 50" airs live on AXS TV as part of the televised main card beginning at 9 p.m. ET.

"I've paid my dues. I'm not saying I'm better than anyone else, but I feel like it's my time," said Paiva, the most prolific active fighter in CES MMA history. "I earned my spot.

"This is a dream come true. I envisioned this moment. I've envisioned getting that belt wrapped around my waist."

The Paiva-Ewell bout is one of 12 on CES MMA's 50th anniversary celebration. Tickets for "CES MMA 50" start at $40 and are available to purchase online at www.cesmma.com, www.twinriver.com, www.ticketmaster.com, by phone at 401-724-2253 or at the Twin River Box Office. The preliminary card begins at 7 followed by the televised main card at 9.

Paiva's ascension from also-ran to world-title contender certainly didn't happen overnight. Gresh's first move after convincing Paiva to stick with MMA was to work on his fighter's self-confidence. Then Paiva had to stop worrying about what others think.

At 4-5 following a much-needed win over Franklin Isabel, Paiva signed up to fight at "CES MMA 24" against 11-5 Joe Cushman, whom many thought would be too much for Paiva at that stage in his career.

"There was a lot of talk behind closed doors. People were laughing at me," Paiva recalled. "People looked at my career, my win-loss record. I was 4-5 fighting a guy like Cushman. It didn't make sense to a lot of people, but I had the right people around me, people who believed in me when I didn't believe in myself."

And shortly thereafter, Paiva became a believer, too, when he floored Cushman just 49 seconds into the first round of their scheduled three-round bout, by far the biggest win of his career. Always a fan-favorite at Twin River, Paiva soon reached households across the nation through CES MMA's partnership with AXS TV, debuting on the network at "CES MMA 27" with a win over Matt Doherty.

Just when it seemed like nothing could derail Paiva on his journey to the top of the bantamweight division, his four-fight win streak came to a screeching halt in 2015 against Kody Nordby at "CES MMA 31," a loss Paiva credits with keeping him grounded following his newfound success.

"Every fight in which I've followed the game plan, I won. Against Nordby, I lost. I let everyone get under my skin, including Cody," Paiva said.

"I actually thank him for it at this point. I needed that. I needed that missing piece to learn how to shut everyone else out and stick to the game plan, and that's where I found my success."

Since then, Paiva has gone on another four-game win streak, including three wins on AXS TV, most recently at "CES MMA 48" when he put together one of his most complete performances in a three-round bludgeoning of Kevin Barbarena.

With each win, his confidence in Gresh continues to grow, as does his confidence in himself, setting the stage for Friday's highly-anticipated battle against Ewell for the world title vacated by Andre Soukhamthath when the inaugural champion signed with the UFC.

"I owe my career to Mike Gresh. He saw something in me," Paiva said. "I didn't want to be known as a guy who sells tickets and makes people laugh. He convinced me to work on some things and convinced me if I put the right people around me and open my ears and did as I was told, good things would happen.

"I'm really in my zone now. It's showed in my last few fights. I'm battle-tested. It took me 15 fights to get here."

In Ewell, Paiva will test his striking against another battle-tested opponent who actually began his combat sports career as a professional boxer. Ewell made the switch to MMA in 2015 and now makes his CES MMA debut following wins in seven of his last eight bouts, including three consecutive first-round finishes.

This will no doubt be Paiva's toughest test to date, but he has the advantage of fighting in his own backyard at Twin River, the home of each of his first 17 fights as a professional. Having the crowd behind him might be enough to push him over the top as he aims to fulfill a lifelong dream of becoming a world champion.

"He's long, lean, dangerous, likes to be on his feet. Ten of his 12 wins have been by finish," Paiva said. "I love it. I love a guy that's going to come forward and press the action. I think I rise to that kind of occasion. I think it's shown the better the competition I face, the better I perform.

"He's one of the best guys I've fought, but we won't really know until we get in there. He's stepping into my territory. I bring a huge fan base. He'll know who's house he's in."

Also highlighting "CES MMA 50," Ludlow, Mass., welterweight Jon Manley (11-4, 2 KOs) battles Philadelphia's Jeremiah Wells (4-1, 2 KOs) and female flyweight sensation Maria Rivera (2-0, 1 KO) of Framingham, Mass., puts her unbeaten record on the line against Mallory Martin (3-2, 1 KO) of Denver.

Woonsocket, R.I., flyweight Jose Lugo (2-0, 1 KO) makes his network television debut against Cortland, N.Y., native Michael Taylor (1-0, 1 KO) while middleweight Pat McCrohan (3-1, 2 KOs) of Berkley, Mass., returns to face red-hot Worcester, Mass., prospect Reginaldo Felix (5-3, 2 KOs). Bantamweight John Douma (3-0, 2 KOs) of Providence also debuts on the AXS TV platform in a highly-anticipated showdown against Nevada's Adam Acquaviva (5-3, 1 KO).

The preliminary card features a welterweight scrap between veteran Toby Oden (2-2, 1 KO) of Milford, Mass., and newcomer Jeremy Puglia of Long Island, who makes his professional debut. Decorated light heavyweight Fabio Cherant (1-0) returns to face Mansfield, Ohio, native Marquis Allen (1-0, 1 KO) and featherweight Brandon Marotte (1-0, 1 KO) of Hempstead, N.H., battles debut Arslan Otchiyev of West Haven, Conn.

Also on the preliminary card, Milford, Mass., bantamweight Kris Moutinho makes his long-awaited return against New York's Alfred Jones (3-3, 1 KO) and flyweights Hilarie Rose (0-1) of Norfolk, Mass., and Thais Sousa (0-2) of Miami search for their first career victories in a special female attraction. Light heavyweight Yorgan De Castro (1-0) of Fall River, Mass., faces David White (0-2) of Cumberland, Md.

CES MMA

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CAGE WARRIORS 88!

FULL FIGHT CARD & DETAILS

CAGE WARRIORS 88

The Liverpool Echo arena will once again play host to an amazing night of bouts this Saturday October 28th, as Chris Fishgold looks to defend his Lightweight title for the third time and Lee Chadwick fights for the vacant Middleweight belt on home soil. Travelling fighters Alexander Jacobsen and Victor Cheng cross the continent to challenge the two Liverpudlians, and will no doubt be bringing the support of their countrymen with them to make this a European rivalry for the ages.

Chris Fishgold (17-1-1) boasts 11 submission wins, and is renowned as one of the most dangerous fighters on the European circuit in close quarters. Jacobsen (8-1) knows he'll have to stay out of Fishgold's grip to have any chance of taking the title out of Liverpool, but has serious power in his hands and can close the show with just one shot if he lands clean.

For Lee Chadwick (23-13), this event means everything. This is the pinnacle of his career and, as a veteran of over 30 fights, perhaps the last chance he'll have to get his hands on Middleweight gold. Standing in his way is Victor Cheng (11-2), who has taken out some of the best in the division and is riding a 4-fight win streak.

A packed professional and amateur undercard beneath our leading fights bills Cage Warriors 88 as the most exciting night of the Cage Warriors calendar. With appearances from Liverpool favourite Molly McCann and dangerous lightweights Martin Stapleton and Soren Bak, who clash in one of the most anticipated bouts of the year, and it all adds up to an unmissable night of fights in Liverpool on October 28th.

Cage Warriors Network MMA

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Cerrone V Till!

Live On Fight Network

Fight Network, the world’s premier 24/7 multi-platform channel dedicated to complete coverage of combat sports, presents an action-packed event from Gdansk, Poland this Saturday, Oct. 21 at 3:00 p.m. ET, as the main card for UFC FIGHT NIGHT®: Cerrone vs. Till emanates from Ergo Arena, headlined by a pivotal welterweight showdown pitting No. 6-ranked contender Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone (32-9, 1NC) against highly touted undefeated British prospect Darren Till (15-0-1).

In addition to the main event clash between Cerrone and Till, Saturday’s live UFC FIGHT NIGHT® main card will feature a women’s strawweight tilt between No. 3-ranked former title challenger Karolina Kowalkiewicz (10-2), a native of Poland, and American Jodie Esquibel (6-2), a light heavyweight bout between Poland’s Jan Blachowicz (19-7) and South Dakota native Devin Clark (8-1), and a middleweight matchup between undefeated Polish up-and-comer Oskar Piechota (9-0) and California’s Jonathan Wilson (7-2).

The main card for UFC FIGHT NIGHT®: Cerrone vs. Till will repeat in its entirety in primetime on Saturday night, Oct. 21, at 9:00 p.m. ET, and Sunday night, Oct. 22, at 8:00 p.m. ET.

Fight Network MMA

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Limited Edition Randy Couture Bobblehead!

To Be Released At Bellator 186

Bellator MMA will be giving away a free limited-edition Randy Couture bobblehead on Friday, Nov. 3 to the first 5,000 fans in attendance at Bryce Jordan Center on the campus of Penn State University for Bellator 186: Bader vs. Vassell. The bobblehead giveaway is limited to one per person and will only be available to ticketholders upon entry into the arena.

Additionally, Bellator MMA fans are invited to attend a unique opportunity to meet the MMA and wrestling great prior to Bellator 186: Bader vs. Vassell. The meet and greet will take place on the concourse of Bryce Jordan Center on Friday, Nov. 3, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. ET. Space is limited and fans are encouraged to arrive early to reserve their place in line.

***Bobblehead giveaway and meet and greet are exclusively for Bellator 186 ticketholders***

***Bobbleheads distributed at venue points of entry, only while supplies last at each entry***

Randy “The Natural” Couture made his mark in the sport of wrestling and later MMA, where he was a multiple-time world champion at both heavyweight and light heavyweight.

Over his 14-year career, Couture compiled 19 victories, while also competing in 15 title fights. Prior to his professional career in mixed martial arts, the retired United States Army Sergeant made an impact on the high school and collegiate wrestling community by earning a state championship while attending Lynnwood High School in Washington state and a historic collegiate career that saw him become a three-time NCAA DI All-American at Oklahoma State University.

Couture also serves as a coach for his son, Ryan Couture, who currently competes in Bellator MMA’s welterweight division.

Bellator MMA Promotions

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John Gotti III!

Carves His Own Legacy Through MMA

John Gotti III

When he used to rummage through his father's boxing memorabilia as a child, or sit next to him on the couch years later watching mixed martial arts, John Gotti III had no idea he'd one day step through those cage doors himself, alone, face-to-face with every fighter's biggest adversary.

The idea, at first, was to find a way to make up for lost time with his father after the elder Gotti returned home from prison in 2004, so the two would watch all the big fights together and even attend live shows in New Jersey, just a stone's throw from their home in Oyster Bay, N.Y.

Only 11 years old at the time, Gotti III took an immediate liking to the raw, unfiltered drama of mixed martial arts -- combat in its purest form, as he calls it.

Following a successful, three-year trial run on the New York amateur circuit, the 24-year-old Gotti III makes his long-awaited professional debut Friday, Oct. 27th, 2017 on the preliminary card of "CES MMA 46" at Twin River Casino in Lincoln, R.I., joining forces with the hottest promotion in the northeast.

Tickets for "CES MMA 46" are priced at $40.00, $55.00, $100.00 and $125.00 (VIP) and can be purchased online at www.cesboxing.com, www.twinriver.com, www.ticketmaster.com or www.cagetix.com/ces by phone at 401-724-2253/2254 or at the Twin River Casino Players Club. All fights and fighters are subject to change.

His father, John A. Gotti -- nicknamed "Junior" -- never envisioned his own son fighting professionally, but has since cast aside any reservations knowing this is more than just a passing interest for Gotti III, who has changed his life both in and out of the gym in anticipation of what he hopes is a long, successful career in a sport often unforgiving for young, up-and-comers.

"I think now as I have chosen this as a profession, although my father is proud of me, I think he regrets fostering my interest," Gotti III said. "I don't think he ever thought this would be the end result.

"What father wants to watch his son in this type of environment?"

Gotti III takes his pride in his craft. He doesn't drink or smoke. He's not a partier. He briefly boxed as a child, but eventually segued into more traditional team sports before falling in love with MMA. He even tried a stint at bodybuilding, walking around at a heavily-muscled 250 pounds before settling into a more comfortable lifestyle in the welterweight division, where he'll face Johnny Adams (0-1) of Rutland, Vt., on the 27th.

Naturally, Gotti III faces more than just the opponent standing across from him once the bell rings. He's a naturally-gifted 24-year-old amateur standout about to enter his prime while looking to carve his own legacy under the shadow of the Gotti name.

There's a certain pressure that comes with such a distinction -- not to mention the fact Oct. 27th is the birthdate of his late grandfather, John Gotti, which is part of the reason he chose to fight on this date -- but Gotti III is polished, wise beyond his years, and has cautiously climbed the ladder in anticipation of this day, from working more on his jiu-jitsu in recent months to hiring a strength coach. His last amateur fight was in February, so this will be the first time he steps back into the cage in six months with the hope that all the extra preparation and attention to detail will pay dividends on the 27th.

"I'm excited to be doing something I love," Gotti III said. "For me to possibly move forward and see what I'm capable of achieving, I need to be tested by the likes of Adams."

Choosing CES MMA as the destination for his first pro fight made perfect sense for Gotti III. The promotion is in its fourth year with AXS TV as its broadcast partner (the main card of "CES MMA 46" airs on the network beginning at 9 p.m. ET on the 27th) and has a reputation for paving a path to the Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC) for several prominent fighters, among them Rob Font, Andre Soukhamthath and Charles Rosa.

"I know several fighters who had fought for them and they said they were good guys to work with and they put on a great show," Gotti III said. "It was a natural."

CES MMA Promotions

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JACK SHORE!

SET TO RETURN AT CAGE WARRIORS 89 IN BELGIUM

CAGE WARRIORS

Fresh from his third-round knockout of Mattia Galbiata at Cage Warriors 87 in Newport last weekend, Welsh super-prospect Jack ‘Tank’ Shore has already signed his next bout agreement.

‘Tank’ will return to action on November 25 at the Lotto Arena in Antwerp, Belgium as the latest big-name addition to the Cage Warriors 89 fight card.

Shore (6-0) will face off against fellow undefeated prospect - and local favourite - Ayton De Paepe (7-0) in a featherweight contest that is sure to test the credentials of both men as they look to extend their perfect professional records.

Also added to the fight card for Belgium is a clash between unbeaten welterweight prospects Massai Sant'anna (2-0) and Artur Szczepaniak (3-0), plus another 170lb matchup, as Leon Jansen (1-0) takes on Jan Quaeyhaegens (4-3).

The preliminary card will also feature a bout between Chico Martinez and Ben Dandois at middleweight.

Dandois (6-3) joins his sister, former UFC and Invicta bantamweight Cindy Dandois, on the fight card as he fights on home soil against Martinez, who has 29 pro fights to his name (12-17).

The event will be headlined by a battle for the vacant Cage Warriors heavyweight title, as Irishman Karl Moore will look to add the heavyweight belt to his light-heavyweight title as he takes on 10-2 Italian contender Mauro ‘The Hammer’ Cerilli.

If Moore is successful, he’ll become the first two-weight Cage Warriors champion since then-Cage Warriors featherweight champion Conor McGregor achieved the feat in 2012, when he knocked out Ivan Buchinger to win the Cage Warriors lightweight title.

Cage Warriors MMA Promotions

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Dinis Paiva!

Reflects On Career Path With CES MMA

Dinis Paiva

As one of the founding fathers of the CES MMA brand, bantamweight Dinis Paiva has arguably grown more, both personally and professionally, than anyone who's stepped through those cage doors over the past seven years.

With a full-time job as a supervisor, a wife at home, and the desire to one day start a family of his own, Paiva is juggling more than just fight night strategy and sparring sessions. He doesn't need to fight -- he does it because he wants to -- yet he continues to make the sacrifices all fighters must make in order to separate themselves from the rest of the pack.

"You have to find a way in order to succeed," said Paiva (9-6, 5 KOs), the East Providence, R.I., native who returns to the cage for the first time since January on the main card of "CES MMA 46" Friday, Oct. 27th, 2017from Twin River Casino.

"Between work, sparring, training, I put in close to 60 hours a week. My wife is the one who suffers the most, but it's part of the sacrifice. It's part of my story. It's part of who I am."

Tickets for "CES MMA 46" are priced at $40.00, $55.00, $100.00 and $125.00 (VIP) and can be purchased online at www.cesboxing.com, www.twinriver.com, www.ticketmaster.com or www.cagetix.com/ces by phone at 401-724-2253/2254 or at the Twin River Casino Players Club. All fights and fighters are subject to change.

The irony is Paiva, now 29, is a better fighter now than he was as a 23-year-old up-and-comer when he debuted with CES MMA on the promotion's sixth show in June of 2011. Making his 16th appearance with the promotion later this month in a nationally-televised bout against Brandon Seyler (7-5, 1 KO) on AXS TV, Paiva has endured almost every peak and valley that comes with being a professional fighter.

He lost three of his first four fights, including an unfortunate disqualification when he inadvertently kneed a grounded opponent, then won his next two to even his record, only to drop two more in 2013.

The following year, Paiva switched coaches, opting to work with veteran Mike Gresh from Cape Cod Fighting Alliance, won both of his fights and earned the award for New England's Most Improved Fighter, igniting a four-fight win streak that ultimately thrust him into the AXS TV in a win over Matt Doherty at "CES MMA 27."

A loss to Kody Nordby in 2015 broke Paiva's career-best win streak and, more importantly, brought him down a peg, teaching him to refrain from getting too ahead of himself either during unprecedented success or unexpected failure. Nordby actually helped Paiva prepare for Paiva's return bout at "CES MMA 40," a knockout win over Zane Behrend.

"It goes to show you that's how this sport brings people together," Paiva said.

"Every fighter in the world, we're all a work in progress. There's no such thing as a perfect fighter," he continued. "The sport is constantly changing. Guys like [UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson] are now turning a suplex into an armbar. That's just some of the mind-boggling stuff you see now, and now you're going to see every guy in camp trying to suplex guys into an armbar."

As much as Paiva has changed inside the cage, life outside the lines has been a whirlwind over the past few years. He got married in 2016, then returned to his old job at Morris Maintenance the day he and his wife got back from their honeymoon. Paiva started at the company years ago as a third-shift janitor and is now the Director of Warehousing and Maintenance, a position that requires him to travel throughout New England as a supervisor.

Much like his MMA career, the job has had its ups and downs through the years, but Paiva stuck with it, often sacrificing sleep and family time to continue chasing a greater goal.

"Work and MMA, they coexist," Paiva said. "I've accomplished a lot through the years in both. I haven't always been the top dog, but I know what I'm capable of and I know what I have to offer. I always want to be the best version of myself."

