Scott Coker reveals Bellator's plans for Anthony Johnson, COVID-19 effects another UFC bout and tons of other news from around the world of MMA compiled into one convenient spot — it's your Thursday edition of Fightful Fix.
Scott Coker Reveals Bellator's Plans For Anthony Johnson, Why He Passed On Yoel Romero
Bellator President Scott Coker recently made headlines when he inked two-time UFC title challenger Anthony Johnson to bolster their light heavyweight division. Coker spoke to MMA Junkie and laid out potential plans for "Rumble":
“I’m very excited to have him on board here,” Coker told MMA Junkie after the Bellator 254 weigh-ins. “Here’s this guy that always will bring it. I’ve never seen him in a boring fight. It’s been, what? Two or three years since he’s fought? I think we’re going to get a brand new A.J., but his fighting style is something I’ve always respected and really enjoyed watching.
“When you get a fighter like that, of that quality, with a lot of upside, (and) you put him in our 205-pound weight class, it’s the best 205-pound weight class on the planet. To me, he’s just going to add a lot of great fights in that division. I’m looking forward to getting him in there and just start mixing it up and let these guys fight it out.”
“I think if you see pictures of him recently, they said he’s going to be comfortable at 205,” Coker said. “If he wants to fight at heavyweight, we’ll give him that opportunity as well. I think at 205, we have some great matchups for him. We’re going to let them all ‘rumble’ it out.”
“He’s probably going to want to fight a couple of fights because he hasn’t been fighting,” Coker said. “To me, I think that (first there will be) a couple of fights. Then, the sky is the limit.”
It was also reported that Bellator was among the major promotions NOT interested in recently released four-time UFC title challenger Yoel Romero. Coker had the following to say on the promotion passing on Romero:
“We got a call from (his) agent, and originally we just passed,” Coker said. “If you look at our roster and how many fighters we have on this roster and how many fights we’re going to do, there are only so many TV slots. We have kind of gotten away from signing the OGs we used to sign back in the day. That’s because guys like A.J. (McKee) are coming up. Ilima-Lei (Macfarlane) is developing into a main event fighter.
“We’ve basically built from the bottom up. We have a lot of great fighters that are on the roster that we’ve built over the last four to five years. We were kind of headed in a different direction. I was happy with the way the roster is right now not adding anybody.”
“The dialogue will always be open,” Coker said. “Things change quickly in this sport, so you never know, but the initial thought was that I talked to my guys and they thought it was better for us to pass.”
Bellator returns with Bellator 254 on Thursday, December 10 and Fightful has you covered with live coverage of the event. The prelims begin at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT, leading into the main card on CBS Sports Network at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT.
Charles Oliveira's Head Coach Tests Positive For COVID-19
Diego Lima, longtime head coach of top lightweight contender Charles Oliveira will not be able to corner his pupil during the biggest fight of Oliveira's career at UFC 256 after testing positive for COVID-19. "Do Bronx" is on the cusp of his first-career UFC title shot but first, he must solve the puzzle that is Tony Ferguson. The pair share the co-marquee at UFC 256 on December 12th.
Lima, released a statement to UFC.com after the positive diagnosis:
“Since I had no symptoms, and at the same time we’re all excited for a fight we asked so much for, we can’t even believe when something like this happens,” Lima told UFC.com. “I did other tests, but they came back positive too, so there was no other way out.”
“Don’t worry,” Lima says he told Oliveira. “Focus on the fight, focus on the goal. God knows all things and whatever has to be, it will be. We will respect it, we will believe it, and we will go for the win no matter what.”
Yoel Romero Sweepstakes Heating Up
According to Ariel Helwani, the race to secure the services of Yoel Romero are reportedly "heating up".
Things are heating up again in the Yoel Romero sweepstakes, I’m told.— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) December 10, 2020
Of note, promotions that were initially not interested are now interested and preparing offers or have already made an offer. No final decision at the moment.
Romero, 43, was released from the UFC last week after the promotion announced they would be trimming down their roster. Initially it was reported that several top promotions were not interested in the former Olympian but that tune appears to be changing.
Rafael de Freitas' Attorney Claims Client's Innocence
Former UFC fighter and BJJ instructor Rafael de Freitas was accused of sexual assault earlier this week; however, his attorney, Jason Bowles, believes that his client was "falsely maligned" and claims to have evidence that confirms de Freitas' innocence. Bowles claims that the alleged victim "poured alcohol and liquid THC" during a "consenual encounter" and alleges that her statements to law enforcement “show that she had had motives to bring these false charges.”
Mr. Bowles goes on to say:
“Mr. de Freitas willingly admits and is remorseful about making a terrible error in his marriage and towards his wife,” the attorney stated. “But he is absolutely innocent of any criminal sexual assault and his and his family’s name and reputation have been falsely maligned. We are asking everyone to reserve judgment until all of the evidence is presented in court.”
The felony charges against the 37-year old de Freitas — third-degree criminal sexual penetration — brings along with it a potential of 3-years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines.
