Fightful Fix is your one-stop-shop for all of today's biggest combat sports stories — from why Justin Gaethje is backing Tony Ferguson against Charles Oliveria to Dana White on fighter cuts — conveniently compiled in one place. Take a look below.
Justin Gaethje backs Tony Ferguson to come out victorious against Charles Oliveira
Former interim lightweight champion Gaethje is picking his recent opponent "El Cucuy" to get the win against Oliveria. Gaethje was victorious in the main event of 249 versus Ferguson but doesn't believe that Oliveira will have similar success versus Ferguson. The former interim champion will be looking to bounce back from his defeat to Gaethje which ended his 12-fight win streak in UFC.
“I don’t know, man. How intriguing. Tony coming back — I was talking about it earlier with some fighters and I think Tony’s going to win,” Gaethje told The Schmo (h/t The Bodylock MMA). “I think to do what I did against him, you have to fight a certain way. I don’t think Oliveira fights like that."
“I think his striking [technique] is similar to someone like Anthony Pettis who is on their heels a lot," Ferguson continued. "So I think he’s going to have similar issues that Pettis had against Ferguson.”
Dana White refutes claims about recent UFC roster cuts
Dana White has defended the reason behind the recent cuts to two of the UFC's biggest names and insisted it has nothing to with fighter pay and everything to do with trimming the fat on a stacked roster. The UFC has recently released legend Anderson Silva and fan-favorite Yoel Romero in the past few days which has raised suspicion as to the nature of these releases and why they would sanction them. White, however, was adamant that the recent decisions are just the nature of the business with roughly 60 fighters expected to be cut in the coming weeks.
“We’ve been making these same moves every weekend for 20 years. We haven’t in the past few months. It has nothing to do with fighter pay or anything else. It just hasn’t been done in a few months during the pandemic," White said (h/t BJPenn.com). "If I was trying to save money, I would be laying off employees like every other company in America right now. That’s how you save money during something like this. I have honored every fighter contract and have not laid off one employee during this pandemic.”
UFC Vegas 16 medical suspensions revealed
Fighters have been informed of the potential suspensions that they face following UFC Vegas 16. Jack Hermansson suffered a left orbital fracture against Martin Vettori and will have to be cleared by an ophthalmologist. Jamahal Hill — who defeated Ovince Saint Preux — will have to have his left hand X-rayed, and be cleared by a doctor if positive. Otherwise, they will be suspended until June 2021. For a fully comprehensive view of the suspensions visit mixedmartialarts.com
Ciryl Gane eyes up fight with former team-mate Francis Ngannou
Heavyweight prospect Ciryl Gane believes that victory over former champion Junior Dos Santos will make him the next in line to face former teammate Francis Ngannou. Gane faces Dos Santos at UFC 256 in his toughest opponent to date. A win would propel him into the conversation as the next in line for the heavyweight throne. Gane is currently 6-0 as a professional and believes a fight with contender Ngannous is inevitable.
“I think now, the division, for me, if I win against Junior, it’s going to be really close in the top-10. You understand it. We can’t avoid it,” Gane said (h/t BJPenn.com). “It’s something that’s will happen anyway, we cannot avoid that fight anyway. It is a sport, it is normal.”
Jon Jones charity announces Christmas giveaway
A charity set up by UFC fighter Jon Jones has announced a $500 Walmart giveaway to local families just in time for the holidays. The C.A.R.E. Project, which will give $500 to 50 local families who require assistance during the festive season, is a non-profit organization which was founded by Jones in Albuquerque.
The C.A.R.E. Project, a non-profit organization founded by @JonnyBones in Albuquerque, is going to be giving $500 WalMart shopping sprees to 50 local families in need during the holiday season. To apply, you can reach out via Instagram or their website https://t.co/33bnWr7zwY— Marc Raimondi (@marc_raimondi) December 8, 2020
In other Jon Jones news, he has revealed to ESPN his path to heavyweight glory and how he intends on stepping up a weight-class from 205lbs. Jones also gave his opinion on fellow ex light-heavyweight Alexander Gustafsson and what he has learned from his transition to heavyweight, following Gustafsson's loss to Fabricio Werdum in July.
"I don't think [Gustafsson] did it the right way," Jones told ESPN. "Just because you gain some extra pounds doesn't mean you're ready to compete against these boys that were born that way. You've got to really take your time, find your body, find your feet, your new speed, your new rhythm. And then go up there and play the game."
Darren Till reveals details of sparring contest with Mike Perry
Darren Till has revealed how he and Mike Perry ended up sharing some sparring sessions together back in 2018. Till claimed that Perry first approached him after his stunning win over Donald Cerrone at UFC Gdansk and then again outside of a hotel in 2018. The pair have since begun a social-media feud which almost resulted in Till bizarrely being Perry's cornerman for his fight with Tim Means which he ultimately lost.
“He comes up to me outside the hotel reception, he’s like, ‘Are you up for this later, this spar? I said, ‘Yes, I am. Whatever time.’ He turned around and went, ‘I haven’t got no gloves.’ I went, ‘What? What do you mean? You want to ‘spa?’ Till said (h/t to MMA Fighting). "I thought you wanted to go to a spa.’ And he’s like fucking mental, he’s looking at me all confused, and I went, ‘Yeah if you want to spar we can spar.’
