UFC Featherweight Champion Alexander Volkanovski is looking for a busy 2021, Fedor Emelianenko has been called out for his retirement fight, and much more — Fightful has you covered on all that and more from around the world of combat sports.
Alexander Volkanovski hoping for a busy 2021
Alexander Volkanovski hasn't had the featherweight reign he would have hoped but is looking to have three fights in 2021 defending his crown. Volkanovski defeated Max Holloway at UFC 245 but since then has only defended the title once in a rematch with Holloway at UFC 251 in a controversial decision win. "The Great" has been hampered by COVID-19 sweeping the world and with travel restrictions in place, Volkanovski needed to wait for Fight Island to allow him to fight but is hopeful of a more productive 2021.
“Obviously  been crazy but 2021 hopefully we can change that. The vaccines or whatever it is can make it," said Volkanovski (h/t SCMP). "I want three fights. March date is looking good. We haven’t heard nothing but March, get me in there.”
Josh Barnett and Tito Ortiz interested in Fedor Emelianenko's retirement fight
Tito Ortiz and Josh Barnett have both thrown their names into the hat to fight Fedor Emelianenko in his last MMA fight. Barnett has said he is the only "true option" to face "The Last Emperor". They were supposed to face off in Affliction in 2009 but the fight was curtailed after Barnett failed a drug test. Affliction has since gone out of business.
There's only one true option here. https://t.co/C0cMZXYNkY— ------ ------------------ (@JoshLBarnett) January 2, 2021
Ortiz has also shown an interest. Ortiz hasn't fought for Bellator since defeating Chael Sonnen in 2017. His last fights have come against Chuck Lidell and former WWE star Alberto Del Rio before venturing into politics.
I will second that!— Tito Ortiz (@titoortiz) January 2, 2021
Khamzat Chimaev explains why he had to withdraw from UFC Fight Island 8 main event
Khamzat Chimaev landed back in Chechnya and explained why he was forced to pull-out from his fight with Leon Edwards at Fight island. Chimaev was not wearing a mask despite claiming he is "recovering" from COVID-19 when he landed and was serenaded by his country upon his arrival.
Ryan Garcia defeats Luke Campbell with a venomous body-hook
Ryan Garcia was victorious against Luke Campbell and finished the fight after a vicious body shot. The fight wasn't without its challenges for Garcia, who was dropped in round two.
LUKE CAMPBELL PUTS RYAN GARCIA ON THE CANVAS IN ROUND 2 -- pic.twitter.com/hCQaPiVHjY— DAZN Boxing (@DAZNBoxing) January 2, 2021
Garcia rallied after this shock and came back to finish Campbell in the 7th round and get the victory.
RYAN GARCIA.— DAZN Boxing (@DAZNBoxing) January 3, 2021
THAT'S IT. THAT'S THE TWEET. pic.twitter.com/j3jiClhCI8
Promoter Oscar De La Hoya was thrilled with the performance from the rising star, and stated he proved he "belongs in there".
“It was like a flash knockdown, right? But it was a scary flash knockdown. And he became a man, that’s all there is to it. He became a man tonight," claimed De La Hoya (h/t Bloody Elbow). "He needed this fight for validation. He needed this fight to prove to the boxing world that he belongs in there, and he passed with flying colors. He did what every great champion does get right back up. Especially from a really vicious right hook, it was a vicious right hook.”
Rob Font revels in post-fight glee after Marlon Moraes victory
Rob Font is still buzzing after his win over Marlon Moraes at UFC Vegas 17. Font knocked out bantamweight contender Moraes in spectacular fashion and was ecstatic to get the win he was "daydreaming about".
“It just felt like, ‘Finally, I had been waiting too long for this, I knew I was ready for this. As I was walking, all I can say it felt like was finally," exclaimed Font (h/t MMA Fighting) "It just felt right, what we’ve been daydreaming about, envisioning for so long. Let’s just take advantage of it and have fun.”
Michael Jai White reveals sparring horror with Michael Bisping
Michael Jai White may be more well-known as a Hollywood star but he is also a trained mixed martial artist in his spare time. White has been known to help fighters in training camps but he claims that one round of sparring with former UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping was plenty for him.
“A few years ago, when Michael Bisping was getting ready for Georges St-Pierre, we were in Thailand. (I told Bisping) ‘we’ll do some sparring and get you ready. I feel like I’m always good for at least three five-minute rounds, I’m not that bad. (But) man, that was the most embarrassing sparring sessions I ever had. I was sparring with Michael Bisping, (and) my wind just left," claimed White (h/t IB Times). “I had not been so tired, the first round, we were just moving around and it’s like I cannot breathe. They were ready to do the second round whatever, I was like ‘I’ll just be your punching bag.’ I felt like an idiot. My conditioning was so bad.”
A.J. McKee set to take on the MMA world
Confidence isn't an issue for rising star A.J. McKee. McKee, who is coached by his father and MMA veteran Antonio McKee, is 17-0 in MMA and Bellator and at only 25, has the whole world ahead of him. McKee is entering the Bellator featherweight Grand Prix and despite having only two fights remaining on his Bellator deal, he is looking to use featherweight glory to give him all the leverage.
“You know how contracts work – they’ve got clauses and whatnot – but we’ll sit down. We’re going to have to do some sit-down after this tournament for sure. Once I get through this tournament and knock ‘Pitbull’s’ ass out and shock the world again, it’s going to give me a lot of leverage," claimed McKee (h/t MMA Junkie). "I’ve always said it. I’m the Floyd Mayweather of MMA, so I’m looking to make that Floyd money and $100 million checks and be undefeated. Khabib (Nurmagomedov is) the only other person to do it, and he’s not doing it like me.”
Fernando Reyes looking to "get paid" in 2021
American Top Team prospect Fernando Reyes is very tempted to turn pro after going 5-0 in the amateur circuit. Reyes is already training with the pros but feels that his skill set has developed to such an extent that his pro debut is inevitable.
“I feel ready mentally, physically. This last camp was my first time actually training with the pro team for a fight," said Reyes (h/t MMA Junkie). "That helped even more with my confidence training with the best guy at the best gym. I feel like it’s time to get something out of this and go professional and get paid.”
Alex Perez looking to bounce back after UFC 255 loss
Alex Perez isn't getting down after his loss at UFC 255 when he was submitted by flyweight champion Deiveson Figueiredo in less than two minutes. Perez had the opportunity he had been working for his whole career but after a guillotine choke by Figueiredo, the chance to become champion was squandered. Perez feels that his time will come and that another few fights will see him fight for the title again.
“I’m ready for whoever,” Perez said. “If I want to be champion, I’ve got to fight everybody," admitted Perez (h/t MMA Junkie). "That’s the mentality I take it with. … I think maybe two to three fights (to get back to a title shot). … At the end of the day, it’s whatever (the UFC) decides.”