Hitting the gym after work and unloading on the heavy bag helps Paiva relieve some of the stress associated with his job, but the sport, despite all its flaws, continues to lure back into the spotlight. He's thought of retiring - he even contemplated it after losing to Nordby - but still can't walk away, not because he needs to the money, but because he genuinely loves the thrill of competition and wants to chase a title at 135 pounds.

"That's what sets me apart. I don't have to fight," said Paiva, who was supposed to fight in August, but suffered a fractured foot that postponed his appearance at "CES MMA 45."

As for making a run at a title, Paiva said, "It's time." He's fighting Seyler at 145, but has no problem committing to 135 in order to fight for a belt. Seyler is a tough opponent, coming off a big win over previously unbeaten Kris Moutinho at "CES MMA 45," but Paiva has struck that delicate balance between MMA and his full-time job, managing to successfully juggle both while preparing for yet another televised bout on MMA's biggest stage.

"Putting my foot on the gas pedal now is what will get me to where I eventually want to be," Paiva said. "This is a great matchup. I'm going in there throwing bombs. He's going to get the best version of me."

The main event of "CES MMA 46" features the return of former CES MMA Middleweight World Champion "Doomsday" John Howard (24-13, 9 KOs) of Boston, who faces submission specialist Roger Carroll (16-14) of Claremont, N.C.

"CES MMA 46" also features the return of rising welterweight prospect Gary Balletto Jr. (4-1, 2 KOs) of Cranston, R.I., who battles Philadelphia's Sharif Jones (3-2, 1 KO), plus the long-awaited professional debut of Oyster Bay, N.Y., welterweight John Gotti III in a three-round bout against Johnny Adams (0-1) of Rutland, Vt.

Lightweight Josh LaBerge (11-6, 5 KOs) of Fall River, Mass., returns to face Jonathan Lemke (6-8, 5 KOs) of Auburn, Maine, and bantamweight Rico DiSciullo (7-1, 3 KOs) of Peabody, Mass., faces Justin King (6-5) of Lawrence, Ind. Justin Sumter (3-1, 2 KOs) of New Haven, Conn., returns in a lightweight bout against Rahway, N.J., vet Shedrick Goodridge (6-9, 2 KOs).

Also returning Oct. 27th, Providence featherweight Marquis Brewster (3-0) battles Raymond Yanez (4-11, 1 KO) of Marion, Ohio, and featherweight Pat McCrohan (2-1, 1 KO) of Berkley, Mass., faces Buck Pineau (1-3) of Ashland, Maine.

CES MMA Promotions

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Geronimo Dos Santos V Sergei Kharitonov!

M-1 Challenge 81

M-1 Challenge 81 will be streamed live from Ingushetia, Russia in high definition on www.M1Global.TV. Viewers will be able to watch the preliminary fights and main card by logging on to register at www.M1Global.TV. Fans may watch all the action on their computers, as well as on Android and Apple smart phones and tablets.

M1 MMA Promotions

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Two Championship Bouts Headline!

Invicta FC 25

Invicta Fighting Championships heads west once again this summer, returning to California on Thursday, Aug. 31.

Invicta FC 25 will mark the promotion's first visit to Tachi Palace Hotel and Casino, a widely-recognized home for top mixed martial arts and boxing events.

On Monday, Invicta FC President Shannon Knapp appeared on MMA Fighting's "The MMA Hour," announcing two championship fights slated for the card.

Hawaii's Raquel "Lionheart" Pa'aluhi (6-5) looks to capture bantamweight gold in her first championship opportunity, facing recent title challenger Yana "Foxy" Kunitskaya (9-3, 1 NC) in the Invicta FC 25 main event.

Pa’aluhi and Kunitskaya were originally scheduled to meet at Invicta FC 24, but an injury pushed the match-up to August. Now the contenders were given an opportunity to compete for the belt vacated by former Invicta FC bantamweight champion Tonya Evinger.

Hawaiian-born and fighting out of Las Vegas, Pa’aluhi has shined lately, winning four of her last five fights, most recently submitting Pannie Kianzad in the first round at Invicta FC 21 in January. Kunitskaya is coming off back-to-back fights against Evinger, paving way for another crack at the bantamweight crown.

In the Invicta FC 25 co-main event, former strawweight champion Livia Renata Souza (10-1) attempts to reclaim her title when she battles New Mexico's Jodie Esquibel (6-2).

The Invicta FC strawweight championship was vacated by Angela Hill, who earned it by handing Souza her first career defeat. But the Brazilian bounced back impressively against Invicta FC atomweight champion Ayaka Hamasaki, winning by first-round knockout at Invicta FC 22. Esquibel was in action at the same event, besting contender DeAnna Bennett by decision.

The current fight card for Invicta FC 25 can be found below:

Bantamweight Title Bout: Raquel Pa'aluhi (6-5) vs. Yana Kunitskaya (9-3, 1 NC)

Strawweight Title Bout: Livia Renata Souza (10-1) vs. Jodie Esquibel (6-2)

Invicta FC 25 streams live and exclusively via UFC FIGHT PASS at 9 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. PT on Thursday, Aug. 31.

Tickets for Invicta FC 25, priced at $120, $60, $40, or $30, are on sale now via TachiPalace.com.

Invicta MMA Promotions

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CAGE WARRIORS & ELEVEN SPORTS!

JOIN FORCES FOR BELGIUM EVENT

CAGE WARRIORS

Cage Warriors is delighted to announce that it will partner with ELEVEN SPORTS to bring Cage Warriors 89 to Belgium on Saturday 25 November 2017.

The MMA event, which will be the first Cage Warriors event held outside the UK and Ireland in 2017, will take place in the Lotto Arena in Antwerp. Cage Warriors 89 will include a mix of local and European fighting talent, giving the Belgian MMA fans the opportunity to watch the best MMA action on the continent.

ELEVEN SPORTS will also carry the event exclusively live, not only in Belgium, but also in Luxembourg, Poland, Singapore and Taiwan after a multi-year agreement was struck at the start of 2017 to ensure every Cage Warriors match would be shown across all of ELEVEN’s markets in Europe and Asia.

“This is a great opportunity for Belgian MMA fans to watch the international stars of Cage Warriors”, says Danny Menken, Group Managing Director, ELEVEN SPORTS. “The agreement shows our desire to invest in and promote the MMA scene. It is also perfectly aligned to our strategy to work together with rightsholders with a view to organising events in our markets, bringing fans to the heart of the action.”

“We’re delighted to take our broadcast partnership with ELEVEN SPORTS to a new level with our debut event in Belgium”, says Casimir Knight, CEO of Warriors Development Agency, parent company of Cage Warriors. “We always deliver great MMA action and top production values, wherever we host our events, and can’t wait to give the Belgian fight fans their first taste of live MMA, Cage Warriors-style.”

Cage Warriors MMA Promotions

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Megan Anderson V Helena Kolesnyk!

INVICTA FC 24

Featherweight champion Megan Anderson (8-2) will make the first defense of her title when Invicta Fighting Championships returns to the historic Scottish Rite Temple in Kansas City on Saturday, July 15.

Her opponent for the summer showdown at Invicta FC 24 is Helena "Pretty" Kolesnyk (5-0, 1 NC), who joins the promotion after building her unblemished resume in China, Russia and Ukraine.

"Megan has been on quite a roll over the last two years, establishing herself as a dominant featherweight and building a passionate fanbase here in Kansas City," said Invicta FC President Shannon Knapp. "We're only looking to book competitive match-ups in this division, so being able to bring in an accomplished striker like Helena is very exciting."

Anderson looks to continue her ascent at 145 pounds, dominating the division with four knockouts in a row dating back to the beginning of 2016. The 27-year-old defeated veteran Charmaine Tweet to capture the Invicta FC interim featherweight title in January and became undisputed Invicta FC featherweight champion after Cristiane Justino vacated the belt in March.

Born in Ukraine and training out of Moscow, the challenger Kolesnyk has finished all five of her professional wins, including three first-round knockouts and a first-round submission to punches. She is an experienced Muay Thai practitioner, taking bronze at the IFMA World Muaythai Championships in 2015.

Additional bouts for Invicta FC 24: Anderson vs Kolesnyk will be announced soon.

Invicta FC 24: Anderson vs Kolesnyk streams live and exclusively via UFC FIGHT PASS on Saturday, July 15 at 7 p.m. CT.

Tickets for Invicta FC 24: Anderson vs Kolesnyk, priced at $50, $35, or $25, go on sale this Saturday, June 3 at 10 a.m. CT via Ticketfly.com.

For more information about Invicta Fight Championships, visit invictafc.com.

Invicta MMA Promotions

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ANDREY KORESHKOV V CHIDI NJOKUANI!

BELLATOR 182

BELLATOR 182

Following Bellator NYC at Madison Square Garden, Bellator MMA returns to the Empire State to make its Upstate New York debut set to invade Turning Stone ResortCasino in Verona, N.Y. with a welterweight main event pitting former Bellator champ Andrey Koreshkov (19-2) against Chidi Njokuani (17-4, 1 NC) on Friday, August 25for Bellator 182.

In addition, a second welterweight bout will serve as the evening’s co-main showdown when Brennan Ward (14-5) meets Fernando Gonzalez (26-14) in a bout sure to produce fireworks, while featherweight A.J. McKee returns to the cage fresh off anESPN "SportsCenter" Top-Ten finish of Dominic Mazzotta in his last outing.

Bellator 182: Koreshkov vs. Njokuani will be broadcast live and free on SPIKE at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT, while preliminary action will stream on Bellator.com and the Bellator Mobile App. Tickets for Bellator 182 go on sale Friday, June 2 at 10:00 a.m. ET for $85, $65, $47 and $37 and can be purchased in person at the Turning Stone Box Office, by calling 877.833.SHOW, or online at Ticketmaster.com.

Additional main and preliminary card bouts will be announced in the coming weeks.

The 26-year-old Russian phenom Koreshkov has been ascendant since his very first professional fight, claiming 19 career victories over 21 bouts, including wins in each of his first 13 contests. Fighting out of Omsk, Russia, “Spartan” will be making his 13th career appearance under the Bellator MMA banner and his first of 2017. Under the direction of Bellator MMA, Koreshkov has accrued a total of 10 victories over a four-year run, highlighted by a welterweight world title triumph over current champion Douglas Lima and a successful title defense over Benson Henderson at Bellator 153. Since making his professional debut in 2010, Koreshkov has collected 13 finishes, including 10 knockouts, eight of which came in the first round, making him one of the most dangerous 170-pounders in the game.

Fighting out of Las Vegas, Nev., Njokuani enters the cage riding momentum of an impressive streak that has seen him win eight consecutive bouts and 12 of his last 13. Since joining the Bellator MMA fray in 2015, the 28-year-old Njokuani has collected four victories, including a pair of knockout finishes. Most recently, “Chidi Bang Bang” defeated Melvin Guillard at Bellator 171 in January, adding to his current run of success.

The 28-year-old Ward enters the contest as one of the most feared fighters in Bellator MMA’s stacked 170-pound class. With 13 finishes over his 14 career victories, including nine knockouts, “Irish” possesses the perfect combination of pure strength and fearlessness. A 14-fight veteran of Bellator MMA, the Waterford, Conn. native will look to earn his 10th win under the direction of the Scott Coker-led promotion. Since joining Bellator MMA in 2012, Ward has yet to see a bout enter the third frame and has finished six of his nine opponents in the opening round. Fans can expect to see fireworks when Ward is inside the Bellator cage on August 25.

Hailing from Menifee, Calif., the 33-year-old Gonzalez will enter the Bellator cage for the eighth time in his 14-year professional career. Gonzalez has seen a great deal of success since joining forces with Bellator MMA; collecting six victories over a seven-fight, three-year span, highlighted by a first round knockout of Karo Parisyan.Gonzalez has come on strong as of late, tallying nine wins over his last 12 bouts, including a pair of first round knockouts and a five-fight winning streak from 2014-16. With 16 of his 26 career victories coming by way of knockout or submission, the 40-fight veteran will look to add to that total as he prepares to go toe-to-toe with one of the most unshakable talents the welterweight division has to offer.

The son of respected MMA veteran Antonio McKee, A.J. McKee spent his entire childhood in the gym soaking up every bit of knowledge and experience available to him. The 22-year-old prodigy has applied that knowledge inside the Bellator cage and has made quite a splash in his first eight fights as an MMA professional, racking up six finishes in eight outings. The Long Beach, Calif. native heads to the East Coast looking to stay undefeated with another impressive finish.

Nationally-recognized for hosting legendary, fight-of-the-year-level boxing events, rivaling venues in major cities such as Las Vegas, Miami and New York City, Turning Stone was one of the first venues in New York to host professional MMA after it was legalized by the State last year, further distinguishing it as the premier destination for live combat sports. The August 25 Bellator MMA event will mark Turning Stone’s third professional MMA event in less than a year.

Bellator MMA Promotions

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Kyrgyzstan Dominates Competition!

Wins WMMAA Team Title At 2017 Asian Championships

WMMAA

Host team Kyrgyzstan captured top team honors at the recent third annual World Mixed Martial Arts Association (WMMAA) Asian Championships, recently held at Suyumbaev Stadium, Osh, Kyrgyzstan.

The wonderful host city of Osh is the second largest city in Kyrgyzstan, located in the Fergana Valley in the south of the country, often referred to as the "capital of the south". It is the oldest city in the country, estimated to be more than 3000 years old, and it has served as the administrative center of Osh Region since 1939. The city has an ethnically mixed population of approximately 255,800, according to 2012 reports, comprised of Kyrgyz, Uzbeks, Russians, Tajiks, and other smaller ethnic groups.

Ulukbek Omurzakov, the president of Kyrgyzstan MMA Federation, deserved kudos for insuring that the 2017 WMMAA Asian Championships would be held at the highest level in all respects.

In addition to Omurzakov, numerous highly-ranked guests were also present at the arena during competitions, including the Kyrgyzstan Republic President's advisor, Ikramzhan Ilmiyanov, Vice Prime-Minister Zhenish Razzakov, Osh city Mayor Aitmamat Kadyrbaev, Minister of Interior Suyunbek Omurzakov, MP's Aaly Karashev, Iskender Matraimov, WMMAA president Vadim Finkelchtein and many others.

WMMA Asian team champion Kyrgyzstan had seven individual male winners out of eight weight classes: bantamweight Ryskulbek Ibraimov, featherweight Nursultan Rakhmanberdi Uulu, lightweight Kubanychbek Turatbek Uulu, welterweight Tologon Rakhmatov, middleweight Olzhobai Kudaiberdi Uulu, light heavyweight Osman Abdulazizov and heavyweight Maksat Musabaev. The only non-Kyrgyzstan individual winner in the men's competition was flyweight Zheng Xiao Liang, of China.

China and defending team champion Kazakhstan, respectively, finished second and third in the final team standings. Other teams represented at the WMMAA Asian Championships included Uzbekistan, South Korea, Afghanistan and Tajikistan

The 2017 WMMAA Asian Championships were held in 10 weight divisions, eight for male fighters, as well as two brand new divisions for female fighters, in which China won both weight classes.

More than 60 fighters represented seven different countries during the competition.

Individual team competition was held in accordance with the "Official Rules of Mixed Martial Arts Competition, subject to WMMAA approval. Including revisions, additions and clarifications of certain clauses. Matches were held in accordance with the Olympic system including two third-places in each of the 10 weight divisions.

WMMAA MMA Promotions

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CAGE WARRIORS 82!

NINE FIGHTS CONFIRMED

CAGE WARRIORS 82

Cage Warriors’ return to Wales will feature a host of Welsh talent, plus the debut of highly-rated Danish lightweight star Søren Bak.

Bak (7-1) will take on veteran Scott ‘The Priest’ Clist (11-3) in a tough test on his maiden outing under the Cage Warriors banner.

And he’ll be joined on the card by popular Welsh prospect Josh ‘Crazy Horse’ Reed.

The Tillery Combat trained bantamweight has made a perfect start to life as a professional, racking up six wins without defeat, including back-to-back victories in Cage Warriors contests. He'll take on the Irishman Gavin Kelly who makes his fourth CW appearance in Newport.

Also scheduled for action is former welterweight title challenger Mohsen Bahari. The Norwegian takes on rising Italian prospect Giovanni Melillo, who arrives in Cage Warriors with a 6-1 career record, with five finishes. Melillo’s only defeat came to the current Cage Warriors 170lb champion, Karl Amoussou.

And a teammate of Amoussou’s, fellow Frenchman Konmon Deh (9-3) will look to follow up on his impressive stoppage win at Cage Warriors 82 when he lined up against local favourite Jack ‘The Tank’ Shore.

Shore racked up a perfect 12-0 amateur record before turning pro, and has impressed with four stoppage victories in his four professional contests to date, while Deh has won each of his six career bouts in the UK and is riding a six-fight win streak.

As previously announced, the main event of the evening will feature a battle between two of the UK’s premier welterweights as Che Mills goes head to head with Lewis Long.

These five main card bouts will also be joined by a fistful of pro prelim bouts as the Cage Warriors card starts to take shape ahead of the May 6 event.

A very limited number of Cage Warriors 83 tickets are available

Cage Warriors MMA Promotions

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M-1 Global!

Has Busy May & June Planned

M-1 Global president Vadim Finkelchtein has announced five M-1 Challenge events to be held this May and June.

Below is a Q & A with the veteran MMA promoter:

Can you tell us about plans for upcoming M-1 Global events?

VF: "In the next 2-3 months we will promote an extremely full schedule of events. Through the middle of June, we will promote five - I'm not afraid to use these words - grandiose tournaments. April 22nd there's an event being held in Nazran, which was arranged with the support of the local government, and dedicated to the 25th anniversary of Ingushetia. On May 19th, in collaboration with Rostec and Rosoboronexport corporations, we will hold a truly spectacular event in Sochi. Our traditional tournament in Orenburg is set for May 26th, which regularly takes place at the highest level with a crowded venue. On June 1st, we will hold another event in St. Petersburg as part of the International Economic Forum program. And already on June 15 - A major tournament will be held June 15th in Harbin, China, during the program of the Russian-Chinese Expo. Both in St. Petersburg and China, we are included in the official program, so we will be participating in truly large-scale events."

Fans are interested in fighters whose performances will decorate these tournaments. Can you reveal some of the competing fighters?

VF: "We will really surprise the audience at these events. A lot of negotiations are ongoing, including those with fighters who are the TopP-20 ranked fighters in the world. There will also be fights involving new fighters. Of course, we intend to make fights that fans have been waiting for a long time. One is the is the Idrisov vs. Buchinger rematch and, of course, probably the most anticipated fight in Russian MMA today, Shlemenko vs Emeev."

