Fightful Fix is your one-stop-shop for all of today's biggest combat sports stories — from opening odds in the Jake Paul vs. Ben Askren bout and beyond — conveniently compiled in one place. Take a look below.
Jake Paul Opens As Favorite Vs Ben Askren
With news of former UFC fighter Ben Askren agreeing to box Jake Paul coming out yesterday, the betting lines are already open, and Jake Paul is a small favorite. The lines are courtesy of (BetOnline.ag
Jake Paul -180
Ben Askren +150
In response to those opening odds, Askren directed his fans via social media to bet the house on him.
Bet the house https://t.co/iMk3ZsyEuW— Funky (@Benaskren) December 23, 2020
In the less than 24 hours since the lines opened, fans may be taking him up on his advice, as he's been bet up to currently sit at +145, while Paul has seen a corresponding move down to -175.
Scott Coker Says Jake Paul Will Knock Out Ben Askren
Bellator president Scott Coker was asked to handicap the upcoming Ben Askren vs. Jake Paul fight, and despite Askren being a former Bellator champion, Coker doesn't like his chances.
“I already know who’s gonna win that one,” Coker told MMA Junkie. “Ben’s a wrestler. Let’s put it that way, right? So I think he gets knocked out in a boxing fight. But in an MMA fight, it’s a different story.”
“I know the Paul brothers can do both,” Coker said. “Jake is a real wrestler (and) can box now. You have boxing and you have wrestling, just learn the anti-jiu-jitsu techniques that Frank and Ken Shamrock used to teach back in the day, and you’ll be fine. Don’t worry, you’ll be good.”
Askren once was the Bellator lightweight champion in the time before departing for ONE Championship before Coker arrived. Askren retired from MMA in 2019 after a submission loss to Damian Maia.
Scott Coker Teases Potential Matchups for Free Agent Anthony Pettis
In the same interview with Mike Bohn from MMA Junkie, Bellator president Scott Coker mused about what could happen if recent free agent Anthony Pettis were to sign with Bellator.
When asked about a specific matchup vs flashy Bellator welterweight Michael "Venom" Page, Coker commented.
“It would be a lot of fun,” Coker commented (h/t BJPenn.com). “That would be amazing. We’ll see. There’s only so many slots on TV for us. We’ll be having 22 to 26 fights [in 2021], and it’ll all be mapped out sometime in the next three weeks and we’ll figure it out. We’ll have a conversation and see where it goes.”
Coker stressed that he had not been in contact with Pettis, but that he anticipated doing so in the future.
“Really it’s like, how much does he have left in the gas tank?” Coker pondered. “But we’ll definitely have that conversation, and we usually have that conversation with every free agent, whether we sign them or not. We’ll probably do the same thing with Pettis if we haven’t already done it.”
Pettis announced his intention to test free agency after winning the last fight on his contract in December vs. Alex Morono.
Tyson And Jones Both Pass Fight Night Drug Testing
Mike Tyson and Roy Jones both passed their VADA administered drug testing after their November exhibition bout.
Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr. both passed fight-night drug testing administered by @Vada_Testing, per California commission executive officer Andy Foster. VADA does not test for cannabinoids.— Marc Raimondi (@marc_raimondi) December 22, 2020
Rumble Johnson Discusses Possible Bellator Light Heavyweight Grand Prix
Newly signed Bellator light heavyweight Anthony "Rumble" Johnson has thoughts on the possibility of a tournament in Bellator's suddenly deep 205 lb division in an interview with MMA Junkie.
“Man, I’m used to PRIDE,” Johnson commented “You know what I mean? When they had the tournaments and stuff like that. You know what I mean? If we could do stuff like that, I’m definitely down.”
When asked which of his prospective opponents entice him the most, and "Rumble" listed a list of potential challengers.
“There are a lot of challenges out there, so I can’t just call out one challenge, but all the guys are good. They’re tough,” Johnson said. “They picked up Yoel, they have Bader, they have myself, they have Corey Anderson. They have a few other guys. … I look forward to competing against everybody. I’m not calling out just one person. I look forward to competing against all of them. All of them are top fighters to me regardless.”
Johnson recently signed with Bellator, ending nearly a three-year hiatus. He was last seen losing his second UFC title opportunity to Daniel Cormier.
Michael Bisping Discusses Concern For Tony Ferguson
On the most recent episode of his "Believe You Me" podcast, former UFC champion, and current broadcaster Michael Bisping stated his concern for the "rapid decline" he's seen in Tony Ferguson.
