Volquez looks to continue revival against Giants (Yahoo Sports) - PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Edinson Volquez's renaissance began with a simple game of catch. Hughes overtakes Moore in title race - Richard Hughes passes Ryan Moore in the jockeys' title race after completing a double at Salisbury. Coleman 'doesn't care' about critics - Wales manager Chris Coleman says he will never win over some supporters and is "not bothered" by the criticism. Paceman Mills set to leave Essex - England Lions paceman Tymal Mills is to leave Essex, while spinner Tim Phillips retires after 16 seasons at Chelmsford. 'Pardew can handle Magpies pressure' - Alan Pardew can handle the pressure at Newcastle despite calls for him to leave the club, say two former team-mates. Dettori to ride Ruler in Arc - Frankie Dettori will ride 2013 Epsom Derby winner Ruler Of The World in Sunday's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. Dettori to ride Ruler at Arc - Frankie Dettori will ride 2013 Epsom Derby winner Ruler Of The World at Sunday's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. McIlroy named PGA Player of Year - World number one Rory McIlroy is voted PGA Tour Player of the Year for a second time after winning two majors in 2014. Charging documents show Phelps DUI tied to alcohol (Yahoo Sports) - Michael Phelps can't seem to break a disturbing pattern. McIlroy wins PGA Tour player of the year (Yahoo Sports) - ST. ANDREWS, Scotland (AP) -- One incredible month of golf was enough for Rory McIlroy to be voted PGA Tour player of the year.

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Rashad Evans wants Alexander Gustafsson upon UFC return [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: October 1, 2014, 4:02 pm]
Alexander Gustafsson can't catch a break. First, he lost a controversial decision to light heavyweight champion Jon Jones in 2013. Then, he wasn't awarded the immediate rematch he deserved. Later, he was awarded a rematch, after knocking out Jimi Manuwa last March, but then injured his knee and pulled out of the title fight.  After that, Daniel Cormier got plugged in to replace him, created all sorts of heat and interest in his fight with Jones, and that fight was eventually postponed after Jones injured himself. Point is - Gustafsson is having a heck of a time getting his second light heavyweight title shot. That task has been made a lot harder by the fact that so many non-champions keep calling the Swede out. The surging Anthony Johnson called Gustafsson out and it seemed like the UFC wanted to put that fight together, before "Rumble" was indefinitely suspended when the UFC started to suddenly care about his history of domestic violence. Just when it seemed as though Gustafsson would be free to wait for the winner of Cormier vs. Jones, Rashad Evans has expressed an interest in fighting the "The Mauler." “I would definitely like to fight him when I return. Definitely," the former light heavyweight champion Evans said during the Fox Sports 1 UFC 178 post-event show. Evans has stayed busy as a television analyst, recently, but because of injuries, has not fought since stopping Chael Sonnen in November, 2013. Evans is currently on a two-fight win streak and wants to jump back into the 205 pound title picture with a fight against Gustafsson, who he says has improved a great deal. “I’ve been very impressed with how his development has gone,” Evans went on. “When I left, I was at the top and Alexander Gustafsson has been getting better with every single fight...[UFC president] Dana [White], set it up.” At press time, Gustaffson was still silently shaking his head, while holding it in his hands, after hearing his latest call-out. Sorry, Alex. Who would you p

Conor McGregor warns UFC lightweights [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: October 1, 2014, 3:25 pm]
Conor McGregor made a move up the UFC featherweight rankings last Saturday at UFC 178 with a controversial KO win over Dustin Poirier, but the outspoken Irishman has other divisions on his mind as well. "I'm definitely open to fighting at lightweight no doubt," he said after UFC 178. McGregor fought multiple times at lightweight before entering the UFC. Though he clearly feels that 145 pounds is a good weight for him to campaign at, "Notorious" says he also feels great at 155 pounds. "I don't like making this weight. I like fighting at lightweight. I fought at lightweight many times in my career," he explained. "I'm fast at lightweight. I come in refreshed at lightweight. It's a different camp. It's a different buildup when I'm fighting at lightweight than it is fighting at featherweight." The rising star's coach John Kavanagh has said that he believes McGregor can eventually become a three-division world champ (featherweight, lightweight, and welterweight). Moving up to lightweight successfully seems a bit more reasonable than the 170 pound welterweight limit, for the time being, however.  What lightweights would you like to see McGregor fight, should he move up? Let us know in the comments section! Follow Elias on Twitter @EliasCepeda & @YahooCagewriter