The fight between Alexander Shlemenko and Ramazan Emeev had already been postponed twice. What prevents this fight from being canceled for the third time?

VF: "The desire of the two fighters can play the major role here. Everything has been done on our side. Alexander Shlemenko is ready for this fight. We're waiting word back from Ramazan Emeev. This fight is interesting for fans and we will try to make it happen. People are starting to understand more and more about MMA and we are making fights that our fans want to happen. Not only does this apply to Shlemenko and Emeev. but for other popular fighters as well, including undefeated M-1 welterweight champion Alexey Kunchenko, top lightweight Artiom Damkovsky, Damir Ismagulov, Sergey Romanov and many others. We try to sign contracts with only fighters who want to be in spectacular fights. Look at the last events in Moscow. Were any of the 11 fights boring? No! Even in undercard matches we have fighters who deliver exciting fights and often early finishes. This is the hallmark of our promotion. We do not hold uninteresting events or boring fights."

Today, many promotions sign fighters who were fired from UFC. Why are you not doing this?

VF: "Certainly in that way. If fighters are interesting to the Russian public and well known, we will sign him. Otherwise, I believe that it is wrong to sign, so to speak, cast-off fighters. This will not add credibility and strengthen our organization in the MMA world. We do that a different way. We build stars that UFC chases. It may be more difficult but M-1 is more respected by the West for doing it this way. Look, those fighters who leave M-1 for the UFC leave because they've been developed through serious schooling, as we do not feed them "tomato cans" opponents. We do not make easy fights for anybody. Marcin Tybura, Rashid Magomedov, Mairbek Taisumov, Alexey Oleinik, Islam Makhachev, Alexander Volkov, etc. All of them are our former fighters. They were not known at the beginning of their careers but now they are all doing excellent. Fighters of the other promoters who moved in UFC are often fired after a while because, here in Russia, they did not face tough opposition."

How do you fight the departure of your fighters to the West?

VF: "Here, I disagree with you. It used to be that way. Now, to the contrary, many fighters want to perform in M-1 because it is no less prestigious than performing for Bellator, where the emphasis is on the show. Example of this are Alexander Shlemenko, Sergei Kharitonov, and others. These warriors gladly come to us and agree to fight here because the opposition in M-1 is not weak. Of course, regarding the departure of the fighters to the West, money plays a great role. But there are fighters who are grateful to M-1 for fame they gained. We paved the road to a greatness for them and, consequently, they do not rush to leave M-1 anywhere."

M1 Warriors MMA Promotions

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LIVERPOOL FAVOURITE SET FOR ACTION!

CAGE WARRIORS 82

Liverpool’s Molly McCann now has a confirmed opponent for her hometown bout at Cage Warriors 82, in what will be the biggest night in the promotion’s history.

McCann will take on Lacey Schuckman in a 125lb flyweight contest at Liverpool’s Echo Arena in a fight that’s sure to deliver plenty of action.

‘Meatball’ McCann splits her training between Ippon gym, Bournemouth and NextGen in Liverpool that has produced Cage Warriors world champions Paddy Pimblett and Chris Fishgold. She’ll line up with Pimblett for the April 1 card looking to add another win to her pro record.

The proud Evertonian has a record of four wins, one defeat, with three wins coming by way of TKO, but her opponent will provide a stern test.

Colorado native Schuckman is a 20-fight veteran of the sport with a record of 11 wins and nine losses, with six submission finishes and two TKO victories to her name.

She’s competed against former UFC strawweight champion Carla Esparza, and took rising UFC contender Michelle Waterson all the way to a split decision early in her career.

The 28-year-old has competed under the HOOKnSHOOT, Strikeforce and Invicta banners, and will be making her Cage Warriors debut against McCann on April 1.

Speaking ahead of the bout, Schuckman said: “I am very excited for this opportunity, I look forward to putting on an exciting fight against a very talented opponent.”

McCann, meanwhile, promised a quickfire finish on home soil, saying: “I cannot wait to perform in our city on such an amazing promotion. This will be a night to remember! KO first round! How bout dat!”

Cage Warriors MMA Promotions

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VAUGHAN LEE V NATHANIEL WOOD!

ADDED TO STACKED CW82

VAUGHAN LEE V NATHANIEL WOOD

The much-anticipated bantamweight bout between Vaughan Lee and Nathaniel Wood is back on, and has been added to the fight card for Cage Warriors’ spectacular show in Liverpool, Cage Warriors 82.

The pair were originally scheduled to face off at Indigo at The O2 at Cage Warriors 80, but medial issues forced Wood out of the contest as the bout was postponed pending medical clearance.

Wood has since received that clearance and is free to compete again, and Cage Warriors has wasted no time in adding the bout to the April 1 show at the Echo Arena.

The fight pits two of the UK’s premier 135-pounders against each other, with former UFC veteran Lee taking on ‘The Prospect’ Wood in a fascinating clash that is sure to deliver action aplenty.

Cage Warriors president Graham Boylan said: “I was gutted for both Vaughan and Nathaniel when their fight had to be postponed, but fighter safety is our number-one priority at all times.

“We were excited to learn of Nathaniel’s medical clearance and, once we received full confirmation of that, were delighted to rebook this matchup and add it to our Liverpool show, which just gets better and better as the fight card grows.”

The bout joins a growing card that already boasts two world title fights, as Liverpool’s Paddy Pimblett and Chris Fishgold put their featherweight and lightweight titles on the line.

Pimblett takes on Nad Narimani in the main event, while Fishgold bids to win the lightweight belt outright with a third straight title defence when he faces Jani Salmi.

Cage Warriors MMA Promotions

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CAGE WARRIORS!

BOLSTER ROSTER WITH 12 NEW SIGNINGS

Cage Warriors

Cage Warriors’ roster of fighters has expanded with 12 new arrivals confirmed to the promotion’s lineup.

The new crop of signings includes six lightweight additions: Donovan Desmae (9-3), Soren Bak (7-1), Perry Goodwin (6-4), Aleksi Mantykivi (10-4), Ellis Hampson (6-3-1) and Alexander Jacobsen (7-1).

Joining them are bantamweights Gavin Kelly (8-3) and Brian Bouand (5-1), welterweights Dylan McLoughlin (3-0) and Craig White (11-4), light-heavyweight Norman Paraisy (15-4-2, 1nc) and heavyweight Shawn Kenny (2-0).

Announcing the signings, Cage Warriors president Graham Boylan said: “I’m delighted to welcome this exciting crop of fighters to the Cage Warriors family.

“We’re a handful of events into our biggest year ever, and bringing these talented fighters onto our roster helps give our matchmaker Ian Dean even more options as we look to deliver exciting fights and spectacular events for our fans.”

Cage Warriors MMA Promotions

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CHRIS FISHGOLD!

RETURNS HOME TO DEFEND LIGHTWEIGHT TITLE AT CAGE WARRIORS 82

CHRIS FISHGOLD

Liverpool lightweight and Cage Warriors world champion Chris Fishgold will return to his home city as he bids to make history at Cage Warriors 81.

Fishgold (16-1-1) will look to make a third successful defence of his 155lb world title when he takes on fellow submission specialist Jani Salmi (9-2) in the co-main event at the Echo Arena on April 1.

If Fishgold is successful, he’ll become the first Cage Warriors champion to make three consecutive world title defences and he’ll get to keep his Cage Warriors belt as a result.

Fishgold captured the vacant lightweight belt in July 2016 with a first-round submission of Adam Boussif at Cage Warriors 77.

And the NextGen-trained lightweight rounded out the year with back-to-back title defences, submitting Jason Ponet at Cage Warriors 79 in Liverpool in September, then outpointing Nic Herron-Webb at Cage Warriors Unplugged at the BT Sport studios in London in November.

He’ll take on in-form Finn Salmi, who comes into this matchup riding an eight-fight win streak, a run that includes six finishes, with five coming by submission.

Cage Warriors is renowned for delivering a production line of talent to the highest level of the sport, with dozens of former Cage Warriors stars going on to ply their trade in the UFC’s octagon.

All eyes will be on the Echo Arena as two of Cage Warriors current stars - Fishgold and featherweight champion teammate Paddy Pimblett - take centre stage in their home city.

Fishgold said that home town advantage will help fire him to victory on April 1.

“Stepping into the Cage Warriors cage is always special, but the chance to defend my world title at home means the world,” he said.

“Being the first fighter to win a Cage Warriors title outright would be a huge honour for me, and nobody’s going to take this belt from me in my home town.”

Cage Warriors president Graham Boylan said: “It’s great to announce our second world title fight for Liverpool.

“It’s great to have both of our Liverpool world champions at the top of this fight card. April 1 is going to be spectacular. Our biggest show ever.”

Cage Warriors MMA Promotions

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MERSEYSIDE!

SET TO UNITE FOR BIGGEST SHOW IN CAGE WARRIORS HISTORY

Cage Warriors

Just hours after the Merseyside Derby decides the City’s footballing bragging rights at Anfield, the red and blue halves of Liverpool will reunite once more to support their local heroes at the Echo Arena on April 1st for Cage Warriors 82.

The event is headlined by Liverpool’s own world champion, featherweight king Paddy ‘The Baddy’ Pimblett who takes on Nad Narimani in his latest title defence. Cage Warriors other Merseyside champion, Chris Fishgold, will also be in action in the night’s co-main attraction, defending his lightweight belt.

The two world champions will be backed up by another SEVEN of Liverpool’s finest fighters - including popular Evertonian flyweight Molly McCann - as Cage Warriors stack the deck with local stars ahead of the event.

Confirmed for the event is a middleweight bout between Liverpool’s Lee ‘The Butcher’ Chadwick (21-13-1) and Irish veteran Tommy Quinn (6-3).

Another Liverpool fighter, Ellis Hampson (6-3, 1NC), will also feature on the card in a 160lb catchweight bout against Perry Goodwin (6-4).

And new Cage Warriors signing Dean Trueman (7-3) will look to follow up his spectacular 12-second KO win at CW79 with another impressive victory when he takes on undefeated Swede Frantz Slioa (4-0) in a featherweight contest.

“We’ve already sold more tickets for this event than we did when more than 3,000 people watched Paddy win the belt at the Echo last year,” said Cage Warriors president Graham Boylan.

“This show is all set to showcase the very best of Liverpool’s fighting talent, and no city supports their own more passionately than the city of Liverpool.

“This is shaping up to be the biggest show we’ve ever done, and I’m expecting a special atmosphere in the Echo Arena on April 1.”

Tickets are available via the Echo Arena http://bit.ly/CW82tickets from £33.50. Tickets are selling fast, so make sure you get yours and be a part of Cage Warriors’ biggest ever show.

Cage Warriors MMA Promotions

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Amber Brown V Ashley Cummins!

Invicta FC 22

Invicta Fighting Championships today announced two bouts – one at atomweight and one at featherweight – completing the eight-fight card for Invicta FC 22: Evinger vs. Kunitskaya, which takes place Saturday, March 25 from the historic Scottish Rite Temple in Kansas City, Mo.

After moving up to strawweight in her last bout, former atomweight title challenger Amber "The Bully" Brown (6-3) drops back down to 105 pounds, looking to get back on the winning track against local Missouri product Ashley "Smashley" Cummins (4-3).

Florida's Felicia "Fee-Nom" Spencer (1-0) and California's Madison "Baby Hulk" McElhaney (1-0) battle at featherweight. Both successful in their professional debuts, Spencer earned a first-round stoppage over Rachel Wiley at Invicta FC 14, while McElhaney picked up a unanimous decision in December prior to joining Invicta.

Invicta FC 22 is headlined by the rematch between Invicta FC bantamweight champion Tonya "Triple Threat" Evinger (18-5, 1 NC) and Russian challenger Yana "Foxy" Kunitskaya (9-2, 1 NC).

The completed eight-fight card for Invicta FC 22: Evinger vs. Kunitskaya 2 can be found below:

Bantamweight Title: Tonya Evinger (18-5, 1 NC) vs. Yana Kunitskaya (9-2, 1 NC)

Strawweight: Ayaka Hamasaki (14-1) vs. Livia Renata Souza (9-1)

Strawweight: DeAnna Bennett (8-2) vs. Jodie Esquibel (5-2)

Atomweight: Jinh Yu Frey (5-2) vs. Janaisa Morandin (9-0)

Atomweight: Amber Brown (6-3) vs. Ashley Cummins (4-3)

Strawweight: Sunna Rannveig Davidsdottir (1-0) vs. Mallory Martin (1-0)

Strawweight: Kal Holliday (1-0) vs. Miranda Maverick (1-0)

Featherweight: Felicia Spencer (1-0) vs. Madison McElhaney (1-0)

Invicta FC 22: Evinger vs. Kunitskaya 2 streams live and exclusively via UFC FIGHT PASS at 7 p.m. CT on Saturday, March 25.

Tickets for Invicta FC 22: Evinger vs. Kunitskaya 2, priced at $50, $35, or $25, are on sale now via Ticketfly.com.

Invicta MMA Promotions

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IMPACT Wrestling!

Announces New U.K. TV Deal With Spike UK

IMPACT Wrestling

Anthem Sports & Entertainment Corp. announced today a new broadcast deal for IMPACT Wrestling to be televised exclusively on Spike UK, making its flagship weekly show available throughout the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland.

From Spring 2017, IMPACT Wrestling, TNA pay-per-views, including One Night Only specials will be available on Spike UK, and TNA Xplosion exclusive to My5, which is part of the Channel 5 stable available on Sky TV (160), Freeview (31), Freesat (141), Virgin Media (154) and other DTT platforms.

New episodes of IMPACT Wrestling will premiere on Friday nights, quenching the appetite of U.K. fans to view IMPACT Wrestling within hours of the US premiere broadcast.

“Since our acquisition of IMPACT Wrestling, growing the brand in the UK has been one of our most important initiatives,” said Ed Nordholm, president of IMPACT Wrestling. “We are thrilled to be partnering with Spike UK to fill this important spot in their programme schedule and look forward to rebuilding our presence in the UK market. As one of the hottest wrestling scenes in the world right now, we look forward to taking an active role in the market, both on television and with live events.”

Anna-Belen Dunlop and Kris Graham, Acquisitions and Channel Managers of Spike UK, added: “We are excited that Spike will be the new exclusive home of IMPACT Wrestling in the UK With Anthem’s new leadership and founder Jeff Jarrett back, this is a watershed moment for the franchise, which is a perfect fit for our Spike audience.”

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JOHN GOODEN!

SHARES HIS IRISH FIGHT NIGHT MEMORIES

JOHN GOODEN

Before he started calling fights for the UFC, British play-by-play man John Gooden was the voice of Cage Warriors.

And nobody knows the passion of the Irish fight fans quite like John who, during the now-famous rise to prominence of Conor McGregor, ended up right in the thick of it with the legendary Irish fight fans during both of ‘The Notorious’ one’s Cage Warriors championship victories.

We chatted to Gooden at CW80 in London where he shared his memories of his Irish fight night experiences ahead of our return to Dublin this weekend for Cage Warriors 81.

"I think my first taste was the Helix when Conor won his first world title,” he began.

"I got injured - Conor kneed me in the face! But I stayed here to live to tell the tale!

"He jumped the fence. His fans were going absolutely bonkers, and I think if he didn’t go out, they were coming in. So strategically he did the right thing, although he sort of ran through me to get to them!

"But Josh (Palmer, Cage Warriors co-commentator) and I were covered in beer and it was just this melee of craziness. So that was really cool, because I can say I took a knee from Conor McGregor - which he apologised for, as well!

"The Helix was an interesting venue. It was on different levels and the last time I was there the Irish were having mixed results. Then Conor came out and, as he does, rouses everyone and came away with the victory in the fashion that he did. That just put the capstone on the night and just made it celebratory.”

After that fight both McGregor and Gooden were UFC bound, where they would reunite in Dublin at the 3Arena for UFC Fight Night: McGregor v Brandao, an event that has gone down in folklore as one of the most raucous in UFC history.

"I’ve been over to Dublin twice (with the UFC) but the first time in 2014 - McGregor-Brandao - it’s gonna be difficult to top that,” Gooden smiled.

"The fans were SO good. The Irish fighters went 100%. They won, they won, they won and the crowd loved it. They got behind every single one and it was just a big celebration.

"Going back there, it was a sensory overload and I’m gonna take that to the grave with me.”

That event has been held up as the standard by which all fight night atmospheres are now judged, but there have been plenty of examples of the Irish fans’ passion since then, whether it’s at home for a host of different events, or on the road supporting their heroes overseas.

And on Saturday night the Irish fight fans have the opportunity to cheer on their boys on home soil once again at Cage Warriors 81. With a host of Irish fighting talent set for action, including Karl Moore bidding to capture the vacant Cage Warriors light-heavyweight title against American Josh Clark, we’re expecting another party atmosphere at the 3Arena.

Tickets are available via Ticketmaster.ie, priced €98, €38 and €24, with ticket holders also able to attend a special meet and greet session with our special guest fighters Neil Seery, Nicolas Dalby and the newly crowned Cage Warriors Welterweight Champion Karl Amoussou.

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CAGE WARRIORS 81!

CARD FILLING UP

CAGE WARRIORS 81

Cage Warriors’ homecoming event at the 3Arena, Dublin is shaping up to be a huge night of Irish MMA, with a stacked card of professional and amateur bouts supported by the country’s biggest and best gyms.

Headlining the event on March 4 is a light-heavyweight title battle, as Ireland’s Karl Moore takes on former TUF veteran Josh Clarke for the vacant 205lb belt.

Also on the main card, popular Irish atomweight Catherine Costigan will seek to build on her 5-2 record against Wendy McKenna, while Joe McColgan will look to back up his notable win over Peter Queally with victory over heavy-handed Frenchman Arnold Quero.

The pro card has been bolstered by a host of bouts, including the rearranged welterweight bout between Håkon Foss and Martyn Harris and a battle between two promising pro debutants Eric Nolan and Marcin Zembala.

Backing up a strong pro lineup will be a host of amateur bouts featuring some of the most promising up-and-coming amateur fighters in the country, including a matchup that will see lightweight brothers Francis and Stephen Treacy going head to head in a battle of sibling rivalry.

In addition to a packed card of fights at the 3Arena, CW81 ticket holders will also have access to a special meet and greet session with some of the Cage Warriors stars of the past who have gone on to fight with distinction in the UFC.

Tickets for the event are on sale now via CageWarriors.com starting at only €25. - http://bit.ly/CW81tkts

“I can’t wait to return home to Ireland for Cage Warriors 81,” said Cage Warriors President Graham Boylan.

“A stacked pro and amateur card will give fans the chance to see the next generation of Irish MMA stars.”

