Fightful Fix is your one-stop-shop for all of today's biggest combat sports stories — the UFC eyeing Stipe Miocic vs Francis Ngannou for April and much much more— conveniently compiled in one place. Take a look below.
Stipe Miocic vs. Francis Ngannou Likely Now Targetted For April
The planned rematch between heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic, and Francis Ngannou has been pushed back to headline UFC 260 according to UFC president Dana White at a fan Q&A.
Dana says Stipe vs. Ngannou will probably happen in April #AskDana— Amy Kaplan (@PhotoAmy33) January 6, 2021
Previously, White had stated that Ngannou vs. Miocic had been slated to headline UFC 259 in March. Miocic and Ngannou have met before, in the main event of UFC 220 in January 2018, with Miocic scoring a shutout decision win.
Miocic was last seen in the cage defending his title in his trilogy fight against Daniel Cormier in August, while Ngannou fought in May stopping Jairzinho Rozenstruik in just 20 seconds.
Rose Namajunas Wants The Title, Coach Calls Disagreement With White A "Misunderstanding"
Despite claims to the contrary, Rose Namajunas very much wants another shot at the title.
In an appearance with the UFC Unfiltered podcast, both Namajunas herself, as well as her trainer and fiancee Pat Barry she is very invested in regaining her strawweight title.
Last month, Dana White claimed that former champ Namajunas "didn't want a title shot" in an interview w BT Sport, which is something Barry firmly rejects and blames on miscommunication.
“That was just a misunderstanding of some sort,” Barry said of the disagreement with White (h/t MMA Fighting). “I’m sure the UFC knows what they’re doing. Dana White knows what they’re doing. We know the call is coming. There must have been some miscommunication somewhere, but she absolutely—Yeah, of course, the title fight, but anybody. She’ll fight somebody today. This girl is ready ready.”
Namajunas went on to appear herself, and state that she's been scouting the champion Weili Zhang, and is indeed gearing up to reclaim her belt.
“I’ve been watching Weili ever since I saw her fight Tecia [Torres] a while back, I started to have my eye on her,” Namajunas said. “Especially ever since she became champion I’ve been scouting her out and breaking her down, game-planning for her because yeah, she’s got the belt, that’s really what you have to go off of.”
The champion Zhang hasn't fought since engaging in a fight of the year contender with Joanna Jedrzejczyk at UFC 248 in March, while Namajunas hasn't fought since defeating Jessica Andrade in July.
Anthony Pettis Explains Signing With PFL, Relishes Target On His Back
First Pettis explained that he avoided signing with Bellator because he didn't want to put his little brother Sergio back into his shadow.
“There’s a couple reasons behind the PFL deal,” Pettis told (h/t MMA Junkie).“My little brother at Bellator, seeing him go over there, I like that he has his own home. I feel like he kind of had an identity by me (in the UFC). He was Anthony Pettis’ little brother and he was fighting these tough fights and these guys were coming at him hard. Now he’s in Bellator and he’s one fight away from becoming a world champion. I’m really happy where he’s at.
Pettis went on to detail exactly what it was about the PFL format that he found attractive.
“The PFL deal and their format is kind of what drew me toward making that signature happen fast. I thought their offering was very fair and I guarantee four fights next year – I’ve got to earn that last one – but I have four fights on the schedule for 2021 and it’s a season. The format was huge or me. Being able to go in there and know when my fights are. In my previous career in the UFC, I had to take a lot of last-minute fights. I was fighting on four weeks’ notice, three weeks’ notice and cutting crazy weight. Now, this year, I know what my fights are, I know what weight I have to be at. So a little more structure for me.”
Pettis explained that he relishes the prospect of having a target on his back in his new promotion, and he knows that everyone in the tournament will be looking to build their name off of his.
“I’ve got to start at a new job (and prove myself),” Pettis said. “Everything I’ve done in my past, we all know in the fight world, you’re only as good as your last fight. Going into a new organization and having that target on my back. I know these guys are looking at me like – when I was fighting in the UFC, I fought the best version of every fighter. When they heard my name they were like, ‘Oh, I’m fighting Anthony Pettis.’ They were the best version of themselves, so they know what a fight against me does for them. I think the same thing for the PFL. I’ve got a target on my back. I’ve already seen it. When I announce the signing a lot of their fighter were like, ‘I look forward to meeting you in the octagon.’ I’m excited about a new journey, a whole new path of my career and a new chapter.”