Cung Le tests positive for HGH, receives nine-month ban from UFC [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: October 1, 2014, 1:20 am]
Cung Le told a reporter that a photo of him that he'd posted on his Instagram page showing him looking exceptionally more muscular than he ever had in the past was simply the result of luck. It was taken in the perfect light, snapped at the perfect time, Le said. As it turns out, it also appears to have been assisted by Human Growth Hormone. The UFC announced in a statement on its website Tuesday that Le tested positive for HGH following his Aug. 23 loss to Michael Bisping in Macau, China. Bisping won the fight by fourth-round TKO. After seeing the photo of the much larger appearing Le, Bisping had requested that the UFC do both blood and urine testing for his fight. It appears those tests are what caught Le. In its statement, Zuffa said Le would be suspended for nine months and would have to pass a drug test before he would be allowed to fight in the UFC again. The statement in full is as follows: UFC middleweight Cung Le tested positive for an excess level of Human Growth Hormone in his system following his fight at UFC Fight Night in Macao, China on August 23. Due to his positive test result, Le was suspended by the UFC and notified that he violated the UFC Fighter Conduct Policy and Promotional Agreement with Zuffa, LLC. The UFC has a strict, consistent policy against the use of any illegal and/or performance-enhancing drugs, stimulants or masking agents by our athletes. Le will serve a nine-month suspension and, at its conclusion, will need to pass a drug test before competing in the UFC again. Le's positive test once again shows the need for regular, consistent and surprise tests on UFC fighters.  Le is 42 and looked more muscular for the Bisping fight than he ever had previously. It raised plenty of questions, but Le consistently denied taking any banned substances. "Literally, I just came off the scale and it was a moment, 'I'm so light,' " Le told MMA Junkie's John Morgan. "I gave it a flex and someone caught it in perfect lighting. If I would look like

[VIDEO] UFC champ Randy Couture on Dancing With the Stars [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 30, 2014, 8:09 pm]
We all knew Randy Couture could wrestle, fight and jam on the harmonica. Thanks to his appearance on Dancing With the Stars, we also now know that "The Natural" can dance. Check out the retired two-division UFC champion do some Rocky and Aladdin-inspired ballroom dancing (above) and go ahead and try to claim that he wasn't robbed in getting voted off, along with his professional dancer partner Karina Smirnoff . Yeah, just like we thought - Randy tore it up and should have gone on to the next round. In case you're wondering, ballroom dancing, shirtless, with a red head likely several decades his junior is another +10 points for Randy on his path to becoming the world's most interesting man. Also, he's clearly gotten a lot better at dancing over the years... Follow Elias on Twitter @EliasCepeda & @YahooCagewriter