“It’s shaping up to be one hell of a party at the 3Arena on the 4th March.”

The bout will be televised live on eirSPORT in Ireland, BT Sport in UK and Ireland, and streamed worldwide on UFC Fight Pass.

CAGE WARRIORS 81: CONFIRMED BOUTS

Bout order TBC

PRO CARD

Karl Moore (7-1) v Josh Clarke (10-3) - Cage Warriors light-heavyweight title (205lbs)

Catherine Costigan (5-2) v Wendy McKenna (1-0) - atomweight bout (105lbs)

Joe McColgan (3-0) v Arnold Quero (13-5, 1 NC) - lightweight bout (155lbs)

Darren O’Gorman (4-1) v Blaine O’Driscoll (3-1) - bantamweight bout (135lbs)

Hughie O’Rourke (pro debut) v Arann Maguire (0-1) - bantamweight bout (135lbs)

Håkon Foss (7-3) v Martyn Harris (4-2) - welterweight bout (170lbs)

Lloyd Manning (2-0) v Paul McBain (2-0) - featherweight bout (145lbs)

Eric Nolan (pro debut) v Marcin Zembala (pro debut) - catchweight bout (150lbs)

AMATEUR CARD

Bill Farrell v David Piotrowicz - light-heavyweight bout (205lbs)

Richie Stack v Pawel Politylo - featherweight bout (145lbs)

Mark Gallivan v Makinde Adeyemi - welterweight bout (170lbs)

Francis Treacy v Stephen Treacy - lightweight bout (155lbs)

Austin Lynch v Alex Brophy - bantamweight bout (135lbs)

Colm O’Regan v Mateusz Kopyto - catchweight bout (161lbs)

Ivan Blanita v Gary Coffey - welterweight bout (170lbs)

Gary Wallace v Darren Sarsfield - catchweight bout (161lbs)

David Whelan v Brandon Myers - bantamweight bout (135lbs)

Adam Darby v Leon Hill - lightweight bout (155lbs)

Barry Hanna v Matthew Whyte - catchweight bout (132.2lbs)

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KARL AMOUSSOU & MATT INMAN!

Q&A

KARL AMOUSSOU & MATT INMANRTIN

WHAT DOES WINNING THAT BELT MEAN TO YOU?

Karl Amoussou: That belt is my entry ticket to the UFC. I am bringing it back to France.

Matt Inman: This belt is my path, I’ve been with Cage Warriors a long time. This is my eighth fight with the promotion and I feel like I’ve been on this path along time. I’m ready.

Karl Amoussou: So am I.

DO YOU FEEL ANY PRESSURE GOING INTO THIS FIGHT?

MI: The only pressure I feel is the pressure I put upon myself to put in the best performance I can.

KA: Pressure is always present during a fight, I know I’m going to have the best version of Matt Inman facing me and he’s going to be ready for the best version of Karl Amoussou. No problem with the pressure, I’ll deal with it.

IS THIS A CAREER-DEFINING FIGHT FOR YOU?

KA: Yes this is definitely a career-defining fight. Now I have to be in the UFC. I belong in the UFC, I should be in the UFC already and after this fight I will definitely be there, no doubt.

MI: Without a doubt, this is the biggest fight of my career against the highest-profile opponent.

ARE YOU EXCITED TO BE HEADLINING AT INDIGO AT THE O2?

MI: I’m excited to be headlining at Indigo at The O2. I’ve waited a long time for this opportunity and I’m just extremely excited to get in there.

KA: I’m very excited to be fighting at The O2 and headline the show, 10 years after my first fight with Cage Warriors. It’s proof of big improvements and I’m going to show where the improvements are now.

DESCRIBE YOUR OPPONENT IN THREE WORDS

KA: Well-dressed, tough and well-rounded.

MI: Powerful, aggressive and experienced.

DOES YOUR OPPONENT DESERVE TO BE FIGHTING IN THE UFC ALREADY? AND IF SO, WHY?

MI: I think this is a fight where both of us should have been fighting in the UFC a long time ago, there’s no question of that. This is a fight that could be on any main card, on any UFC event.

KA: Just like Matt I think exactly the same. We both have our place in the UFC and after this fight there is only going to be space for one but we definitely both deserve to be there.

THERE’S NOT MUCH ANIMOSITY BETWEEN THE PAIR OF YOU. DOES THAT MAKE THE FIGHT ANY HARDER TO GET UP FOR IF YOU DON’T HATE THE PERSON IN FRONT OF YOU?

KA: There is no need for me to have any animosity against an opponent, I think it’s a waste of energy. I know what my goal is, I’m pretty sure Matt knows what his goal is and I think we have the same. We are both going to do our job and, on my part, I know exactly what I’m going to do. So there’s no need for animosity.

MI: I never require animosity when facing an opponent. My focus is on performing the best I can and that would be the same whatever way I felt about my opponent and that’s what I guarantee I’ll do come fight night.

FINALLY, HOW WILL THE FIGHT END?

MI: I’m not going to make predictions for how this fight will end. I’m expecting a tough fight and a real challenge, but I’m ready to come out the winner.

KA: I’m going to make a prediction. This fight is going to end either by KO or submission. I’ll be ready for five rounds and I’ll be ready for a submission or a KO in every single round, so be ready for it, too.

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MARTIN STAPLETON!

FOCUSED ON A FINISH AT CAGE WARRIORS 80

MARTIN STAPLETON

With designs on world titles and a future shot in the UFC, Martin Stapleton says he's ready to make a statement at Cage Warriors 80 this weekend.

Stapleton (18-4) was a coveted free-agent who fielded multiple contract offers from around the world, but it was ultimately Cage Warriors that made the most sense to him as he looks to rise all the way to the top.

"I had a lot of offers, and some really lucrative offers, too,” he said.

"But when I weighed it all up, Cage Warriors was the best route for me.

"That’s because of the amount of guys that have come through, been a Cage Warriors world champion, gone on to the UFC and now they’re now kicking arse. And there’s a couple of guys who have won UFC world titles through that route.

“And with the fights being shown on BT Sport and UFC Fight Pass, it gives me the best platform to get into the UFC.

“They were all massive factors in signing with Cage Warriors rather than one of the other organisations.”

Stapleton will take on Anthony Dizy in a 150lb catchweight at Indigo at The O2 on Saturday night at Cage Warriors 80 as he sets his sights on world championship glory later in the year.

"I want that featherweight belt,” he said.

"I can fight at 145, 155 and even go up as high as 170. But right now, I’ve got my sights on that 145lb title. That’s the biggest fight, and I want big fights.

"I’ve got 100% belief in myself. I know I’m battle tested. I know I’m ready to go in there with anyone.

"You can put me in with anyone in the world right now and I’ll hold my own. Right now I’d beat 95% of them, and in a couple of years I’ll be at the point where I'll beat 100% of them.”

And speaking about this weekend’s fight in London, Stapleton said his focus is on one thing - claiming a decisive stoppage win.

"I never expect anything in my opponents, he said.

"I go in there with a clear mind, ready for anything that happens in the cage. I don’t watch my opponents’ fights either. I know his name. All I have to do is train my arse off, get in the cage and do it.

"I wanna get in there and finish this guy. From the minute the bell goes to the 15th minute of the fight I’ll be trying to finish him."

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Rory MacDonald V Paul Daley!

May 19 In London

Rory MacDonald V Paul Daley

Paul “Semtex” Daley (39-14-2) is getting what he asked for. On May 19, the explosive fighter from Nottingham, England will meet Rory MacDonald (18-4) in the main event of Bellator 179: Daley vs. MacDonald at The SSE Arena, Wembley.

Rising undefeated British sensation, Michael “Venom” Page (12-0), better known to Bellator fans as “MVP,” is also expected to make his in-cage return in front of a hometown crowd.

Bellator 179: Daley vs. MacDonald will be broadcast on SPIKE at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT. Tickets for the event will be available Friday, March 3 at The SSE Arena, Wembley Box Office (0844 815 0815), ssearena.co.uk and axs.com. A special SSE pre-sale will take place Wednesday, March 1 through Thursday, March 2. A pre-sale for The SSE Arena, Wembley will be available Thursday, March 2.

Immediately following his flying-knee knockout of Brennan Ward at Bellator 170: Ortiz vs. Sonnen, Daley took the microphone during his post-fight interview and made the most of his time, emphatically calling for his May 19 opponent by name. Now, a little more than 100 miles from his home, “Semtex” will attempt to spoil the Bellator MMA debut of MacDonald. A 55-fight veteran of the sport, with six appearances under the direction of the Scott Coker-led promotion, the British heavy hitter has recorded victories in 10 of his last 12 bouts with 31 of his 39 victories coming via finish.

After signing MacDonald to an exclusive, multi-year, multi-fight contract in 2016, the must-see talent returned to the gym where he carefully honed his craft and readied himself for an eagerly-anticipated return to MMA. The former No. 1 contender to the UFC welterweight crown now sets his sights on the always-exciting Daley, looking to add to a list of strong career wins, which includes current UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley, B.J. Penn, Demian Maia and Nate Diaz. “The Red King” is clearly the most popular active Canadian mixed martial artist since Georges St-Pierre, whom MacDonald has trained under for years at the world-renowned TriStar Gym in Montreal. At only 27-years-old, MacDonald joins Bellator’s welterweight fray poised to immediately make an impact in the division, as he looks to defeat Daley and shock the London crowd.

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KARL MOORE V JOSH CLARKE!

CAGE WARRIORS 81

Cage Warriors returns home to Dublin with a world title main event as Ireland’s Karl Moore bids to capture the vacant light-heavyweight championship against former TUF competitor Josh Clarke at the 3Arena.

Moore enters the bout with an impressive 7-1 record, picking up an impressive first-round knockout of Paco Estevez at Cage Warriors Unplugged at the BT Sport studios last November.

He’ll face ‘The Hillbilly Heartthrob’ Clarke, who is also coming into the March 4 bout off the back of a knockout win, having stopped Brent Knopp at SFL 51 in Tacoma, Washington last October. The American boasts a 10-3 record, and was the second pick for Team Penn in the 19th season of The Ultimate Fighter.

The winner of the belt will become the first fighter to win the Cage Warriors light-heavyweight title since Michael ‘The Count’ Bisping, who has since gone on to capture the undisputed world middleweight title in the UFC.

"Karl has the chance to become the latest Irish CW Champion - and we've had some great ones - but this could go either way, all the way. It's an exciting fight" said Cage Warriors president Graham Boylan.

The March 4 fight card in Dublin also features a battle between featherweight prospects Lloyd Manning and Paul McBain.

Ireland’s Manning has made a blistering start to his pro career, winning both his professional bouts by knockout inside the opening minute, while Scotland’s McBain also comes into the fight with two first-round finishes on his pro record.

The Irish fans will be out in force for ‘The Alpha Female’ Catherine Costigan, who makes her return to Cage Warriors after two-and-a-half years away. She’s set to face England’s Wendy McKenna in an atomweight (105lbs) contest.

In addition to a packed card of fights at the 3Arena, CW81 ticket holders will also have access to a special meet and greet session with some of the Cage Warriors stars of the past who have gone on to fight with distinction in the UFC.

Tickets for the event are on sale now via Ticketmaster.ie, priced at €98, €38 and €24, but if you secure your €24 tickets before midnight on Friday February 10 you can claim your seats for just €15 courtesy of our special early bird offer.

The bout will be televised live on eirSPORT in Ireland, BT Sport in UK and Ireland, Viasat in Scandinavia and streamed worldwide on UFC Fight Pass.

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INVICTA FC 22!

TAKES SHAPE

Invicta Fighting Championships will showcase its deep roster of strawweight talent next month, today adding four 115-pound bouts and one 105-pound bout to the fight card for Invicta FC 22: Evinger vs Kunitskaya, which takes place Saturday, March 25 from the historic Scottish Rite Temple in Kansas City, Mo.

In the Invicta FC 22 co-main event, reigning atomweight champion Ayaka Hamasaki (14-1) will step outside the division she has dominated, moving up to strawweight to challenge Livia Renata Souza (9-1), a former champion of that weight class.

Since dropping to atomweight after an initial run at strawweight, Hamasaki's record has remained unblemished en route to five victories in a row. The Japanese champion captured Invicta gold at Invicta FC 13, a decision win over Hérica Tibúrcio, and defended the belt twice in 2016, finishing both Jinh Yu Frey and Amber Brown. Souza bounces back after suffering the first defeat of her career, a decision loss to Invicta FC strawweight champion Angela Hill in May of last year.

Previously scheduled to square off at Invicta FC 21 last month, veterans DeAnna "The Argentine Assassin" Bennett (8-2) and Jodie Esquibel (5-2) have been rebooked for their strawweight scrap at Invicta FC 22. Bennett is coming off a back-and-forth battle with flyweight title challenger Roxanne Modafferi in March, while Esquibel headlined Invicta FC 18 against UFC strawweight contender Alexa Grasso in July.

Also contested at strawweight, Iceland's Sunna "Tsunami" Rannveig Davidsdottir (1-0) meets Mallory Martin (1-0), training and fighting out of Thailand for her Invicta debut, while Kal ".50 Kal" Holliday (1-0) looks to build momentum following her submission victory over Tiffany Van Soest when she takes on 19-year-old Miranda "Fear The" Maverick (1-0).

Jinh Yu Frey (5-2), who last competed for the Invicta FC atomweight championship, welcomes undefeated Brazilian atomweight Janaisa "Evil Princess" Morandin (9-0) to the organization.

Invicta FC 22 is headlined by the rematch between Invicta FC bantamweight champion Tonya "Triple Threat" Evinger (18-5, 1 NC) and Russian challenger Yana "Foxy" Kunitskaya (9-2, 1 NC). Initially ruled a submission victory for Kunitskaya, the result of their first meeting was overturned and deemed a no-contest following a ruling by the Missouri Office of Athletics.

The current card for Invicta FC 22: Evinger vs Kunitskaya 2 can be found below:

Bantamweight Title: Tonya Evinger (18-5, 1 NC) vs. Yana Kunitskaya (9-2, 1 NC)

Strawweight: Ayaka Hamasaki (14-1) vs. Livia Renata Souza (9-1)

Strawweight: DeAnna Bennett (8-2) vs. Jodie Esquibel (5-2)

Atomweight: Jinh Yu Frey (5-2) vs. Janaisa Morandin (9-0)

Strawweight: Sunna Rannveig Davidsdottir (1-0) vs. Mallory Martin (1-0)

Strawweight: Kal Holliday (1-0) vs. Miranda Maverick (1-0)

Additional bouts for Invicta FC 22: Evinger vs Kunitskaya 2 will be announced soon.

Invicta FC 22: Evinger vs Kunitskaya 2 streams live and exclusively via UFC FIGHT PASS at 7 p.m. CT.

Tickets for Invicta FC 22: Evinger vs Kunitskaya 2, priced at $50, $35, or $25, go on sale this Saturday, Feb. 11 at 10 a.m. CT via Ticketfly.com.

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Bellator Returns To Budapest!

Bellator 177 On Friday, April 14

Bellator

Bellator is returning to Hungary with a bantamweight world title fight pitting Eduardo “Dudu” Dantas (19-4) against Darrion “The Wolf” Caldwell (10-1) serving as the main event of Bellator 177: Dantas vs. Caldwell from the Budapest Sports Arena on April 14. The MMA portion of the evening will also feature a featherweight bout between Hungarian-born Adam “The Kid” Borics (5-0) and Anthony “Pretty Boy” Taylor (1-2).

In addition, Bellator Kickboxing 6 will be headlined by a welterweight world title rematch featuring Zoltan Laszak (11-2) against Karim Ghajji (97-13-1). Additional bouts for both events will be announced in the coming weeks.

Bellator 177: Dantas vs. Caldwell will be broadcast on SPIKE at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT, while Bellator Kickboxing 6 will air immediately following the MMA portion of the event, beginning at 11pm ET/10pm CT.

Dantas made his presence felt during his last outing, successfully defending his bantamweight championship belt in a five-round victory over Joe Warren. A 10-fight veteran of Bellator MMA, “Dudu” has recorded victories in 12 of his last 14 bouts, including nine under the direction of the Scott Coker-led promotion. Hailing from Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, the flashy 27-year-old is widely known as one of the most dynamic competitors in the division, tallying four knockouts and six submissions over his 23-fight career. A two-time Bellator MMA bantamweight world champion, Dantas will look to defend his title for the second time since winning the belt in a victory over former champion Marcos Galvao, and for the fourth time overall.

The 29-year-old Caldwell will be competing for division gold for the first time in his career and is coming off of a crucial victory over Joe Taimanglo at Bellator 167. “The Wolf” was able to avenge his earlier loss to Taimanglo, earning his 10th career victory and seventh under the Bellator MMA banner. Caldwell has collected five wins by way of first round knockout or submission, making him one of the most dangerous compeititors in the 135-pound class. Hailing from Rahway, N.J., the 11-fight veteran has quickly put together an impressive professional resume inside the cage, highlighted by a remarkable first round finish over former multi-division champion Joe Warren, a man whom Caldwell idolized coming into the sport. The Alliance MMA product now has the opportunity of a lifetime, as he prepares for the next chapter of his career and a shot at championship glory.

After winning the welterweight kickboxing championship at Bellator’s inaugural kickboxing show in Turin, Italy in 2016, Ghajji dropped his belt to world-renowned Hungarian champion Laszak when the pair met during Bellator’s first visit to Budapest last year. Now, fresh off an impressive win in Florence, Ghajji hopes to reclaim the belt that he feels is his.

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Bellator Returns To Torino Italy!

April 8 With MMA & Kickboxing Action

Bellator

Bellator President Scott Coker today announced that his fast-rising promotion will be revisiting Torino, Italy for Bellator 176, which will be immediately followed by Bellator Kickboxing 5 at the Pala Alpitour on Saturday, April 8.

Less than one year ago, Bellator hosted it’s first-ever international event at the Pala Alpitour in front of a sold-out crowd of over 15,000 fans. Since that show, the company has rapidly and successfully expanded across the globe under the direction of Coker, visiting London, Dublin, Budapest, Israel, Florence and has an event booked in Belfast later this month.

The highly-anticipated return to Torino will feature MMA action starting with Carrington “Jetsetter” Banks (6-0) vs. Mihail Nica (5-0) in welterweight action as well as Djamal Chan (12-3) vs. Valeriu Mircea (13-4) in a lightweight affair. Additional bouts, including a main event will be announced shortly.

