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Thomas Almeida aiming for March return, wants top 10 or top 5 opponent next

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Thomas Almeida bounced back emphatically from his first pro loss to now bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt by dispatching of Albert Morales at UFC Sao Paulo this past November. Currently ranked at number 10, he now has his sights set on the top 10, looking to climb the rankings.

The 25 year old Brazilian notched yet another highlight reel finish when he backed Morales up and unleashed a flurry of strikes. It was ultimately the body shot that sent Morales to the canvas and gave Almeida his 5th performance bonus.

In a pivotal fight in Almeida’s career, the exciting young fighter was fully aware of Morales’ aggressiveness and worked up a perfect game plan to impose his will.

“Albert is a very aggressive fighter and I’m the same so I expected that he was going to try and knock me out,” Almeida said. “I prepared for the fight that he was going to be aggressive. I knew he had good jiu-jitsu skills but I practiced a lot with the best jiu-jitsu guys in the world. I was relaxed and confident. He tried to use his reach; his arms are longer than mine so I had a good game plan.”

Almeida, who was criticized in the past for his over aggressive style, focused a lot on his footwork to make sure he was in and out at the right times. He knew that he had a lot to lose in this fight as Morales was a relatively new and unranked opponent but very tough nonetheless.

“I trained very hard for the fight. Using my footwork, being patient and aggressive in the right times you know. I knew it was never going to happen, that he was going to knock me out so I was 100% confident in my skills. I feel pressure in all the fights to win and get the victory so it was just another fight. Fighting in my hometown was very important for me so it was a good victory.”

He had yet another spectacular night in his hometown of Sao Paulo as around the same time last year, he scored a knockout win over Anthony Birchak. Almeida is one of Brazil’s brightest rising stars.

“It’s an amazing feeling fighting here in my hometown in front of my family and friends,” Almeida said. “In the beginning of my career my parents didn’t watch me fight but now they’re my number one fans and this is very important for me.”

Now he is ready to get back to action as he eyes a March return. The UFC is set to return to Brazil in March, this time in Fortaleza but Almeida won’t limit himself to fighting in Brazil.

“Yeah it’s always good fighting in Brazil but I just want to fight. It doesn’t matter where I fight. In Vegas, in Europe, in Brazil, it doesn’t matter, I just want to fight like a top 10 or top 5 fighter.”

A big opportunity opened up as Bryan Caraway was forced out of his January 15th fight versus Jimmie Rivera in Phoenix. When asked if he would step in, Almeida said it’s too short notice but would be interested in fighting either guy in a couple of months.

“Bryan Caraway, Jimmie Rivera, any of the top 10 guys are good. I think Michael McDonald would be a great show for the fans, a fight between two strikers.”

Almeida’s only professional loss came to Cody Garbrandt, who dethroned Dominick Cruz last week to become the new bantamweight champion. Almeida admits he was surprised with the outcome but is motivated to climb his way back to a potential rematch in the future.

“It was a battle,” Almeida said of Cruz versus Garbrandt. “Cody has good power in his hands and Dominick has speed but Cody was able to get him. He had like 3 knockdowns and this is the problem, he has powerful hands. I thought Dominick should have used more takedowns.”

“I think if I get like 2 wins, I can ask for the rematch with Cody for the belt maybe. It would be great.”

Looking for a more active year, Almeida is aiming for at least 3 fights in 2017 and wants to start his title shot campaign in March. A top 10, a top 5 then a title shot would be the ideal situation for the knockout artist who remains one of the most exciting fighters in the UFC.

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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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