Finally, Pettis stressed that this is not him winding down his career, and that he isn't even considering retirement.
“I think it’s just another chapter in my career,” Pettis said. “I don’t feel really close to retirement age, I don’t feel like my body is giving up on me or my mindset, if anything it’s getting stronger. Dealing with he sports physiologist has opened up my mind to that sides of sports training. I’m excited to keep continuing that journey.”
Pettis became the PFL's highest-profile signing when he signed with them in December.
Cris Cyborg Expresses Interest In A Matchup With Kayla Harrison
Cris "Cyborg" Justino has her eyes set on gold medalist and PFL fighter, Kayla Harrison if everything goes right in 2021.
The women's MMA pioneer and current Bellator featherweight champion, indicated she was interested in the super-fight on an episode of The Catchup with James Lynch.
“I saw she made the weight but I didn’t watch the fight,” Cyborg said (h/t BJ Penn.com). “A couple fights I’ve seen her. I believe she’s fighting girls under or below her skill. The girls aren’t on her level. But she’s doing great, this is a strategy [by] her manager.
“I believe this year she’s gonna fight for PFL, she’s gonna be in a tournament at 155 [pounds]. And if she becomes the champion of this tournament, for sure I would like to make a match with her that all the fans would like to watch. I would like to go to 155 before I retire. I want to help build the division and if she is young, let’s see if she would like to do a match, one real match for her.”
Justino's 2020 saw her quickly win the Bellator women's featherweight title against Julia Budd in her first fight since leaving the UFC, and then also defend it against Arlene Blencowe in October.
Harrison previously expressed interest in a future matchup with Cyborg, so there appears to be mutual interest at least for now. Harrison spent 2019 winning the first PFL women's lightweight tournament, and was last seen in action at Invicta FC in November defeating Courtney King.
Joanna Jedrzejczyk Sets Conditions For Her Return To The Octagon
Joanna Jedrzejczyk hasn't been seen inside the UFC cage since her fight of the year vs. Weili Zhang back in March, and her absence is likely to continue until she gets a new contract, and fans return to the building.
The former strawweight champion stated that she has no desire to fight until fans return to the building, and emphasized just how much she draws from the energy of those fans.
“There is no sport, any sport, without fans,” Jedrzejczyk said (h/t MiddleEasy). “You know how I interact with the people, with fans. I need always extra motivation – (an) extra battery pack, energy pack. Maybe I would (fight without fans), but I don’t want to. I want to put it on hold (and) just wait. I really, truly believe everything is going to be behind (us) soon.”
In addition to wanting fans in the audience, Joanna also stated she needs a new contract and an increase in pay before she will return.
“I don’t want to hear me like a crazy person, but it’s a business,” Jedrzejczyk said. “There must be money behind it. I put on a hell of a fight last time. I was the co-main event, but I felt like me and Weili were the (real) deal on the show – and with the main event. … We put on a hell of a show, and I deserve more money. I deserve a bigger piece of the cake. I don’t want to complain like the other fighters. There are more than 500 fighters, but I’m a big part of this company.
“… I’ll talk at the table. I always do that. I’m not complaining. I’m very happy with the UFC as always, but I feel like people love me. With the belt or without the belt, they love me. I just want to keep on doing this for them. I keep hearing this, ‘She’s retired. She’s retired – this, that.’ I’m not retired, I’m just taking my time. I used to fight two or three times a year. No more. I want to take care of myself, my body, my mind,” she finished.
Poland's Jedrzejczyk has been one of the UFC's most reliable action fighters since arriving in the company in 2014, featuring a two and a half year reign atop the strawweight division.
Israel Adesenya Isn't Bulking Up Before Light Heavyweight Title Fight vs Jan Blachowicz
Middleweight champion Israel Adesenya has stated he isn't looking to bulk up when he moves up a division to challenge light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz at UFC 259 in early March.
Adesenya's dietitian Jordi Sullivan has revealed in an interview with the South China Morning Post, that he has no intention of putting on weight, and will emphasize his speed advantage instead.
“I’m super excited but I don’t think the weight ... we’re definitely not worried about that,” Sullivan said.
“I’m not gonna reveal too much about what we’re doing but it’s not that drastic a change, because Israel doesn’t cut a heap of weight [at 185 pounds].