In kickboxing action, Bellator’s female flyweight World Champion Denise Kielholtz (46-3) defends her strap for the first time against ISKA and WKU World Champion Martine Michieletto (34-12-5) in the main event while Giorgio Petrosyan (83-2-2, 1NC) takes on Amansio Paraschiv (23-5-1)

Bellator 176 and Bellator Kickboxing 5 will be aired on SPIKE in America and further broadcast details will be announced shortly.

Tickets for the event are available now at www.oktagon.it and include access to an Oktagon Kickboxing event in addition to the Bellator 176 and Bellator Kickboxing 5 events.

“We are thrilled to be returning to the amazing city of Torino and once again working with my friend Carlo Di Blasi and his team,” said Coker. “Carlo is a great partner, and we look forward to replicating the success we had in this sold-out arena last year.”

"Oktagon is fortunate to be based in Italy, which is home to the most loyal and passionate sports fans in the world,” said Oktagon President Di Blasi. "The past two co-promotions with Scott and Bellator have been incredibly successful, and I know that this show will be no different.”

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PADDY PIMBLETT V NAD NARIMANI!

Cage Warriors 82

PADDY PIMBLETT V NAD NARIMANI

The fighting pride of Liverpool Paddy ‘The Baddy’ Pimblett will make his eagerly-awaited return to action in the main event at Cage Warriors 82.

Defending CW featherweight world champion Pimblett will take on fellow Brit Nad Narimani as he bids to further cement his position as one of the UK’s fastest-rising MMA stars.

Pimblett captured Cage Warriors gold when he knocked out French veteran Johnny Frachey for the vacant title at CW 78 in Liverpool last September.

He followed up his title win with a successful defence of his belt, edging out The Ultimate Fighter semi-finalist Julian Erosa at Cage Warriors Unplugged at the BT Sport studios last November.

Aged just 22, Pimblett returns to his stomping ground at the Echo Arena looking to continue his remarkable rise as one of the MMA world’s hottest young prospects.

He’ll face a stern test against Narimani, who enters the bout with a 9-2 pro record and took the previous Cage Warriors featherweight champ Alex Enlund all the way to the scorecards in a closely-contested battle at Cage Warriors 73, with just one point separating the two after five hard-fought rounds.

Narimani comes into the bout with Pimblett riding a two-fight win streak, with victories over Jeremy Petley (first-round KO) and Daniel Requeijo (third-round submission) setting up his April 1 clash with ‘The Baddy’.

Speaking ahead of his hometown return, Pimblett said: “I won the title in Liverpool, so there’s absolutely no way I’m going to lose it here.”

“This is my city, my arena and my title. Expect another huge party - and another huge win - when I come back home to defend my belt.”

Cage Warriors President Graham Boylan said: “Paddy’s the hottest prospect in the sport on this side of the pond and the prospect of seeing him defending his featherweight world title in front of his hometown fans is a mouth-watering prospect for MMA fans.

“Nad will take him to the limit, just as he did with our previous featherweight champ Alex Enlund, so expect a tough test and a great matchup.”

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Matt Inman V Karl Amoussou!

For The Vacant Cage Warriors Welterweight Title

Matt Inman

In the lead-up to Cage Warriors 80 we sat down with welterweight title challenger Matt Inman during a promotional video shoot to get his thoughts on his upcoming title bout with Frenchman Karl Amoussou.

HOW HAS YOUR TRAINING GONE FOR THIS FIGHT?

Training so far has been going really well. I’ve had a lot of footage of my opponent to look at and we’ve been working through his strategies and the specific techniques I need to use. Between now and the fight everything we want is in place and its just a matter of sharpening things up, making sure everything is ready for the fight.

HAVE YOU DONE ANYTHING DIFFERENTLY IN PREPARATION FOR THIS BOUT?

I’m constantly looking to add things to my skillset. I’m not a fighter who has a static amount of skills, there’s nothing I’m afraid to try out. I’m constantly looking to improve in that fashion. Every time there’s a new opponent and new challenges posed by that opponent I’m looking to do different things in my training. This time has been no different. Karl as an opponent provides a lot of unique challenges and that’s what we’ve been working on in the gym.

ARE YOU THE HARDEST TRAINER YOU KNOW?

I don’t know if I’m the hardest trainer I know, but I think a lot of the guys I train with will tell you I’m fairly hard-working. I more or less live in the gym and never find myself short of motivation to train for any occasion.

HOW WOULD WINNING THE CAGE WARRIORS TITLE CHANGE YOUR CAREER?

Winning the Cage Warriors title would be huge in my career. I think Cage Warriors has become a really big platform and there’s a lot of exposure through TV and other ways. Winning that belt and being up there with other guys who have been Cage Warriors champions before is exactly the step forward I’m looking for in my career.

WHEN YOU LOOK AT FORMER CAGE WARRIORS FIGHTERS WHO ARE NOW IN THE UFC, HOW DOES THAT MAKE YOU FEEL?

I believe I belong in the UFC, you look at my record and the fights I’ve had, the people I’ve beaten, there isn’t a UFC card I’d look out of place on anywhere. That’s motivation to keep pushing towards that and it will come in good time. The main thing is I’m constantly performing and improving.

HOW DOES TRAINING AFFECT YOUR DAY-TO-DAY LIFE?

I find my day-to-day life is built around training, from waking up in the morning it’s the first thing I’m doing. What I’m eating, when I’m resting, life really has to take a back seat to training. Training always comes first but that’s what I love to do, so I never find that difficult.

AFTER YOUR LAST FIGHT YOU SAID: “I DON’T WANT TO BE THE BEST, I JUST WANT TO BE THE BEST I CAN BE.” WHAT DID YOU MEAN BY THAT?

That’s kind of my mindset really. I’ve never been the greatest natural athlete, people come into MMA with different attributes and I think I’ve had to work a lot harder than most to bring myself up to this level. It just means my skill, my technique, my dedication and my focus has to be 100%. I’ve come up against guys who are naturally faster, stronger and more powerful than me but I generally win through because of this mindset. I’m always looking to push myself to those levels.

WHAT MOTIVATES YOU? IS IT TO GET TO THE UFC, OR SOMETHING ELSE?

I think all the motivation I have is intrinsic, I’m not kind of looking on to the next thing because there’s always going to be one thing after the next. I do have goals about where I want to fight - I’d love to win the Cage Warriors title and of course every fighter wants to fight in the UFC. But my main motivation goes beyond that. I’m more interested in being the best fighter I can be, the best mixed martial artist, the most technical, the most skilled, the toughest I can possibly be. If that means I don’t make it to the UFC eventually or for whatever reason I never own one of these major titles, providing I’m looking to work towards that goal then that’s really what motivates me.

WHAT’S THE BEST THING ABOUT BEING AN MMA FIGHTER?

The best thing about being an MMA fighter is getting to do MMA everyday. This is what I do, this is full time. I’m fortunate really. I turned my hobby into a job and that’s all I have to focus on. I’m one of a genuine few people in the world who can wake up every morning and say I’m excited to get into work and I love what I do.

WHAT’S THE WORST THING ABOUT BEING AN MMA FIGHTER?

The worst thing is dieting, keeping the weight down. I think most real fighters will agree with me, the process of restricting your body to make your weight class is by far the least enjoyable part, but that’s part of the job. Some people can go to work and eat pizza and it won’t affect the way they do their job but if I eat pizza and ice cream it will affect the way I do my job, so that’s something I just have to sacrifice.

KARL AMOUSSOU IS ON A SIX-FIGHT WIN STREAK, WITH ALL SIX COMING INSIDE THE DISTANCE. HOW DO YOU ENSURE YOU’RE NOT NUMBER SEVEN?

He’s a strong opponent, he’s won his last six - five I think inside the distance - so you can tell he starts strong early. I think in those fights I don’t think he’s fought an opponent who brings what I bring. I don’t think they have the experience, the skillset or the toughness. I’m going to be ready. I understand the guy’s an aggressive fighter and we’re going to be straight into the fire. Come February 18 I’ll be completely ready for that and I’ll be ready to dig deep and do what it takes. I’ve finished a lot of people early too - don’t count out the fact I might be able to do that - it wont be all one-way traffic early. Out of 19 wins I’ve finished 17 of those and I’m going to be looking to finish, early or late.

IS THIS THE TOUGHEST FIGHT OF YOUR CAREER? IF NOT, IS IT THE MOST IMPORTANT?

It’s certainly the most important fight to date. The old adage that styles makes fights is true, you can never really be sure looking at an opponent on paper or on footage, exactly how he’s going to match up with you until you get in and you’re facing him across from the cage. I won’t say it’s going to be my toughest test to date, I’ve been through tough tests already but this is the biggest fight and I’m certain it will be one with no room whatsoever to make mistakes in. I’ve got to perform and I know that.

IS IT DIFFICULT TO GET YOUR FIGHT HEAD ON WHEN THERE’S NO NEEDLE?

I don’t think there’s much animosity between me and Karl personally, I don’t need that. When I’m focused on my own performance that’s going to be the same whoever the opponent is. Sometimes opponents might talk, they might say things, but I think if you’re relying on that to get yourself up for a fight, then your mindset is not necessarily in the right place to begin with. I’m focused on my performance and I’m sure Karl’s the same. We can expect us both at the top of our games and a great fight.

IS EARNING A SPOT IN THE UFC THE ULTIMATE GOAL FOR YOU?

Earning graduation to the ranks of the UFC is a goal, but I wouldn’t call it the ultimate goal because once I get to the UFC I believe I can perform there as well. Naturally I’d be disappointed if I didn’t make it into the UFC, most serious MMA fighters would tell you the same thing. It’s not the end of the road I don’t think, when I get there I’d still want to push on further. You just keep moving the goalposts every time you achieve a little goal and you’ll push further on to the next.

WILL YOU BE BRINGING BIG SUPPORT DOWN TO LONDON FROM MANCHESTER FOR THIS FIGHT?

I’m looking forward to fighting in the capital again, it was the scene of my last fight in Cage Warriors Unplugged. This time we’re not in a TV studio, so I’m looking forward to bringing a lot of support down from Manchester. I’ve been fortunate in the way people have got behind me and believed in me going into this fight.

DOES THAT ADD PRESSURE OR DOES THE SUPPORT HELP YOU?

It’s great to have support. It’s always nice to have people behind you. In all honesty I’m going to perform whatever the case. If I’m in an empty room and a cage or I’ve got a few thousand people screaming me on, that won’t affect my mindset because I’ve got to be ready to fight anywhere, anytime. So I’m not relying on a crowd or support to give a boost in a fight, that’s all in there already.

THERE’S A SPECIAL GUEST DJ AT THIS EVENT. DO YOU NOTICE THE TUNES BETWEEN ROUNDS AND WHAT WOULD YOUR REQUEST BE?

I never really notice much of what is going on around me during a fight outside of the fight itself. A little bit of a pick-me-up between rounds might be good. Sling on a bit of the Rocky theme song. That could be good!

CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOURSELF IN THREE WORDS?

Technical, tough and I’ve got an engine.

WHO HAS THE ADVANTAGE WHEN THE FIGHT GOES TO THE FLOOR?

If the fight goes to the floor I think it’s an interesting one, Karl’s won a lot of his fights by submission - to me he appears a very explosive grappler. If he gets hold of a heel or an arm he’ll take that home with him. He’s strong and powerful and he can lock onto those submissions. I think all-round my grappling is going to be stronger though. I think I have a greater understanding of those positions, I know exactly what I should be looking for at any point and I know by those terms exactly how to keep myself out of danger as well.

Limited tickets for Cage Warriors 80 are available via the AXS website, priced from just £20. Included in the ticket price is a free meet and greet with UFC stars including Dan Hardy.

Cage Warriors MMA Promotions

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M-1 Challenge 74!

Adds MMA Fighters & Fans Of Rival Russian Soccer Teams

The February 18th M-1 Challenge 74 card in St. Petersburg got even more interesting with M-1Global's announcement that a fight between fans of arch-rival Russian soccer (non-American football) teams will square-off in full team colors.

In the main event, undefeated M-1 Challenge light heavyweight champion Rashid Yusupov (6-0-0, M-1: 4-0-0), of Russia, defends his title against former titlist Stephan "T-800" Puetz (15-2-0, M-1: 6-1-0), of Germany.

M-1 Challenge lightweight champion Alexander "Iron Capture" Butenko (42-11-2, M-1: 9-1-0) faces challenger Abukar Yandiev (8-1-0, M-1: 2-1-0) in the M-1 Challenge 74 co-feature.

Billed as the first MMA fight part of a major event to feature MMA fighters who are also fans of two of the top soccer clubs in Russia, CSKA and Spartak, battling between the ropes to determine the strongest soccer fan under MMA rules, not in the street.

Light heavyweight Dmitry Tebekin (4-2-0, M-1: 0-0-0), representing CSKA, will throw-down against Spartak fan Arthur Reig Tjul'parov (1-0-0, M-1: 1-0-0). Tebekin was the St. Petersburg Cup winner and vice-champion of St. Petersburg, while Tjul'parov was also vice-champion of St. Petersburg as well as the third-place finisher in the All-Russian Grand Prix

M-1 Challenge 74 will be streamed live from St. Petersburg in high definition on www.M1Global.TV. Viewers will be able to watch the preliminary fights and main card by logging on to register at www.M1Global.TV. Fans may watch all of the action on their computers, as well as on Android and Apple smart phones and tablets.

Also fighting on the M-1 Challenge 74 main card, in addition to Yusupov-Puetz and Butenko-Yandiev, is former M-1 Challenge bantamweight champion Vitaly Branchuk (21-6-0, M-1: 1-2-0), of Ukraine, vs. Frenchman Moktar "Le Kabyle" Benkaci (13-7-0); two-time M-1 Challenge lightweight title challenger Artiom Damkovsky (22-10-1, M-1: 12-7-0), of Belarus, vs. undefeated Brazilian Pablo "Negao" Pereira (7-0-0, M-1: 0-0-0), and Ukrainian welterweight Vyacheslav "Bison" Bogomol (9-3-0, M-1: 0-1-0) vs. unbeaten Pablo Ortmann (6-0-0, M-1: 0-0-0), of Switzerland.

M1 MMA Promotions

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DAN HARDY!

MEET AND GREET AT CW80

We’re just three weeks away from Cage Warriors’ first world title fight of 2017 as England’s Matt Inman and France’s Karl Amoussou get set to do battle for the vacant welterweight title at Cage Warriors 80.

The headlining title fight tops a packed card of action at Cage Warriors’ new home at Indigo at The O2 on February 18, but fight fans will also get a rare opportunity to catch up with some Cage Warriors’ stars of yesteryear ahead of the event.

We’re delighted to announce that we’ll also be hosting a special meet and greet session with a host of former Cage Warriors stars who have all gone on to further their respective careers in the UFC.

Heading the lineup is Dan ‘The Outlaw’ Hardy, the popular welterweight who became the first British fighter to compete for a UFC world title when he battled the great Georges St-Pierre all the way to the scorecards at UFC 111 back in 2010.

Dan has since forged a successful career on the other side of the fence as a colour commentator and one of the most astute, respected MMA analysts in the game.

Dan will be joined by fellow former Cage Warriors stars Jack Hermansson, Darren Stewart, Alex Enlund and Tom Breese for a special meet and greet session, which is open to all fans attending the event on February 18. No additional ticket is required.

Limited tickets for Cage Warriors 80 are available via the AXS website, priced from just £20. Secure yours today and make sure you’re a part of the latest exciting chapter in Cage Warriors’ history.

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JOSH KOSCHECK V MAURICIO ALONSO!

Bellator 172

JOSH KOSCHECK V MAURICIO ALONSO

A welterweight bout pitting Josh Koscheck (17-10) against Mauricio Alonso(12-7, 1 NC) has been added to the Spike-televised main card of Bellator 172: Fedor vs. Mitrione at SAP Center in San Jose, Calif. on February 18, 2017.

In addition, recently signed Russian star Anatoly Tokov (24-2) is set to square off against Francisco France (13-4-1) in a middleweight clash that will be featured on the Bellator.com-streamed undercard, while a previously announced main card bout between Adam Piccolotti and Brent Primus has been cancelled after Piccolotti has been forced to withdraw due to an undisclosed injury.

Bellator 172: Fedor vs. Mitrione will be broadcast live and free on SPIKE at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT, while preliminary action will stream on Bellator.com and the Bellator Mobile App. Tickets for the event are on sale now at the SAP Center Box Office as well as Ticketmaster.com.

Koscheck will be making his highly anticipated Bellator MMA debut after signing with the Viacom-owned promotion in 2015. Prior to the signing, “Kos” competed under the UFC banner for nearly a decade, compiling 15 wins and nine finishes. Now, the 39-year-old Dethrone Base Camp product hopes to soar to the top of Bellator MMA’s stacked welterweight class and add to his impressive resume of 17 career victories. Never one to mince words, Koscheck has made it clear that he hopes to once again meet Paul Daley inside the cage, but first, the Fresno, Calif. native must get through Alonso on Feb. 18 when he returns to action on Spike.

Hailing from Parana, Brazil, Alonso will be making his second appearance under the direction of Bellator MMA and first in the welterweight division since 2014. The 36-year-old enters the bout riding a recent string of success, earning victories in each of his last two contests and seven of his last 10 dating back to 2010. Of his 12 career wins, Alonso has finished his opponent five times, including four knockouts. Alonso will look to build off of an undefeated 2016 campaign when he competes on Feb 18.

Under the tutelage of the legendary Fedor Emilianenko, Tokov has strung together an impressive resume of his own, where from 2012 to 2016, the prospect was riding a streak of 17 consecutive wins. The 26-year-old Russian is known to end fights early and often, finishing his opponent in 19 of his 24 career wins, including nine first round finishes. If Tokov is going to continue to blossom on the Bellator roster, he will have to defeat his opponent on Feb. 18 first.

Hailing from Gilbert, Arizona, 18-fight veteran France enters the bout having won six of his last eight contests, including one draw and five finishes. The 33-year-old submission specialist will be making his third appearance under the Bellator MMA banner and first in nearly a year at Bellator 172. “Kiko” brings with him one of the most dynamic ground games in the division, finishing 12 of his 13 victims via submission; displaying a wide array of devastating techniques, including rear-naked and arm-triangle chokes, arm bars, and kimuras.

Bellator MMA Promotions

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CAGE WARRIORS!

SET TO COME HOME TO DUBLIN

CAGE WARRIORS

CAGE WARRIORS are delighted to announce that we’re coming home to Ireland for our first show on the Emerald Isle since 2014.

The promotion has forged a well-deserved reputation as the key proving ground for Irish fighting talent, with the likes of Neil Seery, Cathal Pendred and ‘The Notorious’ Conor McGregor all capturing Cage Warriors world championship gold en route to the world stage with the UFC.