Chris Weidman: 'I want to make a mockery of Vitor Belfort' [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 30, 2014, 3:00 pm]
It isn't much of a surprise that UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman found Vitor Belfort's recent trash talk as delusional as we did. Belfort said recently that the UFC should have created an interim title for a case like Weidman (who forced a postponement from Dec. to Feb. of a title fight between he and Belfort, because of a broken hand suffered in training camp). Usually, fighters have to be projected to be out of action for at least a year for talks of interim titles being issued. Weidman last fought a few months ago, in July.  Belfort has not fought since Nov. 2013. Weidman was not impressed with the logic of "The Phenom." "It doesn't make any sense, it's not like I've been out for a year," Weidman told MMA Fighting this week. "This guy hasn't fought since November. And I was actually, we were supposed to fight. We were lined up to fight in July. And he had to pull out of the fight. And you know why he had to pull out of the fight? He failed a drug test. So this guy is failing drug tests and he has the audacity, he has the balls to start talking junk? About me not fighting. He hasn't fought since November. So what if he gets the belt? So what happens with that? He just makes no sense. That's the bottom line." All this has left the usually calm and monotone Weidman riled up to not just fight and beat Belfort, but to embarrass him. "I want to completely toy with him," Weidman continued. "I want to toy with him. I want to beat him up standing, I want to toss him on his butt. Smack him in his mouth a couple times while he's on the ground. Maybe go for a submission, make him almost tap, and let go of it, let him stand up, beat him up on the feet, take him down again, just completely just make a mockery of him." Follow Elias on Twitter @EliasCepeda & @YahooCagewriter

Delusional quote of the day: Vitor Belfort wants interim title [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 30, 2014, 2:46 pm]
Despite avoiding real regulation for two years by fighting internationally, and allowing his licensing in U.S. jurisdictions to lapse while using banned drug treatments, Vitor Belfort (24-10) was granted a middleweight title shot by the UFC. The UFC wanted the big middleweight title fight between Belfort and champion Chris Weidman (12-0) to take place in the fight capital of the world, Las Vegas (where Belfort had already failed a drug test in 2006 by testing positive for a steroid. That failed drug test resulted in a suspension from the Nevada Athletic Commission - NAC- that Belfort disregarded by fighting in the United Kingdom during it.), so the Nevada commission promptly administered a drug test to Belfort. Belfort then failed the test and attempted to keep the results secret. When a Cagewriter report revealed that Belfort's test results would be made public at a commission hearing, the fighter decided to admit that he failed the test. Instead of penalizing Belfort, however, the NAC- (likely fearing a jurisdiction battle with the unlicensed Belfort, similar to the one it later got with Wanderlei Silva) decided to effectively let Belfort regulate himself. "The Phenom" pulled out the fight with Weidman, and when the commission finally got around to giving him a hearing, they issued no suspension for his second failed performance-enhancing drug test, and Belfort was given a second title shot against Weidman on Dec. 6. We reiterate all of this just to contextualize just how brazen Belfort's recent comments about the UFC belt and Weidman truly are. Speaking to Brazilian outlet Globo, Belfort complained about his date with Weidman being postponed to Feb. 2015 because of a broken hand sustained by the champ. "You're kidding, right?" Belfort said of Weidman's latest injury. "To me, he wanted to spend Christmas with his belt, and only in this way could do it." Belfort was gifted a title shot twice this year, despite avoiding regulation and failing a drug test, and has

[VIDEO] Alexander Gustafsson and Swedish All-Stars prepare [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 29, 2014, 7:42 pm]
What do you think of when you think of Sweden? Personally, we think of Ikea, meatballs, Vikings and blondes. But we should also start associating MMA with Sweden, as the above new documentary, Stories from Stockholm: Swedish Giants shows. This Saturday, the UFC will return to Stockholm for a UFC Fight Night card that will feature four Swedish rising stars. Swedish Giants chronicles the All Stars camp of Ilir Latifi, Magnus Cedenblad, Tor Troeng and Niklas Backstrom, all of whom fight in their home town Oct. 4. Light heavyweight contender Alexander Gustafsson is also featured heavily in the above short documentary, as he's teammates with all those men, and is still waiting for his title rematch. This feature is a fun and relaxed look at some fighters and a growing fight scene that Americans don't often get much insight into. Check it out and let us know who you're picking to win, Saturday night. Follow Elias on Twitter @EliasCepeda & @YahooCagewriter

