Alex Davis sees critical flaws in sport’s structure he believes must be addressed ‘for a better MMA’

For the past few days, I’ve been sitting here and reflecting over the 20-odd years I have been working in MMA, and one thing really bothers me. The fighting, itself, has evolved exponentially in that time, seeing MMA develop into an exciting and technically beautiful sport. But it’s not possible to say the same about the structure around it.

We seem to be simply stuck doing the same things – committing the same errors over and again. There is simply no effort or attempt to really improve anything about the sport as a whole. These guys and their camps work extremely hard to do what they do. It would be only fair if we worked extremely hard behind the scenes to try and evolve, as well – to try and improve. We need to work together to make a better MMA.

For example:

  • How about if we announced the score between rounds?
  • How about if we create, as I have said before, a fight gradings system based on entertainment value. Every fight would be rated with either a 1, 2, 3 or 4. This way, if you have a guy that’s lost three fights in a row, but they were all recorded as grade-4 fights, it would mean that even though this fighters lost, you know he came to fight every time, and we want him back!
  • How about the weigh-in system? Why don’t we try something similar to ONE Championship’s weigh-ins, a system that doesn’t let anyone go through extreme dehydration?
  • How about if we had five judges?
  • Or how about if the strike count was fed to the judges from one of these FightMetric-type sites, leaving only the subjective parts to the fights for the judges to evaluate? That might narrow the error margin in judging.

These are just some ideas, and I am sure there will be many people who don’t agree, who have different opinions and ideas – and that is OK. What is not OK is that we do not discuss, that we do not try. It is not OK that we do not evolve.

It seems that we are stuck in this trend of trashtalking, social media battling. MMA journalism reads more like a soap opera review then sports journalism! Dozens of new journalists are entering the sport every year, and most of them with a very poor understanding of what they are actually watching and writing about. Name me one MMA journalist who actually discusses the technical aspects of the sport!

Some people will say, “Well, with the UFC, Zuffa is a company with a primary goal is of making money. It’s not up to them. Although their help would be great, at the end of the day, they are making money.”

But it is simply undeniable that there are structural problems in many areas. Just look at how many controversial decisions are given out? Look at how these athletes are suffering with the current weight system?

This is our fault. We do not get together and discuss these things. If they are not discussed, if there is no thought put into an effort to evolve the sport, then we absolutely will not evolve.

We are a very fragmented sport. I write this to shout out at the public – to everyone who participates in or follows MMA – to point out a problem, to encourage discussion, and create change and evolving. I would ask that everyone who reads this and cares, please help spread this article, this feeling. Although I have been doing this for over 20 years, I do not own the truth; I am but one individual. But I do know that if we do not try, if we do not fight, if we do not discuss, nothing will ever change.

We need to get together as a community to help build a better MMA.

Alex Davis is a lifelong practitioner of martial arts and a former Brazilian judo champion. A founding member of American Top Team, Davis currently oversees the careers of a number of prominent Brazilian fighters, including Edson Barboza, Antonio Carlos Junior, Rousimar Palhares, Thiago “Marreta” Santos, Antonio Silva and Thiago Tavares, among others. Davis is a regular contributor to MMAjunkie, sharing his current views on the sport built through his perspectives that date back to the Brazilian roots of modern MMA.

Michel Pereira responds to criticism, vows to prove he can go three full rounds with same approach

Michel Pereira has received a lot of heat following his loss to newcomer Tristan Connelly.

Pereira lost a unanimous decision to Connelly at UFC on ESPN+ 16 in Vancouver in a fight in which he appeared to run out of gas.

Pereira (23-10 MMA, 1-1 UFC) showed off his acrobatics before the fight even started, and proceeded to throw wild attacks, backflips and flying knees right off the bat. He wasn’t able to land anything effective early, and started to slow down as the rounds winded down.

The gritty Connelly was able to withstand the early barrage, and controlled the rest of the fight with his grappling, wearing down Pereira. Originally a lightweight, Connelly took the fight on only five days’ notice. Pereira missed the welterweight limit by one pound.

Pereira, who was the biggest favorite on the card in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, was showered with criticism following his loss to Connelly and he took to Instagram to respond to the critics. He insists that he got tired because his body shut down due to a tough weight cut, not because of his wild and acrobatic antics in the fight.

He vows to show that he can indeed go the full 15 minutes with his same entertaining style.