Cage Warriors 81 will take place at the Mecca for Irish MMA - the 3Arena - on Saturday March 4 for what promises to be a spectacular homecoming in Dublin.

We’re working on putting together an action-packed fight card for the event, but can already confirm Northern Ireland’s Karl Moore will fight for the vacant Cage Warriors light-heavyweight world title against an opponent to be announced in the near future.

Moore will be looking to follow up on his first-round knockout of Paco Estevez at Cage Warriors Unplugged last November as he bids to capture the title that was last held by the current UFC middleweight champion of the world, Michael Bisping.

Moore’s fellow countryman, lightweight prospect Joe McColgan, is also scheduled for action in Dublin, while Scottish featherweight prospect Paul McBain will make his Cage Warriors debut against Lloyd Manning.

Tickets go on sale from Wednesday February 1st and are priced at 90, 40 and 25 Euros.

However, fans who purchase their 25 Euro tickets before Thursday February 9th can secure their spots for just 15 Euros, thanks to our special early bird ticket offer.

“I’m both proud and excited to be heading back to Ireland for Cage Warriors 81,” said Cage Warriors president Graham Boylan.

“As a proud Irishman myself I’ve always been committed to the growth of mixed martial arts in Ireland, and CW 81 represents the latest opportunity for Irish MMA to shine on the big stage.

“The Dublin fans are renowned for producing the most electric atmosphere anywhere in the MMA world and I’m sure they’ll deliver yet again on March 4.

“We’ll bring the fights, you bring the noise and we’ll have one hell of a night at the 3Arena.”

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Paul Bradley V Alexander Shlemenko!

M-1 Challenge 75

Paul Bradley V Alexander Shlemenko

Russia (January 27, 2017) - American MMA veteran Paul "The Gentleman" Bradley has stepped up to meet the awesome challenge presented by 2016 M-1 Grand Prix middleweight champion Alexander "Storm" Shlemenko in the March 3rd M-1 Challenge 75 main event in Moscow.

M-1 Challenge 75 will be streamed live from Moscow in high definition on www.M1Global.TV. Viewers will be able to watch the preliminary fights and main card by logging on to register at www.M1Global.TV. Fans may watch all the action on their computers, as well as on Android and Apple smart phones and tablets.

A three-time Bellator champion, Shlemenko (54-9-0. 1 NC, M-1: 4-0-0) defeated former M-1 Challenge champion Vyacheslav Vasilevsky last year in the M-1 Grand Prix Middleweight Championship semifinals and championship final, respectively, by three-round majority decision and third-round submission (choke). Shlemenko vs. Vasilevsky I & II were also the M-1 Challenge 68 & 64 Fights of the Night.

Former Ring of Combat champion Bradley (23-7-0, M-1: 0-0-0) will be making his M-1 Challenge debut, however, he's a seasoned MMA veteran having fought in the UFC, Strikeforce, Bellator and World Series of Fighting.

The 33-year-old Bradley, fighting out of San Diego (California), was a standout wrestler at the powerhouse University of Iowa. He is known for his physical strength, tremendous endurance, and balanced stand-up and ground skills.

Undefeated M-1 Challenge welterweight champion Alexey Kunchenko (15-0-0, M-1: 7-0-0), of Russia, will defend his title in the co-feature against Maksin Grabovich (5-2-0, M-1: 4-0-0), of Russia, who replaced injured Kazakh challenger Shavkat Rakhmonov (7-0-0, M-1: 4-0-0).

Russian welterweight prospect Sergey "Streetfighter" Romanov (10-1-0, M-1: 3-0-0) meets Russian veteran Magomed "The White Wolf" Sultanakhmedov (18-5-0, M-1: 10-1-0), while another American fighter, lightweight Keon "The Black Assassin" Caldwell (11-3-0, M-1: 0-0-0), will make his M-1 Global debut against former M-1 Challenge lightweight champion Maxim Divnich (12-2-0, M-1: 6-2-0), of Ukraine.

Rounding out a loaded M-1 Challenge 75 main card is a middleweight clash between Russian favorite Valery "The Russian Hammer" Myasinikov (10-1-2, M-1: 1-1-2) and Spaniard Enoc Solves Torres (19-9-1, M-1: 5-6-1).

M1 MMA Promotions

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JIMMY JOHNSTONE!

JOINS CAGE WARRIORS

CAGE WARRIORS’ continued growth into 2017 continues with the announcement of Jimmy Johnstone’s arrival on the team to head up the promotion’s Southern England operations.

Johnstone joins Cage Warriors with a wealth of experience in the mixed martial arts sphere, both in promotion and instruction, from his time managing Bournemouth-based Phoenix MMA and Phoenix Fight Night.

And one of his first jobs as part of the Cage Warriors family will be to work with president Graham Boylan to head up the planning and organisation for a Cage Warriors event in Bournemouth on Saturday June 24.

A Brazilian jiu jitsu black belt, Johnstone has competed in MMA at both amateur and professional level, and is currently the head coach for the UK national youth BJJ team.

He is also the BJJ coach for the Royal Marines, continuing Cage Warriors’ strong connection with MMA and the armed forces that has seen servicemen including Jack Marshman rise to prominence under the Cage Warriors banner and go on to fight in the UFC.

“I’m absolutely delighted with this partnership,” said Johnstone.

“We have worked tirelessly for the last eight years to establish Phoenix Fight Night as the No.1 fight show in the south, constantly reinvesting and pushing ourselves to improve our standards time after time.

“This announcement shows that the sacrifice was well worth it. Partnering with Cage Warriors is creating a massive platform for southern-based fighters to shine on the biggest stage in the UK and Europe.

“It’s great news for MMA in the south.”

Cage Warriors President, Graham Boylan, said “We’re delighted to be working with Jimmy.

“His culture is our culture: teamwork, hard work, and a true love of the sport.

“He strengthens our team significantly; and Bournemouth on 24th June is going to be a huge party.”

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TITO ORTIZ V CHAEL SONNEN!

GET 1.85 MILLION VIEWERS

1.85 million viewers tuned in for the final fight in Tito Ortiz's storied career, a first round submission victory over Chael Sonnen. This marks the most watched Bellator fight on Spike since last February and the most watched MMA fight on television in 2017.

*these are preliminary numbers as the more accurate viewership total factoring in DVR +3 will be released Thursday.

In the co-feature, 1.7 million viewers witnessed Paul Daley's devastating flying knee KO over Brennan Ward.

Overall, Bellator 170 delivered 1.4 million viewers - making it the 3rd most watched card in the franchise's history. The 3-hour Spike telecast was also ranked #1 in cable with Men 18-49 in the timeslot.

Bellator 170 was also a digital and social success as well.

The Bellator 170 prelims drew the second most viewers on Bellator.com and Bellator mobile app in franchise history (only behind Bellator 149).

The post-fight press conference streamed exclusively on YouTube saw the most concurrent viewers in Bellator history.

#Bellator170 was the #1 trending topic on Twitter during the event and Tito Ortiz, Chael Sonnen and Bellator MMA trended #1 on Google Trends.

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BELLATOR 173 & BAMMA 28!

AT THE SSE ARENA IN BELFAST

BELLATOR 173 & BAMMA 28

Bellator & BAMMA combine forces once more to bring Belfast a show of Titanic proportions as they present their second co-promoted event on Friday February 24th 2017 from the SSE Arena, Belfast. With huge main events and supporting undercards, it will be a historic and groundbreaking night to remember for MMA fans of Belfast and around the world.

Tickets for the joint-event start at just £35 and can be purchased at Ticketmaster.ie, SSEArenaBelfast.com, or the SSE Arena box office.

"We had a great time working with David and the BAMMA team in December for what was an incredibly successful Bellator debut in Dublin. We're looking forward to heading north with them to Belfast for another amazing co-promotion that will feature some of the world's best fighters.” - Scott Coker, Bellator CEO

“The addition of Bellator to the show in Dublin was a great experience and the perfect end to a year of great events for BAMMA. We are therefore very pleased to welcome them back as part of the package for what will be an exciting night of MMA for the fans in Belfast in February" - David Green, BAMMA CEO

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Greg Rebello!

Rolls With The Punches

He got knocked out on national television and instantly became a trending topic on Twitter.

Others (see: Ronda Rousey) might've gone into hiding out of sheer embarrassment. Greg Rebello joined in on the fun, even if it was at his own expense.

"I feel like they should've outlined my body in chalk and just left it there," Rebello said of his knockout loss to Ashley Gooch in August.

"It's part of the game. Look at every champion in the [Ultimate Fighting Championships] right now. Every one of them has either been finished or knocked out within their last five fights. It happens. You've got to know how to handle it."

This is the seventh time in Rebello's career he's had to deal with a loss. His ability to sweep it under the rug and clear the next hurdle is part of what drives the Providence, R.I., heavyweight as he returns to the cage Friday night to face Minnesota's Danyelle Williams (8-4-1, 5 KOs) on the main card of "CES MMA 41" at Twin River Casino on AXS TV.

The loss to Gooch, via third-round knockout in their scheduled five-round title bout six months ago on AXS TV, became a must-see highlight on social media and spawned the phrase, "Gooched," another way of saying "knocked out." Even Rebello himself has used it.

"I laugh about it with people all the time," he said. "You've got have fun with it."

Rebello (20-7, 12 KOs), who turns 35 this summer, has learned to role with the punches, even those from the opponent. The loss to Gooch, he says, was one of the best performances of his career. It just didn't go his way. Rebello hit him with everything but the kitchen sink, and the 41-year-old Tennessee heavyweight absorbed it all before scoring the come-from-behind win.

"With those small, four-ounce gloves, anything can happen in this sport. It's not boxing. MMA is different," Rebello said. "There are so many ways to lose. I'm not one of those guys who's going to fire all of his coaches. It'd be one thing if I was getting my ass kicked, but, honestly, it was one of the best fights I ever had. I couldn't miss with my punches. I made one lazy, stupid mistake. I'm going to keep doing exactly what I'm doing except now I'm going to be more disciplined.

"Everything from my training to my work in the gym, I'm the best I've ever been," he continued. "I know a lot of people say that all the time, but I'm at the best point in my career. I'm in my prime as far as I'm concerned. I thought I had Gooch knocked out a few times, but he's a pretty tough dude. I had him hurt numerous times. It is what it is."

Williams presents a similar challenge. The 6-foot-2 striker has won four of his last five dating back to 2013, three by knockout, and faces one of the toughest challenges of his career in his first fight in more than two and a half years.

"He's tough," Rebello said. "He's faced some tough competition. He hasn't faced anyone like me, but I won't take anything away from him.

"I'm in the toughest fight on the card," he joked. "What else is new?"

Staying true to his promise he made upon his comeback in 2013, Rebello continues to approach MMA on a fight-by-fight basis, though he admits the idea of a rematch with Gooch sometime down the road has crossed his mind.

"Anyone who tells you they don't want to avenge one of their losses is a liar," he said. "If it happens, it happens. I just look at what's in front of me, but everyone who says they've moved on or whatever, they're lying. Anytime you lose, it stinks."

What's helped Rebello remain relevant in his mid-30s is his ability to put the losses behind him without dwelling too much on the past. He might get that rematch one day, but first he must handle another tall task Friday night and perhaps trend on Twitter this weekend for the right reasons.

Tickets for "CES MMA 41" are priced at $40.00, $55.00, $100.00 and $125.00 (VIP) and can be purchased online at www.cesboxing.com, www.twinriver.com, www.ticketmaster.com or www.cagetix.com/ces by phone at 401-724-2253/2254 or at the Twin River Casino Players Club. All fights and fighters are subject to change.

The main event of "CES MMA 41" features reigning CES MMA Featherweight World Champion Matt Bessette (20-7, 5 KOs) of Stafford, Conn., defending his title against Missouri native Kevin Croom in a five-round. Massachusetts native Tyler King (12-4, 3 KOs) faces two-time CES MMA vet Keith Bell (6-8, 4 KOs) of Newport News, Va., and Pat Walsh (8-2, 3 KOs) of Stoughton, Mass., battles New Hampshire's Kevin Haley (6-3, 2 KOs) in an intriguing regional showdown.

The main card also features a flyweight bout between undefeated New Britain, Conn., vet Carlos Candelario (4-0, 1 KO) and fellow unbeaten Miguel Restrepo (4-0, 2 KOs) of Queens, N.Y., plus a bantamweight battle between Kody Nordby (7-4) of Woonsocket, R.I., and Illinois vet David Garcia (4-1, 2 KOs).

Nordby looks to continue his climb back to the top of the division following his loss to Andre Soukhamthath against the dangerous Garcia, who recently handed Rico DiSciullo his first career loss in September via submission at "CES MMA 38." Candelario makes his fourth appearance with CES MMA and first since "CES MMA 36" in June when submitted Roosevelt Archie via guillotine in the opening round of a scheduled three-round bout.

Fresh off his comeback win at "CES MMA 40" in November, East Providence, R.I., bantamweight Dinis Paiva (8-6, 5 KOs) faces Findlay, Ohio, vet Jordan Espinosa (8-4, 1 KO). Paiva ended a 13-month layoff in his last bout with a first-round knockout win over Zane Behrend and returns to the network television stage for the first time since his loss to Nordby in October of 2015.

The six-fight preliminary card includes a female flyweight bout between Bourne, Mass., native Sarah Click (1-1) and newcomer Maria Rivera of Framingham, Mass., plus a bantamweight bout between unbeaten Kris Moutinho (2-0) of Milford, Mass., and Fredericktown, Ohio, native Jason Rine (0-1). Fellow Ohio native Raymond Yanez (4-8, 1 KO) of Columbus battles Milford's Richie Santiago (2-0) and lightweight Connor Barry (2-0) of Stoughton faces New Jersey's Travis Foster (0-2).

In the flyweight division, David Baxter (3-1, 1 KO) of Bellingham, Mass., battles Pawtucket, R.I., vet Dan Cormier (4-6, 1 KO) and Quincy, Mass., light heavyweight Mike Rodriguez (5-2, 3 KOs) returns to face 16-fight Woonsocket, R.I., vet Hector Sanchez.

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Maksim Grabovich V Alexey Kunchenko!

M-1 Challenge 75

Maksim Grabovich V Alexey Kunchenko

Russia (January 23, 2017) - Undefeated M-1 Challenge welterweight champion Alexey Kunchenko will now be challenged by fellow Russian Maksim Grabovich, who has replaced injured Shavkat Rakhmonov, March 3, at M-1 Challenge 75 in Moscow.

M-1 Grand Prix middleweight champion Alexander "Storm" Shlemenko (54-9-0. 1 NC, M-1: 4-0-0),the three-time Bellator champion, will headline M-1 Challenge 75 against an opponent to soon be announced.

Kunchenko (15-0-0, M-1: 7-0), fighting out of Tyumen, Russia, is a Muay Thai specialist who captured his M-1 Challenge welterweight title belt last April at M-1 Challenge 65, when defending titlist Murad Abdulaev retired during the fourth round.

In a non-title fight, Kunchenko won a three-round unanimous decision over Eduardo Ramon at M-1 Challenge at M-1 Challenge 70 last September. His first title defense was December 5 at M-1 Challenge 72, in which Kunchenko won a 5-round unanimous decision over Abdulaev in a rematch.

Grabovich (5-2-0, M-1: 4-0-0), fighting out of famed Stary Oskol in Russia, has won his last three fights in addition to being undefeated in four M-1 Global matches. His signature victory to date was last June at M-1 Challenge 68, in which Grabovich won a three-round unanimous decision in the Fight of the Night.

In other announced main card fights, American lightweight Keon "The Black Assassin" Caldwell (11-3-0, M-1: 0-0-0) makes his M-1 Global debut against former M-1 Challenge lightweight champion Maxim Divnich (12-2-0 (M-1: 6-2-0), while Russian welterweight prospect Sergey "Streetfighter" Romanov (10-1-0, M-1: 3-0-0) faces Russian veteran Magomed "The White Wolf" Sultanakhmedov (18-5-0, M-1: 10-1-0).

M-1 Challenge 75 will be streamed live from Moscow in high definition on www.M1Global.TV. Viewers will be able to watch the preliminary fights and main card by logging on to register at www.M1Global.TV. Fans may watch all the action on their computers, as well as on Android and Apple smart phones and tablets.

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WEIGH IN ALERT!

BELLATOR 169 WEIGHTS

Ishii V Lawal

The official weigh-ins for both “Bellator 169: King Mo vs. Ishii” and “BAMMA 27” took place this afternoon at the 1878 club inside 3Arena in Dublin, Ireland. The competitors are now ready for action tomorrow at 3Arena, with the event airing on SPIKE at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT.

The Spike-televised main card will be highlighted by a heavyweight main event pitting “King Mo” (19-5, 1 NC) against Olympic Judo Gold Medalist Satoshi Ishii (14-6-1). In addition, Anthony Taylor (1-1) will look to quite the crowd as he enters enemy territory to challenge Northern Ireland’s own James Gallagher (4-0) in a featherweight co-main clash.

In addition to a full card of Bellator action, ticketholders will also have the unique opportunity to experience an additional fight card from Europe’s leading mixed martial arts promotion, BAMMA. The bantamweight belt will be on the line at “BAMMA 27,” as Tom Duquesnoy (13-1, 1 NC) and Alan Philpott (16-8) prepare to duke it out for the division gold.

“Bellator 169: King Mo vs. Ishii” takes place inside 3Arena in Dublin, Ireland, and will air free on SPIKE at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT.

Satoshi Ishii (236.6 lbs.) vs. Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal (213 lbs.)

Anthony Taylor (145.8 lbs.) vs. James Gallagher (145.6 lbs.)

Brian Moore (146 lbs.) vs. Daniel Weichel (145.6 lbs.)

Elina Kallionidou (135.8 lbs.) vs. Sinead Kavanagh (135.2 lbs.)

Cameron Else (145.2 lbs.) vs. Dylan Tuke (144.6 lbs.)

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BELLATOR 170!

PRELIMINARY CARD ADDITIONS

BELLATOR 170

The stacked main card of “Bellator 170: Ortiz vs. Sonnen” now has an equally enticing preliminary offering, with the news that Chinzo Machida (4-2), Henry Corrales (12-3), and Guilherme “Bomba” (8-3) will all compete on January 21, 2017 inside The Forum in Los Angeles, Calif.

In addition, the event will also feature Kevin Casey (9-5-1, 2 NC), Jack May (8-3), and Cody Bollinger (19-6) during the “Bellator 170: Ortiz vs. Sonnen” undercard, which will stream live on Bellator.com and the Bellator Mobile App beginning at 6:50 p.m. ET / 3:50 p.m. PT.

Tickets for this monumental event start at $36 and are on sale now at Bellator.com, as well as Ticketmaster.com -- Additional bouts will be announced soon.

