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After a year off, Brad Tavares ready to get back to winning ways at UFC 203

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Former top 15 middleweight Brad Tavares will look to get back on track when he takes on Caio Magalhaes at UFC 203. After over a year off, Tavares will look to bounce back from a knockout loss to Robert Whittaker last May when he takes on the Brazilian Magalhaes in Cleveland.

Tavares was slated to face Thales Leites on August 6th in Salt Lake City but was forced to withdraw due to a rib injury. Now fully healed, he’s excited to get back in there with the “tough” Magalhaes.

“I think he’s a really tough gritty guy,” Tavares said. “He’s a heavy handed puncher and swings really hard. I’ve seen him get submitted but it doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a good ground game but when I look at him I see him as a very heavy handed brawler. I see him go for his takedowns and try to get guys to the ground so he has that aspect too but he’s just a really tough guy.”

Tavares who hasn’t been active since May of last year, decided to take some time off following the loss in order to let his brain heal. He is well aware of fighters that get right back in there and suffer knockouts and doesn’t plan on experiencing the same feeling again.

“You see a lot of fighters, they come off a knockout loss and come back too fast,” Tavares explained. “All of a sudden you have these fighters that have amazing chins and can take a punch that suddenly get hurt or knocked out again. It’s one of those things where you don’t really know what’s going on in there. It’s not like a cut or a bone injury where you can see what’s going on. You feel fine the next day.”

“I care about my life after fighting. I just really wanted to give my brain a chance to heal so I decided to take some time off. There’s no sense in rushing back. Then when I was coming back, it was just unfortunate, I suffered a rib injury but I think everything happens for a reason and maybe that wasn’t the right fight at the right time for me. I’m very happy with this fight and I feel like I’m on a really good card. I like the match-up and I like the opponent so I’m happy about it.”

While the likes of Robbie Lawler and Cowboy Cerrone have vocalized their opinion on sparring and how they’ve reduced it, Tavares feels there are too many benefits to have it removed from his training regimen.

“Personally I love sparring,” Tavares said. “I think it’s one of the most fun days of the week. Obviously you can’t go in there and have a fight every sparring session, you have to have good partners and controlled sparring. In fight camp, when it’s MMA sparring top to bottom, takedowns, ground and everything, I think that’s the best way to see where you are as far as what needs work or anything you need to sharpen and even conditioning. You can hit mitts or wrestle but putting it all together is a completely different thing. It’s the closest thing to a fight so I enjoy it.”

Tavares, who started off his UFC career with an impressive 7-1 record, has dropped his last 3 of 4 fights. A five fight win streak was stopped when he lost to current top contender Yoel Romero followed by a loss to Tim Boetsch, a fight which he was winning. He rebounded with a win over Nate Marquardt only to be stopped by Robert Whittaker the following fight. Despite the lack of consistency in his past few fights, Tavares feels like he’s in a good place and pegs the losses to underperforming in those specific nights.

“When I look at it, it doesn’t really feel like that,” Tavares said. “When I was on the win streak, I didn’t really think about it. It was brought to my attention by media but for me I fight to win. I don’t expect anything less than a win so when I was on a streak I was like okay I’m winning and that’s what I’m supposed to do.”

“For me I don’t feel like I fell off or like I’m on some downhill slide. That’s just the way it was in that stretch of my life. I’m more than ready now, I’m ready to get back in there and get right back on the winning track. I want to keep perusing my goals of being the best in the 185 lbs division.”

A lot has changed in the UFC since Tavares took some time off as the UFC signed a new Reebok deal as well as employing an early check in for weigh-ins. The middleweight division also crowned two new champions in Luke Rockhold then Michael Bisping but in the past year, Tavares was focused on healing and improving his overall game.

“I wanted to keep growing. It’s really that time in between fights that you can start playing with stuff, try new things and add things to your game. I was still in the gym training with my training partners. Right after my last fight, I took a lot of time off from sparring and wanted to give my brain some time to heal. I feel sharp in this camp as I always do but I feel a little more explosive and stronger.”

“I haven’t experienced it myself but I love the idea,” Tavares said on the early weigh-ins. “I think it’s an awesome idea, rather than waiting all day dehydrated. I like it like that, your team can go rehydrate, eat and come back to weigh-ins doing the whole TV part of it feeling good.”

Fighting out of Xtreme Couture under the tutelage of Ray Sefo, Tavares is confident wherever the fight goes. He’s even had a couple of top contenders help him in preparation for his fight versus Magalhaes.

“This camp obviously I’m with Ray Sefo, that’s my head coach, more like a big brother to me. Uriah Hall has been more steady at our gym and I think he’s fighting out of Xtreme Couture for his next fight and he’s been there steady and helping me out a lot. Kelvin Gastelum was in for a little bit and I got some work in with him too.”

The proud Hawaiian will step into the octagon in just over a week in Cleveland. While he’s happy to be a part of the big PPV card which includes the likes of heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic, challenger Alistair Overeem, former WWE superstar CM Punk and Urijah Faber, he was hoping that a UFC card in Hawaii would materialise in time for his return.

“Another reason it took so long for me to fight is because I kept hearing rumours that there was going to be a UFC Hawaii card,” Tavares said. “BJ announced that he’s returning, Max is on a crazy win streak and he’s a title contender. You have Travis Browne, Yancy Medeiros, Kailin Curran, Louis Smolka, Russell Doanne. You have all these Hawaiian fighters and a bunch of up and coming fighters that are fighting in smaller shows that aren’t in the UFC yet. I trusted it and I waited around so I said I might as well wait to be a part of that but it never ended up happening. When it happens, I need to be a part of that card; it would mean the world to me.”

The dream to fight in Hawaii could be a reality very soon and a win over Magalhaes on September 10th would put Tavares right on track to re-enter the top 15. The ultra competitive division is finally getting back the attention it once had when Anderson Silva reigned supreme and now would be a perfect time for Tavares to make a run.

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Surveillance Video Shows Conor McGregor Smash Phone

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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.

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INTERVIEW: John Kavanagh Talks Brave CF 13 in Belfast, Frans Mlambo’s Title Fight and SBG Ireland

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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.

Photo by Brave CF

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?

Photo by Severe MMA

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?

Photo via John Kavanagh Twitter

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.

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After his impressive finish over Niko Price at UFC Sao Paulo, Vicente Luque eyeing Darren Till

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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.”

Photo by Jeffrey Basinger

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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