Former champ Dominick Cruz next in line for UFC title shot [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 29, 2014, 3:01 pm]
The UFC men's bantamweight title landscape has seemed a bit complicated, of late. First, dominant champion Renan Barao lost his title to TJ Dillashaw, this year. Then, instead of the next shot going to Raphael Assuncao - who was set to face Barao before getting injured, and who also has a recent win over the new champ Dillashaw - Barao was rushed into a senseless immediate rematch that he ultimately could not even make. Assuncao would certainly seem next in line for a crack at Dillashaw, except he's got a fight booked with Bryan Caraway this Saturday. Former long-time world champ Dominick Cruz marched into the Octagon for the first time in about three years this past Saturday, and did UFC matchmakers a favor by quickly KO'ing former world title challenger Takeya Mizugaki in just over a minute (full fight video above). Now, Cruz seems to be the clear number one contender to the belt he never lost in the ring, once more. UFC president Dana White revealed that the decision had been made, shortly after the UFC 178 pay per view card, Saturday night. "Nobody does that to Mizugaki. Nobody," White said. “[Cruz] didn’t lose his belt fighting. He is the unluckiest man on earth. So yeah, he’s the guy.” Cruz has certainly earned a chance to reclaim his title. Do you think he'll be ready to win against Dillashaw? Let us know in the comments section! Follow Elias on Twitter @EliasCepeda & @YahooCagewriter  

UFC's Bryan Caraway: 'I'm the best in the world on the ground' [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 29, 2014, 2:20 pm]
UFC bantamweight Bryan Caraway (19-6) has won five out of his last six fights, all by submission, and has the biggest fight of his career coming up Oct. 4 in Halifax when he takes on rightful number one 135 pound contender Raphael Assuncao (22-4). Caraway's recent hot streak of submission wins has him riding high on confidence and believing that he's the best grappler in the entire bantamweight division, according to a new interview (video above) with MixedMartialArts.com. "I think I can beat anybody," he said. "I think I'm the best in the world, on the ground. I don't think anybody can hang with me when we get in scrambles, and stuff." Caraway will face another excellent grappler in the powerful Assuncao, Saturday, and also hopes to steal the Brazilian's place in the division. Raphael Assuncao is, without a doubt, in my opinion, the number one contender for the belt. You know, he's on a six-fight win streak. He has a win over the champ. If I beat him...I think that puts me in a very good position to fight for the title." Who do you think the best submission grappler in the bantamweight division is? And, who are you picking in the Assuncao vs. Caraway UFC Fight Night match? Let us know in the comments section!  Follow Elias on Twitter @EliasCepeda & @YahooCagewriter 

[VIDEO] Tim Kennedy confronts Yoel Romero backstage at UFC 178 [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 28, 2014, 5:04 am]
Tim Kennedy had good reason to be upset heading into the third round of his featured middleweight fight Saturday night at UFC 178 in Las Vegas against Yoel Romero. After all, he had been pushed around for nearly two rounds before landing monstrous punches to the head of his opponent Yoel Romero at the end of the second period that appeared to have the Cuban out on his feet before the horn sounded and saved him. Then, once the rest period between the second and third round had ended and referee John McCarthy instructed both fighters to get off their stools and resume fighting, Romero did not rise and was tended to by his corner for a bit longer. Kennedy immediately protested the default extra rest and recovery time the hurt Romero was given but McCarthy allowed the fight to continue and without penalty to Romero. Then, the former Olympic silver medalist managed to pounce on Kennedy and knock him out early in the third round. Needless to say, Kennedy was furious at the turn of events, and he wasted little time seeking out Romero and telling him as much backstage, afterwards (video above). "If you can't get off the stool, that's the end of the fight," a frustrated Kennedy told Romero.  Check out the Vine clip above for yourself and see the brief moment captured on tape. Then, let us know what you think of the controversy in the comments section. Follow Elias on Twitter @EliasCepeda & @YahooCagewriter

