The long awaited fight between Randa Markos and Carla Esparza will finally take place next month at UFC Halifax. The two strawweights were part of TUF Season 20 back in 2014 where Markos fell short in the semi-finals and Esparza went on to become the promotion’s first ever strawweight champion.
Despite never getting to fight during the show, fans still hoped for a future match-up between the two strawweights. On TUF, Markos knocked off Felice Herrig who is good friends with Esparza which sparked the infamous line, “Don’t worry, you’re next.”
Fast forward two and a half years and they are finally set to throw down. Although always anticipated, the timing of the match-up was unexpected as after a disappointing outing in her last fight, Markos fell off the rankings while Esparza is ranked at number 3. Markos herself was a little surprised with the fight booking but is excited for the opportunity.
“I was kind of surprised that they gave me this fight after my last performance but I’m excited about it,” Markos said. “My last performance doesn’t define what kind of a fighter I am. I’ve come a long way since the show and I’m really excited to show off some more of my skills. On the show I beat the 3rd ranked girl so you never know what you’re going to get with me.”
Markos has lost 2 of her last 3, losing to former title challenger Karolina Kowalkiewicz via decision and Cortney Casey via first round arm bar. Her last fight versus Casey was back in August and ended rather quickly, leaving her eager to return ever since.
“With Karolina I felt like I stepped away from what I normally do,” Markos explained. “Going to Tristar and trusting in the process kind of bit me in the butt because I was kind of being forced to be a passive fighter when I’m not a passive fighter I’m more of a aggressive fighter and I feel like I lost that fight because of it. She’s a tough fight, she almost beat Joanna so I was really down on myself for losing that fight but she’s extremely durable and she almost knocked her out.”
“The last fight I don’t even want to talk about it that was horrible for me,” Markos said on the Cortney Casey fight. “It was a horrible horrible weight cut, I don’t want to blame it on the weight cut because I’ve had bad ones in the past and come back normal but I think my head wasn’t there and she caught me. That happens in MMA and sometimes you get caught.”
Having formerly trained at Tristar Gym and Michigan Top Team, Randa is currently training at multiple facilities in order to ensure that she improves each aspect of her game. Although it can be grueling at times, she believes she’s making the necessary adjustments and getting what she needs out of her training.
“I don’t train at Michigan Top Team anymore. I’m kind of all over the place,” Markos explained. “I train at Windsor Wrestling Club for my wrestling, I go to a boxing gym in Michigan for my boxing, I go to Strength and Conditioning in Amherstburg, I do my jiu-jitsu in Windsor with a couple of my coaches so I’m all over the place right now. I don’t really have a gym that I represent; I’m kind of representing myself right now.”
Now she has received a golden opportunity to get back on track when she takes on the 3rd ranked Esparza but considering their past, this one may have a little added emotion. Randa isn’t looking forward to the potential tension and isn’t dwelling too much on the past but is keeping the memories in her mind for added motivation.
“I’ll never forget the way she treated me, she’s just a horrible person and the way she treated me was not right,” Markos explained on her time with Carla at TUF. “I’ve always thought in the back of my head that one day I’m going to get my revenge on her and I guess to let her know how she made me feel and this is my opportunity.”
“So yeah it’s in the back of my mind but the past is the past and she’s a good wrestler and I came from a wrestling background so I really think this going to be a good fight for everyone to watch. It’s not just all the drama and the past that we have, it’s just a really good match up. Our skills match up really well and it will be a good fight for everyone to see.”
While both fighters possess a strong ground game, Markos feels she has the advantage on the feet and is comfortable wherever the fight goes.
“I definitely think I have the advantage on the feet. I think she’s going to try and take it to the ground but at the same time I think she went back to the drawing board and fixed a few things after her fight with Joanna so I’m expecting her to come out with a lot more skills than she did with that fight. Wherever the fight goes, I’m preparing for it.”
Since losing her title to current champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk, Esparza has been sidelined for over a year with a shoulder injury and finally returned to action this past April. She scored a unanimous decision win over Julianna Lima where she was able to show her dominant grappling ability. Despite not watching Esparza’s last fight, Markos isn’t too impressed with her style and believes it’s not too exciting.
“She’s pretty basic, she’s going to take you down and lay on you and she’s got a strong strategy going into her fights. I don’t really like her style, it’s not really a fan favourite style but it’s worked for her so why should she change it.”
“When she shoots she commits to it and continues with it until she gets you down so that’s what I’m looking for. She’s gonna try to commit to it and take me down but I’m prepared for it. I want to keep it standing but if she wants to take it to the ground I think she’s going to underestimate me on the ground and my takedown defense and that’s fine.”
This fight will take place in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, Randa’s home country and she will definitely have the crowd on her side. Excited to fight at home, Markos would love nothing more than to get a knockout win over her foe and re-enter the rankings emphatically.
“What I’d want to happen is that I knock her out. That would be great but she’s probably going to try and take me down, I’m going to defend her takedowns and try to keep it standing. I don’t think she can handle hard punches to the face as you saw with her fight with Joanna so we’ll see how it goes.”
Expected to be on the main card, this fight goes down on February the 19th in Halifax. With past history, the fans will finally get to see the match-up they long awaited for and it’s going to be a good one.
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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