Kevin Lee says opportunity to train with Georges St-Pierre triggered move to TriStar

Former UFC interim lightweight title challenger Kevin Lee is on a two-fight losing streak and has thus decided to change up camps.

After dropping his last fight to Rafael dos Anjos, in a bout that served as his welterweight debut, “The Motown Phenom” is now set to train at TriStar with Georges St-Pierre for his next fight.

“I just got done doing this crazy seven-week tour of going around to different camps,” Lee said in his appearance on Submission Radio. “I went to LA, I went to Phoenix, I went to Denver, I went to Montreal. I’m back in Vegas now.”

During his search, Lee realized it was Montreal and TriStar that suited him the best. Part of the reason was learning under Firas Zahabi who is considered one of the top coaches in MMA.

“(I went) to try and find that guy out there, that somebody who would really speak to me. And to be honest, I feel like I did in Montreal with Tristar and Firas Zahabi,” Lee said. “Just having him and being around him and getting to pick his brain and his mind and seeing how it works. I feel like that’s what I’ve been missing. I know that’s what I’ve been missing a little bit ever since my coach Robert Follis passed, I haven’t had that guy to really guide me and show me the correct way of what to do. I’ve just been kind of trying to listen to myself and figure I got it enough.”

Kevin Lee: GSP is ‘going to train with me a lot’

Another reason why he made the move is to train with one of the greatest fighters ever in Georges St-Pierre. Although Lee had called him out for a fight, he is now glad to be learning from him and continuing to grow as an MMA fighter.

“He understands it. We’re martial artists, we’re competitors,” Lee said. “If I’m not trying to push myself to the limit and I’m not trying to fight the best that’s out there, then I feel like he wouldn’t understand me as much. I think he’s got the same kind of fire in him.

“He’s going to train with me a lot. I feel like he’ll be another one of those great minds that I can kind of pick,” he added. “Seeing what makes him tick and what made him such a great champion, those are the things that I think will boost me to the next level.”

For right now, Kevin Lee says he has no opponents in mind for his next fight. But, he is hoping to return to the Octagon in October.

Do you think training with Georges St-Pierre at TriStar will get Kevin Lee back on track? Sound off in the comment section, PENN Nation!

This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 7/18/2019.

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Daily Debate results: Who should Conor McGregor fight when he returns to UFC?

There’s no telling when Conor McGregor will return to the cage, but UFC president Dana White is confident that he will.

Not that White knows whom McGregor will face, but he apparently has ruled out two options for the former UFC two-division champ.

On Wednesday, white told TMZ that McGregor (21-4 MMA, 9-2 UFC) will not be facing either the winner of Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Dustin Poirier or Jorge Masvidal, who has called for an “easy” payday by fighting McGregor.

And so, if that’s truly the case, and those options are off the table, then who should McGregor fight when he returns? That was the question we asked for our latest Daily Debate.

The results (via Twitter), which were super close:

It should be noted that our question went out before news broke of Donald Cerrone being booked to fight Justin Gaethje in September.

To hear the MMA Junkie Radio crew weigh in, watch the video above.

For more on upcoming UFC events, check out the UFC schedule.

MMA Junkie Radio broadcasts Monday-Friday at 8 p.m. ET (5 p.m. PT) live from Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino’s Race & Sports Book. The show is hosted by “Gorgeous” George Garcia, Brian “Goze” Garcia and Dan Tom. For more information or to download past episodes, go to www.mmajunkie.com/radio. You can also check out www.siriusxm.com/siriusxmfightnation.

Alexander Hernandez thinks toughest opponent is himself: ‘It’s me vs. me, featuring whoever’


SAN ANTONIO – The last time Alexander Hernandez was in the octagon, he had just been knocked out by Donald Cerrone.

About seven months later, Hernandez (10-2 MMA, 2-1 UFC) is slated to return to action  against Brazil’s Francisco Trinaldo (23-6 MMA, 13-5 UFC) at UFC on ESPN 4 on Saturday night.

Hernandez, an assertive 26-year-old lightweight, has used the loss and subsequent time away to improve his mental approach to MMA as a whole. At a UFC on ESPN 4 media day held Thursday, Hernandez spoke with reporters and addressed the initial devastation of the loss and what knowledge he acquired as a result.

