UFC 186: Thomas Almeida’s Win Shows Bantamweight Is the Division of the Future

On Saturday night, the UFC held a pay-per-view in Montreal that featured a main card with a championship fight and a couple notable names from MMA‘s past and present. It was an unanticipated card that turned out to be a good one, much to the surprise of fans.

While Demetrious Johnson and Kyoji Horiguchi were the headliners for their championship status, it was names like “Rampage Jackson” and “Michael Bisping” that figured to be the biggest on the card. Those fights seemingly had the most attention, which was thought to bring in most of the views.

That said, the main card also featured a young Brazilian who is set to make waves in the bantamweight division. That man is Thomas Almeida, and he is just one of the many young bantamweights the UFC currently has who makes the division the one to watch in the future.

Almeida, just 23 years old, is undefeated at 19-0. He threw himself in the 135-pound fray with his performance Saturday night, as he knocked out respected WEC and UFC veteran Yves Jabouin in under a round.

That performance, coupled with the recent outings of many of the young UFC fighters, shows that the bantamweight division is the division of the future.

Right now, we have a young champion who is one of the most improved fighters in the UFC by the name of T.J. Dillashaw. He has another young counterpart who is a big rival right now in Renan Barao, the man Dillashaw took the title from and has a rematch against already.

In the wings of it all, old-timers like Dominick Cruz and Urijah Faber are still in the division and contenders in their own right. Most of the fighters in the top 10 are veterans of the division and represent the “old guard,” but the UFC has a ton of young guys who will make the division among the most competitive the company has.

Obviously, one of those guys is Almeida. He is young, powerful, exciting and aggressive—characteristics that will surely continue to get him the spotlight.

Then consider UFC on Fox 15, where prodigy Aljamain Sterling got his trademark win by choking out longtime contender Takeya Mizugaki in an incredible performance. Sterling is certainly a contender now, but he is still young and gaining experience as an undefeated prospect.

Also, Chris Holdsworth, a teammate of Dillashaw, has already pushed his stock up, though injuries have hampered some of his progress. He dominated The Ultimate Fighter 18, where he was the season champion, and he hasn’t looked back since.

We could go on all day about the numerous up-and-coming fighters, but there are almost too many to name. Some of the young and talented future contenders putting their names on the map are Cody Garbrandt, Frankie Saenz, Rob Font, Pedro Munhoz and Mitch Gagnon, among others.

Almeida‘s win on Saturday, coupled with Sterling’s win the weekend before, definitely signals things to come for the 135-pound division. There is a murderers’ row of fighters waiting in the helm to take over and make it a division the UFC can really get behind.

It’s certainly the most underrated division in the UFC and one that’s only growing with talent and prospects as we speak.

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Johny Hendricks Shrugs off Criticism, Will Do Whatever It Takes to Reclaim Title

Johny Hendricks caught a bit of static following his unanimous decision victory over Matt Brown at UFC 185 back in March. That said, the former welterweight champion isn’t going to allow criticism to sway the way he aims to get the job done inside the Octagon.

Despite backlash from UFC brass and the MMA community in general for the game plan he used to defeat “The Immortal” in Dallas, the 31-year-old Oklahoma native has shrugged off any criticism surrounding the fight. Where the former two-time NCAA Division I national champion wrestler had fallen into a pattern over a lengthy run of fights where he used the power in his hands to obtain victory, Hendricks employed his wrestling savvy at a high rate against Brown to pick up the lopsided win on the judges’ scorecards.

“It felt great to get that last win,” Hendricks told Bleacher Report. “[Matt] Brown is a tough dude. He really is. He’s been in there with some of the best and he always ends up finishing the fight. I knew that going in and that’s why I went a different route. Once I got the first takedown it felt good to stay on top of someone rather than letting them back up. I scored some points there and that’s always a confidence booster. And you have to look at things like that. It was great to fight a tough guy in Dallas and walk out with the win.”

