Survey says: Bader, Macfarlane, Woodley among fighters on upcoming ‘Celebrity Family Feud’

Five MMA notables will be hitting buzzers, not faces, on an upcoming episode of “Celebrity Family Feud.”

Survey says: UFC Hall of Famers Chuck Liddell (21-9) and Randy Couture (19-11) will join Bellator double champ Ryan Bader (27-5 MMA, 5-0 BMMA), Bellator women’s flyweight champ Ilima-Lei Macfarlane (10-0 MMA, 9-0 BMMA), and former UFC welterweight champ Tyron Woodley (19-4-1 MMA, 9-3-1 UFC) on the ABC series.

The episode will air Sunday from 8-9 p.m. ET and also wil be available on ABC.com and the ABC app beginning Monday.

According to news release from Bellator, the five fighters will comprise “Team MMA” and take on “Team Nikki and Brie Bella.” The aptly-named opposing squad will feature WWE divas Nikki and Brie Bella, as well as stars from their reality show, “Total Bellas.”

The winning team will donate its earnings to charity. “Team MMA” will play on behalf of the Andy Vargas Foundation; “Team Nikki and Brie Bella” will play for The V Foundation and Connor’s Cure.

The Andy Vargas Foundation helps educate children through music and provides mentors. The V Foundation funds cancer research and programs, and Connor’s Cure raises money to support pediatric cancer research.

The Blue Corner is MMA Junkie’s blog space. We don’t take it overly serious, and neither should you. If you come complaining to us that something you read here is not hard-hitting news, expect to have the previous sentence repeated in ALL CAPS.

‘UFC 241 Embedded,’ No. 6: Daniel Cormier throws heater at Angels game

The UFC’s eighth pay-per-view of the year takes place Saturday with UFC 241, and the promotion’s popular “Embedded” series returns to get you ready.

UFC 241 takes place at Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on ESPN and UFC Fight Pass/ESPN+.

In the main event, heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier (22-1 MMA, 11-1 UFC) takes on former champ Stipe Miocic (18-3 MMA, 12-3 UFC) in a rematch of their UFC 226 bout. In the co-main event, fan-favorites Nate Diaz (19-11 MMA, 14-9 UFC and Anthony Pettis (22-8 MMA, 9-7 UFC) collide in a welterweight showdown.

The sixth episode of “UFC 241 Embedded” features the two main eventers, Pettis, and Diaz. Here’s the UFC’s description:

On Episode 6 of UFC 241 Embedded, heavyweight Stipe Miocic counsels his coach post wine-glass-injury. At fight week photo sessions, heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier reveals a superstitious side, middleweight Yoel Romero does pushups, and welterweight Nate Diaz drapes himself in a flag. Cormier and Miocic plus Diaz and Anthony Pettis attend open workouts, where Cormier’s son emcees and Diaz lights up the crowd by lighting up.

Also see:

‘UFC 241 Embedded,’ No. 1: Stipe Miocic sings ‘Eye of the Tiger’; Daniel Cormier hits the pool
‘UFC 241 Embedded,’ No. 2: Nate Diaz grapples in beachside dojo; Stipe Miocic hits fleamarket
‘UFC 241 Embedded,’ No. 3: Nate Diaz would ‘rather be on the beach than cooped up’
‘UFC 241 Embedded,’ No. 4: Daniel Cormier shakes Stipe Miocic’s hand and realizes something
‘UFC 241 Embedded,’ No. 5: ‘Mr. CBD right here’

UFC signs M-1 Global featherweight champion Nate Landwehr

The current M-1 Global featherweight champ will be turning in his title for a pair of UFC gloves.

The UFC has inked high-output finisher Nate Landwehr (13-2) to a multi-fight deal. Landwehr’s manager, Brian Butler of SuckerPunch Entertainment, announced the signing via Instagram after a M-1 Global posted the news to various social media pages.

Landwehr, 31, began fighting overseas following his 10th professional bout in 2016. After he signed with M-1 Global in 2017, Landwehr beat Mikhail Korobkov with a second-round TKO in his promotional debut. The win spurred a run up the division’s ladder to a title shot.

In July 2018 at M-1 Challenge 95, Landwehr finished then-champion Khamzat Dalgiev with a second-round TKO. The native of Clarksville, Tenn., went on to win back-to-back title defenses against Andrey Lezhnev and Viktor Kolesnik en route to the UFC.

Through his flashy style, high volume and “gun for the finish” style, Landwehr has gained notoriety in Russia and among MMA hardcores for his efforts. The combined opposing record of his five M-1 opponents, at the time they competed, is unusually high at 71-15-1.

Landwehr becomes one of a handful of M-1 Global champions to take advantage of a 2018 partnership deal with the UFC. The deal allows M-1 Global champions the ability to leave the promotion to go to the UFC.

Other fighters who have taken advantage of the partnership include bantamweight Movar Evloev, middleweight Bruno Silva and light heavyweight Khadis Ibragimov.

A timeline for Landwehr’s debut is not yet known.