Canelo Alvarez Opens As Massive Favorite Over Callum Smith
According to ProBoxingOdds.com, Canelo Alvarez (51-1-2) has opened as a huge (-650) betting favorite over the undefeated WBA and Ring Magazine super-middleweight champion, Callum Smith (27-0), who comes in at (+475).
Some additional betting odds for the bout are as follows:
- Fight does NOT go the distance - No (-165), Yes (+125)
- Alvarez wins inside the distance - Yes (-125), No (-130)
- Smith wins inside the distance - No (-1005), Yes (+535)
Deiveson Figueiredo Reveals Weight Ahead Of UFC 256
UFC flyweight champion Dieveson Figueiredo defends his title at UFC 256 against top contender Brandon Moreno. Ahead of their bout, "Daico" took part in a media scrum where he discuess a myriad of topics, most notably his weight. Figueiredo has had his fair share of weight cutting troubles but seemingly had no issue making weight for his previous title defense at UFC 255 last month.
Here's what the champ had to say on is current weight, his opponent Brandon Moreno and former double champion Henry Cejudo(h/t MMA Fighting)
“Maybe I could even make weight today or tomorrow, and I just want to show that I am able to make weight,” Figueiredo said via translator. “I’m able to stay on weight and keep a low weight throughout this week.”
“Brandon’s a guy that asked to fight with me from the Benavidez fight,” the champ said. “That’s something that irritated and bothered me a little bit. If he’s asking to fight me, then come into the octagon and see.”
“Cejudo’s a masked clown, and I can’t wait for him to step in front of me so I can knock that mask off his face,” he said. “I’ll be using heavy blows to do that.”
Jordan Leavitt Calls Slams In MMA "Ugly" And "Dangerous", Prefers Them To Be Banned
At UFC Vegas 16, undefeated lightweight prospect Jordan Leavitt brutally slam KO'd the now retired Matt Wiman.
Leavitt (8-0), recently spoke with TMZ Sports where he surprisingly said that he prefers that slams be banned in MMA, going as far to call the move "ugly" and "dangerous".
“I feel like the sport would be a much safer, artful thing if slams like that weren’t allowed,” Leavitt told TMZ Sports. “But when you’re in that cage, you have to decide, like, ‘Am I gonna pay rent tonight? Or I’m gonna have to downgrade my house and I’ll have to put my family in an unstable position.’
“I think slams are ugly, and I think they’re dangerous. And even though I didn’t slam him on the back of the head, there are dozens of fights where they do get slammed on the back of the head. And if it lands in that way, unless you’re in a submission, I don’t think it’s warranted.”
After the fight, Leavitt was shown on the ESPN broadcast, consoling Wiman's wife.
Leavitt revealed what she told him:
“She just said, ‘it’s the fight game, it happens,” he recalled of his conversation with Mrs. Wiman. “Very calm, very... I respect the crap out of that.”
Goiti Yamauchi Explains Missing Weight For Bellator 254
One of the more notable fights is now OFF of the Bellator 254 card.
Goiti Yamauchi missed weight by nearly seven-pounds and his scheduled bout against Nate Andrews. The Mohegan Tribe Department of Athletic Regulation, who regulates combat sports at the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut (the location of Bellator 254) ordered Yamauchi move up to 170-pounds for his next bout.
Yamauchi (25-4), released a statement on the matter:
“I was fine and confident for the cut, and lighter than the last time I fought. Everything was going well even with the difficulties of the pandemic. I had less than 2.5kg [5.5 pounds] to cut today — I had 5kg [11 pounds] to cut last time because I couldn’t exercise.
“I woke up at 5 a.m. to start cutting weight at 6, leaving me with three hours until the weigh-ins, and that would be pretty easy. I started using that portable sauna inside a hot bathroom and stayed there. 30 minutes went by, and I wasn’t sweating. We thought it was weird. I asked my coach for more time for me to begin sweating, and nothing happened. A long time passed until we realized the sauna wasn’t working, so we got desperate.
“We went downstairs to find a treadmill — there was nobody on that floor since the day before, only us, and we thought it was odd. The Bellator guy got us a sauna at around 7, 8 a.m., but, until we got that to heat up, there was not enough time anymore. We knew we wouldn’t make weight.
“We were caught surprised by many thing, I don’t blame Bellator for any of this. We were unlucky to have some setbacks, we will don’t know why that happened, but I’m sure it was for the better. We know we gave our best no matter what happened. Everything went wrong today when it should have been all right.
“One of the most difficult things was not having a bathtub and a real sauna. The tools they gave us — with the best intentions — didn’t help us this time. But, like I said, I still don’t know why that happened, but it was a big lesson learned.
“I won’t be allowed to fight at 155 [pounds] anymore, so I’ll go to 170. Regardless of what happens, I know it will be for the better for me. I might come back one day [to 155], but unfortunately it won’t be possible [now] with everything that happened.”
Ronny Markes Says He's Ready For Bellator Debut
Ronny Markes is scheduled to make his promotional debut at Bellator 254 against light heavyweight mainstay Linton Vassell.
