Three time NBA All-Star Deron Williams is an avid MMA fan. He co-owns the Fortis MMA gym in Dallas Texas alongside Coach Sayif Saud who he met whilst training.
Having started wrestling at the age of 5, Williams has always shared a passion for MMA. Despite his career as a professional basketball player in the NBA, he finds himself training multiple times a week at his gym in Dallas.
“I go up there like 3, 4 times a week and I do everything,” Williams said. “I hit pads, I hit mitts, I hit the bag, I spar some, and I definitely roll jiu-jitsu. I do no-gi mainly; I rarely put on the gi.”
“I like all aspects of it, I just enjoy training MMA. I just try to improve in all areas and have fun doing it.”
While playing for the Utah Jazz, Williams became friends with Josh Burkman. He trained with him on and off and even walked him out to one of his fights. Seeing his friend progress and get into the UFC made Williams appreciate the process and the sport.
When he became a Maverick, one of his coaches trained jiu-jitsu and he took Deron with him to the gym. That’s when he met Sayif Saud who told him about a gym he was opening up. Deron took immediate interest and decided to become a business partner and co-owner of the gym, Fortis MMA.
Today, he watches plenty of talents get groomed under the tutelage of Coach Sayif Saud. One standout is Rashad Coulter who made his UFC debut back in May when he took on Chase Sherman.
Although he didn’t win the fight, he won plenty of people over with his toughness as he managed to battle through the fight on one leg. Williams for one, was very impressed with Coulter’s showing.
“He was dealing with an injury coming into the fight to that same leg,” Williams explained. “After probably the first kick he got hit with, his leg was done and so for him to stay in there like he did and battle and put on a show like that on short notice and not having a full training camp shows a lot about what he can do and how much heart he has.”
Coulter has his next fight booked as he will take on undefeated Australian knockout artist Tai Tuivasa in Sydney. Williams, who is often heavily involved with his fighters, gave his take on the match-up.
“He’s a big guy but he moves really well,” Williams said on Tuivasa. “He definitely tries to end fights early.”
And Williams feels that with a full camp, Coulter will be able to put on an even better performance.
“I’m looking forward to his next fight in November in Australia where he can really showcase his skills and what he can do.”
Fortis MMA has been in the spotlight in the past couple of months as multiple fighters were featured on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series, fighting for a UFC contract.
“You saw a lot of our guys on the Contender Series,” Williams said. “You saw Geoff Neal who got a contract, you saw Charles Dynamite who got a contract, Kennedy who had a good fight, he was only 2-0, 3-0 now. He’s so young, he’s so raw and he has so much more to learn. He’s going to be a problem once he figures everything out and has a couple more years under his belt.”
Williams, who’s seen it all and competed with and against the best throughout his basketball career, still finds inspiration in these young athletes chasing their dreams.
“To see the progress of these guys is exciting for me,” Williams said. “I’ve been there, I’ve been that kid dreaming to be in the NBA just praying and hoping I could get there.”
“You could see how hungry these guys are and I’m excited to be able to be along for the journey, see the process of these guys and hopefully when one of these guys that nobody knows about that is fighting in LFA or XKO will be a future world champion in the UFC. That would be awesome to see.”
Williams even thought about stepping into the cage just to get a real feel and understanding of the sport.
“I’ve even contemplated doing one fight, maybe a charity fight. I’m doing this podcast, I watch fights and I talk about fights. It’s hard to talk about something that you haven’t done.”
“There are a lot of basketball analysts that have never played basketball at any level but they criticise and they critique but they’ve never walked in my shoes. So for me, I feel like I should at least fight one time just so I know what that feeling is like.”
That probably won’t happen while Williams is an active basketball player so for now he’ll have to break fights down with his passion and knowledge for MMA. He even weighed in on the massive boxing fight that took place last month between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor.
“It was a good fight,” Williams said. “I didn’t know what to expect coming in, I don’t think anyone knew what to expect. I thought Conor did really well, he should be proud of what he did and what he accomplished. I also thought Floyd Mayweather fought a heck of a fight. I thought he fought an offensive fight which he usually doesn’t do, he changed up his game plan, he made Conor swing early and often.”
“You could see Conor got tired in that 10th round and Floyd was able to capitalise on it. It was an entertaining fight, better than a lot of boxing fights I’ve seen in the last 5 years from high level fighters. This one lived up to the hype in my opinion.”
