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Olivier Aubin-Mercier credits GSP like jab for striking success at UFC 206, wants Andrew Holbrook next



Picking up yet another submission win, Olivier Aubin-Mercier put on perhaps the best performance of his young MMA career. He choked out Drew Dober in the second round this past Saturday at UFC 206, netting his 7th career rear naked choke win.

Fighting in front of his home crowd in all but one of his pro MMA bouts, Aubin-Mercier has become one of Canada’s brightest stars. He displayed much improved striking getting the best of Dober on the feet and the ground.

“The game plan was to use my jab a lot and my leg kicks to frustrate him then maybe at that point try to take him down,” Aubin-Mercier said on his game plan. “We saw that he’s a pretty good wrestler and we didn’t want to push the same way I did with my last opponent so the plan was to take my time and to stand with him without standing in front of him.”

He was able to stick the jab right at Dober, busting his nose up. When asked whether he was surprised at the success he had on the feet in the first round, Aubin-Mercier said that he’s been putting in the work.

“Not really. The game plan went really well and what you saw in the fight was what we did in the training camp. Right now I have a schedule. Before I was just doing stand up maybe when everybody had time (laughs). So right now I have a striking coach and I think that it was shown and I’m happy with the progress.”

“The Quebec Kid” did suffer one hiccup though; he was dropped by a left hook early in the second round which set the Canadian fans into panic mode. Despite admitting that he was rocked, he stayed calm which ended up being a blessing in disguise for him.

“I just opened my eyes and I was on the ground. So I guess it got pretty close for me to get knocked out, it was a flash but on the ground I was lucid and everything so just really a flash.”

“He went a little berserk on the ground so I just decided to grab him and just let the storm pass. I thought he was getting tired actually, we knew he had really good cardio so I was surprised. When the storm passed, I tried an omoplata and he tried to stand up and that’s where I had the opportunity to take the leg lock sweep him. So at that point I swept him, took his back and choked him. I’m pretty happy because it’s the first time we see the attack from my back.”

That’s back to back wins for Aubin-Mercier who dropped a unanimous decision to Carlos Diego Ferreira earlier in the year. He already has his sights set on his next opponent as he’d like to fight Andrew Holbrook. Although considered a step down in competition, he had a pretty good reason as to why he wanted the fight.

“I think it’s an interesting matchup. I like his style, I like how he fights on the ground and he’s doing a lot of leg locks so for me it would be a fun fight to train for,” Aubin-Mercier said on Holbrook. “I like how he fought against Jake Matthews and I don’t normally watch UFC fights but every fight I’ve seen of his, he’s won. I don’t think I’m at the point where I should fight a top 10 yet especially that I’d have less experience than most people in the UFC. For right now I just need to get better.”

The UFC makes its next visit to Canada early next year in Halifax. When asked whether he’d be interested in fighting on the 19th of February, Aubin-Mercier insisted it’s too soon for him to come back.

“I don’t think so. I mean yeah there’s Christmas but I kind of hurt my hand a little bit in the fight in the first round. So it would be a good 2 or 3 weeks without being able to punch leaving me about a month and a week to get ready for the fight so for right now I don’t think I’m going to do it. Let’s see what will happen, if my hand miraculously heals we’ll see.”

UFC 206 did not get off to the greatest start as Canadians Jason Saggo, John Makdessi, Mitch Gagnon and Valerie Letourneau all suffered losses prior to Aubin-Mercier’s fight. Although he was watching the previous fights, he remained focused on his own.

“I didn’t feel any pressure but I have to say I was feeling weird. Some of them were my friends so I was feeling sad for them and I don’t know I was feeling like the card was doomed or something.”

Although it seems that he will miss the UFC’s next return to Canada, he’d still prefer to fight at home. It is unknown when the UFC will return to Canada again after Halifax but Aubin-Mercier has a valid reason as to why he likes to fight in his home country.

“I like to fight in Canada because it’s less expensive. Every fight I’m bringing three coaches so I have to pay for 2 coaches and plus one of my friends is a really good cook and I bring him to my fights to cook my after weigh-in meal; he’s the chef from Joe Beef . Maybe in the future when I get a bigger payroll I wouldn’t care but for right now I prefer to fight in Canada.”

Training at Tristar gym gives Olivier the opportunity to train with many fighters on the roster. Most recently, young rising star Mickey Gall has spent his training camp in Montreal, preparing for his upcoming fight this Saturday in Sacramento versus Sage Northcutt. Prior to Mickey’s visit, Sage has also spent some time in Tristar in the past giving Olivier a chance to train with both.

“I sparred with him (Mickey) when he came to Tristar and basically, he’s a really nice guy and I like him but what I told him was that since I trained with Sage before I couldn’t tell him anything about him.”

I also asked Olivier about Georges St. Pierre who’s ever so close to returning to action. Although he didn’t have much of an update, he was adamant that St. Pierre wants to return and has been training like an active fighter. GSP was rumoured to headline UFC 206 but due to failed negotiations was left out of the card. Aubin-Mercier, who idolized GSP and drew comparisons to him early in his career, was disappointed at the missed opportunity.

“I was kind of sad that he wasn’t going to fight in Toronto because like I said I started MMA because of him so for me to have been on the same card as him would have been a really great honour.”

With no rush for a big step up in competition, Aubin-Mercier is looking to improve and climb his way to the top fight by fight. His sights are set on Andrew Holbrook which should make for a very entertaining fight on the ground. With no target date for a return, Aubin-Mercier will look to continue his climb in the stacked lightweight division.


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.

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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.

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



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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