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  • Tito Ortiz claims UFC blocked Bellator from running show in Anaheim

    If it was up to Tito Ortiz, his Nov. 15 fight against Stephan Bonnar would be held in his Orange County backyard.

    But according to Ortiz, the fight will be held at San Diego's Valley View Casino Center instead of Anaheim's Honda Center due to interference by his former company.

    Ortiz helped christen the building for MMA back in 2006, when the arena was known as the Arrowhead Pond, as the native of nearby Huntington Beach won a split decision of Forrest Griffin at UFC 59, the first UFC event held in California. Since then, the home of the Anaheim Ducks has gone on to become one of the UFC's signature venues, hosting everything from Cain Velasquez's heavyweight title win over Brock Lesnar, to UFC on FOX 1, to Ronda Rousey's win over Liz Carmouche in the first women's fight in UFC history.

    "The UFC said no. They tried to get to the Pond, and the UFC didn't let it happen," Ortiz said on a recent edition of The MMA Hour. "They wanted to do it at the Pond and the UFC said no."

    The UFC declined comment on Ortiz's allegation.

    Instead, the event ended up at the building formerly called the San Diego Sports Arena, which has its own MMA history, hosting WEC, UFC, and Strikeforce cards headlined by everyone from Jon Jones to Nick Diaz to Rousey.

    "We're in San Diego, I have thousands of fans down there, they get to watch me live in their own backyard," Ortiz said.

    Meanwhile, Bellator's card will run head-to-head with UFC 180, the company's Mexico City debut, featuring Velasquez. vs Fabricio Werdum for the heavyweight title. Ortiz says he's a fan of the idea.

    "I think it's kinda cool actually to tell you the truth, see how much weight my name can hold," Ortiz said. "i think the big difference in all of it is, all the fans get to watch free fights instead of having to pay for fight. They get to watch free on Spike, and I think diehard fight fans will be watching no matter what, Tito Ortiz fans will be there no matter what, and Stephanie Bonnar fans will be there no matter what."

  • Ronda Rousey explains how her Pokemon obsession began

    LOS ANGELES - MMA Fighting's E. Casey Leydon caught up with UFC women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey at the TUF 20 premiere on two weeks ago. He only got to ask one question, and Rousey broke down her love of Pokemon, how it began, her favorite versions, how she lost weight from the game, and much more above.

  • Glover Teixeira plans to dominate Phil Davis, ‘get that f---ing belt’ soon

    RIO DE JANEIRO -- Glover Teixeira co-headlines UFC 179 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Oct. 25, and he decided to change a few things for this training camp.

    Teixeira had his 20-fight win streak snapped by UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones in his last appearance inside the Octagon in April, and he realized he made the wrong decision in his camp for "Bones."

    "I lost the fight, and as soon as I got out (of the Octagon) I knew I had to change a few things in my camp," Teixeira said during a media day recently in Rio. "I’m in there to have fun, win or lose. I will go back to my roots, respect my body and train what I always trained without focusing on what my opponent does instead of worrying about what I have to do."

    Teixeira will face another wrestler in Davis when he returns to the cage, but he doesn’t see any similarities between "Mr. Wonderful" and the UFC kingpin.

    "Jon Jones is taller, it’s a completely different game," he said. "Jon Jones goes for the takedown on the clinch, while Phil Davis uses more double legs. I think Phil Davis has better takedown combinations than Jones. And I think Phil Davis if going to train hard his boxing skills because he knows it won’t be easy for him. He might even take me down, but he knows it won’t be that easy."

    The Brazilian light heavyweight plans to dominate Davis as he did in his five wins under the UFC banner, leaving no room for debate.

    "I will keep the pressure as I always do. I’m going to do what I did to Bader, te Huna and Rampage. I’m going to do that," he said.

    "I’m going for the finish. It won’t be a close fight. I thought Lyoto won his fight against Phil Davis (at UFC 163), but I didn’t protest because it was a close bout, either could win. I’m going to prove that I won, and I challenge the judge to rob me. It won’t go the distance, but I’d love to see how the judges would give him the win after I clearly win all three rounds, beating his face. They can put his father there as a judge and it won’t help."