“It (bothered me) for a long time,” Hernandez told reporters, including MMA Junkie. “Especially (because) I see myself as the best. It’s not like I handle losses well. It’s not like I can go out and grab a beer afterwards and say, ‘Hey, good job, guys.’ It was a devastating loss. I don’t prepare myself ever expecting to lose. It was something I definitely had to go through a dark place to come out and see the light and grow from.

“No, I don’t dwell on that (expletive) at all anymore. I took everything I need to take from it. I think it probably happened at the best time of my career to have it happen – and against a worthy adversary. He taught me a lot in that fight. I learned a lot about myself. Every single time I step into the cage it’s ‘Me versus me, featuring whoever.’”

Saturday night, Trinaldo will serve as the “whoever” in Hernandez’s equation. In order to prevent transforming a loss into a losing streak, Hernandez said his biggest mental betterment has taking a calmer, more calculated approach.

“I have all the same skills,” Hernandez said. “They’ve just been refined, fine-tuned, and improved. But the way that I’m displaying them now at this cadence, rather than this blow-out pace of 120% out the gate. Having a professional pace to me, it changes absolutely everything. I’m in a much better place… I feel fantastic and it’s all putting the mental and physical together in a new approach to my fighting style. I really am in the best place I’ve ever been.”

Many viewers deemed the bout against Cerrone his breakthrough performance in the trash talk department, but Hernandez doesn’t see it that way. Trash talk or not, Hernandez said he’s being true to himself – and you shouldn’t expect that to change anytime soon.

“I didn’t lose an ounce of confidence from that last fight,” Hernandez said. “I bring that heat, because that’s who I am. I’m not trying to be a good guy, a bad guy, I’m just trying to be me. You can interpret that however the (expletive) you can interpret that, am I right?

“… But I can say confidently every single time somebody asks me how I’m going to do, I’m going to kill it. I’m going to murk this guy out and I’m going to do what I do best. That’s the thing about my, ‘trash talk.’ I’m not calling people out from left field (or) right field. You’re in my lane. You’re in my scope of business. I’m going to tell you how I handle my business. That’s all it is.”

UFC on ESPN 4 takes place Saturday at AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. The card airs on ESPN.

For more on UFC on ESPN 4, check out the MMA Schedule.

Oezdemir vs. Latifi moved to UFC Uruguay

UFC Fight Night Gustafsson v Smith: Media Day

Photo by Michael Campanella/Getty Images

The pair of 205-pound contenders have been taken off the UFC Newark card and will instead fight a week later.

Volkan Oezdemir vs. Ilir Latifi is still a go, but is happening a week later than initially planned.

The bout between the two light heavyweight contenders has been moved to UFC Uruguay from UFC Newark, ESPN reported Thursday. Per the report, the switch is due to visa issues.

UFC Uruguay takes place Aug. 10 in Montevideo, Uruguay and is headlined by a women’s flyweight title fight between champion Valentina Shevchenko and Liz Carmouche.

UFC Newark, scheduled for Aug. 3, is headlined by Colby Covington vs. Robbie Lawler.

After starting his UFC career with three straight wins (all of which were upsets), Oezdemir has lost three in a row. Most recently, he fell to rising contender Dominick Reyes in March in a controversial decision. Oezdemir challenged Daniel Cormier for the 205-pound title in early 2018, but lost by submission.

Latifi is coming off a decision loss to Corey Anderson last December at UFC 232. The loss snapped a two-fight winning streak, which included a finish of Ovince Saint Preux and a decision over Tyson Pedro.

Oezdemir and Latifi were originally scheduled to fight in June at UFC Stockholm, but Latifi pulled out of the fight the day before the card due to an injury.

Max Holloway says he’s the new face of MMA in Canada

Max Holloway believes he’s the gold standard of mixed martial arts in Canada.

Holloway is proud to hail from Hawaii, but he’s expressed his love for Canada as well. He often refers to the country as the “10th Island.” He’ll put his featherweight gold on the line against Frankie Edgar in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada on July 27. The bout will headline UFC 240.

