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Thomas Almeida not underestimating Morales, ‘motivated to fight in his hometown’

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Brazilian bantamweight prospect Thomas Almeida will look to rebound from his first professional setback when he takes on Albert Morales in his hometown of Sao Paulo. Almeida dropped his most recent fight back in May when he was overpowered by current title challenger, Cody Garbrandt.

Six months later and Almeida is mentally and physically healed with an opportunity to get back to the winning column. Starting out his UFC career with 4 straight wins and 4 straight performance bonuses, the fans can expect a show from the hometown fighter who’s honoured to be covering the co-main event spot on November 19th.

“It’s a great opportunity that they gave me so I’m very happy with this fight and the opportunity to fight in my hometown,” Almeida said. “I’m training very hard, I had 6 months to prepare my body and my mind for this fight and I’m feeling great.”

Having previously admitted that he never heard of Albert Morales, Almeida still feels he’s a worthy opponent and doesn’t plan on underestimating him. While many expected him to be fighting a ranked opponent, fighting at home makes this fight just as important.

“This motivates me. Fighting in my hometown in front of my friends my family, my training partners is a big opportunity so I’m very happy. I’m not disappointed because all the fighters in the UFC are tough. I don’t know, maybe in the next fight after a great victory versus Albert Morales, I’ll fight a top ten fighter.”

Morales fought to a majority draw in his UFC debut back in September when he took on Alejandro Perez in Hidalgo, Texas. Perez was deducted a point for throwing a punch after the horn but that still wasn’t enough for the judges, as only 1 judge gave the fight to Morales and the other two declared it a draw. Now having studied some tape on his opponent, Almeida knows he’s in for a tough task in a fight that he may have a lot to lose in.

“I saw all his fights on YouTube,” Almeida said. “He has long arms and a better reach than me so I have to use my footwork. He’s a very aggressive jiu-jitsu fighter but I will try to keep the fight standing because I’m a striker. I prefer striking and so do the fans so I’ll use my Muay Thai and boxing.”

An aggressive fighter training at the renowned gym of Chute Boxe in Sao Paulo Brazil, Almeida is looking to add another highlight reel knockout to his resume. Despite his constant display of sharp and brutal Muay Thai, he has focused a lot on his wrestling to ensure that he’s able to defend any ground attack his opponent may throw at him.

“I want to be a great champion so I have to improve my skills; my jiu-jitsu, my wrestling, my boxing, my Muay Thai, my cardio so I’m training hard on all the areas especially the wrestling. I feel like all my opponents try to put me on the ground so I have to defend the takedowns.”

With the past loss to Garbrandt haunting him for quite a while, he has finally put the loss behind him and feels that perhaps this wasn’t the right time for him to contend for a title.

“I don’t think I’m prepared yet to fight for the title,” Almeida said, “This is a tough and long way so I want to be more prepared to get there. I think this isn’t my time; I have to improve and get more experience to get there. I have to concentrate 100% on Albert Morales. He’s a great opponent and he’s tough, hits hard, has great jiu-jitsu and is an offensive fighter.”

Currently ranked at number 11, a win over Morales may not boost his spot in the rankings but it will definitely help build his confidence back. He’s had his eyes on the prize since day one and is willing to take the necessary steps to get there. With Garbrandt set to challenge Dominick Cruz for the title at UFC 207, Almeida feels Cruz will be too much for the young hot prospect, Garbrandt.

“I think Cruz will win because he’s on a different level,” Almeida predicted. “I think he’s the greatest in the division. You have to be patient and wait for the right moment to hit him because his footwork is amazing.”

With less than 3 weeks to go, a revitalized Almeida is ready to have his hometown moment. Having tasted that feeling almost exactly a year ago when he knocked out Anthony Birchak in Sao Paulo, he is thrilled to be fighting at home again. Before I let Almeida go, I asked him 21 fun questions for the fans to get to know him better. Check it out below:

21 Questions:

1. Who is your role model?

Almeida: Ayrton Senna (Brazilian racing driver)

2. If you weren’t a fighter, what would you be?

Almeida: A Muay Thai teacher or a pro surfer

3. Favourite subject in High School?

Almeida: Math

4. Dream venue to fight in?

Almeida: Maybe in Europe, Holland

5. Hardest thing to refrain from when cutting weight?

Almeida: Chocolate & ice cream. I’m like addicted to chocolate.

6. What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

Almeida: Surfing and hanging out with my family.

7. Who are some of your favourite fighters to watch?

Almeida: Jose Aldo and Edson Barboza.

8. Do you have any favourite sports teams?

Almeida: My soccer team is Corinthians (Brazil) and American Football is the Dallas Cowboys.

9. Are you good at any other sports?

Almeida: Soccer and surfing.

10. What’s your favourite food?

Almeida: Italian food; Pasta, lasagna. I also like sushi and BBQs.

11. Favourite place you’ve ever been to?

Almeida: Caribbean Islands.

12. Which country would you like to visit that you’ve never been to?

Almeida: Indonesia.

13. Favourite movie and favourite actor/actress?

Almeida: Movie: Chok Dee (Muay Thai movie). Actor/Actress: Christian Bale & Angelina Jolie.

14. Current favourite song?

Almeida: I really like hip-hop, Notorious B.I.G and Tupac songs.

15. Favourite music artists?

Almeida: Notorious B.I.G, Tupac, Rick Ross, Snoop Dog.

16. Song on your iPod that you’re embarrassed to have?

Almeida: Sertanejo (Country music) it’s getting very popular in Brazil though.

17. What’s your worst pet peeve?

Almeida: When people are disloyal.

18. Favourite fight you’ve ever been in and favourite fight you’ve ever seen?

Almeida: My fight versus Brad Pickett (flying knee KO) and my first fight in Legacy vs. Cody Williams (Right elbow KO). Favourite fight I’ve ever seen was in Cage Rage between Melvin Manhoef and Evangelista Cyborg. In the UFC, it’s Lawler vs. MacDonald 2 (UFC 189).

19. Favourite thing to wear when not working out?

Almeida: Flip flops, t shirt and shorts.

20. Who would you want with you if you were stranded on a deserted island?

Almeida: Just my surfboard or my dog.

21. What’s the weirdest fan encounter you’ve ever had?

Almeida: Nothing weird just sometimes the fans (girls) send me messages saying I love you, I want to marry you (laughs).

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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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