On the heels of his spectacular first-round TKO of Mario Navarro during his promotional debut at “Bellator 160: Henderson vs. ‘Pitbull,’” the elder brother of Lyoto Machida returns to action close to where he calls home. A winner of his last three contests, Machida will now meet undefeated Jamar Ocampo (2-0).

Since signing with Bellator as an undefeated King of the Cage Champion in 2015, Corrales has faced Patricio “Pitbull,” a former Bellator Featherweight titlist, as well as Daniel Straus, the current 145-pound kingpin. Add in the fact that “OK” also fought Emmanuel Sanchez and you have a murder’s row in the division. Now, the 30-year-old sets his sights on Bollinger, who returns to the Scott Coker-led promotion following one fight in 2012 against Shahbulat Shamhalaev.

“Bomba” will step back into the Bellator MMA-fray after a rear-naked choke submission at “Bellator MMA: Dynamite 2” this past June. Briefly linked to Demi Lovato romantically, the Brazilian native trains alongside Jay Glazer at the top notch “Unbreakable - Performance Center” in Los Angeles. Standing opposite of “Bomba” will be John Mercurio (8-7), who hails from Huntington Beach, Calif.

“King” Casey, a Los Angeles native who’s the son-in-law of Muhammad Ali, will meet 28-fight veteran Keith Berry (15-13) at middleweight. A Black Belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Casey is a UFC and Strikeforce veteran and was featured on “The Ultimate Fighter” where he was coached by fellow “Bellator 170” fighter, Chael Sonnen.

Competing at heavyweight against Dave Cryer (11-2), May comes into Jan. 21 with six stoppages in eight victories as a professional. Also a UFC veteran, “The Outlaw” has competed against the likes of Derrick Lewis and Bellator MMA veteran Carl Seumanutafa since beginning his career in 2011.

The fights join a main card that is headlined by a legendary clash between veterans Tito Ortiz (18-12-1) and Chael Sonnen (28-14-1). In addition, Ralek Gracie (3-0) against Hisaki Kato (7-2) and Georgi Karakhanyan (26-6-1) versus Emmanuel Sanchez (13-3) will also be featured on the main card, as will what promises to be an absolute slugfest, when Paul Daley (38-14-2) meets Brennan Ward (14-4) in the co-main event of the evening. The event will be broadcast live and free on SPIKE at 9 p.m. ET/8

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BELLATOR 169!

ADDS WOMEN’S FEATHERWEIGHT FIGHT

BELLATOR 169

After an incredible year that saw Bellator MMA host events in international territories all around the globe, it is only fitting that the promotion’s year-ending event, “Bellator 169: King Mo vs. Ishii,” takes place this Friday, December 16 at the 3Arena in Dublin, Ireland.

Shortly after her fight against Helen Harper (4-1) was announced, Bruna Vargas (2-1) has withdrawn from the bout due to injury. Harper will be paid her show money and a new women’s featherweight bout has been added to the SPIKE-televised card between undefeated fighters Sinead Kavanagh (3-0) and Elina Kallionidou (5-0).

The Spike-televised main card will be highlighted by a heavyweight main event pitting “King Mo” (19-5, 1 NC) against Olympic Judo Gold Medalist Satoshi Ishii (14-6-1). In addition, a pair of anticipated featherweight scraps will see Anthony Taylor (1-1) look to quiet the crowd as he enters enemy territory to challenge Northern Ireland’s James Gallagher (4-0) and, Ireland’s Brian Moore (9-4) take on the always-game Daniel Weichel (37-9).

Tickets for “Bellator 169: King Mo vs. Ishii” are on sale now and start at 35€ at Bellator.com, Ticketmaster.ie and the 3Arena Box Office. The event can be seen free on SPIKE at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT, and will be immediately followed by “Bellator Kickboxing: Florence.”

Fighting out of Straight Blast Gym (SBG) in Dublin, “KO” Kavanagh has fought all three of her professional bouts with BAMMA, and has earned her nickname bye scoring two knockouts in her first three fights. Kavanagh fought in BAMMA’s first-ever women’s fight, and ended her opponent’s night in just 17 seconds. Originally slated to compete in a bantamweight fight against Eeva Siiskonen (5-4-2) on the BAMMA portion of this co-promoted night of fights, Kavanagh now moves up in weight to face Kallionidou under the Bellator banner.

At only 18 years of age, Kallionidou has already made a name for herself in her home country Greece, where she holds the Cage Survivor women’s featherweight title. Incredibly, “Gunner” started her professional career off with a bang, scoring a first-round TKO just a month after her 16th birthday. Since then, the Greek fighter has gone 5-0, with three knockouts. The fight this Friday night, will be her first fight outside of Greece.

In addition to a full card of Bellator action, ticketholders will also have the unique opportunity to experience an additional fight card from Europe’s leading mixed martial arts promotion, BAMMA. The bantamweight belt will be on the line at “BAMMA 27,” as Tom Duquesnoy (13-1, 1 NC) and Alan Philpott (16-8) prepare to duke it out for the division gold. Lastly, the stacked event features a featherweight world title fight pitting former Bellator competitors Ronnie Mann (25-8-1) against Martin Stapleton (18-4).

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M-1 Challenge 73!

OFFICIAL RESULTS

M-1 Challenge 73

Rising Russian MMA star Magomed Idriosov knocked out Ivan "Buki" Buchinger in the opening round of tonight's M-1 Challenge 73: Battle of Narts main event to become M-1 Challenge bantamweight champion.

In the co-feature, M-1 Challenge middleweight champion Ramazan Emeev won a hard fought three-round split decision over Anatoly Tokov in Ingushetia, Russia.

Feared as a striker, Idrisov ((7-0-0, M-1: 4-0-0) lived up to his reputation and remained undefeated as a professional, putting Buchinger to sleep with a devastating punch in round one. In his 2013 MMA debut, Idrisov knocked out current M-1 Challenge lightweight champion Alexander Butenko in a non-M-1 Global fight. The Russian is now undefeated in four M-1 Global fights having previously defeated Yuri Maia (KO1 - punches) in the M-1 Challenge 49 Knockout of the Night, Max Coga (DEC3) and Sergej Grecicho (DEC3) in his last fight September 20, 2015 at M-1 Challenge 51.

Buchinger (31-5-0, M-1: 6-1-0), fighting out of Slovakia, rode a 10-fight win streak into M-1 Challenge 73, losing for the first time since 2012 to Conor McGregor. Buchinger stopped Tural Ragimov to capture the vacant M-1 Challenge title October 17, 2014 at M-1 Challenge 52.

Two of the best middleweight fighters in the world, Emeev (15-3-0, M-1: 9-1-0) and Tokov (24-3-0, M-1: 8-2-0), battled from to start to finish as Emeev won a three-round split decision for his fourth consecutive victory.

Undefeated Russian Moysar Evoloev remained undefeated (6-0-0, M-1: 6-0-0) by taking a three-round unanimous decision over American Lee "American Bulldog" Morrison (15-8-0, M-1: 2-5-0) at a 140-pound (63.5 kilograms) catchweight.

Russian lightweight Khamzat Dalgiev (8-1-0, M-1: 5-1-0), fighting at home in Ingushetia, chocked British-invader Christian "The Animal" Holley (10-3-0, M-1: 0-1-0) into a submission in the second round.

Closing out the Main Card, American bantamweight "The Punisher" Josh Rettinghouse (14-4-0, M-1: 2-0-0) stopped his Kazakh opponent, Sergey Morozov (6-2-0, M-1: 3-2-0), in the first round.

Brazilian bantamweight Diego "The Pride" Davella (16-5-0, M-1: 1-0-0) won his M-1 debut, choking Zalimbeg Omarov (7-2-1, M-1: 4-2-1) in a second-round submission on the Over Card.

On the preliminary card, Kurban Ibragimov (6-2-0, M-1: 3-2-0) submitted fellow Russian heavyweight Denis Polekhin in the first round, Russian featherweight Alexey Nevzorov (12-2-0, M-1: 6-1-0) registered a second-round TKO of Ukrainian Andrey "Iron" Lezhnov (8-7-0, M-1: 3-3-0), Russian lightweight Pavel Gordeav (4-0-0, M-1: 1-0-0) cruised to a second-round victory by submission choke of Kyrgyzstan's Erlan Ulukbekov (2-1-0, M-1: 0-1-0), Russian welterweight Akhmed-Khan Ozdoev (1-1-0, M-1: 1-1-0) stopped previously undefeated Ukrainian Andrew Bilyk (4-1-0, M-1: 0-1-0), and Akhmad-Khan Bokov (2-0-0, M-1: 2-0-0) submitted Elmar Mamedov (2-1-0, M-1: 1-1-0) in the first round of a battle of Russian featherweights.

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WEIGH IN ALERT!

OFFICIAL BELLATOR 168 WEIGHTS

Beltran V Sakara

Following weigh-ins on Friday morning from Grand Hotel Mediterraneo in the capital city of Tuscany, all 10 competitors fighting during the main card of "Bellator 168: Sakara vs. Beltran" are now ready to compete tomorrow night at 4 p.m. ET/3 p.m. CT, LIVE and FREE on SPIKE.

The mixed martial arts portion of action is headlined by a light heavyweight main event contest featuring Italy's own Alessio Sakara (18-11, 2 NC), who will take on Joey Beltran (17-13, 1 NC). In addition, John Salter (12-3) meets Claudio Annicchiarico (1-4) in a middleweight bout, Philipe Lins (10-1) competes against Kleber Raimundo Silva (12-7), Goiti Yamauchi (20-3) returns to lightweight action against Valeriu Mircea (12-3), and Ed Ruth (1-0) looks to remain undefeated in 2016 on short notice against Emanuele Palombi (5-2)

Joey Beltran (205.2) vs. Alessio Sakara (203.6)

Kleber Raimundo Silva (205.9) vs. Philipe Lins (205.8)

Claudio Annicchiarico (185.2) vs. John Salter (185.2)

Valeriu Mircea (154.5) vs. Goiti Yamauchi (156)

Ed Ruth (189.2) vs. Emanuele Palombi (187.2)

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Invicta FC 21!

Four More Bouts Added

Invicta Fighting Championships has announced four new match-ups for Invicta FC 21: Anderson vs. Tweet. The historic Scottish Rite Temple in Kansas City, Mo. once again hosts the leader in women's mixed martial arts for the organization's first event of the new year on Saturday, Jan. 14.

Swedish bantamweight Pannie "Sexy Scramble" Kianzad (8-1) returns to the Invicta cage to take on Hawaii's Raquel "Lionheart" Pa'aluhi (5-5).

Kianzad bounces back after facing Invicta FC bantamweight champion Tonya Evinger at Invicta FC 14 last year. Pa'aluhi has won three of her last four bouts, including victories over seasoned bantamweight Ediane Gomes and Kaitlin Young.

Also at bantamweight, undefeated prospect Aspen Ladd (4-0) meets grappling ace Sijara "Sarj" Eubanks (2-1).

The 21-year-old Ladd has picked up wins over Jessica Hoy and Kelly McGill since moving to bantamweight. Eubanks, a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt, has displayed her striking since turning pro, earning her second career victory via first-round TKO in July over Amberlynn Orr.

Invicta FC veterans DeAnna "The Argentine Assassin" Bennett (8-2) and Jodie Esquibel (5-2) square off at strawweight. Bennett is coming off a back-and-forth battle with flyweight contender Roxanne Modafferi in March, while Esquibel headlined Invicta FC 18 against Alexa Grasso in July.

Two recently signed flyweights will make their professional mixed martial arts debuts when boxing world champion Heather "The Heat" Hardy (18-0 as a boxer) faces fellow newcomer Brieta "Tank Girl" Carpenter (8-2 as an amateur).

Hardy currently holds the WBC international female featherweight and super bantamweight titles. Carpenter signed with the promotion following a 10-second knockout in her most recent amateur outing.

The main event of Invicta FC 21 pits 26-year-old featherweight contender Megan Anderson (7-2) up against Canadian veteran Charmaine "Not So Sweet" Tweet (9-5).

Invicta FC 21: Anderson vs. Tweet will stream live and exclusively on UFC FIGHT PASS and a current fight card can be found below:

Featherweight: Megan Anderson (7-2) vs. Charmaine Tweet (9-5)

Bantamweight: Pannie Kianzad (8-1) vs. Raquel Pa'aluhi (5-5)

Strawweight: DeAnna Bennett (8-2) vs. Jodie Esquibel (5-2)

Bantamweight: Aspen Ladd (4-0) vs. Sijara Eubanks (2-1)

Flyweight: Heather Hardy (0-0) vs. Brieta Carpenter (0-0)

Tickets for Invicta FC 21 go on sale this Saturday, Dec. 10 at 10 a.m. CT via Ticketfly.com.

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GEORGI KARAKHANYAN V EMMANUEL SANCHEZ!

BELLATOR 170

GEORGI KARAKHANYAN V EMMANUEL SANCHEZ

A featherweight showdown pitting Georgi Karakhanyan (26-6-1) against Emmanuel Sanchez (13-3) has been added to the main card of “Bellator 170: Ortiz vs. Sonnen” on January 21, 2017 inside The Forum in Los Angeles, Calif.

Tickets for this monumental event start at $36 and are on sale now at Bellator.com, as well as Ticketmaster.com. Additional bouts will be announced in the coming weeks.

Karakhanyan delivered one of the most spectacular performances of his 10-year career at “Bellator 160: Henderson vs. Pitbull,” when he knocked out Bubba Jenkins just 53 seconds into the contest. Karakhanyan then followed that victory up with another early stoppage, ending Kirill Medvedovsky’s evening via TKO just 3:40 into the first frame at “Bellator 164: Koreshkov vs. Lima 2.” With 20 of his 26 career wins coming by way of stoppage, “Insane” looks to add to that total and finish “El Matador,” something nobody has been able to accomplish.

Watch Georgi Karakhanyan stop Bubba Jenkins at “Bellator 160”

“El Matador” will be making his eighth appearance under the Bellator MMA banner, a promotion with which the 26-year-old has had much success to date. A native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where he trains at the famed Roufusport gym, Sanchez is riding a recent string of success, having won nine of his last 11 contests, including three of the past four. Six of Sanchez’s 13 career victories have come by way of knockout or submission, with five of the finishes ending in the opening frame. Sanchez was supposed to compete against A.J. McKee at “Bellator 167: Caldwell vs. Taimanglo 2,” but was forced out of the bout after suffering multiple muscle strains during training. Since signing with Bellator MMA, “El Matador” has competed against a who’s who of talent, facing names the likes of: Pat Curran, Justin Lawrence, Henry Corrales, and Daniel Weichel.

Watch Emmanuel Sanchez vs. Henry Corrales at “Bellator 143”

The fight joins a main card that is headlined by a legendary clash between veterans Tito Ortiz (18-12-1) and Chael Sonnen (28-14-1). In addition, Ralek Gracie (3-0) against Hisaki Kato (7-2) will also be featured on the main card, as will what promises to be an absolute slugfest, when Paul Daley (38-14-2) meets Brennan Ward (14-4). The event will be broadcast live and free on SPIKE at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT, while preliminary action will stream on Bellator.com and the Bellator Mobile App.

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ED RUTH!

JOINS BELLATOR 168 CARD

ED RUTH

It was announced today that one of MMA’s hottest prospects, Ed Ruth (1-0), will waste no time continuing to build his resume, as he fights Emanuele Palombi (5-2) for his second fight in as many months. The bout takes place this Friday at “Bellator 168: Sakara vs. Beltran,” on Dec. 10 from the Mandela Forum in Florence and will air LIVE and FREE on SPIKE at 4pm ET/PT.

At only 26 years old, Ruth is looking to pave the way for the other members of “The New Breed,” a group of highly accomplished wrestlers who have all signed to fight under the Bellator MMA banner including: Joey Davis (1-0), Tyrell Fortune (1-0), Jarod Trice (1-0) as well as Aaron Pico and Romero Cotton – the last of which have yet to make their highly anticipated professional debuts. Before he was a three-time National Champion and four-time All-American wrestler at Penn State University, Ruth attended the world-renown Blair Academy in Susquehanna Township, PA, where he was the top-ranked recruit in the nation for his weight class. Having achieved great success at every stage of competition throughout his life, Ruth aspires to have the Bellator middleweight gold around his waist before long. After making the move across the country to Fresno, Calif., where he now trains at Dethrone Basecamp with other Bellator MMA fighters like Josh Koscheck and Chris Honeycutt, Ruth made his professional MMA debut just last month on Nov. 4, when he finished Dustin Collins-Miles with strikes at 3:19 into the first round.

Ruth now faces Rome’s Palombi, a seven-fight veteran with five victories including three KO’s and one submission. Ruth, who is taking the fight on less than a week’s notice, must quickly learn how to tune out a hometown crowd, who will certainly be heavily in favor of the Italian fighter.

The evening is highlighted by a main event featuring Italy’s most renowned mixed martial artist Alessio Sakara (18-11, 2 NC), who will duke it out with Joey “The Mexicutioner” Beltran (17-13, 1 NC) in a light heavyweight main event. Other Bellator MMA competitors will also be in action, including John Salter (12-3), Goiti Yamauchi (31-9) and Philipe Lins (10-1).

The Bellator Kickboxing brand will also be on display in Italy with a card that features a female flyweight rematch between Denise Kielholtz (45-3) and Gloria Peritore (11-1-1), but this time, a world title will be on the line. “Bellator Kickboxing: Florence” will also include a lightweight clash between Giorgio Petrosyan (82-2-2, 1 NC) and British kickboxing champion Jordan Watson (48-11-2), a middleweight matchup pitting Joe Schilling (19-9) against Victorio Lermano (30-7), a welterweight contest pairing Luca Novello (22-4-2) with Karim Ghajji (96-13-1), and Kevin Ross (31-9) will meet Alessio Arduini (26-14-2) in a lightweight fight. “Bellator Kickboxing: Florence” airs Friday, Dec. 16 at 11:15 pm ET, immediately following “Bellator 169: King Mo vs. Ishii.”

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Rashid Yusupov V Stephan Puetz!

M-1 Challenge 74

Rashid Yusupov V Stephan Puetz

M-1 Global has announced a blockbuster match-up to kick-off its 2017 season as undefeated M-1 Challenge light heavyweight champion Rashid Yusupov takes on former titlist Stephan "T-800" Puetz in the M-1 Challenge 74 main event, February 18, in St. Petersburg, Russia.

M-1 Challenge 74 will be streamed live from St. Petersburg in high definition on www.M1Global.TV. Viewers will be able to watch the preliminary fights and main card by logging on to register at www.M1Global.TV. Fans may watch all of the action on their computers, as well as on Android and Apple smart phones and tablets.