“He stills cuts weight that week and he comes in as a good size, but there’s no need for us to say we need to bulk right up for this one and come in, because Israel is a big dude and he’s strong.
Simmons insisted that bulking up can be important for some fighters moving up in weight, but its a different case when you're dealing with a generational talent like he claims "The Stylebender" is.
“Cutting weight and getting this perceived size advantage is fine and you can play that card when you’re top five in the UFC and you’re like, ‘[Expletive], I need some kind of edge here, we’re just a level playing field’.
“With Israel, he’s kinda like a one of a generation fighter. Everyone is here [at one level], the best of the best, I still really believe Israel is here [at a higher level], and I think it’s hard to argue with that last performance Israel put on.”
Adesenya was last in action in the main event of UFC 253 where he dusted challenger Paulo Costa via shutout decision victory. He will attempt to join the likes of Daniel Cormier, Conor McGregor and Amanda Nunes as a double champ within the UFC.
Stipe Miocic Warns The Paul Brothers "Don't Bite Off More Than You Can Chew"
Stipe Miocic has cautioned both Logan and Jake Paul that if they aren't careful they might wind up getting hurt very badly.
In an appearance on The Pat McAfee show, the UFC Heavyweight champion
Miocic started by complimenting the Paul brothers for the extra attention they've brought to boxing, and MMA.
“I mean, they say social media is a motherf--ker,” Miocic stated (h/t Boxing Scene.com). “They’re doing it right, it’s helping boxing, but also it’s helping everything because they’re calling UFC fighters out, too. Or the Bellator guys.
He then went on to caution Jake that he may be getting more than they asked for, with his future bout against former UFC fighter, and Bellator champion Ben Askren.
“Don’t bite off more than you can chew. I mean, yes, you may be a tough guy, but Askren has been in some scraps. He’s been around, you know, fighting and wrestling and all that.
Miocic concluded with a cautionary tale for anyone out there. If you see someone with cauliflower ears, you probably don't want to fight them.
“I tell people like, you get into a fight on the streets – look at his ears first. If the dude’s ears are cauliflowers, you walk away. I wish them all the best. I understand why they’re doing it, it’s all about the money. But at the same time, don’t bite off more than you can chew.”
Miocic is now lined up to defend his UFC heavyweight title against Francis Ngannou in April, while each of the Paul brothers have high profile bouts lined up in the coming months.
'Canelo' Alvarez Downplays Trilogy Fight With GGG, Says He'd Do "Serious Damage"
Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez seems to have moved past his rivalry with Gennady "GGG" Golovkin, and on to unifying all the belts in the 168 lb division.
In an interview with The Ring magazine, Mexico's Canelo firmly stated that after already beating Kazahkstan's Golovkin, he has moved on to other goals in his career, namely unifying the belts in yet another division.
“I don’t have to prove anything to anyone, I did my job already by beating him twice and right now, I want to stay at 168, and if [GGG] wants to move up, we’ll see what happens, if that’s what the fans really want,” Canelo stated (h/t MMA Mania). “I’m at 168 and I don’t have to do any favors for anyone. I’m at 168 and our goal is to unify here.
Canelo also cautioned that he could do serious damage to Golovkin if he were to fight him a third time.
“I feel good right now, I feel strong,” he continued. “I feel like I’m at my peak and I continue working hard. If a fight happens a third time [with GGG], I feel so good that I most likely knock him out and do some serious damage.”
Canelo was last seen in the ring in December, blowing Callum Smith out of the water via shutout decision, to claim a belt in his fourth division. If Canelo wants to unify the belts in the 168 lb division that would mean matchups with WBO belt holder Billy Joe Saunders, and IBF holder Caleb Plant.
Davi Ramos Calls Out Kevin Lee, Al Iaquinta, and Jim Miller
UFC lightweight Davi Ramos may be on a two-fight losing streak, but he isn't letting that stop him from calling out some of the lightweight division's biggest names
In an interview with MMA Fighting, Ramos took the machine gun approach to callouts, first by respectfully calling out Long Island's "Ragin'" Al Iaquinta,
“Al Iaquinta, man, he’s really tough, has great boxing, and I really want to test my boxing,” Ramos said (h/t MMA Fighting). “I’ve had many fights in the UFC, and they always end up touching and then running, touching and running, and I don’t think Al Iaquinta would run away from me. He would come in and give me an opportunity to showcase my striking.”