“Later on that night he messaged me, ‘Are you ready?’ I was like, ‘Yeah champ, let’s go.’ Went down to the gym in the hotel and we done like five rounds of sparring," he added.
Marvin Vettori issues grim warning for middleweight champion Israel Adesanya
Fresh from his victory over Jack Hermansson, Marvin Vettori is eyeing-up reigning champion Israel Adesanya to prove the champ wrong. Vettori has not forgotten about their clash at UFC on Fox in 2018 and is adamant that the judges got that split-decision wrong when they ruled in Adesanya's favor. The Italian is convinced that the next time they meet the result will be different and that he is Adesanya's biggest contender in the middleweight decision.
“It’s just so nice to prove this guy wrong. To kind of show him I’m right back in his face. I’m right here, motherf**ker. Just look in my eyes. I’m going to be your worst f**king nightmare until the day you f**king retire. That’s what it is. I’m sure he’s feeling it. He didn’t say nothing but he’s feeling the pressure. Vettori said (h/t MMA Fighting). "There’s nobody that’s coming out with such an overwhelming force in this division. With such hunger and will to become the champion. There’s nobody like this. He’s definitely feeling it. If I had to defend the belt against me, I would not feel calm, relaxed. I’d be feeling pretty stressed. I feel like he’s feeling that way, too.”
Vitor Belfort open to fighting Yoel Romero
Vitor Belfort has revealed he is keen on a clash with newly free-agent Yoel Romero following his release from the UFC. Belfort last fought in the UFC in 2018 against Lyoto Machida and is now signed to One Championship and is more than willing to face Romero.
“For sure,” Belfort said when asked if he’d fight Romero (h/t Lowkick MMA). "Come on man, that guy is a beast and my age so that would be great. That would be a great fight too."
Yoel Romero isn't letting his release get his spirits down, sharing his first social media post since the news broke. Romero shared a post of him and Jorge Masvidal, saying he is planning for his grand-opening December 19.
Tony Ferguson responds to Ali Abdelaziz claim about his management team
After Abdelaziz tweeted that Tony Ferguson's management team reached out to Gaethje following his victory over "El Cucuy", and this hasn't sat down too well with the former interim champion. Ferguson, who is facing Charles Oliveria at the upcoming UFC 256 card in the co-main event, has responded in a way only Ferguson would. Abdelaziz claimed to have screenshots to back-up his claim but this hasn't affected Ferguson, who seemed quite relaxed about the whole scenario.
Ali, Your Such a Fuckin’ Hooooooe I Love It -- Post it up MF & While Your At It Keep Hiding/Watching From The Sidelines w/ @TeamKhabib hashtag # BeGon’Thot ---- -CSO- ---------- # pic.twitter.com/97YlOi2J3l— Tony Ferguson (@TonyFergusonXT) December 9, 2020
Ilima-Lei Macfarlane eyes Juliana Velasquez as a future opponent
Ilima Macfarlane is not taking Juliana Velasquez for granted and believes this could be the beginning of a rivalry between the two flyweights. Macfarlane defends her flyweight championship versus Velasquez with both women having an undefeated streak on the line. The champion believes that the division will be led by the pair.
“I believe that we will meet again regardless of what happens Thursday,” Macfarlane said (h/t MMA Fighting). “Whether that’s in a tournament or your normal rematch I do think that we’re the top two girls in the division and there’s gonna be a rematch."
UFC light heavyweight Jiri Prochazka has signed with Paradigm Sports
Paradigm Sports has snapped up Jiri Prochazka, adding to their list of clients including Conor McGregor and Israel Adesanya. Prochazka, a former Rizin light heavyweight champ, busted onto the scene in July when he scored a second-round knockout of Volkan Oezdemir. Paradigm Sports were delighted to get such a bright prospect added to their ranks.
“We are thrilled to be working with Jiri and the Bookin Agency team, as we continue to grow our premier client base and management network across Europe,” Tim Simpson, head of Paradigm’s MMA division, said in a statement. “Jiri is an elite martial artist and true title contender, and we are excited to contribute to his already stellar career both commercially and athletically.”
Phil De Fries opens up on his mental health battle prior to his title run
Even for the heavyweight champion of KSW, mental health can sometimes be the biggest fight you can face. Phil De Fries has recounted the battle he had gone through with depression.
“I had irrational fears, that the slightest things could lead to terrible consequences, which isn’t how life is, you know? I got cut from the UFC and had a bad loss, and I hit the drink and stuff and had a bit of a mental breakdown, so I went to address my mental issues. I didn’t even know what anxiety was. … I was suffering from it so badly.” he explained (h/t MMA Junkie). “I saw a therapist and I got some pills for my anxiety and I haven’t lost a fight since,” he explained. “Backstage I used to have this unbelievable fear, but now, with the medication and the therapy and stuff, it’s like, ‘This is great! I can enjoy myself now!'”
This has proved fruitful for the champ, as he earned a contract with KSW and defeated Michal Andryszak in the first round to capture the title at KSW 43.