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Interview: Chute Boxe Head Coach Diego Lima talks team, journey and future prospects

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A long lineage of technical violence, Chute Boxe is one of the most renowned gyms in MMA. Legends were born through the system as the likes of Wanderlai Silva, Anderson Silva and Shogun Rua dominated the MMA world. With multiple branches across Brazil and now the US, Chute Boxe still strives to produce top talent. Diego Lima, head coach of Chute Boxe in São Paulo is in pursuit of leading the next generation of Brazilian killers.

Growing up in São Paulo with the desire of being a professional fighter himself, Lima eventually took over Chute Boxe when his master Luis Azeredo moved to Curitiba. He started teaching and fell in love with the process of sharing his knowledge with others. Today he coaches the likes of top 10 UFC bantamweight Thomas Almeida, Felipe Arantes, Charles Oliveira and Lucas Martins.

I spoke to Diego about his fighters, his journey as a coach and top prospects to look out for at his gym. Check it out below.

Sports Rants: Congrats on the team’s success at the Brave 3 show in Curitiba. Lucas Martins and Felipe Efrain both picked up impressive finishes. What did you think of the show and how your fighters performed?

Diego: Thank you very much, the results were great. Brave is a great event, and I’m very happy to have Lucas and Felipe in it.

Sports Rants: Did the fights for Lucas and Felipe go the way you expected them to? How did Lucas deal with the last minute opponent change?

Diego: I really liked the fights, we did what we planned. The change of adversary made little difference to Lucas, but we managed to come up with a good strategy in a few days and bring home a victory.

Sports Rants: Will Lucas be in Abu Dhabi for Brave 4? I know he said he wanted to watch the main event title fight and challenge for the title next. Did Brave guarantee him the next title shot?

Diego: We still do not know if he’ll be in Abu Dubai, we’re talking about this. I think it’s going to happen, Brave are hoping for Lucas to be the next challenger for the belt.

Sports Rants: What’s next for Allan Nascimento? Could we see him competing for Brave too?

Diego: Allan is one of the best fighters in Chute Boxe and I’m talking to Brave about him. He really liked Brave.

Sports Rants: Any news on Almeida’s next fight? I know he wants to fight in Rio but it seems like most of the top ranked fighters are already booked. He was interested in Michael McDonald but he left the UFC. Will he accept to fight someone unranked? Do you guys have anyone else in mind for him?

Diego: He really wants to fight in Rio, he would like to face Jimmie Rivera or Bryan Caraway but we are training to face whoever the UFC chooses.

Photo by Marcelo Barone

Sports Rants: After Almeida’s first pro loss he seemed a little down. Do you feel like he fully regained his confidence after his last win?

Diego: He is great, I always talk to him about everything that can happen in the fights, he knew that a defeat could happen one day but now he no longer thinks about defeat, he only thinks about winning and getting the belt.

Sports Rants: Will Felipe Sertanejo fight in Rio too? What do you feel like went wrong in his last fight because he looked good throughout. What would you like next for him?

Diego: He also wants to fight in Rio but we are waiting for the UFC. In his last fight he felt good but the altitude in Mexico is very different and that hurt him a lot to fight there. It’s very important to go beforehand for a couple of weeks.

Sports Rants: Charles Oliveira is fighting very soon at UFC 210 against Will Brooks. What do you think of the match up and what do you think of Brooks as an opponent. How would you break down the fight?

Diego: Brooks is very strong, and likes to fight using ground and pound. I think Charles can use his jiu-jitsu to get a finish. We’re training everything but I believe this fight will take place on the ground.

Sports Rants: Oliveira has had a few disappointing losses. He was dominating his last fight vs. Lamas before getting caught in a guillotine again. What do you feel went wrong and what adjustments have you guys been making to make sure they don’t happen again?

Diego: Charles has always faced the best. He’s always had good fights and because he has a very open fighting style, he ends up in spontaneous positions but we are working hard for these failures not to happen again.

Sports Rants: Do you think his move up to lightweight and no more big weight cuts will allow us to see a better version of Oliveira?

Diego: The last fight he was called on short notice and could not do a good job to lose weight but I believe that in the future it is best to keep it at 145 lbs. He’s going to do this at 155 lbs and maybe a few more but then we’re thinking of going back to 145 lbs.

Sports Rants: Which fighters should we look out for that you feel will be the next stars in your gym? Anyone you feel like we’ll be seeing in the UFC soon? And any female fighters?

Diego: Yes, we have two unbeaten prospects that I’m sure will shine a lot and are very new and excellent fighters. Gustavo Gabriel is 12-0 in the 125 lbs division and Daniel Willycat is 7-0 in the 135 lbs division. I believe these are the two most promising new talents. In terms of female fighters, we have Mayra Sheetara who has been standing out a lot and beating the best fighters here in Brazil, she is already 5-0.

Sports Rants: Please describe to me your MMA journey. How did you get involved with the sport growing up and how did you end up being a coach and having your own gym?

Diego: I started training at the age of 14 with Luis Azeredo, today I am 36 years old. I started to train to be a professional fighter and Felipe Arantes was training with me since then but my master Luis moved to Curitiba and I stayed in São Paulo and I started teaching in his place. That’s when I started to become a coach. From there I started to train Allan, Thomas and before long they became adults and started to fight professionally and I became manager and head coach.

Later on, new students started coming to us who then became fighters and ended up riding with our team and representing Chute Boxe, which is the school that I always belonged to since I started.

Today I am very happy to have my students with me since they started and are great professional fighters. I am very happy to have my gym where Felipe is my partner, and I am very happy to have many fighters in many good events. I love MMA and I love my team, my team is my family.

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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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