Alex Volkanovski has a read on Brian Ortega, T.J. Dillashaw allegedly sends spies after Cory Sandhagen and more — this is your Fightful Fix roundup.
Alex Volkanovski calls Brian Ortega a "fake"
Alex Volkanovski has his read on Brian Ortega after mentoring opposite him on The Ultimate Fighter.
“To be honest, he doesn’t say much,” Volkanovski said on The Joe Rogan Experience (h/t MMA Fighting). “He doesn’t say much. I don’t know, I’m a bit over him, to be honest. Just a couple of things, I just think he’s fake and I don’t believe his shit, that’s just sort of how it is with me, that’s what I think.”
“I just think he plays a nice guy and some of the shit he says, I just think it’s all bullshit,” he continued. “I guess you can watch the show and sort of see with little things. ... I don’t think he’s that bad of a guy, maybe I’m just looking for things to hate on him for, maybe, yeah, probably. So I’m just sitting here like, ‘Yeah, fuck Brian Ortega,’ I’m gonna find something to hate him for. Maybe that’s what it was, but like I said, it’s not hard to get under his skin. Even me just saying that I guarantee he’s boiling up."
“Maybe that’s gonna be strategy for my next fight because I know how easily he’s triggered. I’m just gonna be like, ‘Hey, Brian, fuck you,’ and that’s it.”
T.J. Dillashaw accused of sending spies to film Cory Sandhagen
T.J. Dillashaw is allegedly going 007 on Cory Sandhagen ahead of their fight on July 24.
Justin Wetzell, an LFA featherweight who trains at Sandhagen's camp, told James Lynch about the rumor going around his camp.
“Yeah, he had some Ludwig students come into our Friday sparring. I wasn’t there that day but I heard about this from other people," Wetzell said. "They were like, ‘Yeah, there’s these Ludwig affiliates and when Cory started sparring in the cage, they whipped out their phones and started recording.’ And then later on Instagram, they posted some shit on their story bragging, ‘Hey TJ, we got these rounds for you, we’ve got it all recorded.’ Yeah, it was just kind of, I dunno."
“A little bit (surprising Team Dillashaw spied), but I don’t know man, it is what it is. I don’t think it’s really going to help,” he concluded.
Andre Soukhamthath is fighting to #StopAsianHate
Andre Soukhamthath has experienced a lot of verbal racism in his life; however, it is the violence against Asians and Asian-Americans that really disturbs him.
“Everyone now is just seeing the prejudice and racism that people who look like me experience,” Soukhamthath recently told MMA Junkie. “Now that the coronavirus happened, people are looking at Asians in a totally different way. It’s kind of like (they think) we’re bringing the virus here. There is a lot of violence going on against random Asian people. What’s sad is that it’s Asian people that can’t defend themselves – older people getting robbed, little kids getting injured. That’s making it worse for my kids when they grow up. That’s what I think of, my kids and my nieces and my friends’ kids.”
“When I went into some of these more rural areas, man, all I ever heard was, ‘Ching-chong this, ching-chong, that,'” he added. “People would do the slanted-eye thing to me right in my face. I wanted to cry right then and there, but no. I kept playing the game. That’s what I grew up with. Literally 18 years of my life playing sports, that’s what I had to face. I don’t want my kids to go through that. I don’t want the next generation to go through it. My parents didn’t move here for this sh*t. I didn’t start a family for this sh*t. You know what I mean?”
Soukhamthath will continue to use his platform to #StopAsianHate.
“I’m going to keep on using my platform to say, ‘Stop Asian hate.’ Even before that hashtag, the reason I wanted to make it to the UFC and the reason I wanted to be a good fighter, what pushed me, what motivated me, was not just for my people and for my family. I wanted to show that Asians could do it, too,” the fighter said. “I’m the first of my kind. I’m the first America-Lao fighter to be signed to the UFC. That’s not just for my Lao people. That’s for Asian males in general. Like, ‘Yo, you can do it.’ I’ve always stood for that. Now that the Asian people are facing these random attacks, I’ve definitely got to speak up. I want to use my platform – every platform I have.”
“I just want to tell the general public that no, we don’t eat cats or dogs,” Soukhamthath concluded. “Not every one of us has the coronavirus. We’re just regular hard-working Americans just like you that want to be considered American, too. We pay our taxes. We raise our families here. We’re trying to follow the American dream, man.”
Michael Chandler is open to wild, fan-favorite fight vs. Justin Gaethje
Everyone wants to see Michael Chandler vs. Justin Gaethje, and that includes Chandler.
"Iron" Mike expressed optimism in a rumored match-up vs. fellow power-punching wrestler Gaethje in a new interview with MMA Fighting.
“I think Gaethje-Chandler is probably the biggest fan-favourite fight on the entire planet right now,” Chandler said. “I think he becomes a part of my highlight reel or I become a part of his highlight reel and both of us come forward and enjoy a good old-fashioned, passionate scrap. That’s how he’s wired. That’s how I’m wired."
“Justin Gaethje’s been on the tips of the UFC’s tongue, our tongue, myself and my management since we signed with the UFC. It just hasn’t worked out that way for numerous different reasons.”
Chandler admitted timing is the biggest obstacle for a Gaethje match-up.
“Timing right now is the issue,” Chandler explained. “I just fought eight days ago, 10 days ago, whatever it was, he hasn’t fought in eight or 10 months at this point. It’s going to be a timing thing. You’ve got Beneil Dariush, who just fought, obviously, he wants some time off because of his family. Who knows."