“Against Justin Gaethje he got out-struck and then against Charles Oliveira he essentially for the most part got out-grappled,” Bisping said (h/t MMA News). “I’m kind of concerned for Tony Ferguson. Of course, he doesn’t want my sympathy, he doesn’t need my concern, he doesn’t want me talking about him like this, but I’m just curious about where he’s gonna go now as a fighter and I do feel for him. It’s hard. When you’re a guy like Tony Ferguson or anybody in the UFC that’s at the top of the food chain for so long and you’re one of the guys, you’re one of the main guys in that division for so long, and then to see this fall from grace if you will, to get dominated two times in a row.
“Charles Oliveira, for all the skill that he has and I said he was massively underappreciated, is not one of the guys that you think of as the stars of the division. He will be now, but he wasn’t prior to this fight. I just hope that Tony Ferguson deals with this well, I hope has a good team around him.”
Bisping also offered his best wishes and hoped that there was someone in Ferguson's life looking out for his best interests since fighters are so often not in a position to help themselves.
“That’s what fighters do. Fighters never accept that,” Bisping continued. “Fighters need somebody else, a third party to step in: a manager, a loved one, a wife, a coach, a friend, president of the UFC… who knows, we’ve seen that happen many times…to step in and say, ‘Tony, Tony, Tony, you’ve taken a lot of damage these days.’”
After losing to Charles Oliveira at UFC Vegas 17 last week, has now lost consecutive fights for the first time in his career.
Cyril Gane Suggests Potential Fight With Jairzinho Rozenstruik
In an interview with MMA Junkie, rising UFC heavyweight Cyril Gane suggested that his next fight could be against Surinamese bomber Jairzinho Rozenstruik.
“This makes sense,” Gane commented. “He is not booked, so we tried to do it for January if I’m not mistaken, but with Christmas he needs time, so we’ll see. I don’t know when exactly, but I think it’s gonna be that guy.”
Gane is currently undefeated and moved to 4-0 in the UFC in December with a stoppage victory over former champion Junior dos Santos. Rozenstruik is also coming off a knockout win over Dos Santos, back in August.
Tyron Woodley "Working To Get Motivation Back", Says Coach
According to his coach, former UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley is looking for ways to motivate himself as he tries to rebound from a difficult 2020.
Woodley's coach Duke Roufas commented in an interview to MMAFighting, about the differences in outlook one must take after losing a title belt, and the mental adjustments that Woodley is going through.
“He’s really just working his way back up,” Roufus said. “A lot of people don’t realize the change in—You hate to talk about money, but people who fist fight for a living, I did for 20 years, I understand these guys want more than normal people. The way it works when you are the champion you get paid X amount, then you go back to your normal pay and it’s definitely a change of attitude. I think it’s a little harder to stay motivated, I think it’s harder to become champion again in the UFC because it’s such a change of attitude and people who’ve been doing it, I tip my hat to them. It’s very hard."
“Tyron is working on getting his motivation back. You can say what you want about him, but there’s no quit in the man. I respect that a lot. Most people would give up after the tough days these guys see, but there’s no quit in Tyron and he’s optimistic about 2021 and he’s looking to turn it around.”
Roufas also stated that Woodley was targeting a return to the cage in March, tho the potential opponent he mentioned, Michael Chiesa, has just been booked against Neil Magny. Woodley has not tasted victory since losing his UFC welterweight title to Kamaru Usman in 2019, and will be trying to bounce back after losing twice in 2020 first to Gilbert Burns, and then in a grudge match vs Colby Covington.
Paige VanZant Comments On Toughness In Bare-Knuckle Boxing
Former UFC strawweight Paige VanZant sat down with Jimmy Smith on Sirius XM to discuss her signing with Bare Knuckle FC.
“It wasn’t strictly financial for me,” Paige VanZant shared on Unlocking the Cage (h/t BJ Penn.com). “I actually had three or four big players when it came to negotiating contracts. So I had four awesome offers to look at. I think everyone kind of expected me to go to Bellator cause that’s where my husband [Austin Vanderford] fights. And of course, that aspect did intrigue me, I’d love to fight for the same organization as him. It makes sense career-wise, I guess. But, the passion in me wanted to go to bare-knuckle.
“I feel like looking at my fight career, yeah I have an equal amount of submission finishes, knockouts, and like a decision. So for me, it was more about when you look at my whole fight career, the one thing that stands out above anything is how tough I am and I carried that through every single fight and I think the people who really make it in bare-knuckle boxing are the people who are tough. It’s a sport for only the toughest of the tough. And that’s where I want to show my worth and my value. At the same time, I get to utilize and sharpen what I feel is one of my best weapons and that’s my striking.
VanZant also commented as to whether she may go back to MMA in the future, and she was non-committal while stressing her commitment to bare-knuckle boxing for now.
