One of the most dominant champions in MMA history in Jose Aldo is ready to face off against Dominick Cruz, Mike Perry talks his fight future — all this and more in Friday's Fightful Fix.
Jose Aldo chooses Dominick Cruz as his next target
On his quest to become UFC Bantamweight Champion, Jose Aldo wants to face a former champion within the division.
“It’s a big fight to make, Dominick and me, because of our importance [in the sport],” Aldo stated to MMAFighting (h/t BJPenn). “We were both WEC champions and then came to the UFC as champions, so it’s a big fight to make.”
On a one-fight win streak, Aldo believes a win over Cruz could put him on top of the division.
Mike Perry not long for the welterweight division?
The controversial Mike Perry had a tough time making weight in his last bout at UFC 255. Perry posted on social media that he was considering a move down to middleweight for his health.
Bro dieting and cutting weight is the worst. I can’t go on living like this. Middleweight has got to be in my future.— Platinum Mike Perry (@PlatinumPerry) March 31, 2021
Michael Chandler believes the pressure is on for Dustin Poirier
Making an impactful debut for the UFC at UFC 257 by knocking out Dan Hooker, Michael Chandler is ready to fight for gold. He will be fighting for the vacant UFC Lightweight Title, but not against Dustin Poirier. The latter will be fighting Conor McGregor in a trilogy bout. Chandler believes that Poirier is taking a big gamble with the fight.
“Now that they’re both 1-1, now it’s a fight that Dustin can’t lose,” Chandler said to MMA Fighting. “He knows he passed up on the title shot in order to take this fight.
“So there’s going to be a ton of pressure on Dustin to win this fight or else he passed up on a title shot that he might not get for a while. Taking another fight or two to get back to the title and it could be me and Conor fighting next, if Conor wins.”
Chandler is set to face off against Charles Oliveira in May at UFC 262.
Who wants. to welcome Paddy Pimblett into the UFC?
There was plenty of buzz when it was announced that the UFC signed former Cage Warriors Lightweight Champion Paddy Pimblett. One fighter who wants to halt his momentum right away is Guram Kutateladze. The 29-year-old called out Pimblett after his fight with Don Madge was called off following surgery.
The two have since had a back and forth on social media.
You talk too much. Just say “yes” to the fight. And tell to your overseers, that are covering you, that you accept the fight and don’t run from it. Don’t search for easy ways. @PaddyTheBaddy @GrahamBoylan @MajdiShammas @seanshelby @ufc @UFCEurope @UFCRussia @NimaSafapour— Guram Kutateladze (@guram_dze) March 31, 2021
Miesha Tate talks about her break from MMA
Former UFC and Strikeforce Bantamweight Champion Miesha Tate retired from in-ring competition in 2016. On a two-fight losing streak, "Cupcake" set her sights on becoming a mom and has also worked for ONE Championship.
After losing the UFC title to Amanda Nunes and then getting beat by Raquel Pennington, Tate realized the best thing for her was to remove herself from the sport.
"I was struggling mentally and emotionally and I was in a very dark place and I needed to take time away. I needed to take time away from everything."@MieshaTate opened up about her decision to walk away from the sport in 2016. (via @arielhelwani) pic.twitter.com/IIaNdvWGEe— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) March 31, 2021
“You have to give everything to this sport,” Tate told ESPN (h/t BJPenn). “You have to give as much as you can and when you have something taking away from it, something that’s mentally and emotionally exhausting you, there comes a point where you just have nothing left and that’s where I found myself with Raquel [Pennington].
“I just wasn’t able to engage in that fight the way that I wanted to. That was very depressing, it was really depressing. I was struggling mentally and emotionally, and I was in a very dark place. I needed to take time away. I needed to take time away from everything, I needed to separate myself from all the things that were taking away from myself, and answer questions and get out of that dark space. So I did that.”
Tate is scheduled to return to the octagon on July 17 against Marion Reneau.
Family name doesn't affect the mindset of Neiman Gracie
The Gracie name is considered MMA royalty. To be a member of the family comes with a lot of expectations. Neiman Gracie doesn't seem to be bothered by those expectations by others. In fact, he worries more about his own thoughts.