You can catch plenty more analysis and thoughts from Deron Williams on his podcast, Ballers and Brawlers where he alongside Johnny Riche and UFC veteran Sean O’Connell talk all things combat sports.
Currently a free agent and unsure where his next step will be on the court, Williams will continue to watch his guys blossom on the grand stage of MMA.
Conor McGregor Charged with Assault for Dublin Incident
Former UFC two-division champion Conor McGregor has been charged with assault for punching a man in a bar in Dublin, Ireland back in April, that carries a maximum prison term of six months if convicted, a fine of $1,646, or both, according to the Independent.
McGregor’s spokesperson Karen Kessler confirmed that McGregor was formally served with a summons and is due in a Dublin court on October 11th, in a conversation with ESPN’s Ariel Helwani.
McGregor expressed remorse for the incident back in August, during an interview with ESPN.
“I was in the wrong,” McGregor said, at the time. “That man deserved to enjoy his time in the pub without having it end the way it did. … I tried to make amends, and I made amends back then. But it doesn’t matter. I was in the wrong. I must come here before you and take accountability and take responsibility. I owe it to the people that have been supporting me. I owe it to my mother, my father, my family. I owe it to the people who trained me in martial arts. That’s not who I am. That’s not the reason why I got into martial arts or studying combat sports. The reason I got into it was to defend against that type of scenario.”
“I must get my head screwed on and just get back in the game and fight for redemption, retribution, respect — the things that made me the man I am,” McGregor continued. “And that’s what I will do.”
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UFC’s Stipe Miocic Likely Out for Year
UFC Heavyweight Champion Stipe Miocic is considered to be “highly unlikely” to compete again for the remainder of 2019 after the fighter suffered an eye injury during his fight with Daniel Cormier back in August, Miocic’s agent said, according to ESPN’s Brett Okamoto.
Miocic (19-3) knocked out Cormier to reclaim the heavyweight title during the fourth round of their rematch at UFC 241, and there had been interest in a 3rd fight between Cormier and Miocic, potentially taking place at UFC 245 on December 14th in Las Vegas, however Miocic says that he is still recovering from a procedure that was done on his retina.
“I’ll be ready to fight when I can see out of both eyes again,” Miocic said in a statement to ESPN. “I can’t wait to defend my belt.”
According to Miocic’s agent, Jim Walter, the eye injury occurred when Cormier accidentally poked Miocic in the eye during the fight at UFC 241.
Miocic had complained of eye pokes during both of his fights against Cormier.
“Mr. Miocic sustained a major retina injury from multiple eye pokes during his bout at UFC 241,” said Walter, of Kaulig Sports and Entertainment. “Our client’s health and safety is our top priority. We are excited for him to return to action when he is healthy to compete in his seventh consecutive world title fight.”
Cormier, 40, recently stated his desire to put off retirement to fight Miocic a third time.
“I’m gonna fight this guy again,” Cormier said during an appearance on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show earlier this week. “My intention is to fight him in the right way. … It has to be against Stipe, no one else matters.”
Dana White: BJ Penn Won’t Fight in UFC Again
UFC president Dana White says that BJ Penn won’t be fighting in the UFC again after a pair of videos surfaced online showing Penn fighting in the streets while in Hawaii.
Penn (16-14-2), 40, was expected to fight Nik Lentz before the end of the year, but White says that plans to make that fight happen are now off following the videos going viral.
“He won’t fight again, that’s it,” White said, according to Brett Okamoto. “That’s a wrap. It’s not even that this was the last straw. I didn’t love him continuing to fight anyway, but with the relationship that he and I have — he gets me on the phone, begging me for another fight. It’s hard to turn him down.
“After what I saw in that video, BJ needs to, you know, he needs to focus on his personal life before he thinks about fighting.”
Penn, who will not face any charges for the incidents, and his representatives have since said he was trying to diffuse the situation and ultimately acted in self-defense.
“I don’t want to sit here and pick BJ Penn apart,” White said. “I think we all know what BJ Penn needs to do and hopefully BJ Penn knows what BJ Penn needs to do. What I saw in that video was sad and I love the kid. I hope he gets his life together. If BJ Penn needs me, all he has to do is pick up the phone and ask.”
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