    Davis’ last three wins came against Brazilians, and Teixeira believes that a win over him is huge for his title aspirations.

    "Phil Davis is at the top for a long time, he’s a tough guy, so he’s another step in the division," he said. "I don’t think about Davis, (Daniel) Cormier or other top fighters. I want to fight and beat a top opponent, then fight another top opponent, and then fight for the belt again. This time, I will get that f---ing belt."

    Daniel Cormier is up next against UFC champion Jon Jones, but Teixeira is not a believer that the AKA talent will dethrone "Bones" on Jan. 3 in Las Vegas.

    "Everyone has a chance, Cormier is a great fighter. He has a chance, but I think it’s tough," he said. "Jon Jones has more qualities."

    Alexander Gustafsson and Anthony Johnson are gunning for their shots at the UFC gold, and Teixeira wants Jones to stay at the top until he gets another chance for the title.

    "I hope (he stays champion). It would be nice to fight for the title and have my rematch at the same time," he said. "For me, it would be taste better. But if (Jones) loses, I don’t even want to look at his face [laughs]. I just want the title."

  • Focus: Invicta FC 8 Edition

    MMA Fighting's Esther Lin looks back at her favorite photos from Invicta FC 8.

    Photos: Esther Lin, Invicta FC. Music: APM Music.

  • Fortunes changed for five in UFC's return to Japan

    It was a night of nostalgia in Japan with wins by Mark Hunt and Yoshihiro Akiyama, but if Japan's MMA scene is to rebuild over the next few years, the name we should be looking at is flyweight Kyoji Horiguchi.

    The UFC returned to an arena that is legendary for mixed martial arts on Saturday. It was a night where nostalgia mixed with the future.

    The Saitama Super Arena was the home base for Pride, which along with the UFC, were the two most popular and most famous MMA promotions in history. For years, Mark Hunt was a mainstay of the group, and his knockout of Roy Nelson in the main event marked his 11th appearance in the arena.

    It was also the major arena for Hero's, a promotion that started as a rival of Pride in Japan. When Pride went down, Hero's became the dominant MMA group in Japan, until the MMA fad ended several years ago.

    One of its biggest stars was former judo champion Yoshihiro Akiyama, groomed by the promotion from the start of his career to be its biggest star. It started from when he debuted by beating a 60-pound heavier former boxing champion, Francois Botha, with an armbar on the 2004 New Year's Eve show. If you're an MMA fan, you know a straight boxer, even against a smaller judoka, will have a tough time in an MMA fight. But for Japanese fans, those are the kind of matches that make stars when a native beats a bigger guy who was a champion at another fighting sport, particularly in the heyday on New Year's Eve when tens of millions are watching. It was the perfect kickoff to his career. And to his credit, Akiyama evolved into a good MMA fighter.

    Hunt, at 40, and Akiyama, one year younger, physically couldn't have looked more different, but they were the two stars as the UFC attempts to revive what was a decade ago, the powerhouse market for the sport.

    The Japanese market is very fad oriented. The period Akiyama was a huge favorite in Japan was a long time ago before New Year's Eve of 2006, and his big fight with Kazushi Sakuraba. Then, for years, he was Japan's most hated fighter. The change came when he was caught greasing his legs by a dressing room camera prior to the fight, which was viewed by more than 27 million people.

    The idea of the fight was to be a passing of the torch. Sakuraba, who helped put MMA on the map in Japan with his wins over four Gracie family members in 2000, was clearly past his peak due to injuries. Akiyama was younger, in far better shape by that point, and would have been expected to win.

    It was very much designed for the old hero to put over the new hero. Instead, Akiyama was the guy who tried to cheat to beat a national hero. It's been almost eight years since that night. Most of those generation of fans are gone. And those who have remained, that memory is not nearly as intense today, as much as Akiyama bringing back memories of the good old days.

    He was no longer booed, but he was a celebrity from another era brought back.

    Takanori Gomi, the star lightweight fighter of the Pride era, could have made it a trifecta. But he ran into Myles Jury. Jury's first-round knockout elevated his record to 15-0, and anyone with that kind of record has to be taken seriously. Jury was under the radar as a title contender even with his record because his UFC start was on season 15 of The Ultimate Fighter. He was eliminated in his second fight by Al Iaquinta, in a two-round fight that doesn't count on his record.