“All I know, the top five in the UFC is aplenty when it comes to talent and that’s a fight that I would welcome. It’s just got to make sense on the timeline and I tell you what, people will be chomping at the bit to see that fight.”
Carla Esparza insists she is "the only fight that makes sense" for Rose Namajunas
UFC President Dana White is uncertain whether Carla Esparza or Zhang Weili is next in line for Rose Namajunas' strawweight title, but Esparza says the answer is obvious.
“I felt like I really needed to make a statement and there was a lot riding on this fight,” Esparza told MMA Fighting of her second-round TKO win over Yan Xionan at UFC Vegas 27. “I felt like I needed to make a statement to solidify my spot for a potential title fight.”
“I do feel confident. It’s the only fight that makes sense,” she asserted. “Come on, Dana. She wants the fight, too. She loves rematches that she’s lost."
Esparza insists she is the only clear option for a Namajunas rematch, plus there is a natural storyline built-in. Esparza defeated Namajunas to win the inaugural UFC women's strawweight title at the conclusion of their season of TUF.
“I feel with a dominant performance over the No. 3 fighter in the division, I think for me and my opinion, that should be hands down my title fight. I think that makes sense. It’s the fight that the fans want to see. It’s an intriguing matchup with an intriguing storyline.”
“I think it’s almost poetic,” Esparza added. “It’s really cool. Seven years later, I saw somebody posted that the only inaugural title holders to win their title back were Jose Aldo and I think Dominick Cruz. To be in an elite group like that and to do it after such a long period of time for me would be so rewarding."
Arjan Bhullar Eyeing move to WWE or AEW
Arjan Bhullar captured the ONE Championship heavyweight grown and now sets his sights on major pro-wrestling organizations All Elite Wrestling (AEW) and WWE.
“It was serious from the get-go and it is serious,” Bhullar told MMA Fighting when asked about his plans to move into professional wrestling. “I’m picking a fight with these guys, with the entire industry. AEW, WWE, it doesn’t matter. When I actually signed over from the UFC, we had language in our contract that would open the door to this. So we had some foresight on this."
“Both industries there’s a blend there in terms of crossover and like I said, I want to pick a fight with these guys. They think they’re tough guys in the industry, I think I’m tougher. For the WWE, India’s the biggest market. They had over 20 million people tune in to their last event. You want India, we want India in terms of MMA, it all works.”
Bhullar pointed to the working relationships AEW and WWE talent have had with ONE Championship.
“AEW, it would be the same thing. The TNT deal, crossover with ONE, it would be amazing,” Bhullar said. “Kenny Omega was helping out with promos for this event with Shinya Aoki. Jinder [Mahal] was helping out with me. You had John Cena helping out with [Brandon] Vera so it’s all there.
“We had conversations with the companies into this fight and again a little more serious on the back end. Within all that is Chatri [Sityodtong] and ONE and I think we can find some common ground and value for everyone.”
Irene Aldana confident she will be in the title mix soon
Irene Aldana is looking to bounce back in a big way vs. Yana Kunitskaya at UFC 264 on July 10, following a main event loss to Holly Holm.
“Fortunately, they gave me a fight in the top five,” Aldana told MMA Junkie in Spanish. “It’s a good opportunity to make a good return with a very complete fighter like Yana. I didn’t have the best fight in my last outing. It was the worst performance I’ve had in that fight against Holly."
“I think UFC kept in mind the way that I lost. I didn’t get knocked out, I didn’t get submitted, and there was a mix of situations that didn’t help the cause and just made everything worse. I had the foot fracture, I had COVID-19 before the fight, and I don’t think I fully recovered because I did feel some lingering issues. I think UFC keeps in mind all that, plus the previous fights that I had. I think if you look at all the previous fights and then compare them with the performance against Holly, you can tell something was off with me. And I don’t want to take anything away from Holly though – I know I fought the best version of her.”
Aldana expects to be on the shortlist for a title shot with an impressive performance at UFC 264.
“I think if I have a good showing, a dominant presentation, and have a convincing win, I think I can get back on the route to a potential fight for the title,” Aldana said. “The division is very tight in competition at the top because a lot of the top-five girls already fought for the belt. I think I can win back that spot – but first this fight, and we’ll take it from there.”
“If I win this fight, and I have a convincing win, and I have maybe another win after that against a good opponent, I think I can raise my hand again to ask for that opportunity for the title. It could be this year – why not?”
Manon Fiorot ready for step-up vs. Maryna Moroz
Manon Fiorot is getting a meaningful step up vs. Maryna Moroz in her sophomore UFC fight on June 5.
“I think it’s a great matchup for me because of her style,” Fiorot told MMA Junkie. “We’re going to have a great fight. It’s a real test, and I think if I have a big performance, it’ll allow me to climb the rankings."
“If I win by knockout, I think it’ll propel me to the top 15. I predict that I’ll knock her out in the second or third round.”
“I think the fight will start out on the feet, but after she stands with me, she’ll be shooting for the takedown and want to wrestle me,” Fiorot said. “I think if she wants to wrestle me and take cage control against me, I’m more powerful, I’m stronger – so it’ll be harder for her.”
“At the end of the year, I want to step up in the top 10,” Fiorot said. “So focus on this fight now, and after I’ll work with my management to try and get one more fight before the end of the year and end up in the top 10.”