And fight fans should get used to seeing that version of “Bigg Rigg” inside the cage because the Team Takedown leader plans to use his most dominant skill much more going forward. He’s going to pursue victory by any means necessary, and if that happens to disappoint a few people along the way, then so be it. Hendricks is determined to reclaim the welterweight title, and he knows his wrestling skills present a huge problem for anyone he faces inside the cage.

“I want to put on a show for the fans but I also have to win,” Hendricks said. “Look where that got me. You end up putting on a show for the fans but you end up losing. I am definitely going to get back to my strong points and give myself the best chance to win. It also mixes things up because it makes me unpredictable. Then you can actually throw harder and get people to be more offensive and get them to worry about certain things. I think it’s going to play into my game really well.

“I know I fought a great fight and I take it as that,” he added. “The fans can be very hard to please sometimes. There are times where you just have to sit there and accept that. Maybe I can mix things up better in my next fight because you have to constantly adapt. Can’t just sit there and decide to be a striker because I fell into that. I was just striking out there and I was out-pointing everyone, but sometimes you don’t get the win fighting that way. When you can hold someone down and punch them a bunch it’s definitely a great thing to have under your belt.”

While his win over Brown definitely put Hendricks back into the title contention mix in the welterweight division, it wasn’t a concrete bid for another championship opportunity. The heavy-handed Texas transplant lost the strap after being edged out by Robbie Lawler in their rematch at UFC 181 back in December, and “Ruthless” is set to square off with Rory MacDonald at UFC 189 on July 11 in Las Vegas.

That leaves a bit of time for Hendricks to see how things play out, and the championship tilt could very well be the key factor to whether he decides to take another fight in the interim. In a division as talent-rich as the 170-pound collective, things can shift quickly, and Hendricks is all too familiar with how things can unfold when there are so many moving parts at play. Therefore he is going to keep a close eye on the divisional picture and make sure his next step is a precise and calculated move to get him back into a title opportunity.

“I want to see what is going to happen with this fight in July, then we’ll see where I lay,” Hendricks said. “We have talked about it and I might take a fight and I might not. We are still weighing things out. We are going to see where I fall, but right now I see myself as the No. 1 contender. I took a fight and, guess what? It took a belt away from me. It took a belt opportunity away from me. I had a shot at the belt and Rory MacDonald had a fight, and I didn’t want one of them to jump over me so I took a fight. That fight ended up not happening and it cost me a title shot.”

 

Duane Finley is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report. All quotes are obtained firsthand unless noted otherwise.

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Updated Report: Jon Jones Sought for Questioning in Wreck, UFC 187 Bout at Risk

Jon Jones is wanted for questioning after a hit-and-run car collision allegedly left a woman injured Sunday morning in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

MMA reporter David Kano tweeted the news Sunday night that the UFC light heayweight champ was a person of interest in the hit-and-run. According to Kano, Albuquerque Police Department spokesperson Simon Drobik confirmed that Jones is being sought for questioning.

Marc Raimondi of MMAFighting.com also reportedly spoke with Drobick.

“[We] don’t know where he is right now,” Drobik told Raimondi in relation to Jones. “We’re trying to figure that out.”

Late Sunday evening, the Albuquerque Police Department released a statement on the current status of the investigation:

The Albuquerque Police Department is actively seeking UFC Fighter Jon Jones for questioning in regards to his possible involvement in a hit-and-run accident, near the intersection of Juan Tabo and Southern, in Southeast Albuquerque early this morning, April 26, 2015.

A pregnant female in her 20s, who was the driver of a separate vehicle, was taken to a local hospital for minor injuries.

Officers attempted to contact Mr. Jones at his residence Sunday evening, but were unsuccessful. We have also reached out to his lawyer, but as of now, have not heard back.

Depending on whether or to what extent Jones was involved in the incident, he may not be available to defend his UFC light heavyweight title against Anthony Johnson, a bout initially scheduled for May 23 at UFC 187 in Las Vegas. 