    The show was largely entertaining, paced by the fight of the night with Kyung Ho Kang of South Korea winning a split decision over Japan's Michinori Tanaka. The two bantamweights brought back memories of people like Hideo Tokoro. Small Japanese fighters who lost as often as they won, but their ground games of always aggressively going after submissions created a style that many of today's fighters grew up watching and represented the Japanese version of the sport. This was the type of prelim fight that the Japanese shows, Hero's in particular, were known for.

    A few months back, the UFC had talked of reviving the Japanese MMA scene with a Japanese oriented Ultimate Fighter on network television. At the time, Dana White talked about an announcement being made in conjunction with this event, but nothing new was said this past week.

    Obviously a revival isn't going to have long-term legs built around Hunt or Akiyama. But new stars created by current television, and perhaps Kyoji Horiguchi, a 22-year-old flyweight who is 14-1, in a division that doesn't have a ton of depth. It could be building blocks in a country that needs Japanese heroes who can be competitive at the top and fighters who can have mainstream appeal to rebuild.

    Let's look at how fortunes changed for five of the stars of Saturday's show.

    MARK HUNT - On the surface, the idea that we're talking about a 40-year-old fighter with a 10-8-1 record, and only a one-fight winning streak as a potential title contender, sounds ridiculous. But after his second-round knockout win over Roy Nelson, if things go the way they would be expected to, Hunt has a solid shot at getting an early 2015 heavyweight title match.

    The heavyweight division right now lacks depth at the top. If champion Cain Velasquez beats Fabricio Werdum on Nov. 15 in Mexico City, and Junior Dos Santos beats Stipe Miocic on Dec. 13 in Phoenix, your top heavyweights coming off wins would be Hunt, Andrei Arlovski, Dos Santos and Ben Rothwell.

    Of the four, Hunt would make the most sense. Dos Santos may have a win over Hunt, and many may see him as the legit No. 2 guy in the division, but Velasquez overwhelmed him twice already and Velasquez vs. Dos Santos IV would be a tough sell. Hunt, because of his one-punch knockout power, and amazing chin, could at least be sold as a challenger for Velasquez. Rothwell fought Velasquez years ago and was also overwhelmed. While Arlovski has four straight wins, his June 14 win over Brendan Schaub was a fight he probably should have lost, while Hunt's previous fight, against an Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva who failed a drug test, was a draw in one of the greatest heavyweight fights in modern MMA history.

    If Miocic wins over Dos Santos, he'd be ahead of Hunt most likely, unless it was a stinker of a fight. Miocic would have a win over Dos Santos, who holds a win over Hunt.

    If Werdum wins and Dos Santos wins, Werdum vs. Dos Santos is almost a lock, but even then, Hunt wouldn't be far away.

    Hunt himself talked of wanting to fight on Nov. 8 in Sydney, Australia. Being local, he'd help the show. But that's a Fight Pass card and it already has Michael Bisping vs. Luke Rockhold in the main event spot. The only top heavyweight not booked at this point is Josh Barnett, as it would be a fast turnaround for Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva after his loss.

    MYLES JURY - Unlike the heavyweight division, the lightweight division is so loaded that a 25-year-old with a 15-0 record and one of the longest active winning streaks is still a ways away from title consideration. Jury's win over Gomi was expected. He was a -650 favorite, and was 11 years younger. Jury has gotten some solid name wins as of late, including Diego Sanchez, Ramsey Nijem and Michael Johnson.

    Jury's six wins in a row ties him with Khabib Nurmagomedov as the longest current streak in the division. Of those on the active roster right now, he's behind only Jon Jones (11), Chris Weidman (8), and Dennis Bermudez (7).
    He may be one win away from the likes of Eddie Alvarez, Donald Cerrone, Rafael dos Anjos Gilbert Melendez, Benson Henderson and Nurmagomedov, who are the division's top tier right now. But he's in the pack with Jorge Masvidal (27-8, who faces James Krause on Sept. 27), Bobby Green (23-5) and Joe Lauzon (24-9, coming off a win over Michael Chiesa) as the next tier. If he beats someone in that pack next, he should move to the top pack.