“I may go back to MMA, we don’t know,” VanZant finished. “But right now I’m truly passionate about this bare-knuckle boxing and I’m excited to see where it takes me.”
--"The people who really make it in bare knuckle boxing are the people who are tough and it's a sport for only the toughest of the tough, and that's where I want to show my worth and my value."- @paigevanzant explains to @jimmysmithmma why she decided to sign w/@bareknucklefc -- pic.twitter.com/WsjiITQ9lD— MMA on SiriusXM (@MMAonSiriusXM) December 22, 2020
VanZant departed the UFC in July after suffering a submission loss to Amanda Ribas.
Canadian Bantamweight Fighter Jamie Siraj Retires
Canadian bantamweight fighter Jamie Siraj has announced his retirement via his Instagram.
Unfortunate news, ---- Bantamweight prospect Jamie Siraj (@Gremlin4L) announced on Instagram this morning that he's officially retired from MMA at 26-years-old due to health issues. https://t.co/G8k5yVse9T pic.twitter.com/GEMZJXjNbV— James Lynch (@LynchOnSports) December 22, 2020
The 24-year-old Siraj had an 8 win and 2 loss record while fighting for a variety of Canadian promotions. Siraj linked his retirement to the diagnosis of Progressive Disease.
Sarah Kaufman Announces Departure From PFL
As revealed on an appearance on Octagon Outlook with James Lynch, former Invicta and Strikeforce champion Sarah Kaufman has announced her departure from the Professional Fighters League.
---- Sarah Kaufman also told us she's no longer with PFL and asked for her release earlier this year. Sarah hoping to find a 135-pound fight soon as she fought at 155-pounds in PFL https://t.co/4xM2HLrzDs— James Lynch (@LynchOnSports) December 21, 2020
The 35-year-old Kaufman had signed up in the PFL's million-dollar lightweight tournament, only to be eliminated in the semi-finals by Larissa Pacheco in October of 2019. She has not fought since and is looking to return from the longest layoff of her career.
Medical Suspensions Announced After UFC Vegas 17
In the wake of UFC Vegas 17 a number of fighters including Stephen "Wonderboy" Thompson are facing medical suspensions of up to six months.
Stephen Thompson: Needs MRI of right knee and thigh, and X-ray of right hand, and clearance by doctor, otherwise suspended 180 days; minimum suspension is 60 days.
Geoff Neal: Suspended 45 days with 30 days no contact due to right eyebrow laceration.
Jose Aldo: Suspended 21days with 14 days no contact.
Marlon Vera: Needs MRI of left wrist, and X-Ray of left hand and wrist, and clearance by doctor, otherwise suspended 180 days; minimum suspension is 30 days.
Michel Pereira: Suspended 14 days with seven days no contact.
Khaos Williams: Suspended 30 days with 21 days no contact due to right cheek laceration.
Rob Font: Suspended 21 days with 14 days no contact.
Marlon Moraes: Suspended 45 days with 30 days no contact.
Marcin Tybura: Suspended 30 days with 21 days no contact due to nose laceration.
Greg Hardy: Suspended 45 days with 30 days no contact.
Anthony Pettis: Needs X-ray of nose, X-ray of right foot, and clearance by doctor, otherwise suspended 180 days; minimum suspension is 30 days/
Alex Morono: Suspended 30 days with no contact for 21 days.
Sijara Eubanks: Suspended 21 days with no contact for 14 days.
Pannie Kianzad: Needs X-ray and MRI of left hand/thumb, clearance from doctor, otherwise suspended 180 days; minimum suspension is 30 days.
Deron Winn: Needs MRI or X-ray of left knee, doctor clearance, otherwise suspended 180 days; minimum suspension is 21 days with 14 days no contact.
Antonio Arroyo: Suspended 21 days with 14 days no contact.
Gillian Robertson: Suspended 45 days with no contact for 30 days due to nose laceration.
Taila Santos: Needs MRI of right elbow, doctor clearance, otherwise suspended 180 days; minimum suspension is 30 days with 21 days no contact.
Tafon Nchukwi: Needs MRI or X-ray of right knee and left shoulder, doctor clearance, otherwise suspended 180 days; minimum suspension is 45 days with 30 days no contact.
Jamie Pickett: Suspended 45 days with 30 days no contact.
Jimmy Flick: Needs X-ray of right foot, doctor clearance, otherwise suspended 180 days; minimum suspension is 30 days.
Cody Durden: Needs MRI of right knee, doctor clearance, otherwise suspended 180 days; minimum suspension is 30 days.
Christos Giagos: Needs doctor clearance of left eye corneal abrasion, otherwise suspended 180 days.