“Guys, a lot of bad things happened, I got tired, it was not because of the things I did, but because of the heavy weight. I cut 17.5 kgs alone, with no one helping me, and dealing with the stress of my cornerman’s visa who wasn’t there. Everyone else had someone to help and me with no one, no excuse, but I am a fighter who grows as the rounds are going and so I used a lot to reach the weight and my body shut down at the beginning of the second ROUND! I fight for you to give a show, let’s encourage more and criticize less, I already fight like this to have more fun at UFC, today’s fighters only think about winning the fight and making boring fights and that’s why MMA is falling a lot! I just want to make all my fans happy to watch a fight of mine, but this time things happened that led to my defeat! I lost to myself! Personal gratitude. I AM BACK AND I WILL BE BETTER STILL! And you will see that I have gas to fight the 3 ROUNDS no problem!”

“Demolidor” took the MMA world by storm in his UFC debut when he took out Danny Roberts in the first round at UFC on ESPN+ 10. While his second fight in the UFC didn’t go as planned, Pereira is eager to bounce back while delivering more show-stopping performances.

Makhmud Muradov, Floyd Mayweather’s only signed MMA fighter, inks deal with the UFC, debuts in Copenhagen

Floyd Mayweather’s only signed MMA fighter, Makhmud Muradov, is now part of the UFC roster.

He will step in to replace an injured Peter Sabotta and face Alessio Di Chirico in a middleweight bout at UFC on ESPN+ 18 in Copenhagen. News of the replacement was first reported by Cageside Press.

UFC on ESPN+ 18 takes place Sept. 28 at Royal Arena in Copenhagen. The event streams on ESPN+.

Muradov took to Instagram to share the news of his signing with his fans.

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Альхамдулиллах за все что мне даёт Всевышний 🤲🏻☝🏻 Сегодня Я подписал контракт с сильнейшей организацией мира @ufc Хотел бы поблагодарить свою команду братьев за проделанную работу @adrian1mma @lusenbakos @first_mma_management ✊🏻 Вместе мы творим историю Альхамдулиллах ❤☝🏻 Я первый Узбек в UFC 🇺🇿 Большое всем вам спасибо за вашу поддержку за вашу веру в меня Ин Ша Аллах вместе мы идём за очередной победой ☝🏻 ——————————————————- Dnes oficiálně podepsaná smlouva s UFC na 4 zápasy 💥Stále tomu nemůžu uvěřit, můj sen se stal realitou. Nevím co víc říct, než to, že jsem vděčnej a šťastnej. Děkuji všem co mi věřili, co mi věří a podporují mě. První uzbek v historii v UFC ! Jdeme pro další výhru 🔥💥 Děkuji vám všem ! ♥ #UFC #muradov #TMT #fighter #mma #history #uzbek #uzbekistan #czechrepublic #czech

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Muradov (22-6) is the first Uzbekistan-born fighter to sign with the UFC. He is currently riding an 11-fight winning streak and is coming off a second-round finish over UFC veteran Wendell Oliveira in the Slovenian-based promotion Oktagon 13.

Mayweather posted a video on Twitter in August boasting that Muradov is the best fighter in the world along with a series of his fighter’s highlights. Now Muradov will get his wish to compete in the UFC octagon.

Italy’s Di Chirico is coming off a unanimous decision loss to Kevin Holland at UFC on ESPN+ 12. Prior to that, Di Chirico had back-to-back wins over Oluwale Bamgbose and Julian Marquez.

With the change, the UFC on ESPN+ 18 lineup currently includes:

MAIN CARD (ESPN+, 2 p.m. ET)

  • Jack Hermansson vs. Jared Cannonier
  • Gilbert Burns vs. Gunnar Nelson
  • Michal Oleksiejczuk vs. Ovince Saint Preux
  • Alen Amedovski vs. John Phillips
  • Ion Cutelaba vs. Khalil Rountree
  • Macy Chiasson vs. Lina Lansberg

PRELIMINARY CARD (ESPN+, 11 a.m. ET)

  • Alessio Di Chirico vs. Makhmud Muradov
  • Nicolas Dalby vs. Alex Oliveira
  • Danilo Belluardo vs. Mark Madsen
  • Siyar Bahadurzada vs. Ismail Naurdiev
  • Marc Diakiese vs. Lando Vannata
  • Nohelin Hernandez vs. Jack Shore
  • Mike Davis vs. Danny Henry

Urijah Faber wants to snatch Henry Cejudo’s belts and gold medal, then ‘silence the cringe’

VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Urijah Faber sees a potential fight with Henry Cejudo as a golden opportunity.