A media luncheon was held to promote UFC 240. During the session, a reporter said there’s a lot of talk that Canada no longer has their face of MMA with Georges St-Pierre retired. Holloway jokingly took exception (video via MMAFighting).

“You are wrong, you’re looking at him.” Holloway said. “You know, we’ll see what happens. We call it the 10th island, but Canadians I got nothing but for love for them man. They got nothing but love for me. It was Canada Day the other day. I don’t know if you saw the meme [of] famous or successful MMA fighters. Had four guys – GSP, Rory MacDonald, I don’t know who the other one was, and then there was me. So you Canadians I love you guys, eh?”

Holloway has been on quite a roll, winning 13 of his last 14 outings. Holloway fell short in his bid to capture interim lightweight gold, losing to Dustin Poirier via unanimous decision. It’s Holloway’s first loss since Aug. 2013. Since the fight was contested at 155 pounds, “Blessed” didn’t have his featherweight title up for grabs.

Do you think Max Holloway’s popularity in Canada warrants him being dubbed the face of MMA in the country?

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Ben Rothwell opens up on ‘dark time’ after USADA suspension


SAN ANTONIO – The last time Ben Rothwell met with the media, he was in no mood to talk.

Three months later, Rothwell (36-11 MMA, 6-5 UFC) can hardly contain himself as he approaches the first rematch of his 50-fight career, a second go-around with ex-UFC champ Andrei Arlovski (27-18 MMA, 16-12 UFC) at UFC on ESPN 4.

“It’s just the whole (U.S. Anti-Doping Agency) thing bothered me so much,” Rothwell told reporters, including MMA Junkie, at a media day for Saturday’s event at AT&T Center. “It was just such a dark time for me, the whole situation.”

What Rothwell is referring to is a two-year suspension he served when an out-of-competition drug test revealed an “anabolic androgenic steroid of exogenous origin.” He took the punishment and returned to face former WSOF and Bellator champ Blagoi Ivanov. But Rothwell seethed at the way he and others had been treated by the UFC’s anti-doping partner.

“It was what happened after the fact with other fighters, this whole leniency and inconsistency that bothered me,” Rothwell said. “I feel most for guys like Tom Lawlor and Lyoto Machida and Josh Barnett. These guys had years taken off (their careers), and now you see other people having the same issues getting six-month suspensions. It’s just not right.”

Lawlor, Machida and Barnett all ran afoul of USADA for violating the UFC’s anti-doping program. Although their cases were all different, and Barnett managed to avoid a suspension, Rothwell believes they were treated unfairly.

On his own case, Rothwell faults USADA for not looking at the full picture. He maintains he took testosterone as part of a legitimate treatment for hypogonadism following a car accident in 1999. He received an exemption for testosterone-replacement therapy in connection with a 2013 fight, but was later suspended by the UFC for elevated levels of the hormone.

“USADA could have come out and said, ‘This is an unfortunate situation. This is what happened. But this is our regulations, and this has to be it.’ Just at least notify that hey, Ben wasn’t cheating.

“Everything changed when they started talking about levels of things. When they started saying, ‘Oh, the levels were low, it didn’t matter for these other people.’ Well, then mine should have been part of it, because there was no cheating. Everything was regulated. All the testing was done by my doctors. Everything was shown where they’re at, why they’re doing it, why the therapist couldn’t treat me, because I had physical conditions and then when that was fixed, my therapist could treat me. But by that time, USADA had already done everything.

“One of the greatest challenges of my life was getting through this. And I did. I did get through it, and I can honestly say I feel stronger than I ever had in my life.”

Now 20 years into his career as a mixed martial artist, Rothwell said he’s still learning and is in better condition than ever. Despite his challenges, he’s grateful for the UFC and all he’s been through in the sport. Even feeling like his back is against the wall, he’s more determined to show he can prevail.

Participating in a worldwide sport has given Rothwell a purpose. Without that, he said, he’d be dead or working in a factory. And he is convinced he hasn’t given his best.

“MMA saved my life, and I feel like God has given me a purpose, and I have to see it through,” he said. “And I’m not done yet. For me, it’s now or never. Back’s against the wall. You guys have seen me down and out before, but this is different.”

For more on UFC on ESPN 4, check out the UFC schedule.