Kevin Holland has expressed an interest in fighting Khamzat Chimaev and also expressed some doubt as to whether he suffered from COVID-19 as much as was reported and more — Ahead of UFC Vegas 22 we have all the latest combat sports news in your Fightful Fix.
Kevin Holland weighs in on Khamzat Chimaev and reveals they had a staredown recently
Kevin Holland (no.10) takes on Derek Brunson (no.10) but in the media day before they main event UFC Vegas 22, Holland has lived up to his nickname of "Big Mouth" by weighing in on Khamzat Chimaev and his struggles with COVID-19. Chimaev has been struggling in the last few months to get over the infection recently and Holland has again chimed on just how sick he believes Chimaev is.
“He still looks pretty in all his pictures. Everybody says he feels bad. I had seen him like literally two days before he said he felt bad, and we were about to low-key fight inside the lobby all over again. You know what I mean? I mean, he didn’t feel that bad that hour. So, it is what it is. I think the guy’s personally getting better, so when he comes back and he has to fight the tougher competition, he could continue to smash the way he’s been smashing.”
Holland also admitted that he had a run-in with Chimaev recently in a hotel lobby and "Big Mouth" almost found himself in an impromptu showdown with the undefeated prospect. But Holland admits that it is a fight he would like in the Octagon "one day."
“It wasn’t like almost fight, it was just like literally, I seen him, he seen me and he walked in and I was like, ‘Oh look my best friend’s here,'” Holland said to the media before UFC Vegas 22 (h/t MMA Junkie). “Granted there’s a language barrier, so he probably didn’t understand like I was being sarcastic, and he was like, ‘Oh you want to be friends now?’ I started laughing, I was like, ‘F*ck no, never. Why would I want to be friends with you?’ Then somebody behind me was like, ‘Kevin there’s a lot of them, and it’s just one of you,’ and I was like, ‘I’m not worried about it. I drove out here. I got dildos in the car. I’m ready to f*ck that boy.’ So it’s never really worried about these guys. I hope he gets better. I’d love to fight him one day.”
Derek Brunson not fazed by Kevin Holland's attempts to make their fight personal
Derek Brunson (21-7) believes that any attempt from Kevin Holland (21-5) to make their fight personal has been futile. Brunson has been a mainstay in the top-10 for the last few years and will be hoping to continue his pursuit of getting a top-5 position and isn't gonna let mind games by "Big Mouth" derail him, especially as he has seen this before with reigning champion Israel Adesanya before they fought.
“Holland would like to make it personal; he would like to follow the same thing ‘Izzy’ did with the hype,” Brunson told reporters at a Wednesday media day ahead of the card (h/t MMA Junkie). “It’s funny, he’s doing the exact same thing ‘Izzy’ did. He’s calling me ‘Bumson,’ and I’m like, ‘Bro, ‘Izzy’ said the same thing. You’re trying to do exactly what he did.’ So I haven’t been engaging with him because I’m going to fight the way I fought my previous couple of fights. I’m going to look to knock you out regardless, so like I’m not going to be satisfied until I trap your arms and TKO you. That’s how the fight is going to go no matter what is said or how much trash you’re talking. It’s not going to change the way that I fight.”
Robert Whittaker says he has “a couple of things up my sleeve” for Israel Adesanya
Robert Whittaker (no.1) is well aware he might have to bide his time before he can have a rematch with Israel Adesanya. The pair fought at UFC 243, with "The Last Stylebender" decisively beating Whittaker by TKO in the second round to dethrone "The Reaper." Whittaker has bounced back very well with wins over Jared Cannonier and Darren Till to cement his place at the top of the rankings.
“It’s hard to say, the UFC and Izzy have all the power,” Whittaker said to ESPN of a second crack at Adesanya (h/t BJPenn.com). “So I’m just looking at this as it’s how I make a living, this is my job and I love my job, I enjoy making a living providing for my family like this. So I’m just going to do my thing, I’m going to work hard, earn my money, and then I’m going to enjoy time with my family and the lifestyle that it provides me.”
Whittaker is hoping that a win over Kelvin Gastelum in April will earn him a chance at redemption but if he has to wait it out, the Aussie has no problem in biding his time.
“Perhaps, perhaps, it’s very hard to adapt the plans without (Blachowicz’s) power. But we’ve got to wait and see how Izzy comes back down to middleweight,” Whittaker said. “I’ve got a couple of things up my sleeve I’m looking to try next time we cross paths, so we’ll wait and see.”
Mike Tyson reveals May fight against an unnamed opponent
Mike Tyson will continue his return in boxing in May this year on Memorial Day weekend at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami. The former heavyweight champ, who took part in an exhibition with Roy Jones Jr. last November, hasn't confirmed his opponent but rumors of an epic showdown with Evander Holyfield have been circulating recently. Tyson was last in the ring with Holyfield in June 1997, when Tyson was disqualified for twice biting the ear of his opponent in one of the most infamous incidents in boxing history. The pair have since made up and Holyfield has appeared on Tyson's podcast.