After defeating Marlon Moraes to become the new bantamweight champion, Cejudo proceeded to call out a list of names.

One of them was Faber, who immediately accepted. The four-time UFC bantamweight title challenger sees a lot to gain in a potential fight with Cejudo.

“Henry Cejudo’s got the world strap, and a couple of them, and an olympic gold medal – which I never set my goals on as a young wrestler. I probably should have. But that’s enticing,” Faber said at a fan Q&A ahead of the UFC on ESPN+ 16 weigh-ins this past Friday in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. “To snatch up a belt – a couple belts – and a gold medal and silence the cringe would be a great step in the direction for me. And it’s a great matchup. He’s naturally a (1)25-pounder. I’m a big (1)35-pounder. He’s got the wrestling pedigree. I’ve got better jiu-jitsu. He breaks guys, and I don’t break. So I think that’s a good matchup.”

Since Faber (35-10 MMA, 11-6 UFC) accepted Cejudo’s callout, he hasn’t heard back. Cejudo (15-2 MMA, 9-2 UFC) is still sidelined, healing from shoulder surgery, and will most likely be ready to return at the beginning of 2020.

Faber is still open for the fight.

“He called me out. One week later, I answered the call and then he starts calling out girls, birds and everything else,” Faber said. “If he wants it, he can get it.”

Cejudo’s new persona has rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. The flyweight and bantamweight champion has not only called out a bunch of top contenders and future Hall of Famers, but even female champions – which has made many question his gimmick.

But Faber can appreciate what Cejudo has done in reviving the flyweight division, and getting everyone to talk about him.

“I think it’s kind of smart what he’s doing,” Faber said. “He’s trying to do something that’s important to me, which is reestablish the 125-pound weight class. I mean, I don’t think it was fair for him to put blame on Demetrious (Johnson), one of the best champions of all time, for not holding it down. But he’s getting a bunch of people to talk about him.

“Right after my comeback fight, I mentioned his name. He’s got Dominick Cruz, one of the best fighters in the history of the division of all time (talking about him). He’s got the girls speaking about him for all the wrong reasons, which we knew that was going to happen. So he’s trying to get some clout, some recognition. He’s going to get beat up, most likely.”

Anthony Pettis ‘in a good spot’ after Nate Diaz loss, wants Diego Sanchez in 2019

LAS VEGAS – Despite his loss to Nate Diaz at UFC 241, former lightweight champion Anthony Pettis believes he’s still “in a good spot.”

Saturday, the Roufusport product confirmed recent claims made by his head coach. Earlier this month, Duke Roufus said Pettis (22-9 MMA, 14-9 UFC) is eying a fight with “The Ultimate Fighter 1” winner Diego Sanchez (29-12 MMA, 18-12 UFC).

Both Sanchez and Pettis are coming off losses. In his most recent outing at UFC 239 in July, Sanchez was defeated by fellow “TUF” winner Michael Chiesa. Prior to the loss, Sanchez had earned back-to-back victories over Mickey Gall and Craig White.

In Pettis’ eyes, the contest makes sense because both men have the flexibility to fight at 155 or 170 pounds. “Showtime” would prefer a matchup with Sanchez take place at welterweight, a weight limit he only has to lose six pounds to hit. Pettis would like to see the fight take place by the end of 2019.

“I’m a good spot right now where I could make 155,” Pettis said. “Like the Nate Diaz fight, I only fought him at 176 pounds. I only gained six pounds with my weight cut. I want Diego Sanchez. That’s what I told Duke.

“One more fight before the end of the year. I tell myself three big fights this year. He’s available. At 155, there’s no one available for me. I want to stay busy.”

Why is Pettis calling for a fight with Sanchez? The UFC welterweight said he wants to give the fans the matchups that would interest them most. In Pettis’ opinion, that would make three “killer” opponents he’s faced in a row.

“I feel like especially the fans want to see it,” Pettis said. “That’s what it’s all about. If the fans want to see the fights I choose, then it works out. Look who I just fought. From (Tony) Ferguson, (Stephen) ‘Wonderboy’ (Thompson), Nate Diaz … even before that, I was fighting killers.”