Check out Landwehr’s highlight package below (via M-1 Global World’s official YouTube channel):

 

Chidi Njokuani, Hisaki Kato among nine fighters released by Bellator

Chidi Njokuani, Hisaki Kato and Noad Lahat are on a list of fighters who have reached the ends of their Bellator stints.

The promotion has released nine fighters from its roster, including three former headliners. A source close to the promotion informed MMA Junkie of the roster cuts, but asked to remain anonymous because Bellator officials have not made an official announcement. The MMA Report’s Jason Floyd was the first to report the news.

Topping the list are Njokuani (18-7 MMA, 5-3 BMMA), Kato (8-3 MMA, 4-2 BMMA) and Lahat (13-4 MMA, 3-2 BMMA).

Other fighters who have been released from the promotion are middleweights Chris Honeycutt (11-3 MMA, 7-3 BMMA) and Jarod Trice (4-0 MMA, 4-0 BMMA), welterweight J.J. Ambrose (33-8 MMA, 1-3 BMMA), lightweights Carrington Banks (8-2 MMA, 4-2 BMMA) and Mohammad Yahya (5-2 MMA, 1-1 BMMA), and bantamweight Nathan Greyson (6-4 MMA, 0-2 BMMA).

A simultaneous champion for Tachi Palace Fights and RFA, Njokuani signed with Bellator in 2015. After he won his first three bouts with the promotion, Njokuani lost to Andrey Koreshkov with a first-round TKO in the Bellator 182 main event in August 2017. Njokuani finished his tenure with a 1-3 record in his final four bouts. He also struggled to make weight at welterweight, as well as middleweight while with the promotion.

When Kato knocked out Joe Schilling with a superman punch at Bellator 139, the highlight went viral. The two rematched in kickboxing in 2016 at Bellator 157. That time, Kato ended the bout with a spinning backfist. “The Japanese Mousqueteer” had not fought in Bellator since December 2017 – a loss to Njokuani at Bellator 189.

One of the faces of Israeli MMA, “Neo” Lahat signed with Bellator in 2016 following a four-fight stint in the UFC. At Bellator 164, the promotion’s debut in Israel, Lahat thrilled his home crowd with a first-round rear-naked choke submission of Scott Cleve. The featherweight fighter headlined both Bellator 188 and Bellator 204. He is out despite having won his most recent fight against Brian Moore in November 2018.

On heels of brutal knockout loss, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira returns to fight Trevor Smith at UFC on ESPN+ 22

Antonio Rogerio Nogueira isn’t done yet.

Brazil’s Nogueira (23-9 MMA, 6-6 UFC) will return to action in his native country against Trevor Smith (15-9 MMA, 5-6 UFC) at UFC on ESPN+ 22. Smith confirmed the news on Twitter after an initial report from Combate.

UFC on ESPN+ 22 takes place Nov. 16 at Ibirapuera Gymnasium in Sao Paulo. The card streams on ESPN+.

In his most recent outing in May, Nogueira was brutally knocked out by former LFA champ Ryan Spann at the 2:01 mark of the first round. Prior to the finish, Nogueira had landed a couple of shots on Spann, but was put on his back foot when the American returned fire. A left uppercut floored Nogueira before Spann finished the fight with a pair of follow-up shots.

The loss was Nogueira’s fourth in six fights. Three losses in that stretch came by knockout or TKO. Prior to the loss to Spann, Nogueira finished Sam Alvey with punches in September 2018, which was his first win since May 2016.

Smith, 38, will look to snap the first losing skid of his UFC tenure. After he dropped a unanimous decision to Elias Theodorou in May 2018, Smith returned to take on Zak Cummings this past December. Once again, he lost on all three judges’ scorecards. “Hot Sauce” has been with the promotion since the Strikeforce merger in January 2013.

With the addition, the latest UFC on ESPN+ 22 lineup includes:

  • Kevin Holland vs. Antonio Arroyo
  • Ariane Lipski vs. Priscila Cachoeira
  • Antonio Rogerio Nogueira vs. Trevor Smith

How a broken toe led Khama Worthy to his UFC debut against friend Devonte Smith

If it wasn’t for a broken toe, Khama Worthy believes he wouldn’t be a member of the UFC roster.

Coming off of a bout two-and-a-half weeks ago, Worthy wasn’t planning on staying in fight shape. But when his brother Chaka’s training partner, Justin Paton, suffered a broken toe, Khama had to step in to help with preparations for his brother’s fight.

Instead, one man’s misfortune indirectly led another’s gain. Worthy (14-6 MMA, 0-0 UFC) will face Devonte Smith (10-1 MMA, 2-0 UFC) in his promotional debut Saturday.

“That’s my man, Justin Patton,” Worthy laughed, in an interview with MMA Junkie. “If it wasn’t for him breaking his toe, I wouldn’t be in the UFC right now. He’s probably going to take full credit for this.”

Worthy’s ride to the UFC wasn’t the smoothest. Fifteen fights into his MMA career, Worthy’s record was only slightly above .500. His record sat at 9-6 in 2017, with all of his losses being via finish.

Out of his six career losses, four of the six opponents have gone on to join the UFC roster. For Worthy it wasn’t the easiest path to the UFC, but it was the right one.

