Having announced that he’s coming out of retirement back in June, Frankie Perez is finally set to return on December 9th in Albany. He will take on the undefeated young prospect, Marc Diakiese in a contest that pits two talented lightweights.
Perez, who announced his comeback on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Hour show, was held up by USADA’s drug testing rules as he had to be in their system for 4 months. 3 weeks after, he got the call and is thrilled to be fighting close to home.
“They called me with this fight in Albany and I jumped on it, I didn’t care who it was,” Perez said. “It’s definitely going to be cool, first ever fight in Albany and I’ll definitely remember that for the rest of my life. It would have been sweeter to get Madison Square Garden but I’m super pumped, it’s only 3 hours from where I live. I’ll come out with the W right in my back yard, drive home and celebrate that same night.”
He will be taking on the UK’s Marc Diakiese who scored a 2nd round TKO win in his UFC debut earlier this month in Manchester. When asked about Diakiese’s debut, Perez wasn’t impressed and feels he will overwhelm him throughout.
“I don’t know too much about the kid, I hear he has a lot of hype coming from the UK but the States is a little different story,” Perez said. “When I looked at his record to date I think I’m the biggest name he’s going to be facing and the biggest threat for him everywhere, hands, speed, I mix everything up really well. I don’t think he’s fought anyone on my level at all so I think it should be an interesting fight and a good first fight back. I think it’s going to be one to watch December 9th.”
Having earlier vouched for a Sage Northcutt fight at MSG, Perez is happy with the second best option in Albany. He feels rejuvenated and has put all thoughts of retirement behind him.
“I’m taking this second run in the UFC completely different and I’m ready to make some noise in the lightweight division. Retirement is definitely gone and I’m in this for the run. I definitely don’t see an end to this until I see a gold strap around my waist. After I take out Marc, I’m going to start vouching for big fights.”
Training under the tutelage of Mark Henry, Ricardo Almeida, Nick Catone and a world class list of teammates, Perez has taken motivation from their recent success and is looking to put his name on the map come December 9th.
“I train with the best guys on the planet with Frankie Edgar, Edson Barboza, Eddie Alvarez, Marlon Moraes, Corey Anderson, the list goes on. We’re a very small team but all my teammates are ranked, every single one of them and there’s no reason I shouldn’t be either and I know I’ll be there very soon. I’m looking to get this big W on December 9th and start steamrolling the lightweight division.”
Despite being retired for about a year, Perez was seen training at his gym almost daily. Although he enjoyed his time off and helping his teammates out, he felt something was missing, thus prompting his return.
“My mind is fantastic right now, it took me a good year to realize that I’m meant to do this and I want to do this. When I realized that I wanted to come back, training was going really well and when they called me with the fight I was taken back like alright we’re going to do this again. After this first week of hard training camp, I got done with sparring on Saturday with the biggest smile on my face and just excited to be back in full effect.”
His return will have a lot of eyes for multiple reasons, getting a comeback fight close to home is one story but the match-up itself is very intriguing. Diakiese is an exciting European prospect that fans have been very hyped about but Perez refuses to be a chapter in his story.
“I’ve been a stepping stone my whole life, everybody always counted me out,” Perez said. “They brought me in there to be a stepping stone for Johnny Case and that wasn’t me but they also brought me in there to bring Sam Stout’s career back and look what happened. If they’re having me as a stepping stone for this kid’s career, you know what they chose the wrong kid.”
Training alongside contenders Frankie Edgar, Edson Barboza and lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez have helped boost Perez’s confidence daily. Surrounded by elite high level athletes has given him all the faith in himself as well as his teammates. When asked about Eddie Alvarez’s upcoming title defense vs. McGregor, Perez predicted a finish for the champion.
“Eddie hasn’t shown his full potential yet and a lot of people haven’t seen that side of him but I have,” Perez said. “I’ve been on the receiving end of it so I know exactly what Eddie brings to the table. Conor is a good boxer and is very precise with his punches. He knows exactly when to hit and how to hit so if he catches Eddie early, I can see Eddie getting rocked in the first round but the second Eddie grabs a hold of him it’s going to be game over. Eddie’s boxing is really good too, he showed it a little bit with dos Anjos and his pressure game and wrestling is really good. Not because he’s my teammate but I see it Eddie Alvarez under 3.”
With Alvarez preparing for McGregor, Edgar preparing for Stephens and multiple other teammates preparing for big fights, Perez is looking to join their journey of success. Having tasted a bit of it last year when he scored a big knockout win versus Sam Stout, he feels reborn and is ready to make a run in the lightweight division.
“I’m going to go in there December 9th and let everybody know that I wasn’t sitting on the couch and got the phone call, I’ve been training for 6 months now getting ready for whoever they threw at me. I’m revamped, my whole attitude and perspective to the way this sport is and the way I look at this sport is completely different. I’m just going to go in there and have some fun, get a W and let the world know that the “Suavemente” is back.”
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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