Team Alpha Male has been on quite a role this past year and the new blood keeps pouring in. Enter Alex Sandoval, the 13-3 flyweight standout who has been part of Team Alpha Male since 2009.
After falling short in his UFC debut versus current title challenger Wilson Reis, he bounced back with a win over Olympic wrestler Fredy Serrano in his hometown of Sacramento. Now he has drawn TUF alum Matt Schnell next month in Nashville.
For Sandoval, not making the Ultimate Fighter cast in the last season didn’t set him back as he now finds himself a fight or two away from entering the flyweight mix. He will take on American Top Team’s Matt “Danger” Schnell in a fight that he feels very confident in.
“Yeah he’s a good opponent and it’s perfect for me because I was supposed to be on the Ultimate Fighter and it didn’t work out,” Sandoval explained. “So it’s perfect for me to beat somebody up that was on the show.”
“I think all these guys are dangerous, it’s just who has the better night and that’s going to be me. I watched some of his fights and I’m not really impressed. He’s got like simple combinations and stuff so I’m not really worried about any of that.”
Team Alpha Male have a pretty solid track record in terms of UFC debuts with Cody Garbrandt, Andre Fili, Josh Emmett, Paige VanZant and Cynthia Calvillo all picking up wins but for Sandoval, there wasn’t much expectation from the fans when taking on a top 3 flyweight on short notice. Sandoval however, looks at it in a whole different way.
“Wilson, I saved his life,” Sandoval explained. “I saved that man’s life. I went in there and fought a fight that wasn’t my fight and if I had went in there and fought my fight, I would have finished him but I forgot that I was at the highest level. I forgot that I was fighting a vet that was at the highest level but that’s never going to happen to me again. I believed that I was going to take him out in one round and it almost happened. I learned from that and I’m ready to rock.”
“I felt like I could beat him. I’m training in the best gym in the world and if they believe that I could beat that guy and take him out on two weeks’ notice then I believe it but shit happens you know.”
He was then able to rebound 5 months later when he out grappled and outpaced the Olympian Fredy Serrano. He was finally able to show what he’s capable of on a full fight camp.
“Yeah for sure, 100% just having the belief that you can beat anyone in the world and at their best, what they’re good at,” Sandoval said on out grappling Serrano. “Going into any of these fights I’m ready to go. Just the training partners that I have, no one comes near the guys I’m training with so if I’m having a good day in practice then it’s perfect.”
Sandoval was able to enjoy his win in front on his hometown of Sacramento. A card he shared with fellow teammates, including Urijah Faber, his mentor who was entering the octagon for the final time in his MMA career. The whole experience for Sandoval and the team was quite unforgettable.
“That was a great moment for everyone. Just being a part of Team Alpha Male for going on 8/9 years and to fight alongside Urijah Faber was awesome for me and I’ll always remember it.”
“That was great, just getting to wake up in your own bed and not having to sleep in the hotel. Training like 12 blocks from the arena, everything was perfect. The fight was at 1 o’clock and we usually spar from 10:30-11:30 so it was perfect.”
In a flyweight division that is lacking stars, Sandoval has a golden opportunity. Training at one of the best gyms in the world, he is surrounded by world class coaches and training partners.
“There are so many guys at the highest level and even the amateurs are at the highest level,” Sandoval said on training at TAM. “We get people that come from all over the world and they come here and get beat up by our amateurs so there are a lot of amateurs that give me great sparring rounds too.”
With an impressive win over Schnell, Sandoval could find himself in flyweight contention and he is confident that by the end of the year he will be a top ranked fighter.
“I feel like I should be in the top 10 myself and I’m going to show the world this year. I’m going to beat Schnell and be top 10 by the end of the year hopefully. I want to fight a ranked opponent now. I want to beat him and fight ranked opponents and work my way to fight for the world title which I should fight for the world title soon.”
With the big bantamweight title fight looming, Sandoval has shared the mat with both Garbrandt and Dillashaw on numerous occasions over the years. A Team Alpha Male fighter for almost 10 years, Sandoval is confident that his teammate Garbrandt will get the job done.
“It’s a great fight. I feel like TJ will be moving around pretty good but at the end of the day I think Cody’s going to get the job done, probably finish him or fight five rounds but Cody is definitely going to get the job done… Definitely.”
Despite having his team out in Vegas for the Ultimate Fighter, Sandoval didn’t get a chance to go as he is fully focused on his upcoming fight in Nashville. Whether a finish or a decision, he believes he will beat Matt Schnell wherever the fight goes.
“Maybe a kick to the body, maybe punch to the body it just depends what he leaves open. Maybe head kick, maybe knockout. I’m ready to fight 15 minutes if we have to and if I’m able to knock him out good but I got to be careful.”
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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