Seventh ranked middleweight and rising star Robert Whittaker is set to return on November 27th at UFC Melbourne when he takes on the recently victorious Derek Brunson. Whittaker last fought in April at UFC 197 when he defeated the gritty Rafael Natal via decision. Brunson is coming off a first round KO over Uriah Hall, an opponent Whittaker has also recently beaten.
This middleweight match up pits two of the rising contenders in the division and Whittaker wasn’t entirely surprised to find out Brunson was next. While he hasn’t fought since April, the MMA world pondered many possible match ups for the Aussie including a rumour versus the greatest to ever compete, Anderson Silva.
The rumour stemmed from the fact that basically every middleweight in the top 10 was matched up and when interviewed by Submission Radio, Whittaker said he knew the possibility was low.
“The middleweight division right now is completely tied up, it’s chaotic everyone’s fighting everyone but then I did some math and there’s no way they’re gonna afford to put Anderson Silva on a fight night. I’ve been asking to fight everyone since last fight. Like I said it’s just that the division is tied up and everyone is busy. I wasn’t approached by anyone.”
That left one other possibility and everyone diverted their attention to the Derek Brunson/Uriah Hall match up that took place two weeks ago in Hidalgo. While Whittaker has already beaten Hall, fighting a guy in Brunson who will have beaten a common opponent made sense.
“As soon as I saw Derek Brunson beat Uriah Hall the way he did, I knew it was going to be Derek,” Whittaker told Submission Radio. “He’s got another 10 weeks until he has to fight me. He comes off a win with almost no injuries plus I’m ranked ahead of him and it’s another way for him to get a foot higher up in the rankings and who doesn’t want to come to Australia?”
Many felt that Brunson’s first round KO over Hall was an early stoppage but Whittaker knows how dangerous Brunson is and is really looking forward to the fight.
“There wasn’t much to it, he just loaded up on that left hand and Uriah ate it. He looks good, he looked dangerous so he’s got a lot of power, he looks athletic and I really look forward to scrapping with him”
Whittaker who not long ago was scheduled to fight current champion Michael Bisping at UFC 193, was rumoured to fight Anderson Silva but has now landed the 8th ranked Derek Brunson. Many would have liked to see the Aussie star take on a top 5 opponent or a big name but considering that everyone was booked, he’s not too bothered with the opponent.
“I’m not too worried really, it is what it is,” Whittaker told Submission Radio on not fighting a big name. “I’m in the game to gain experience to better myself as a fighter. The only way to do that is by fighting and taking hard fights. Whether it’s big names or not, I want to be the best fighter in the world and I’m not going to be the best fighter in the world by saying no to certain fights.”
While Brunson is ranked right under at 8th, Whittaker knows a win would still push him a step forward to title contention. Bringing similar styles to the table in their power and athleticism, he feels he has the advantage almost everywhere.
“I see myself completely at an advantage,” Whittaker told Submission Radio. “He’s good at wrestling and has a powerful left hand. The way he loads on it if anyone loaded up on it like that with that amount of strength and power, they’re going to put people away.”
“I’m just as aggressive as him and I hit just as hard and I really look forward to meeting up with him and seeing how he likes to get hit. I’m going to hit him and he’s gonna go down. I think he’s going around spouting first round finish and I think it will be it’s just not the way he wants it to be.”
With Rockhold versus Jacare set to headline the Melbourne card and plenty other middleweight match ups booked, Whittaker will definitely have his eyes on all of them. Considering that he was once scheduled to fight Bisping, seeing the title fight versus Henderson is definitely a little strange to him but he isn’t too bothered about it.
“I like it in a sense that I’m a fan of Hendo but I don’t like it in the sense that the UFC just pick whoever they want to fight whoever they want but it’s not up to me I’m just here to fight and I try not to get involved in any of this stuff.”
In a fight that promises to deliver fireworks, Whittaker will look to put Brunson away in front of his home crowd and climb one step closer to the top of the middleweight mountain. Check out Whittaker’s full interview with Submission Radio below.
Surveillance Video Shows Conor McGregor Smash Phone
In a new video released by TMZ Sports, UFC star is shown knocking a phone down and smashing it in front of the Fountainebleau hotel located in Miami, Florida.
In true McGregor fashion, he followed up the destruction of the phone by doing his famous “billionaire strut.”
McGregor got into an altercation with Ahmed Abdirzak who was following and filming McGregor with his cell phone while McGregor and his entourage were leaving the hotel.
McGregor reportedly extended his hand to offer a hand shake, only to pull it back and smack the phone out of Abdirzak’s hand and proceeding to stomp on it.
After a few stomps, McGregor picks up the phone and walks away. He was later arrested, that same day, and has been charged with felony robbery and misdemeanor criminal mischief, which could land him in prison for up to 6 years.
McGregor has pled not guilty on all charges and is scheduled for trial beginning in May.
Abdirzak filed a lawsuit against McGregor stemming from the incident, but dropped his suit after the two sides worked out a settlement.
Abdirzak was reportedly demanding north of $15,000.
INTERVIEW: John Kavanagh Talks Brave CF 13 in Belfast, Frans Mlambo’s Title Fight and SBG Ireland
Renowned head coach of SBG Ireland, John Kavanagh has helped put Irish MMA on the map. With his star student and multiple time UFC champion, Conor McGregor taking over the MMA world, the two have opened up unlimited doors for the rest of the team.
Today, Kavanagh is leading some of the younger generation to world title fights and global organisations. On June 9th, one of his promising young fighters, Frans Mlambo will get a shot at gold when he takes on Stephen Loman for the Brave Combat Federation bantamweight title.
