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  • WSOF 19 predictions

    One of World Series of Fighting (WSOF)'s stars in lightweight champion Justin Gaethje returns to the cage against top WSOF contender Luis 'Baboon' Palomino. Gaethje will not only look to defend his title, but keep his undefeated record in tact as he attempts to move his overall record to 14-0. The card also features two UFC veterans in Thiago Silva and Matt Hamill as they face off in a light heavyweight tournament bout.

    What: WSOF 19: Gaethje vs. Palomino

    Where: Comerica Theatre, Phoenix, Arizona

    When: Saturday, the five-fight preliminary card streams live on MMA Fighting at 6 p.m. ET and the four-fight main card goes live on NBC Sports at 9 p.m. ET.

    Justin Gaethje vs. Luis Palomino

    Gaethje is a talented fighter who is a ton of fun to watch. His offensive pressure is overwhelming and a bit reckless, which makes for a wild combination. But it's just that: a bit on the reckless side. I keep waiting for someone to take advantage of that with angular movement and counterstriking, but credit to the champion, his relentless pressure forces opposition to fight him on his terms as they just try to survive. Someone is eventually going to counter Gaethje. I'm just not sure it's Palomino.

    Pick: Gaethje

    Thiago Silva vs. Matt Hamill

    It's hard to know what either fighter can really offer and if they've prepared properly. When long-time UFC fighters fall below the UFC level, either from failure or career problems, they sometimes soar at the subsequent level. But sometimes they don't, either due to inability or a lack of interest. It's hard to ever be sure what we'll get with these two. Silva should have adequate takedown defense. If Hamill is anything like we know him to be more recently, he'll likely gas fairly quickly. But if I told you I was confident about this pick as I wrote it, I'd by lying.

    Pick: Silva

    Ed West vs. Timur Valiev

    I like West's style of fighting a lot. He might be the first MMA fighter to hit a berimbolo (modified one, anyway) in a televised bout and it's because he's submission active, to say the least. That said, he's about to hit a wall in Valiev. The Dagestani fighter will likely stop all of most of West's takedown attempts while boxing him up at range.

    Pick: Valiev

    Jake Heun vs. Teddy Holder

    This is a tough call as it's still not really clear where either guy really tops out at, but I'll go with Holder. I always have serious misgivings about a fighter who has all of his wins (and in this case, one loss) in the first round, but I have even more for Heun given his ability to be overwhelmed by the kind of heavy-handed pressure fighter Holder is.

    Pick: Holder

    Clifford Starks vs. Eddie Arizmendi (from the preliminary card)

    Arizmendi is coming in on short notice from an extended career layoff against a much better athlete and smothering wrestler. All things being what they are, Starks should cruise here.

    Pick: Starks

  • WSOF 19 live stream online

    The WSOF 19 live stream online can be found in the video above for the undercard starting at 6:15 p.m. ET. The fight card for this portion of the event is as follows:

    Lucas Montoya vs. Raymond Pina
    Benny Madrid vs. Jimmy Spicuzza
    Joseph Giglioti vs. Brendan Tierney
    Randy Steinke vs. Juan Archuleta
    Dan Huber vs. Israel Aquino
    Matthew Frincu vs. Eric Regan
    Joe Madrid vs. Erik Villalobos

    These bouts are expected to run until 9 p.m. ET. The main card will be televised on NBC Sports at 9 p.m. ET.

    International fans of MMA Fighting should be able to watch the stream for the main card here after it starts on NBC Sports. U.S. fans can watch stream here.

  • Gilbert Burns gets quick turnaround, meets Norman Parke at UFC Fight Night 67

    Right after his win over Alex Oliveira on March 21, Gilbert Burns asked for a quick turnaround against Josh Thomson or Myles Jury at UFC Fight Night 67. The UFC gave him a fight on May 30, but not the opponent he was hoping for.

    Undefeated as a mixed martial artist, Burns is set to take on The Ultimate Fighter winner Norman Parke at the Fight Night card in Goiania, Brazil. PVT first reported the match-up, and MMAFighting.com confirmed it with sources close to the situation.

    Burns improved to 10-0 in his professional MMA career with a third-round submission victory over "Cowboy" Oliveira, who took the fight on short notice to replace injured Josh Thomson. The jiu-jitsu world champion is 3-0 in the Octagon, including stoppages over Oliveira and Christos Giagos.

    Parke (20-3-1), who started in the promotion with three wins and one draw in four fights, had his 11-fight unbeaten streak snapped by Gleison Tibau at UFC Fight Night 59 in January. The  lightweight fighter only competed once in Brazil, leaving the Octagon with a majority draw against fellow TUF winner Leonardo Santos.