Demetrious Johnson submits Chris Cariaso at UFC 178 [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 28, 2014, 4:40 am]
UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson took less than two rounds to finish Chris Cariaso and successfully defend his title Saturday night in Las Vegas, but in his opinion he still took too long to do it. "I was just a little bit too patient for my own good," the champ said in his post fight interview. The win is Johnson's seventh straight and it also further solifidied his position atop the 125 pound class. As he looks out on a mostly conquered flyweight landscape, Johnson insists that he doesn't want to fight anyone in particular next. Instead, he'll just be ready to fight whoever the UFC calls and tells him to. "I'm just a man who sits by the phone and answers it, and I go fight," he said. The one knock on the well-rounded Johnson used to be that most of his top wins came by way of decision after hard-fought and still-impressive bouts. This finish was the third time in his last four outings that he refused to let his opponent hear the final horn, however. As he adds nasty knockouts and submissions to dominant decision wins, "Mighty Mouse" seems well on his way to achieving his goals of cleaning out his weight class and becoming the best fighter in the world, pound-for-pound. The loss snapped a three-fight win streak for Cariaso. Follow Elias on Twitter @EliasCepeda & @YahooCagewriter

Conor McGregor wins with controversial KO at UFC 178 [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 28, 2014, 3:54 am]
Conor McGregor won his fourth straight UFC fight Saturday night in Las Vegas but it wasn't without controversy. The brash Irishman moved ahead in the featherweight rankings with a first round TKO win over Dustin Poirier at UFC 178, but the unfortunate manner in which it ended still left plenty of questions regarding not just the fight but the rising star's ability to take on and possibly take out the very best in the world. After a good number of striking combinations thrown from both men, with mostly only glancing connections for either, McGregor caught a ducking Poirier with a left hook to the back of the head. The American appeared to go out and fell to the mat. McGregor followed up with strikes to the downed Poirier, forcing referee Herb Dean to step in and call a stop to the fight. Strictly speaking, strikes to the back of the head area that McGregor hit Poirier on are not allowed in unified MMA rules. However, Dean either didn't notice the placement of the quick shot or, decided no foul could be called because McGregor's punch seemed to be aimed and thrown at a legal area of Poirier before the Louisiana fighter ducked into it. In either case, McGregor moves on in the 145 pound class with this high-profile, though controversial win, and was quick to call for a title shot in his post-fight interview with Joe Rogan.  "What the other featherweights don't understand, is that it's a whole ‘nother game when they get hit by me," McGregor told interviewer Joe Rogan. "The world title is next." Follow Elias on Twitter @EliasCepeda & @YahooCagewriter

Coach says UFC's Conor McGregor could be three-division champ [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 26, 2014, 11:54 am]
Rising UFC featherweight Conor McGregor and his team are confident heading into their UFC 178 fight against Dustin Poirier this Saturday. McGregor's coach John Kavanagh is looking way past this fight, however, and towards all-time greatness for the "Notorious" one. “It’s hard to put in words why I think he will be remembered as the greatest of all time," Kavanagh recently told SevereMMA. "I do think that he will definitely be a two weight world champion, that’s a given, and I think with a certain set of circumstances he will be the first and only three weight division UFC champion. That would be at featherweight, lightweight and welterweight." Whoah.  Alright. Three fights in, McGregor certainly appears to be the hottest prospect in the featherweight division but he's also in one of the most talent-rich classes in MMA, ruled over by long-time king Jose Aldo. So, to take for granted that the Irishman will become the 145 pound champ, is a stretch. Of course, that's why everyone is in the game, and they have to possess that type of confidence to train and get in the cage. But for Kavanagh, winning the featherweight belt will be just the beginning for McGregor. Dan Henderson, BJ Penn and Randy Couture have all won world titles at two different weight classes. Can McGregor become the first to win one in three? “It’s not hard for me to imagine that scenario," Kavanagh said. "I think two people have already done it in two weight classes and even then they did in a time that was a little different – the skill set was a little bit lower." Follow Elias on Twitter @EliasCepeda & @YahooCagewriter