Daniel Cormier promises to "slap" Ben Askren if he loses to Jake Paul
Daniel Cormier is hoping that his fellow Olympian Ben Askren can do MMA proud and defeat YouTuber Jake Paul in his pro-boxing debut. The pair will fight an eight-round cruiserweight bout at the Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia, on April 17th, 2021. And Cormier is hoping that Askren, who isn't a proficient striker by any means, can defeat Paul who is 2-0 in his boxing career but most recently fought a retired NBA player in Nate Robinson.
“Listen, we have to. We are rooting for Ben Askren. I’m rooting for Ben Askren (because of) more than just the fact that we’re Olympic teammates and he’s my friend. I’m rooting for Ben Askren because Ben Askren’s going out there and representing Mixed Martial Arts against an internet celebrity. Like, Ben Askren has to get this done. And I’m not the only one. Dana White was going to bet Zab Judah a million dollars on Ben Askren," Cormier said on a recent edition of ESPN MMA’s DC & Helwani show (h/t Sportskeeda). “Ben needs to win this (Jake Paul) fight. I see Ben Askren afterwards, (if) he loses to Jake Paul, I’m slapping him…Ben Askren, you lose to Jake Paul, I’m slapping you. You’d better beat this dude. Don’t lose to Jake Paul. Go beat this dude, man. Come on, Ben. You got MMA, it’s USA wrestling, it’s everybody, we’re all watching. Everybody’s watching, Ben; everybody’s watching, Ben. And I’m telling you, I’ve spoken to a lot of people. A number of people want to slap you if you don’t get this done. So, you’d better get this fight won, man, I’m telling you,”
Rani Yahya wants opponents like Urijah Faber and Dominick Cruz
Rani Yahya has 11 submission victories, the most in UFC bantamweight history, and now he's eyeing up two of the bantamweight's greatest fighters. At UFC Vegas 21 this past Saturday, the jiu-jitsu specialist forced Ray Rodriguez to tap to an arm-triangle choke, his third using that hold in his UFC journey. Yahya was in a majority draw Enrique Barzola in his last outing, and now he is back in the win column, Yahya is targeting either Urijah Faber or Dominick Cruz.
“Urijah Faber, I think a lot of people would want to see this fight,” Yahya said in an interview with MMA Fighting. “It would be good for him, for me, for the fans, for everyone. People also suggested Dominick Cruz, and that would be awesome. Let’s see if he wants that, if he would agree. I’d be happy to fight him. I wanna go on that direction and fight people with big names.”
Yahya is hoping that Faber hasn't retired again, given he hasn't fought since losing to Petr Yan in 2019.
“I don’t know if he’s retired again. I think this would be an interesting fight for him. I think it makes sense. We have a lot of opponents in common, we’ve fought in two weight classes, so I think this fight makes a lot of sense.”
Manager scoffs at the notion that Darren Stewart 'baited' Eryk Anders into illegal knee
Darren Stewart's manager Graham Boylan has dismissed claims from Herb Dean, who was apparently under the impression that Stewart "baited" Eryk Anders into the illegal knee that resulted in a no contest, and insisted that his client didn't bait Anders into the illegal knee. In a statement provided to MMA Junkie on Wednesday, Boylan said the following.
“I have asked five UFC referees, 10-plus judges, 30-plus fighters and coaches, along with other managers in the game globally. Every one of them called it a DQ. No question. At no point did Darren Stewart bait the knee from Anders. He made two movements, and neither show the ‘baiting’ that is referenced. Anders took Darren down, Darren was on all fours for a second, the position then changed from all fours to right foot to the floor, right hand to his head. Where in those two movements over three seconds did Darren bait an illegal knee? He made two movements to protect himself in a time period of three seconds from being put in that position by Anders.
We are talking about a three-to-four-second period in the fight, where Anders put Darren in a ‘downed opponent’ position, put his hands on his shoulder and the back of his head, and threw the illegal knee. Where was the baiting?
Darren made TWO movements: 1. Right foot to the floor; 2. Right hand to the head. Watch the tape, look at the two movements and the time frame they happened in.
I’ve been in this game for more than 14 years and have been involved with thousands of Cage Warriors fights, plus the UFC fights of our guys I look after, and never have I seen such a wrong call or excuse for making the wrong call.
I respect all the refs and judges who work hard to make this sport what it is. A referee’s priority is to protect the fighter and make the big calls that determine fights when required. Your priority is NOT to protect your own image and reputation first.
It’s OK, on reflection, to put your hand up and say, ‘I was wrong on that one.’ It’s not OK to create a story that doesn’t match the actions in question. No doubt this fight will be rebooked.
David Michaud doesn't see Rory MacDonald's decline the way some are saying
David Michaud isn't under the impression that Rory MacDonald has declined in the way some people believe. Michaud (18-6) meets MacDonald (21-6-1), a former Bellator welterweight champion at the Ocean Casino Resort in Atlantic City, N.J., as part of the first round of the PFL welterweight season. Some people believe that MacDonald is on a downward momentum after losses against current Bellator welterweight champion Douglas Lima and current Bellator middleweight champion Gegard Mousasi.