COVID-19 stopped his original debut date earlier this year but now, the 32-year-old Brazilian is ready to make his debut for the Connecticut-based MMA promotion.
Markes spoke with MMA Fighting ahead of his debut:
“I’m ready for everything, brother,” Markes said in an interview with MMA Fighting. “I’m confident on the feet, training a lot with Ray Sefo, sparring a lot with (Francis) Ngannou. You have to be alert at all times with him [laughs].”
“I believe Ngannou is the next (UFC) champion,” he said. “Every day he gets… He used to make many mistakes on the ground, and it’s really hard to train with the man now. Sometimes he loses a position and comes back asking how to defend it. His wrestling is getting better every day, too. It’s hard to sweep and take him down now. I believe this man will become champion. And he’s strong as hell, man. 270 pounds and super lean and athletic, brother.”
“Sparring with him is a difficult mission because you can’t blink,” he laughed. “When he touches you, brother… I joked with him after we sparred on Thanksgiving, I came in and he defended it, and when I was coming out he threw an overhand that hit my head and, f***, I started to see lights [laughs]. It’s hard. This man’s hand is insane.”
Renato Moicano Comments On Being Removed From UFC Rankings
Former top featherweight contender Renato Moicano will be making his promotional lightweight debut at UFC 256 against Rafael Fiziev and in the process, has been removed from the company's featherweight rankings.
When speaking with Super Lutas, Moicano had the following to say:
“At first, I didn’t take it kindly (being removed from the rankings),” Moicano said. “We’re athletes. Athletes are probably the people with the biggest egos. We’re vain. We must acknowledge that if I stayed at featherweight, it would be worse for my career. I had to talk to the UFC, my weight cut was getting difficult and hindering me. The UFC told me: ‘We’re moving you, but you’ll be unranked.’ At first, I thought I wouldn’t leave the rankings, but I fought in March and I was removed. Then I thought ‘f-ck it,’ none of this matters. What matters is to win’.”
“I don’t see him as a good grappler” Moicano said. “I don’t see him taking me down, passing my guard and submitting me. I have an advantage on the ground, but I think this fight will play out mostly on the feet. It’s not Muay Thai, it’s not kickboxing, it’s different. In my mind, I see a very competitive fight, very hard, but with me having my arm raised.”
Kevin Holland Previews His Fight Against Jacare Souza
After a false-positive COVID-19 test removed him from a main event against Jack Hermansson, UFC middleweight Kevin Holland now gets an arguably bigger fight against former title challenger, Jacare Souza at UFC 256.
Holland took part in a pre-fight media scrum with MMA Junkie and had the following to say on the false positive COVID-19 test and his opponent Jacare Souza:
“I’m not worried about anymore bad tests on my end,” Holland told reporters, including MMA Junkie, at UFC 256 virtual media day on Wednesday. “Somebody else’s end? I don’t know. But on my end, (I’m) healthy as an ox.”
“It was never mine to begin with, so therefore it was never mine to cry about when it got taken away,” Holland said. “It was an opportunity that was presented to me and it was an opportunity that was taken away. Another opportunity has presented itself and I’m happy with the opportunities that I get.”
“Whatever ‘Jacare’ brings to the table is perfectly fine,” Holland said. “When we’re talking about the striking aspect, I definitely have the advantage. When we’re talking about the fight overall, if I do things more technical, that might be my downfall. I think if I press fast-forward I might just run through ‘Jacare.'”
Matheus Mattos Highlights Training With Henry Cejudo
Bellator bantamweight prospect Matheus Mattos makes his 2nd walk to the cage for the promotion at Bellator 254.
Mattos (12-1-1), spoke with MMA Junkie ahead of his bout against Magomed Magomedov and spoke about training with former UFC double champion Henry Cejudo in preparation of the tilt.
Junior Dos Santos Wants Another Shot At UFC Gold
At UFC 256, former UFC heavyweight champion Junior Dos Santos hopes to get back on track after being knocked out in 3 consecutive bouts.
Ahead of his scrap against undefeated rising contender Ciryl Gane, the former champion had this to say to MMA Junkie about his opponent and his hope to reclaim the UFC's top prize:
“I’m trying to move things forward,” Dos Santos told reporters at the UFC 256 virtual media day Wednesday. “I can’t do anything to change the things of the past, but I can do a lot to change the things for my future.
“The last results from my fights weren’t very good, they were actually very bad. But now I’m trying to make a difference, to get a ‘W’ on Saturday and move forward in my career.”
“We try to understand things that sometimes there’s something wrong because the result wasn’t there, it wasn’t expected, but man I feel great,” Dos Santos explained. “I was great on my last fights, and if you watch the fights, I was winning so at some point I got caught and my opponents got the victory.
“I keep working very hard on everything I do, even on my psychological side, but it’s a hard sport it’s hard to understand things. The best thing I can do is working hard, is believing in myself because for me, man, I can see everything is right there. Maybe even better than it was in the past.
“My performance is there, the power is there, the stamina is there, my will to become champion is there. I feel everything is right there. Of course, I’ll keep trying my best to turn things around and get back to my winning streak.”