Coach: 'Ronda Rousey could be champion boxer' [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 26, 2014, 11:42 am]
UFC bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey is back in the gym after recovering from knee and hand injuries, and her coach Edmond Tarvedyan says she's working more furiously than ever. "It's great to work with her. She loves it. She improves every day," he said in a recent interview (above). Tarvedyan's base is in boxing and striking so it is little surprise that he's working with Rousey most in that area. The progress he says the former Judo Olympic medalist has made with her hands is a bit shocking, however. "No question [that] Ronda could win the world boxing championships in the female division - next fight," he said. Tarvedyan says his bold opinion is based on Rousey's sparring rounds with top female boxers in the gym. "She gets that work in the gym, with the world champions [and] she does get the best of it. We do not release footage but, you know, one day [when] she retires, we will," he said. Rousey specifically worked with a former title challenger to new UFC bantamweight Holly Holm, back when Holm was a boxing champ. Based on Rousey's work with that fighter, Tarvedyan is confident not only that Rousey could beat Holm should they fight in the UFC, but also if they were to meet in the ring with boxing gloves on. "I believe that, even if it's a boxing match, Ronda beats Holly Holm," he said. "Ronda stops Holly Holm - even if it's a boxing match." Follow Elias on Twitter @EliasCepeda & @YahooCagewriter

Brandon Halsey: 'I'm expecting the best Alexander Shlemenko' [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 25, 2014, 8:54 pm]
Brandon Halsey (7-0) gets a shot at the Bellator middleweight title Friday in Phoenix, when he challenges champion Alexander Shlemenko (50-8). The undefeated American wrestler has motivation beyond the gold belt, however - he wants to keep the "0" on his record. "Yeah it feels good to keep the momentum going and stay undefeated. I want to keep that going," he tells Cagewriter. Up until he lost a non-title, light heavyweight fight with Tito Ortiz last May, Shlemenko had a great deal of momentum going himself. It had been years, and thirteen fights since the Russian had dropped a fight before getting submitted in the first round of his fight with the former UFC champ.   Shlemenko recently told us that he's a new and more dangerous fighter since that loss. Halsey doesn't doubt it, and expects the champion to have all his confidence back come fight night.  "I have no idea what his mindset is but I know he is capable of overcoming adversity," the challenger says. "I’m expecting him to bring his best. I’m prepared for the best Alexander Shlemenko."   One of the champion's main strengths is his almost ridiculous amount of fight experience. He estimates that he's competed in fight sports over a thousand times, and his professional MMA record lists nearly sixty fights. With just seven pro fights in total, Halsey would seem to be at serious disadvantage when it comes to experience and the savvy that comes with it. The Californian says he's more than an MMA newcomer, however - he's a life long combat sports competitor. "I've been wrestling a long time," he explains. "I've been on this type of big stage before. Having seventy fights doesn’t mean that you have the experience advantage. I'm looking forward to the spotlight. I'm ready to go." Halsey's goals don't just include staying undefeated and winning the Bellator title, either. The 28 year-old wants to become the best fighter in the world, pound for pound, by the time he's done. "[Winning] is going to be a good feel

[VIDEO] Eddie Alvarez not worried about 'UFC jitters' [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 25, 2014, 3:04 pm]
Eddie Alvarez (25-3) has fought nearly thirty times as a professional mixed martial arts fighter and has long been ranked in the top ten among lightweights, but on Saturday he'll step into the UFC Octagon for the first time in his career when he faces Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone (24-6) at UFC 178. So many fighters have admitted to being particularly nervous before and during their first UFC fights that the term "UFC Jitters" has become infamous. MixedMartialArts.com. Alvarez, however, is certain they won't be a factor for him. "I don't. I mean, I'm almost thirty fights into this," he recently told MixedMartialArts.com. "I believe I have one of the most fights in the lightweight division so I don't believe it. Unless something crazy happens that I don't know about. But, I've been fighting long enough. I've been fighting in other countries, fighting the best guys in their own country. I'll fight, basically anywhere so the emotions have calmed down over the years and I understand what's important when I step into that cage." Do you think Alvarez is being naive in assuming he won't have extra adrenaline pumping as he walks to the Octagon for the first time? Or, do you agree with him that his years of international fight experience will serve his nerves just fine Saturday night? Let us know in the comments section!  Follow Elias on Twitter @EliasCepeda & @YahooCagewriter