    UFC Fight Night 67 takes place at the Goiania Arena in Goiania, Brazil, and features a welterweight bout between Carlos Condit and Thiago Alves in the main event. The UFN 67 card now includes:

    Carlos Condit vs. Thiago Alves
    Jessica Penne vs. Juliana Lima
    Charles Oliveira vs. Nik Lentz
    K.J. Noons vs. Yan Cabral
    Jussier Formiga vs. Wilson Reis
    Wendell Oliveira Marques vs. T.J. Waldburger
    Gilbert Burns vs. Norman Parke

  • Despite 'everybody' buying into the hype about her, Rose Namajunas more grounded ahead of second UFC bout

    UFC strawweight Rose Namajunas is ready to embark on her second official UFC fight when she takes on Nina Ansaroff at UFC 187 on May 23rd. As is well known, she's still looking to get her first win in the Octagon after her debut ended in both loss and disappointment.

    And by the sounds of it, while painful, the loss also helped 'Thug' reevaluate her priorities, what's important and how to handle the pressure that comes with being an elite competitor.

    In fact, understanding the rigors of that pressure helped her to better understand what happened between Carla Esparza and Joanna Jedrzejczyk at UFC 185 earlier this month.

    "Joanna was definitely very impressive," Rose told Ariel Helwani on Monday's The MMA Hour. "I kinda felt like Joanna was going to win. I felt like that was my prediction, but I felt like Carla had a chance against her definitely. I think she could've shut her down with some wrestling and stuff, make her tired. But just all things considered, being a champ, people don't realize how much of a difference it is once you're on that level.

    "Once you're on that title contention level, it's a total jump between what the pressures are on you. I believe Carla could've performed a lot better if she didn't have to deal with the pressures of being a champion. I think it's just a level that maybe she wasn't ready for whereas Joanna, we'll see how she does after this. I think she's going to stay the champion for a while, until I get there."

    For Namajunas, time away has helped her reflect on what went wrong when she fell short against Esparza at the finale for The Ultimate Fighter 20. Jedrzejczyk's performance only helped solidify what she already knew.

    "She looked great," she continued. "Her hands looked really good. Her gameplan was exactly what I needed to do against Carla, to beat her. I just didn't apply that. I just kinda went in there crazy with emotion, like a young kid."

    Since the end of the show, Namajunas said she's finally had a vacation. That didn't just mean time to decompress, but time away from the sport as well. In doing that, she said she realizes what cost her the title against Esparza, but more importantly, precisely how the show affected her. Going forward, she explained, means doing things with a better understanding of who she is and what needs to happen to secure success.

    "I'm back in training working on the basics. I'm working on a gameplan, yes, but it's more so developing me as a fighter and fixing the things that are going to work against all different fighters and more in the future versus just this next opponent," she contended. "As we get closer, we'll home in on more specific things, but I'm really enjoying just becoming a better fighter as myself.

    "I'm more dramatic than other people are or I just show it more," she continued. "I don't think there's anything wrong with that. I have a lot of passion. I definitely had to step back. It was definitely necessary for me because just that loss in general and everything that lead up to it. It helped me realize what's really important in my life. I just recently posted a lot of stuff. This is the first interview that I'm doing. I'm enjoying kinda sticking to myself and paying attention to the people that matter in my life."

    Or, stated another way, "It's really been kind of refreshing just being to myself."

    For Namajunas, the odd nature of watching reactions to fights that already happened while preparing, in secret, for the next bout created an odd mixture. Sure, she knew the results. She had reason to be confident. But the public reaction to her wins from the reality show helped to create an identity about herself that may was never there. Or, at least, was an exaggerated version of the truth. That, in turn, lead to the wrong kind of confidence in bout with Esparza.

    "It's kind of a weird transition when it comes from being on the show where you're totally secluded," she explained. "Once you get out, you have to deal with the adrenaline dumps of people finding out about your fight, if you won or lost. Then you're up or down based on that, but you already had it. It's this weird time warp thing."

    As everyone saw and she acknowledges, Namajunas' run on the show caused fans, the UFC and others to think highly of her. "Obviously they really hyped me up," she said, which is true. Fairly or not, there were some comparisons to her being Ronda Rousey's compliment in the strawweight division.

    In hindsight, Namajunas believes this did her no favors. Other women on the show who had losses during the taping "had a chance to put it behind them."

    "It's not an excuse," Namajunas admitted. "At the same time, it kinda is because I'm mentioning it. It's to make people understand what's really going on. It's not just the punching and kicking. It's not just who is the better fighter. It's also who is the better fighter that day and who feels better. There's so much more that goes into it. More than people think."