    YOSHIHIRO AKIYAMA - Akiyama (14-5, 2 no contests) looked and performed like a star in dominating former Ultimate Fighter winner Amir Sadollah (7-5), winning all three rounds and coming close to finishing in the final stanza.

    It had been 29 months since Akiyama moved to welterweight and did nothing in a loss to Jake Shields. Due to knee problems, he hadn't fought since. But he showed no signs of an injury here. Akiyama's career was thought to be done, because he'd been out of sight for so long. And it isn't that losing to Shields, a top welterweight for the past decade, constitutes career ending, but Akiyama was able to keep the fight standing, and Shields is notorious for a great ground game and hardly the greatest standing game. Akiyama did nothing in that fight.

    Physically, Akiyama looked like the same star Hero's thought they had nearly a decade ago when he was recruited out of judo. He was more muscular, and the cut to 170 didn't seem to sap him of any strength or energy. Physical appearances can be deceiving, but he was his strongest in the third round.

    But Sadollah himself was a question mark after two years on the sidelines. We really need one more fight before we can make a statement about Akiyama today.

    Akiyama himself called out Wanderlei Silva, which was a throwback to the old days,. Going back eight or so years ago, that would have been a dream match in Japan, a superstar from Pride vs. a superstar from Hero's. Evidently Akiyama didn't hear that Silva had retired hours earlier. So that one doesn't look like it's happening.

    Two opponents that could make sense are Jordan Mein (29-9) and Brandon Thatch (11-1). Both are on the way up. A win by Akiyama would solidify him as someone worth paying attention to again. And if he loses, he's a big name win for two fighters who have looked good of late, but need a high profile win.

    MIESHA TATE - Although easily winning the decision, the second best-known UFC women's fighter struggled at times with Rin Nakai, who, despite a 16-0-1 record, was really not expected to give her a tough fight.

    It was still a win, and Tate immediately asked for Cat Zingano. Zingano finished Tate in the third round on Apr. 13, 2013, a fight Tate had won the first two rounds in. Tate has since complained of an early stoppage.

    If Zingano loses to Amanda Nunes on Sept. 27, it's a fight to make because there aren't a lot of fights with stories in the women's division that don't involve Ronda Rousey. Should Zingano win, it would likely come down to either she or Gina Carano for the next Rousey title match.

    If it is Carano, a Zingano vs. Tate fight would make sense if it looks like Cris "Cyborg" Justino is coming in as a next contender. Rousey vs. Justino would be too big a fight to pass up on the grounds Justino hadn't fought in UFC. If not, Zingano vs. Tate makes little sense, as Zingano would be better off facing someone like Holly Holm, Jessica Andrade or Bethe Correia, where the winner could face Rousey.

    If that's the case, Tate has plenty of potential opponents, including any of the above names, or Sara McMann, or even a rematch with Sarah Kaufman.

    KYOJI HORIGUCHI - Horiguchi's first-round knockout win over Jon Delos Reyes made him 3-0 in UFC and gave him an eight-fight winning streak.

    Horiguchi has a few positives for being a star in Japan, where size isn't much of a hindrance to stardom if you are a native. One, he's the training partner of Norifumi "Kid" Yamamoto, who was a superstar of another generation, an association that would mean something there. Second is that he was a success in Japan first. For Japan, it's much bigger to be like Akiyama or Gomi, who came from their world and they could follow them challenging for a title, than someone like Lyoto Machida (who is half-Japanese, started in Japan, but didn't become a star until going to the U.S.) or Yushin Okami (who was never a star in Japan).

    A Japanese fighter, who came from the Japanese system, was a champion in a Japanese group (Shooto), who challenges and wins a legitimate world championship, has a shot at being what that scene has badly needed since the original stars got old.

    With John Dodson likely in line for a flyweight title shot upon his return from ACL surgery, the best next opponents for Horiguchi would be Ian McCall (13-4-1), Jussier Formiga (17-3) or John Lineker (24-7). A win against any of them could get him into strong title contention position.

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