Earler Sunday evening, unnamed sources told MMAWeekly.com that Jones will not compete in the event.

UPDATE: Though the MMA Weekly report initially stated that Jones was out of the bout entirely, sources are now noting that the bout is at risk, but not definitely canceled at this point.

–End of Update–

Before Drobick’s comments, the Albuquerque Police Department took to Twitter to state that they were presently unable to confirm Jones’ involvement in a hit-and-run collision:

Although, if Drobick’s comments are any indication, they are now comfortable making that confirmation.

The 27-year-old Jones (21-1) is generally considered the best active MMA fighter in the world. His bout with Johnson would have been his ninth consecutive light heavyweight title defense.

Jones last fought in January, when he outwrestled an Olympic wrestler in Daniel Cormier at UFC 182.

Controversy and curiosity have followed Jones for much of his pro career. After defeating Cormier, news broke that Jones had tested positive for a metabolite of cocaine in a drug test leading up to the fight. He subsequently entered rehab, but stayed for only one day.

In 2012, Jones was arrested in his home state of New York and charged with driving under the influence. He received a $1,000 find and a suspended license, among other punishments.

Also in 2012, officials canceled UFC 151 after challenger Dan Henderson announced that an injury would prevent him from fighting. UFC officials offered Chael Sonnen as a replacement, but Jones and his team refused, citing a lack of adequate preparation time.

Last year, Jones and his handlers claimed the fighter’s Instagram account had been hacked following scrutiny over anti-gay remarks posted by his official account.

Nevertheless, Jones remains a popular fighter with undeniable talent. He has regularly beaten the best fighters in the world, from Lyoto Machida to Cormier to Alexander Gustafsson.

On paper, Johnson would be one of Jones’ toughest challengers to date. “Rumble” (19-4) is among the most fearsome strikers in the sport with 13 of his 19 pro wins coming by knockout, most recently a first-round TKO of Gustafsson in Sweden this January.

The UFC 187 co-main event is a middleweight title bout between Chris Weidman and challenger Vitor Belfort. Should Jones vs. Johnson be pulled from the card, it is conceivable that the co-main event could be bumped up to main-event status.

Sunday did not mark the first time Jones’ availability for UFC 187 was questioned. In March, retired UFC middleweight and light heavyweight and current ESPN MMA analyst Chael Sonnen said during a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” session that Jones vs. Johnson “won’t happen.”

“Won’t happen,” Sonnen wrote. “Mark my words.”

Scott Harris covers MMA for Bleacher Report. For more stuff like this, follow Scott on Twitter.

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Courtesy of :Bleacher Report – UFC

Updated Report: Champ Jon Jones’ UFC 187 Title Bout in Jeopardy

Jon Jones may not defend his UFC light heavyweight title against Anthony Johnson this May as originally scheduled.

Jones was scheduled to defend the title May 23 at UFC 187 in Las Vegas, but unnamed sources told MMAWeekly.com on Sunday evening that Jones will not compete in the event. 

UPDATE: Though the MMA Weekly report initially stated that Jones was out of the bout entirely, sources are now noting that the bout is at risk, but not definitely canceled at this point.

–End of Update–

MMA insider Front Row Brian was among the first to relay the information on Sunday:

MMAWeekly.com indicated that Jones may have been involved in a car accident Saturday evening. The Albuquerque Police Department took to Twitter Sunday evening to state that they were presently unable to confirm Jones’ involvement in a “traffic accident,” specifically referring to a hit-and-run collision:

The 27-year-old Jones (21-1) is generally considered the best active MMA fighter in the world. His bout with Johnson would have been his ninth consecutive light heavyweight title defense.

Jones last fought in January, when he outwrestled an Olympic wrestler in Daniel Cormier at UFC 182.

Controversy and curiosity have followed Jones for much of his pro career. After defeating Cormier, news broke that Jones had tested positive for a metabolite of cocaine in a drug test leading up to the fight. He subsequently entered rehab, but stayed for only one day.