“When you’re 9-6, you’re like, ‘Aw, (expletive),’” said Worthy, who has won six straight. “Back then, it was all about about records, records, records, records. But I was willing to fight tough guys.

“I think throughout my career, only two guys I’ve lost to haven’t gone to the UFC. Paul Felder, Matt Bessette, Kyle Nelson, and Billy Qurantillo who just got signed. I fight high-level guys and I compete with high-level guys.”

When Worthy got the call to fight Smith a few days ago, there was no hesitation to accept. If the bout wasn’t his entry point to the UFC, however, Worthy said he probably would have asked for a different matchup. Smith is a former training partner and good friend.

But business is business for Worthy, who said he hopes to share a drink with Smith after the fight.

“He hit me up after my last fight and congratulated me,” Worthy said. “He shared my knockout on his Instagram and stuff, ‘My boy out here knocking people out.’ It’s definitely a weird thing, but it’s a business. If that fight wasn’t in the UFC, I’d probably be like, ‘Nah, that’s my boy.’ But the fight is in the UFC, (and) I don’t have a lot of time or opportunities to jump up.”

“After work, we’re going to kick back. We’re going to chill and grab some drinks. (Expletive), we’re going to hang out and keep our friendship exactly where it is.”

When he looks through the lens of an outsider’s perspective, Worthy sees his story as inspirational. There was a 20-fight lead-up to the UFC, but through self-belief and determination, Worthy said he arrived at his destination. For once, Worthy said, it’s nice to be “the bride” instead of “the bridesmaid”.

“It’s about damn time,” Worthy said. “Realistically for me, I’m living proof that you can not let other people decide your destination or how far you can go.

“In Pittsburgh, I was always the bridesmaid. Until this point in my career, I’ve never been able to be the bride. I always the bridesmaid. People always talked about about it by I was never able to make it to that point.”

UFC 241 takes place Saturday at Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on ESPN and UFC Fight Pass/ESPN+.

Yoel Romero fight is personal for Paulo Costa ‘because he talked a lot of (expletive) about me’

ANAHEIM, Calif. – As long as no fight week mishaps occur before Saturday night, two of the UFC’s top middleweights will finally square off.

The promotion has angled for a fight between Paulo Costa (12-0 MMA, 4-0 UFC) and Yoel Romero (13-3 MMA, 9-2 UFC) twice before, but UFC 241 is closest it’s come to being a reality.

UFC 241 takes place Saturday at Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on ESPN and UFC Fight Pass/ESPN+.

Since an originally planned matchup was supposed to happen Nov. 2018 at UFC 230, Costa and Romero have been linked. Through frequent questions in interviews to trash talk on social media, a score-settling fight has been inevitable.

Tensions seemingly reached new heights between the pair of 185-pounders, after a March 2019 appearance by Romero on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show. During the interview, Romero stated that Costa had been flagged by USADA.

“What I hear is Paulo Costa, he had a positive test for USADA,” Romero said. “That’s what happened. That’s what I heard. The UFC called my manager and said Paulo Costa is out because he is positive and they said, ”Jacare’ Souza’ (as an opponent)?’ I said OK.”

Costa quickly refuted the claims and said he had never failed a drug test for doping. Weeks later, Costa was fined and suspended six months by USADA for prohibited IV use.

At a pre-fight media day held Thursday, Costa said the back-and-forth with Romero made things personal. The Brazilian emphasized how itchy he is to finally square off with the perennial top contender.

“I want to fight against him because he talked a lot of (expletive) about me,” Costa said. “It’s personal for me. Plus, I’m ready for everyone in this division. I’ll show everyone who is the new division of the king. It’s me. I can beat everyone.

He later added, “It’s 100% personal and he’s the number two or number one (contender). So, I’m very excited for this fight.”

While Costa doesn’t see eye-to-eye with the Cuban, he isn’t underestimating Romero’s abilities. Confident, Costa believes a win over Romero will propel him into title contention. With champion Robert Whittaker and Israel Adesanya set to square off at UFC 243 in October, Costa thinks he could be next and line with a win.

“This is the fight I’ve been looking for for a long time,” Costa said. “Romero is one of the toughest guys (in) this division. After I beat him, I’ll put one of my hands on the title. It’s a very important fight to be (in).”

When asked who he expects to face if the title shot comes his way, Costa gave his prediction. However, the fighter he picked to win is not the same one he hopes is victorious.

“I’d love to see Adesanya (beat) Whittaker because he talks a lot of (expletive),” Costa said. “I want to fight against him. But I think Whittaker will beat him, because Whittaker is more complete. He has better ground (fighting). Whittaker knows how to hold him on the cage and has more experience.”

The 28-year-old Brazilian fighter assured fans his injury problems are behind him. According to Costa, fans should expect to see the most in-shape “Borrachinha” they have seen thus far – “bodybuilder”-type shape.

“I feel better than last time,” Costa said. “I feel great. My speed is better. My power is better. My conditioning (and physically I’m) better. My mind is fresh now because in 2017, I did three fights, and my mind was very busy.

“Now I’m fresh. I don’t have serious injuries. I had them in camp, but now I’m 100 percent, and I’m ready to (put on) the best show for all you fans on Saturday.”