Gracie is expected to fight Jason Jackson at Bellator 255 on April 2. With a win, he could get another shot at the Bellator Welterweight Title. The 32-year-old is fighting not just to represent his family name, but to boost his own mindset.
“It’s a pressure I put on myself, so it’s something that no one actually put that pressure on me,” Gracie told FanSided. “I do that by myself, and I think it’s great because that’s what makes me wake up every day and go to the gym and train my a** off. I think it’s a good pressure to have. And I think if you’re getting to sport, and you don’t want to be the best and you don’t want to fight against the best, like you’re losing your time and you’re making other people lose their time. So I’m here to fight against the best and I’m here to try to be the best.”
Jason Jackson confident ahead of Neiman Gracie fight
A Gracie Jiu-Jitsu specialist, Neiman Gracie has nine wins via submission. On a three-fight win streak, Jason Jackson believes he has him all figured out.
Both fighters will face off at Bellator 255. After beating Benson Henderson, Jackson has a lot of confidence. Against a wrestler in Gracie, Jackson believes he has the perfect game plan.
“No secret to that [Gracie’s strategy]. I have to be stingy, make him wrestle when I want to wrestle,” Jackson said, via FanSided. “Definitely been working with Rory MacDonald a lot get some good insight and working with the legend — Robbie Lawler — and working with the best striking coach, best wrestling coach. Sanford MMA’s got everything you need.
“Gilbert Burns, Vagner Rocha, so many people that are actively competing right now, that are in the jiu-jitsu world that I’m going with. I’m still sharpening up on my stuff. I don’t abandon what I’m going to do. And he’s gonna be surprised to see how much of a strong wrestler I am, but I’m not going to endorse in his game, you know I’m gonna keep it into my favor.”
Numbers are up and down for UFC 260 prelims
On a card that featured Francis Ngannou knocking out Stipe Miocic, UFC 260 also had some solid fights before the PPV began. The ratings are in, and according to MMA Fighting, the prelims averaged about 718,000 viewers on ESPN. The prelims ranked fifth overall in the Saturday cable ratings due in part to the NCAA Tournament.
With over 418,000 viewers for the early prelims, UFC 260 ended up having the lowest ratings for pay-per-view prelims to start 2021.
Jose Aldo defends Aljamain Sterling
A controversial ending at UFC 259 saw Aljamain Sterling beat Petr Yan via DQ, winning the UFC Bantamweight Title in the process. There has been a lot of heat on Sterling by Yan and the fans, saying he is not a true champion. Former featherweight champion Jose Aldo is not one of those people, defending Sterling and his new title as champion.
“I do consider him the champion,” Aldo told MMA Fighting. “It wasn’t his fault. He didn’t throw the illegal strike or anything like that. Petr made a mistake and paid for his mistake. It’s more than fair, you can’t say [Sterling] is not the champion. It doesn’t matter if it’s by disqualification or not, rules are there to be followed. I do see him as the champion. If he felt [the knee] or not, only he can say, but I do see him as the legitimate champion.”
Emmanuel Sanchez ready to fight the odds
Getting a chance to avenge a loss against Bellator Featherweight Champion Patricio Freire, Emmanuel Sanchez is not taking anything for granted. He also knows the odds may be stacked against him heading into Bellator 255, but that just makes him even more motivated.
“There’s no pressure on me,” Sanchez told MMA Junkie. “I’m the underdog. I’m expected to get killed and murdered and worse than the first time. Who knows whatever other people want to think and count me out? That’s fine. That’s been the story of my life and the story of my Bellator career thus far. There’s always going to be the bigger guy, the stronger guy, this guy, that guy. It’s all well and good. Shorter, tall, big, or small, they all will fall.”
Sanchez is currently on a three-fight win streak, beating the likes of Tywan Claxton and Daniel Weichel. Bellator 255 takes place on April 2.
Stephen A. Smith talks Francis Ngannou's win over Stipe Miocic
The landscape of the UFC's heavyweight division has been dramatically altered after UFC 260. Francis Ngannou learned from his past mistakes and was able to beat Stipe Miocic for the UFC Heavyweight Title. Now with twelve wins via knockout, Ngannou looks unstoppable.