The 24-year-old Yusupov (6-0-0, M-1: 4-0-0), fighting out of Dagestan, Russia, will be making his first title defense having captured his coveted belt this past May at M-1 Challenge 66, by way of a 5-round unanimous decision over defending champion Viktor Nemkov.

Yusupov (2 KO/TKO, 1 SUB), representing Gorets fight club (Highlander), has three other victories in M-1 Challenge competition over Martin Zawada (DEC3), Mitry Madvedev (KO/TKO1 - Punch) and Charles Andrade (DEC3).

Puetz, 29, has won six of seven M-1 Challenge fights going into fifth title fight. The talented German (5 KO/TKO, 5 SUB) from Team Spirit burst upon the M-1 Global scene 2 ½ years ago, at M-1 Challenge 46, when he challenged M-1 Challenge light heavyweight champion Nemkov that ended in a 5-round split decision in favor of the new champion, Puetz.

Puetz successfully defended his title, in order, against Luis Fernando (SUB2 - Choke) and Valery Myasnikov (KO2 - Punches), followed with a Super Fight knockout (nose injury) of M-1 Challenge heavyweight champion Marcin Tybura in the third round of their May 2, 2015 non-title fight at M-1 Challenge 72. Puetz then lost his title to Nemkov by way of a 5-round majority decision in the M-1 Challenge 63 Fight of the Night.

To get back into title contention, Puetz won his last two fights against Andrey Seledtsov (DEC3) and Marcus Vinicius (SUB3 - Choke) this past October at M-1 Challenge 71.

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Bellator 167!

Official Results

Bellator 167

In the evening’s bantamweight main event, Darrion Caldwell (10-1) redeemed himself with a decisive unanimous decision (30-27 x3) win over Joe Taimanglo (23-7-1). The three-round battle capped off Bellator MMA’s massive doubleheader at WinStar World Casino and Resort in Thackerville, OK.

With the win, Caldwell improves his record in the Bellator MMA cage to 7-1 and opens the door for a bantamweight world title clash with current division champion Eduardo Dantas. "Dudu," of course, protected his belt just last night with a one-sided affair against Joe Warren in the first night of the promotion’s epic doubleheader.

After the fight, Caldwell and Dantas exchanged words inside the cage, as “The Wolf” announced his desire for the belt: “I look forward to fighting you. It’s been a long time coming.”

It took 15 minutes to determine a winner, but in the end John Teixeira (21-1-2) notched a unanimous decision victory (29-28, 30-27 x2) over Justin Lawrence (9-4) on Saturday night. The Brazilian veteran peppered away with a combination of jabs and kicks that severely damaged Lawrence’s lead leg throughout the bout. “Macapa” continues to dominate the featherweight division, earning victories in nine of his last 10 contests, including one draw. Since joining the Scott Coker-led promotion in 2014, Teixeira has won each of his four fights, maintaining his position among the 145-pound elite.

Following three hard-fought rounds inside WinStar World Casino, Ilima-Lei MacFarlane (5-0) emerged victorious with a (30-27, 29-28 x2) win over Emily Ducote (4-2). McFarlane was able to withstand an early barrage of strikes from Ducote, preserving her unblemished professional mark. “The Ilimanator” relied heavily on her accurate striking, as the 26-year-old Californian landed a remarkable 68% of her punches thrown. For the budding star Ducote, the loss is just her first of the year, following four consecutive victories to begin her campaign.

In the first Spike-televised bout of the evening, Chidi Njokuani (16-4, 1 NC) delivered a brutal first round knockout against Andre Fialho (7-1) that came just 21 seconds into the contest. A flurry of Njokuani punches sent Fialho to the canvas and the 27-year-old took care of the rest. Dating back to 2012, “Chidi Bang Bang” has recorded wins in 11of his last 12 bouts and extends his current winning streak to seven. Of Njokuani’s 16 career victories, 10 have come by way of knockout, making him one of the most feared strikers in the stacked welterweight division. The young Portuguese star Fialho tastes defeat for the first time in his career and will look to redeem himself at the start of the new year.

Preliminary Card Results:

Jarod Trice (1-0) defeated Tommie Britton (0-1) via majority decision (28-28, 30-25, 30-26)

Jonathan Gary (12-7-2) defeated Aaron Roberson (5-5) via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

Justin Patterson (8-1) defeated Codale Ford (11-9) via unanimous decision (29-27, 29-28, 29-28)

Fernando Gonzalez (1-0) defeated Chris Hicks (3-9) via knockout at :15 of round one

Bronson St. Romaine (1-0) defeated Joey Soto (0-2) via unanimous decision (28-27, 29-28, 29-28)

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Bellator 166!

Official Results

Bellator 166

Despite receiving a point-deduction for a low kick in the fifth and final round, Eduardo Dantas (19-4) was impeccable on the feet during his rematch with Joe Warren (14-6) at "Bellator 166" on Friday, peppering Warren with jabs for 25-minutes and earning a majority decision (47-47, 49-44, 48-46) in front of a packed house at WinStar Resort and Casino.

With the loss, Warren's bid for a third Bellator MMA title reign ended, as he was unable to secure a takedown throughout the main event bout. "The World's Baddest Man" had never lost a fight that went to the judges' scorecards until Friday, while "Dudu" rectified the defeat he took against Warren at "Bellator 128."

After the fight, Dantas dedicated his victory to the families of those affected by the deadly plane crash suffered by the Chapecoense Soccer Team in Brazil last week. The victory now sets the stage for tomorrow night's "Bellator 167" event, which pits Joe Taimanglo against Darrion Caldwell.

In the evening’s featherweight co-main event, A.J. McKee (6-0) came from behind to defeat Ray Wood (7-3) with a unanimous decision triumph (29-27, 30-25, 30-27). McKee was tested early in the opening round, as Wood landed multiple blows that sent McKee flying to the canvas. However, McKee was able to stay the course and answered the bell, convincingly dominating Wood during the final two frames. Wood becomes just the first of McKee’s six victims to make it out of the first round, forcing the 21-year-old “Mercenary” into his first-ever decision. Fighting out of Long Beach, Calif., McKee proclaimed his desire to compete on the upcoming “Bellator 170: Ortiz vs. Sonnen” super-card after the win, calling out his previously scheduled opponent Emmanuel Sanchez.

In a night highlighted by a pair of phenomenal bantamweight matchups, Marcos Galvao (18-7-1) was able to squeak out a tightly fought contest with L.C. Davis (23-8), emerging victorious with a split decision win (29-28 x2, 28-29). A 12-fight veteran of Bellator MMA, Galvao earned his eighth victory under the promotion's direction and first of his 2016 campaign. “Loro” seems to be finding his groove, tallying victories in five of his past six contests. For Davis, the loss is just his second since joining the Scott Coker-led promotion in 2014.

In the opening bout of "Bellator 166," Chris Honeycutt (9-1, 1 NC) brought a rowdy Thackerville crowd to their feet throughout the course of a one-sided middleweight affair, defeating Ben Reiter (17-2-1) via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-25 x2). An early knee, coupled with a ruthless combination of blows opened a sizeable gash on the side of Reiter’s head, forcing the 29-year-old New Yorker to take some chances. The win is Honeycutt’s second consecutive victory at 185-pounds, opening the door in what is currently a wide open division. For Reiter, the loss is just the second of his career, the first of which also came at WinStar Resort and Casino.

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2016 World MMA Championship!

Dominated By Russia

World MMA Championship

Team Russia parlayed its recent European Championship domination into a repeat performance at this past weekend's World MMA Championship, by sweeping all seven weight classes in Studio City, Macau, China.

Close to 100 fighters competed, representing 23 countries including Russia, Kazakhstan, Spain, Australia, Belgian, China, Colombia, France, Czech Republic, Hong Kong, Tajikistan, Germany, Hungary, Macao, Nepal, India, South Korea, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Uzbekistan, Chinese Taipei and Italy.

Russian middleweight Gamzat Hiramagomedov and light heavyweight Magomed Ankalayev are repeat world champions.

In team scoring, Asian team champion Kazakhstan won two Silver and four Bronze medals, Ukraine two Silver and two Bronze, Czech Republic one Silver and two Bronze, Chinas one Silver and two Bronze, Kyrgyzstan two Bronze, and one Bronze for France, India, Spain and Moldova.

"I would like to thank each athlete of our National MMA Team, our coaches, doctors and all the Russian MMA Union employees," said MMA living legend Fedor Emelianenko, WMMAA honorary president and president of the Russian MMA Union. "The fighters had a long way, put in a lot of effort, and made it to the top. Despite an ever-growing competition level, our athletes achieved 100-percent of the set goals thanks to a great training camp, fight strategy and their spirit.

"We are proud to have two-time world champions in Magomed Ankalayev and Gamzat Hiramagomedov. It's a pleasure to follow the fighters' personal evolution from fight to fight. The world champions will receive their accolades of Sports Master of International Level."

WMMAA MMA Promotions

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WEIGH IN ALERT!

BELLATOR 166 WEIGHTS

BELLATOR 166

The official weigh-ins for “Bellator 166:Dantas vs. Warren 2” took place this evening inside of the MIST nightclub at WinStar World Casino and Resort in Thackerville, OK. The competitors are now ready for action tomorrow at the WinStar World Casino, with the event airing LIVE and FREE on SPIKE at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT.

The Spike-televised main card is headlined by a bantamweight world title rematch pitting current belt holder Eduardo Dantas (18-4) against “The Baddest Man on the Planet” Joe Warren (14-5). In addition, Ray Wood (7-2) will take a short-notice bout to challenge undefeated prospect A.J. McKee (5-0) in the co-main event. Lastly, Marcos Galvao (17-7-1) and L.C. Davis (23-7) will square off in a bantamweight feature fight, while Chris Honeycutt (8-1, 1 NC) challenges Ben Reiter (17-1-1) in a 195-pound catchweight bout.

“Bellator 166: Dantas vs. Warren 2” takes place at WinStar World Casino and Resort in Thackerville, OK., and airs live and free Friday on SPIKE at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT., while “Bellator 167: Caldwell vs. Taimanglo 2” airs live and free Saturday on SPIKE at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT. Preliminary bouts for both events will stream live on Bellator.com and The Bellator Mobile App.

Eduardo Dantas (134.6) vs. Joe Warren (133.7)

A.J. McKee (145.8) vs. Ray Wood (145.8)

Marcos Galvao (137.6) vs. L.C. Davis (136)

Chris Honeycutt (194) vs. Ben Reiter (194.1)

Treston Thomison (155.4) vs. Dawond Pickney (159)

Chris Jones (163.7) vs. Derrick Adkins (161.9)

Gregory Babene (185.7) vs. Emiliano Sordi (185.5)

Kinny Spotwood (208) vs. John King (207.7)

Bellator MMA Promotions

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Tonya Evinger & Yana Kunitskaya!

Title Fight Ruled No-Contest By Missouri Office Of Athletics

Invicta Fighting Championships has been informed by the Missouri Office of Athletics that the result of its bantamweight championship bout between Tonya Evinger and Yana Kunitskaya at Invicta FC 20 has been overturned.

Following the event held on Nov. 18 in Kansas City, Evinger filed an appeal with the Missouri Office of Athletics and today the result of that appeal was decided. Ruled on fight night as a submission victory for Kunitskaya, the bout result has now been declared a No-Contest.

As a result, Evinger will remain the Invicta FC bantamweight champion.

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.

Invicta MMA Promotions

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GOITI YAMAUCHI V VALERIU MIRCEA!

ADDED TO BELLATOR 168

A lightweight bout pitting Goiti Yamauchi (20-3) against Valeriu Mircea (12-3) completes the MMA portion of “Bellator 168: Carvalho vs. Manhoef 2,” on a night which will feature both Bellator MMA and Bellator Kickboxing brands inside the Mandela Forum in Florence.

In addition, due to an injury suffered by Pietro Cappelli, Philipe Lins (10-1) will now meet Kleber Raimundo Silva (12-7) in light heavyweight action on Dec. 10.

The mixed martial arts portion of action on Dec. 10is headlined by a middleweight world title fight featuring a rematch between Rafael Carvalho (13-1) and Melvin Manhoef (30-13-1, 2 NC), while Italy’s own Alessio Sakara (18-11, 2 NC) will take on Joey Beltran (17-13, 1 NC) at 205-pounds, and John Salter (12-3) meets Claudio Annicchiarico (1-4) in a middleweight bout. “Bellator 168: Carvalho vs. Manhoef 2” will air LIVE and FREE on SPIKE at 4pm ET/PT.

The Bellator Kickboxing card features a female flyweight rematch between Denise Kielholtz (45-3) and Gloria Peritore (11-1-1), but this time, a world title will be on the line. “Bellator Kickboxing: Florence” will also feature a lightweight clash between Giorgio Petrosyan (82-2-2, 1 NC) and British kickboxing champion Jordan Watson (48-11-2), a middleweight matchup pitting Joe Schilling (19-9) against Victorio Lermano (30-7), a welterweight contest pairing Luca Novello (22-4-2) with Karim Ghajji (96-13-1), and Kevin Ross (31-9) will meet Alessio Arduini (26-14-2) in a lightweight fight. “Bellator Kickboxing: Florence” airs Friday, Dec. 16 at 11:15 pm ET, immediately following “Bellator 169: King Mo vs. Ishii.”

An 8-fight veteran of Bellator MMA, Yamauchi enters the cage in search of his 21st career win and seventh under the Scott Coker-led promotion. You would be hard-pressed to find a fighter with more promise than the 23-year-old top prospect, who has already taken down proven veterans the likes of Martin Stapleton, Isao Kobayashi, and most recently Ryan Couture. The former featherweight returned to the lightweight division to face the aforementioned Couture earlier in the year at “Bellator 162: Shlemenko vs. Grove,” a fight in which Yamauchi dominated from the get-go, earning yet another first round submission victory. Yamauchi has finished his opponent in 17 of his 20 career wins, including 14 in the opening round of action. The Japanese-Brazilian submission specialist continues to make great strides in the sport, consistently displaying the flawless Brazilian jiu-jitsu technique that has given opponents many nightmares year after year.

Challenging Yamauchi will be Valeriu Mircea, a Moldova-born competitor that has also seen a great deal of success early on in his MMA career. The 23-year-old knockout artist will be making his Bellator MMA debut following three consecutive victories, including a pair of first round knockouts. Dating back to 2015, Mircea has collected wins in nine of his last 10 bouts and has already tallied six victories over his 2016 campaign. With three of his last four wins coming by way of first round knockout, you can expect an early array of attack in this pairing of two top prospects.

Taking on Lins will now be Raimundo Silva, a 28-year-old striker who will be making both his 2016 and Bellator MMA debut. Dating back to 2011, “Orgulho” has won seven of his last 11 contests, highlighted by his most recent knockout victory over Claudio Rocha, which came just 3:25 into the first round.

Bellator MMA Promotions

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PAUL DALEY V BRENNAN WARD!

JAN. 21 AT THE FORUM IN LOS ANGELES

PAUL DALEY V BRENNAN WARD

A welterweight showdown pitting Paul Daley (38-14-2) against Brennan Ward (14-4) has been added to the main card of “Bellator 170: Ortiz vs. Sonnen” on January 21, 2017 inside The Forum in Los Angeles, Calif.

The fight joins a main card that is headlined by a legendary clash between veterans Tito Ortiz (18-12-1) and Chael Sonnen (28-14-1). In addition, Ralek Gracie (3-0) against Hisaki Kato (7-2) will also be featured on the main card. The event will be broadcast live and free on SPIKE at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT, while preliminary action will stream on Bellator.com and the Bellator Mobile App.

Tickets for this monumental event start at $36 and are on sale now at Bellator.com, as well as Ticketmaster.com. Additional bouts will be announced in the coming weeks.

A 54-fight veteran of MMA Daley will now prepare to take on surging superstar Brennan Ward. A former member of the British Army, the 33-year-old “Semtex” competed for multiple promotions including Strikeforce and UFC before joining the Bellator MMA fray in 2012. Since then, Daley has made five appearances under the direction of the Scott Coker-led promotion, tallying four wins and a trio of fantastic knockouts. Hailing from Nottingham, England, the British phenom has recorded victories in nine of his last 11 bouts, and took current welterweight champion Douglas Lima to the limit in their last meeting. The former Cage Rage Welterweight Champion is known for his ruthless power and innate ability to end fights early, as 30 of his 38 career wins have resulted in a finish.

Ward enters the contest following a brutal knockout blow that he delivered just 1:26 into his bout with Saad Awad at “Bellator 163: McGeary vs. Davis.” The win was Ward’s ninth under the direction of Bellator MMA and fifth of his last six fights, dating back to 2015. A native of New London, Conn., “Irish” Ward seems to always deliver in front of his hometown fans at Mohegan Sun Arena, collecting five victories inside the venue, including four knockouts. Now, Ward takes his talents out West. The former NCAA All-American is widely regarded as one of the most feared brawlers in the welterweight division, as the 28-year-old has finished his opponent in 13 of his 14 career victories. Ward is now slated to tangle with another feared striker in Daley in a bout that hardcore fight fans won’t want to miss.

Bellator MMA Promotions

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Megan Anderson V Charmaine Tweet!

Invicta FC 21

Invicta Fighting Championships begins its 2017 season at home. Historic Scottish Rite Temple in Kansas City, Mo. once again hosts the leader in women's mixed martial arts, serving as the site of Invicta FC 21 on Saturday, Jan. 14.

Announced during the broadcast of Invicta FC 20 (available to watch any time via UFC FIGHT PASS) on Saturday, 26-year-old featherweight prospect Megan Anderson (7-2) will face Canadian veteran Charmaine "Not So Sweet" Tweet (9-5) in the main event of Invicta FC 21.

Anderson, a native of Australia's Gold Coast, now calls the Kansas City metro area home, training out of Glory MMA & Fitness in Lee's Summit, Mo. She enters the bout on a three-fight winning streak, all three coming by way of knockout.

Tweet, also having won three-in-a-row, last competed at Invicta FC 17 in May, impressively knocking out then-undefeated Latoya Walker via spinning backfist.

Recently signed boxing world champion Heather "The Heat" Hardy will make her professional mixed martial arts debut at Invicta FC 21 in a flyweight contest.

The Brooklyn-born Hardy enters the cage with an unblemished record of 18-0 inside the boxing ring and currently holds the WBC international female featherweight and super bantamweight titles.

Additional bouts and ticketing information for Invicta FC 21, which streams live and exclusively via UFC FIGHT PASS on Saturday, Jan. 14, will be announced shortly.

Invicta MMA Promotions

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