In 2012, Jones was arrested in his home state of New York and charged with driving under the influence. He received a $1,000 find and a suspended license, among other punishments.

Also in 2012, officials canceled UFC 151 after challenger Dan Henderson announced late that an injury would prevent him from fighting. UFC officials offered Chael Sonnen as a replacement for Jones, but Jones and his team refused, citing a lack of adequate preparation time. 

Last year, Jones and his handlers claimed the fighter’s Instagram account had been hacked following scrutiny over anti-gay remarks posted to his official account. 

Despite such missteps, Jones remains a popular fighter with undeniable talent. He has regularly beaten the best fighters in the world, from Lyoto Machida to Cormier to Alexander Gustafsson.

On paper, Johnson would be one of Jones’ toughest challengers to date. “Rumble” (19-4) is among the most fearsome strikers in the sport with 13 of his 19 pro wins coming by knockout, most recently a first-round TKO of Gustafsson in Sweden this January.

There has been no word from the UFC about what, if anything, woud replace Jones-Johnson as the UFC 187 main event. The card’s co-main event is a middleweight title bout between Chris Weidman and challenger Vitor Belfort. It is conceivable that the co-main event could be bumped up to main event status.

Plenty of observers took to Twitter after the rumor began circulating to offer their own ideas on a potential replacement:

This continues a string of major misfortune for UFC events and fans in 2015. According to Michael Carroll, a research analyst for MMA data site FightMetric, there have been many main and co-main event changes so far this year:

Sunday did not mark the first time Jones’ availability for UFC 187 was questioned. In March, retired UFC middleweight and light heavyweight and current ESPN MMA analyst Chael Sonnen said during a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” session that Jones vs. Johnson “won’t happen.”

“Won’t happen,” Sonnen wrote. “Mark my words.”

Scott Harris covers MMA for Bleacher Report. For more stuff like this, follow Scott on Twitter.

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Patrick Cote: 3 Potential Fights for Him After UFC 186 Win

Montreal was treated to a great card Saturday night, as the UFC made its return to the MMA-crazy town with UFC 186. Headlined by a championship bout between Demetrious Johnson and Kyoji Horiguchi, the card was littered with familiar names from top to bottom.

Two of those familiar names were long-time veterans Patrick Cote and Joe Riggs. The two experienced fighters met in the headliner of the preliminary fights, with Cote besting Riggs with a balanced, overwhelming attack.

With that win, Cote is back up the ladder and looking to make a run toward the top end of the division. Here are three fights that Cote can take next.

 

Yoshihiro Akiyama

When it comes to exciting fights and legendary chins, Cote and Yoshihiro Akiyama are two guys that fit both of those descriptions. That’s why a fight between the two would be awesome.

Akiyama and Cote are veterans of the sport, yet they have not crossed paths. Both are former middleweights that ventured down to welterweight to some success thus far.

It’s a main-card scrap on any card you assemble. It also has Fight of the Night written all over it, meaning it’s a fight the UFC seriously needs to consider.

 

Kenny Robertson

One of the most underrated welterweights on the UFC’s roster, Kenny Robertson has slowly ascended up the rankings. He’s around the same spot in the division as Cote, making this matchup pretty logical.

Both Cote and Robertson are very well-rounded, though Cote is definitely a striker first and Robertson is a wrestler first. It would be a strategic chess match with high-stake achievements on the table.

With their styles, they have the ability to bring the best out in one another. That’s why this is a matchup that could be a must-make bout.

 

Ben Saunders

Ben Saunders and Cote have something in common, which is a big reason for a potential showdown. They are both exciting, hard-nosed fighters that leave everything in the cage.

Saunders is a big welterweight with the type of striking style that matches up well with Cote. Both are strong in the clinch, and both can throw from the outside as well.

A striking match between the two, given they stood up for most of the bout, would be awesome for the fans. Otherwise, it could be an interesting grappling match as well, which is why this fight should and could be next.

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Courtesy of :Bleacher Report – UFC