Appearing on ESPN's First Take, Ngannou was showered with compliments. Stephen A. Smith compared Ngannou and his power to a dominant boxer from the past.
“I caught your knockout on Saturday. I called it the greatest thing that’s ever happened to the UFC,” Smith stated (h/t MMA News). “Because when you’re the heavyweight champion of the world and you come into the Octagon with bad intentions like Mike Tyson did in boxing, like George Foreman did before him, that’s the greatest thing for a pugilistic sport.”
The praise didn't stop there. Max Kellerman believes that Ngannou's win and future could be a big step in the right direction for the division.
“I agree with Stephen A,” Kellerman stated. “This has a chance to be, what you did now, a turning point in the history of the UFC in the sense that light heavy was always the glamour division. Brock Lesnar looked for a second, like, ‘Can he be that guy at heavyweight?’ But he couldn’t consistently stay at that level. You now have a fight maybe lined up with Jon Jones.
“Because the UFC champion would beat the heavyweight champion in boxing in an actual fight, that guy’s the baddest man on the planet, especially if he’s a guy that fights like you. So this could be a turning point in the history of your sport. That’s a tremendous achievement.”
Jason Parillo gives praise to Luke Rockhold
At one point a force in the middleweight division, the past few years have not been kind to Luke Rockhold. After losing the UFC Middleweight Title to Michael Bisping, Rockhold has gone 1-2 and hasn't fought since July 2019. Dealing with injuries, Rockhold tried his luck at light heavyweight and crashed. Now, he is looking to get back into the thick of things.
Training with boxing coach Jason Parillo, Rockhold is ready for a comeback. Parillo had nothing but praise for Rockhold when RT Sport talked to him.
“I don’t know if I’ve sunk my teeth into Luke enough to have a different version of Luke Rockhold," Parillo stated (h/t BJ Penn). Because Luke Rockhold’s still, in my opinion, not living up to his potential. And that’s been my biggest thing with Luke right now. He’s been in the gym now on and off for a couple of months, but he’s got a shoulder injury which makes it kind of tough. He’s not in a position where he can do everything he wants to do.
"But Luke is one of the most gifted fighters that’s ever entered the UFC. I’ll be honest with you. He’s got all the gifts in the world. I tell everybody that he’s one of the greatest athletes who ever stood in front of me. But there’s a guy that needs the right direction. The biggest trick with Luke is getting him to listen in the right direction. For me, that’s an obstacle."
There is no current matchup set for Rockhold yet.
Paul Capaldo ready for whoever is in his way
Looking to become a major star in MMA, Paul Capaldo is willing to do whatever it takes to get to the UFC. That includes preparing for multiple opponents.
The 24-year-old is set to face off against Chris Vasil at CFFC 95. Vasil is the third opponent booked for Capaldo at the event. Capaldo, however, doesn't mind who his opponent is. He is ready to put on a show no matter what.
“I need to get in that cage, so I just said whoever they gave me, whoever they named, I’m always down to fight anyone,” Capaldo said, via MMA Junkie. “I put in the work. I was training hard for this fight, so I’m ready.”
Mandel Nallo talks recent bouts
After getting a new opponent at Bellator 255, Mandel Nallo is just ready to fight. The Bellator star spoke to MMA Junkie about the common theme of weird fight announcements and the opponents he has taken on. He is set to face off against Ricardo Seixas Filho on April 2.
Francis Ngannou has his eyes on boxing
A prolific striker, Francis Ngannou has shown interest in boxing. That is thanks in part to Mike Tyson. With heavyweights Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury set to compete in a heavyweight title unification fight, Ngannou couldn't help but think about his future as a heavyweight outside of the octagon.
“This is in the future, it’s somewhere, definitely," Ngannou told talkSPORT. "I’m going to box; I have to box in my career.
“My main dream has always been the noble art and even though I deviated into MMA, which I love, I still have to fulfill something in boxing.”
Ngannou recently beat Stipe Miocic at UFC 260 for the UFC Heavyweight Title.