Even though he’s been calling for a return to the cage in 2019, Pettis said he hasn’t talked to the promotion yet about any specific matchups. But he has talked to UFC president Dana White, and also said he has heard the promotion will be having a matchmaker meeting soon that could result in a booking.

“I haven’t talked to the UFC yet,” Pettis said. “I reached out to Dana about it. They’re supposed to have a matchmaker meeting, so if it works out, it works out. If not, we’ll find out. There’s a lot of good guys, but I feel like Diego deserves that kind of fight. He’s been around a long time.”

Undefeated Zviad Lazishvili hopes fighting for LFA catapults him to the UFC

Zviad Lazishvili is set to make his LFA debut next month, and hopes it’s the start of big things to come in his MMA career.

He takes on Josh Huber at LFA 78 on Oct. 4, and the undefeated native of Georgia in Eastern Europe has aspirations to make it to the UFC one day.

“I truly believe that LFA is the avenue to bigger accomplishments and signing with the biggest leagues,” Lazishvili said. “I have all the tools to get there and fight with best fighters in the world. I am very grateful to God to have all these people around me who are supporting me and helping me in every aspect of life.”

Lazishvili (11-0 MMA) moved to the United States in search of bigger and better opportunities. He joined Kaizen MMA, which resulted in him getting on LFA’s radar. Coming from a grappling background, Lazishvili took inspiration from his father, who was a world champion wrestler.

“My father is a freestyle wrestler – two-time world champion, five-time prize winner as a veteran,” Lazishvili said. “I always wanted to follow his steps and be a wrestler, but he never wanted to help me to be a good wrestler because to him, education always was the most important priority. So I had to learn from teachers that were not motivated to teach me, and I think that’s why most friends around me believe I am a quick learner. Down the road, I started submission grappling and eventually I got into MMA.”

Always undersized, he got involved in a few scraps growing up, which he credits for helping develop his fighting abilities. He recalls getting in a fight when he was 17 in which he took out four adults, taking a bit of a beating in the process. It was that particular fight that got the attention of his first coach, Koba Tkeshelashvili, who took him under his wing and offered to train him.

And everything changed from there.

“He told me that he could just teach me how to defend myself,” Lazishvili said of his coach. “I never imagined that I would become a professional fighter, but when I started training I was literally obsessed with MMA. I was training so hard and after three months of training, I had my first fight. It’s very hard to be an athlete in my country. You have to take care of your family and you have no time for training.”

Lazishvili then moved to Russia, and eventually to the United States, where he decided to focus on his education. He holds an MBA from Bay Atlantic University, and has now fully diverted his attention back to fighting.

When he takes on Huber, it will be his first fight in more than four years, but the 27-year-old is confident he’ll be able to control the pace of the fight.

“He is a true warrior and I like his character as a fighter,” Lazishvili said. “I watched couple of his fights and he does not know how to give up – and I like these kind of fighters. I think he is well-rounded with a lot of experience, but I think I am faster and more explosive, and if I touch him he can go down. Knowing that he has a lot heart, we will see how many rounds this fight will last.”

Lazishvili said if he could compare his style to any fighter, it would be UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, who has made a career of mauling opponents.

Lazishvili thinks he possesses a similar style.

“I have trained in many different countries, including Russia, and I could compare myself with Khabib Nurmagomedov’s fight style,” Lazishvili said. “People from that region love wrestling and grappling, so I have a smash-like game and love to wear out my opponents, control them and finish. But on the other hand, I love the striking game, too, because it is more entertaining for the crowd and you get more attention. Where I come from, we spar hard. So I am very used to hard exchanges in the standup fight, as well.”

UFC on ESPN+ 17: Make your predictions for Yair Rodriguez vs. Jeremy Stephens

We want your predictions for Saturday’s UFC on ESPN+ 17 event in Mexico City.

Our staff picks feature includes the consensus picks from MMA Junkie readers. Simply cast your vote for each bout below, and we’ll use the official tallies that are registered by Thursday at noon ET (9 a.m. PT).

Those MMA Junkie reader consensus picks will be part of the UFC on ESPN+ 17 event staff predictions we release Friday ahead of the event. UFC on ESPN+ 17 takes place Saturday at Mexico City Arena in Mexico City. The card streams on ESPN+.

Make your picks for all five main-card fights inside: