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MMA — Ben Askren talks about “enigmatic” career, believes he was the best welterweight in the world

Just days away from the final fight of his mixed martial arts career, Ben Askren remains almost oddly comfortable with his decision to walk away. Askren, 33, will defend his ONE Championship welterweight title against Shinya Aoki in Singapore on Friday. The former NCAA collegiate wrestling champion says it will be the final chapter of his athletic career. Tyron Woodley’s impressive defense led to another victory, this time against Demian Maia at UFC 214. He remains No.1 in the division rankings. An undefeated champion, such as Askren (17-0), choosing to…

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Chael Sonnen breaks down Bellator’s World Grand Prix opening round

The Bellator MMA World Grand Prix is officially set, with the opening round scheduled to take place in early 2018. Collectively, the eight-man field has accomplished virtually everything imaginable in the sport of mixed martial arts. And the eventual winner will add a Bellator heavyweight title to his résumé. What should we make of the opening-round matchups? And what does each individual fighter need to do to win it all? Tournament contestant and ESPN analyst Chael Sonnen offers his thoughts on both. Chael Sonnen, above, will square off with Quinton…

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Bellator MMA reveals heavyweight grand prix bracket

Bellator MMA has released its official bracket for next year’s eight-man heavyweight tournament, which will culminate in a five-round championship bout for the promotion’s vacant title. The tournament, dubbed Bellator MMA World Grand Prix, kicks off at Bellator 192 on Jan. 20 in Los Angeles, with a matchup between Chael Sonnen (29-15-1) and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson (37-12). It will continue on Feb. 16 in Uncasville, Connecticut, when Roy Nelson (23-14) meets Matt Mitrione (12-5) on the opposite side of the bracket. With Bellator MMA’s World Grand Prix officially set, one…

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Jimmie Rivera, John Lineker bout added to UFC 219

A highly-ranked bantamweight bout between Jimmie Rivera and John Lineker has been officially added to UFC 219 on Dec. 30 in Las Vegas. UFC officials confirmed the 135-pound matchup with the Las Vegas Review Journal on Tuesday. The UFC 219 pay-per-view event will take place inside T-Mobile Arena. Rivera (21-1) was originally supposed to face former champion Dominick Cruz on the end-of-year card. Cruz was forced to pull out with an arm injury last week. Fighting out of New Jersey, Rivera is knocking on the door of a potential UFC…

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UFC eyes flyweight fight between Paige VanZant and Jessica-Rose Clark

The UFC has targeted a flyweight fight between Paige VanZant and Jessica-Rose Clark on Jan. 14 in St. Louis, according to sources. Officials have not yet announced the 125-pound matchup, but multiple sources confirmed the plans to ESPN. MMAFighting.com first reported the bout. VanZant (7-3) has not fought in 2017. She was scheduled to face Jessica Eye at UFC 216 in October, but was forced to withdraw due to injury. VanZant is 4-2 overall in the UFC, but has lost two of her last three. She is coming off a…

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ESPN’s 30 for 30 podcasts premieres ‘No Rules

It’s been nearly 25 years since the UFC held its first event on Nov. 12, 1993, inside Denver’s McNichols Sports Arena. The sport of mixed martial arts, not to mention the business and regulation practices surrounding it, have evolved to a point its barely recognizable with that inaugural event. And virtually none of the original cast of characters who created and competed in UFC 1 are still affiliated with the promotion today. Royce Gracie, right, defeated Gerard Gordeau, left in the final of UFC 1 in 1993. Holly Stein/Getty Images A…

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UFC fighter Volkan Oezdemir faces maximum 15 years for aggravated battery charge

Though he says he was not the aggressor in a bar fight, UFC light heavyweight contender Volkan Oezdemir is facing a felony battery charge that carries a maximum 15-year jail sentence for his involvement in the South Florida incident last August. Oezdemir, 28, was arrested by Fort Lauderdale Police on Saturday and charged with aggravated battery. According to online records, the battery charge is classified as a second degree felony, which calls for a $10,000 fine in addition to the jail sentence. His bond was set at $10,000 during a…

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Cris ‘Cyborg’ Justino – ‘The UFC knows I’m interested in boxing’

UFC featherweight champion Cris “Cyborg” Justino says she still plans to box professionally at some point, even in the wake of a newly signed contract with the UFC. Justino (18-1) is scheduled to defend her 145-pound title against Holly Holm at UFC 219 on Dec. 30 in Las Vegas. It is arguably the most high-profile matchup to currently be made in any female division. In addition to that fight, Justino recently agreed to a new deal with the UFC. The deal comes just two months after Justino secured a professional…

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UFC fighter Volkan Oezdemir arrested, charged with aggravated battery

UFC light heavyweight contender Volkan Oezdemir was arrested and charged with aggravated battery on Saturday in South Florida. Oezdemir, who is expected to receive the next title shot against Daniel Cormier, was being held in Broward County jail on $10,000 bond on Sunday, according to online records. MMAJunkie.com first reported the arrest. No further details were immediately available. Oezdemir, 28, is from Switzerland, but he trains in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, under striking coach Henri Hooft. “UFC is aware of the situation involving light heavyweight athlete, Volkan Oezdemir,” the UFC said…

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UFC Sydney a message for Organisers local is best Down Under

SYDNEY, Australia — It may not have had pay-per-view billing, nor the line-up to match, but Australian MMA fans will have gone home happy from UFC Fight Night Sydney after more than seven hours of action at Qudos Bank Arena. Brazilian Fabricio Werdum was a clear winner in the headline bout, accounting for Poland’s Marcin Tybura in a unanimous decision over five rounds. But it was the fights involving Australian competitors that really got the crowd going. Tai Tuivasa thrilled his western Sydney fanbase with a flying knee knock-out of…

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