Ramos then moved on to a fighter that he clearly has much less respect for in the "Motown Phenom" Kevin Lee.
“I see nothing in his game, I don’t even know why he’s in the top-15,” Ramos said. “That’s the reality. I see myself beating him in every aspect of the game, and that’s why I want this fight. He’s a wrestler, he has some striking, and I think he would run across the entire cage to run away from me, afraid of my jiu-jitsu, but I want to put my hands on him and end this fight, on the feet or on the ground. I see myself beating him everywhere.”
Ramos concluded by taking aim at long-time UFC stalwart Jim Miller.
“[I also want to fight] Jim Miller because he has great jiu-jitsu,” Ramos said. “He just fought Charles Oliveira and got submitted, so I’m sure it’s hard for him to accept a fight with me. He’s very experienced, he’s in the UFC for so many years, and would be a great test for me.”
The approach by Ramos to target three fighters with big names, who have all hit losing patches is potentially a fruitful one, as the former ADCC gold medalist tries to put an end to his own personal two fight losing streak.
KSW Sign Slovenian Welterweight Prospect Uros Jurisic
It’s Finally Official— KSW (@KSW_MMA) January 6, 2021
Welcome to KSW ---- Uros Jurisic (11-0) pic.twitter.com/eqxbqrqrjq
The 28-year-old Jurisic is undefeated at 11-0, and has previously competed for Titan FC, and most recently Bellator, where he defeated Walter Gahadza in October.
Cage Warriors Flyweight Champion Jake Hadley Says He's "Ready For The UFC"
Undefeated English flyweight prospect Jake Hadley has his eyes on the UFC after recently capturing the Cage Warriors Flyweight title in December.
In an interview with MMA Junkie Radio, the 24-year-old Hadley commented on the competition level he's faced throughout his short seven-fight MMA career.
“I feel like I should have been in the UFC even a long time ago, really,” Hadley commented (h/t MMA Junkie). “Yes, I’m only seven fights into my career, which ain’t a lot, but if you look at my last four opponents, Nkazimulo Zulu was on ‘The Ultimate Fighter,’ EFC world champion, flyweight and bantamweight. He’s had 15 pro fights. Blaine O’Driscoll was a world champion. Shajidul Haque had 15 fights plus beat all the top guys in the U.K. and Europe. Luke Shanks is a Cage Warriors champion.
“All these guys I’m beating, they’re top guys. They are UFC level, as well. I’m beating all the top guys. I feel like I’m already ready for the UFC, and I’ve been ready a long time, and I feel like I’ve been deserving a long time.”
Hadley went on to stress that while he believes he's deserving of a straight UFC contract, but he would be willing to enter The Ultimate Fighter, or take a fight on the Contender Series if that's what it took to get into the world's top promotion.
“To be fair, I feel like I deserve a straight contract through what I’ve achieved here in Europe and even around the world,” Hadley said. “I’ve been over to South Africa and fought top lads. I feel like I deserve a straight contract, but if they said to me, ‘Do you want to do Contender Series?’ I’d just do it because why not? I’m just ready to fight. I’d do Contender or Ultimate Fighter, no problem, but I honestly believe I deserve a straight contract, and I’ll fight any of them. You can put any of the guys in the top 15, I ain’t really bothered. I’d take them all out, no problem.”
Britain's Cage Warriors has long functioned as one of the top regional promotions and delivered a consistent pipeline of talent to the UFC including former champions Conor McGregor, and Michael Bisping.
Dana White Discusses Match-Making Strategies
Dana White offered some insight into the UFC's match-making strategy while talking to Laura Sanko for an ESPN+ chat.
While stating that the rankings are an important factor when matching up opponents, White also laid out that there are other factors that they weigh.
“Obviously the rankings are very important,” White said (h/t MMA Junkie). “We always try to stay with the rankings, and it’s always awesome when you have the champion vs. the No. 1, or No. 1 vs. No. 2. But you’ve seen many times when there’s a fight people want to see, we’ll make it.”
White also stressed the importance of metrics in seeing the growth of a fighter's popularity and credited the Contender Series for expanding the data set that they have available to track.
“We know every number and every little detail that goes into making a fight like that,” White said. “All the kids that came off the Contender Series, I know how many people watched their fights on the Contender Series, and it keeps updating because it stays in the system.”