“He’s been through some wars and I think that’s why guys are expecting that chin to start going away eventually. But his last fight was for the Bellator championship and he was the Bellator world champ for a long time,” Michaud told MMA Junkie. “So it’s not like he was out there getting knocked out by bums. I think he’s only been finished by Robbie Lawler, which you know, that’s one of the best guys at 170. So he’s not out here taking bad loses and he’s not losing guys who aren’t top level. I mean. he lost to Douglas Lima, OK? Who’s going to ever sit there and say Douglas Lima is not one of the best in the world? So I don’t think he’s lost what people say he’s lost. I’m just excited to get back in there and try my hand with him.”
Max Griffin expects to finish Kenan Song: “I will thrash this guy”
Max Griffin will face Kenan Song at UFC Vegas 22 but they could have been fighting sooner. Griffin had to postpone the fight from UFC 259 after the birth of his son. "Pain" isn't too thrilled with his opponent but after a chat with his manager, he has admitted he sees the logic in fighting Song.
“I’ll be honest, when I first got the name, I wasn’t too pumped, I’ll keep it real,” Griffin said on Just Scrap Radio on BJPENN.com. “My manager told me I have a couple of fights left on my contract and they didn’t want me fighting guys like Robbie Lawler on this type of contract. So, it is beat this guy and then renegotiate after. He is a good guy for me to beat.”
Against Song, Griffin is confident he will be able to pick him apart and eventually finish him. He knows most opponents try to wrestle him. But, he doesn’t expect Song to even last that long to consider wrestling.
“I don’t want to say too much. He is more of a standup guy, he likes to pressure guys, he will fight. He’s not a takedown guy,” Griffin said. “He has a 71-inch reach which is on the shorter side, especially with mine being 76″. He will be there for me to hit and I will thrash this guy.”
Adrian Yanez unfazed by pre-UFC Vegas 22 tension: 'Where is all this hostility coming from?'
Adrian Yanez (12-3) admits he was a little surprised to hear some very strong pre-fight talk from Gustavo Lopez (12-5) at Wednesday’s media day at the UFC Apex. While he was a little taken aback by Lopez’s claim that he hasn’t fought top competition just yet, Yanez said he didn’t take it personally.
“At first, I was just a little bit shocked, like, ‘Where is all this hostility coming from?'” Yanez told reporters, (h/t MMA Junkie). “Every single time I’m talking about him in an interview, it’s like, ‘Oh, he’s a tough fighter,’ but people have to get themselves fired up. Honestly and truly, I do respect the guy.”
Aspen Ladd doesn't think Julianna Pena should fight Amanda Nunes
It’s been eight months since UFC bantamweight Aspen Ladd underwent ACL and MCL surgery, and she is hoping to return to the octagon in July and ideally against Julianna Pena. Pena has been calling out Amanda Nunes but Ladd doesn't believe that that fight makes sense.
“I’m at the point now where I have a timeline of when I’ll be back, and by that time, I highly doubt that fight will have materialized, and it makes no sense for her to jump ahead and get the fight just because she’s talking a lot of trash, but you know how the game works,” Ladd told MMA Fighting on What the Heck.
If Pena does get the title shot, Ladd expects Nunes will prevail.
“I think Julianna’s a more legitimate contender than anybody she’s fought recently,” Ladd said. “I think she it will be the grappling that brings it in. With Amanda, the only think she’s ever showed in my opinion is a little bit of lack in cardio, and when she hits the ground, it’s not that fast-paced. So I think Julianna has a better shot – do I think she’ll come out victorious? No.”
Paulo Costa reveals timeframe for return to Octagon, suggests two potential opponents
Paulo Costa (13-1) has revealed the timeframe for his return to the Octagon, and he suggested two potential opponents for it. Costa is the no.2 ranked middleweight in the UFC and was forced to pull out of his fight with no.1 ranked Robert Whittaker in April due to lingering effects from his COVID-19 infection. Costa is targeting a May return now that Whittaker has found a replacement in Kelvin Gastelum and "Borrachinha" has a couple of fighters he would like to face.
“I think Derek Brunson is further back (in the rankings), more unknown, more off. I don’t think he (is in the running) The other two (Jared Cannonier and Jack Hermansson), any of them. Whoever the public wants, whoever the UFC wants,” Costa said to Ag Fight.
Matheus Nicolau's trip back to UFC worth the struggles – and he wants to go all the way
Matheus Nicolau defeated Manel Kape with a split decision on the main card at UFC Vegas 21. Nicolau, who won for the third straight time and sixth time in his past seven fights, has detailed the journey he went through in his climb back to the UFC.
“The journey to be here was rough. I’ve been going through a lot. I went through a lot in those couple of years that I was out of the UFC. Especially in this training camp, I went through a lot. I was about to fight Tagir Ulanbekov. He is a completely different fighter, with all different characteristics. The opponent just changed like two weeks ago, so we had to change all the strategy for this fight," Nicolau told the media (h/t MMA Junkie). "Of course I wanted to win by knockout or submission, but it’s good to have a tough fight like that. I think I proved to everybody and even to myself how much of a warrior I am, how much I want this, how much I work hard. I put everything inside the octagon and I think I did enough to get the victory.”