    Still, maturity comes in lessons fun and painful. Namajunas is grateful for the experience, but is ready to put things on a more even keel.

    "Let's take it in baby steps," she noted. "I'm only 22. I'm doing pretty well for myself. Let's not jump the gun and say that I'm Ronda Rousey. She's been competing at elite levels since she was very little. She's got that time in. To compare me to her, it's like, 'Oh yeah, of course I'm going to go to practice today. I'm the next Ronda Rousey.'

    "It's kind of cringe worthy when you hear Pat [Barry] in the corner yelling all these obscene things. He's overly hype," she said. "He bought into the hype. Everybody did."

    If there's any positive to take away from the matter as she heads toward UFC 187, it's that she has a much better understanding of the difference between self-belief and promotional hype. There was a moment where she couldn't tell the difference. Now, she said, that's not the case. The process has lead to not just becoming a better fighter, but self-discovery as well.

    "I definitely, really, truly believed in myself, but it was just too much all at once. You did get carried away. It's good to happen now so I learn to just stay cool," she told Helwani. "I'm still trying to learn this new person who I am and making progress throughout this training camp. I'm really excited to see what new roads can show up."

  • Justin Gaethje knows entertaining means more than winning, because boring winners 'aren’t making money'

    PHOENIX -- Justin Gaethje isn't oblivious to the realities he sees around him. The World Series of Fighting lightweight champion is one of the most exciting, go-for-broke fighters in the division, and in a culture where proven winners like Jon Fitch and Jake Shields get cut from the UFC with just a single loss marring years of dominance, Gaethje says there's a reason he retains his breakneck style.

    "I know for a fact entertainment is more important than winning," Gaethje told MMAFighting.com. "Those guys (who win boring decisions), they aren't making money. I know some guys in Colorado who are undefeated, they have 14 or 15 fights, but they're making $2,000 to fight because they're not exciting. No one wants to see them fight. You only have to go on a couple message boards to know what the fans want, and the fans want you to put it on the line and to entertain them. That's the easy part. It's easy to go out there and go balls to the wall.

    "When you're in there just trying to win, you're thinking the whole time, ‘what do I gotta do to win?' Screw that. I want to know what I gotta do to make you remember me, to build my stock. The UFC is out there and they pay a lot of money. I have to build my stock in order to get paid what I want to get paid."

    So far Gaethje has tasted the best of both worlds. The owner of a flawless professional record, the 26-year-old Gaethje has raged over the WSOF lightweight division since his debut in 2013, riding a streak of ferocious knockouts all the way to the organization's title. Life remains tough for a world-class fighter trying to earn respect outside of the UFC, but with each passing win, Gaethje's stock continues to climb, and he attributes his success largely to the one thing that most fighters fear most -- an absolute disregard for that ‘0' in his 13-0 record.

    "[Fighters] are lying out of their ass if they're saying that they're never going to lose," Gaethje said. "You could be the best in the world, but it doesn't matter. It's four-ounce gloves. I've been dropped in practice with a knee to the body. I take a good knee to the body and break my ribs in the fight, I lost. I mean, it's a fight. ... I could lose and it could be the best fight ever, it still does great things for me.

    "That's the key to this game. I'm my own employer right now and I have to put myself on the line, put my life on the line to be where I want to be and make the money I want to make."

    Gaethje will look to defend his belt against fellow free-swinger Luis Palomino this Saturday in the main event of WSOF 19. It's a hometown fight for the Arizona native -- his first since his Rage in the Cage days -- but it's also the culmination of something Gaethje has been waiting for ever since the day he took that belt -- namely, his desire to meet a like-minded foe.

    "I've been waiting for this kind of fight," Gaethje said. "The last, I'd say, four guys I've fought, they didn't want to fight me. And I don't see that being the case with Palomino. It's bound to be good for TV and all I need right now is a knock-out, drag-out war to go viral. It's perfect.

    "Fans love that. I haven't been able to show my skills really, because like I said, everyone's always running from me so I have to chase them. I can't even set my feet. I have to be running forward when I punch them. Now it's going to be a real fight and I'm ready for it."

    Another few scalps on his mantle and Gaethje could start forcing his way into people's mouths when they talk about the top lightweights in the world. It's a discussion Gaethje already feels he deserves to be in, but he understands these things take time. For now, he's content to settle for being the best fighter around to not own his own Wikipedia page.

    "It doesn't make sense," Gaethje said, laughing. "But I mean, I couldn't even use Wikipedia as a source in college, so it can't be that important."

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