The two met back in the promotion’s first ever show in Bahrain when Loman picked up a unanimous decision win over Mlambo. It was a learning experience for the young South African who has picked up 3 straight finishes since. Kavanagh is confident that the former IMMAF world champion, Mlambo has all the tools to become champion.
Also competing on the Brave CF 13 card from SBG Ireland, is Cian Cowley (0-1) who takes on Daniel Olejniczak (2-1-1) and Tommy Martin (6-4) who takes on Wales’ Aidan James (1-0).
I spoke to John Kavanagh on the upcoming Brave CF 13 show, Mlambo’s improvements and the team’s preparation for their upcoming bouts. Check out the interview below.
Farah Hannoun: Brave Combat Federation are making their first trip to Europe, you’ve witnessed the organization’s growth so how excited are you to see them go to Belfast?
John Kavanagh: Brave is fast becoming one of the world’s biggest MMA shows so it’s of course great to have them visit Ireland. However, I would have preferred Dublin because that’s my hometown.
Farah Hannoun: Frans Mlambo is headlining the event, with a record of 5-2, he’s practically grown up in the cage, how proud are to see him turn things around with 3 straight finishes since losing to Loman the first time?
John Kavanagh: He’s earned that title shot with exciting finishes both by submission and KO. He’s finding his way in the cage nicely now.
Farah Hannoun: What adjustments has Mlambo made since the first fight with Loman? What do you feel like went wrong the first-time round?
John Kavanagh: His grappling was too weak back then. He’s one of the best strikers I’ve ever seen and now his grappling is catching up. Frans is one of the top 135lb fighters in the world.
Farah Hannoun: Cian Cowley is set to make the walk for the second time in his pro career when he takes on Daniel Olejniczak, in light of the legal issues he’s had the misfortune of dealing with, how hard was it for him to put all that aside and focus on the fight?
John Kavanagh: Cian is very mature and focused. It’s not a problem for him to block out what’s going on outside.
Farah Hannoun: Also competing from SBG, is Tommy Martin who’s looking to bounce back when he takes on Aidan James, how’s he been looking at the gym and what can we expect from him?
John Kavanagh: Tommy is a technician. Clean striking, one of best doubles on my team and tidy on the ground. His opponent is similar, solid technician. This fight will be very interesting for those who like nice technique.
Farah Hannoun: You’ve played a massive role in the growth of Irish MMA, SBG and Conor McGregor. The impact that you and Conor have had has resulted in a lot of opportunities and a spotlight on the guys at the gym. Does the idea that people have the perception that the SBG guys get “special treatment” or extra opportunities bother you?
John Kavanagh: No, we’ve earned it 😉
Farah Hannoun: You must be really proud, bringing up a talent such as Frans from his IMMAF world champion days to now him getting a title shot at Brave CF, what are your thoughts on Frans as an individual and a fighter?
John Kavanagh: One of few 135lbs in the world with genuine 1 punch KO power. A very good singer and cook too!
Farah Hannoun: You wrote a mega successful book, Win or Learn, which is even a quote that people have been using a lot when competing in MMA. Your best-selling book was even translated to multiple languages and sold internationally which is incredible. Did you expect the book to be so successful when writing it and do you have plans on writing another one someday?
John Kavanagh: No, I thought maybe my mother would buy a few copies and that’d be it haha. I believe almost 50,000 sold worldwide and talk of a movie adaptation. It’s crazy. Maybe one more book when I’m retired.
After his impressive finish over Niko Price at UFC Sao Paulo, Vicente Luque eyeing Darren Till
When Luan Chagas was forced out of his fight versus Niko Price at UFC Sao Paulo, The UFC called Vicente Luque and he happily accepted.
He stepped in on short notice and took out one of the toughest surging welterweights in Niko Price.
He hurt Price with a counter right before locking in one of his favourite submissions, the D’arce choke. This marked Luque’s 5th win in 6 UFC outings making him one of the brightest young stars in the division.
“I wanted to go out there and have an impressive fight,” Luque said.
“I thought that was very important especially that I was coming off a 4 fight win streak then I had a loss so I wanted to keep that momentum. I think I did that and it definitely puts me back where I was before going after those top 15 guys.”
He now turns his attention to a fellow rising star, Darren Till. Till took out Cowboy Cerrone in the first round last month in Gdansk and Luque feels he would match up well with him.
“I would really like to fight Darren Till,” Luque said. “He’s a great striker and his last fight was really impressive against Cowboy. I’m a striker as well and I would love to test my striking and see who the best striker in the division is.”
And should the UFC decide to go a different direction, Luque would be content fighting anyone in the top 15. With 5 wins and 5 finishes in the division, he feels he’s earned a high ranked opponent or a big name.
“I want a top 15 opponent for sure but if they don’t give me that I’ll be looking for someone with a big name,” Luque said. “Guys like Alan Jouban who already have a name and everybody knows who they are. Those are the guys that I want to be fighting.”
Another name Luque is interested in is Colby Covington who fought on the same card as him. Covington took out former title challenger Demian Maia and proceeded to cut a heavy promo, blasting the Brazilian crowd.
Covington’s harsh and controversial comments towards Brazil didn’t sit well for Luque who sees multiple benefits of fighting him.
“I definitely think that was disrespectful not only to Brazilians but to anybody that watches MMA,” Luque said. “I don’t think that’s the posture of an athlete. I don’t take it personally but I would love to fight him no matter what whether he was disrespectful or not because he’s a top contender.”
The welterweight division is arguably the most talked about division. With rising stars such as Darren Till, Kamaru Usman, Colby Covington and Mike Perry, Luque feels like his name should be thrown in the mix too.
“I think I’m getting up there and slowly getting my spot. I’m having good fights and I know what I’m capable of and that’s what I’m trying to show. I’m doing my thing and I feel that my fights speak for themselves.”
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