Injuries, lay-off forced UFC's Dominick Cruz to redefine himself [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 25, 2014, 2:44 pm]
Dominick Cruz was justifiably proud of being one of the best fighters in the world, pound for pound. The former WEC and UFC bantamweight champion worked hard to develop into a champion, after all. However, the fighter says that the quest to become and then remain champion became all-consuming not just in terms of his time and effort, but also in terms of his identity and self-worth. Three years away from competition because of injuries, revealed this to "The Dominator." "For a long time, I felt like my identity was to fight," Cruz said in a recent interview. "My identity was to be a world champion. That almost defined me. Then, over the course of these last three years, I really found that had nothing to do with me. All that was was just something that I did, and I'm happy that I've had to go through this, because I've had to learn a new piece of myself. I had to find a new piece of myself, take away what I thought defined me completely out of my life, and I had to redefine myself." Cruz, who returns to the Octagon this Saturday at UFC 178 against Takeya Mizugaki, said that he began to use MMA fighting as a crutch, and in order to avoid dealing with himself. He loved and still does love martial arts and competing, but has become a more well-rounded person during his time away from fighting. "I feel that I fell somewhat under that category where I was using fighting to kind of run from my own self to an extent, to kind of numb the things that I thought about myself," Cruz explained. "When I had fighting taken away, I was forced to look at myself in the mirror and say, 'What are you without fighting? What are you without being a champion? What are you without being able to train every single day to numb whatever you're trying to run from?' "What I found out is that what I needed was to do that, to look at myself in the mirror and to recreate myself, find a new person inside me,. And I've done that. I've been able to become an analyst over this time, learn more about f

Alexander Shlemenko: 'Losing to Tito Ortiz shook me' [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 24, 2014, 8:00 pm]
Dealing with adversity, with loss, is often what defines a champion. Long streaks of dominance are fine and preferable, but they don't tell someone what kind of fighter they are. Heading into his light heavyweight fight against UFC hall of famer Tito Ortiz, Bellator middleweight champion Alexander Shlemenko had won thirteen straight fights. So, it is little wonder that he felt so confident heading into the fight.  After being dispatched via choke by Ortiz in under three minutes, however, the Russian admits to being "shaken up." Shlemenko's dominant streak of wins had just come crashing down, but he responded to the fall like a true champion - by getting back in the gym immediately.  "I started training again the next day, after the fight [with Ortiz]," he tells Cagewriter through a translator, two days before returning to the cage in Phoenix against Brandon Halsey. "I was so upset and not just because I lost, but because of the way I lost. I didn’t even get punched once. I didn’t get scratched in the fight...the loss really shook me up. It shook me to the point where, after the fight, I feel like a new fighter. So, that and because I had to help a student of mine get ready to fight, it was easy psychologically and physically for me to get back into training hard." Shlemenko also says he made a great deal of changes in his training, from stand up striking to wrestling and submission work. However, the biggest change in his training was his attitude towards it. "Yes, I made some significant changes," he reveals. "First and foremost, however, I changed my attitude towards training. During my preparation for Tito, I felt way too relaxed. I have changed my mental approach to training, in addition to learning a lot of new techniques." Shlemenko may need all that in order to win his next bout on Friday. According to the champion, his opponent Halsey brings a strong grappling game and a sharp mind into the fight. "He's a strong, big guy with a lot of weight. Obvisouly

Three years later, count on ex-champ Dominick Cruz being better than ever [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 24, 2014, 7:41 pm]
LAS VEGAS -- Dominick Cruz was once one of the greatest fighters alive. Three years and a slew of injuries later and no one knows for sure what, if anything, Cruz has left. Cruz last fought when he defeated current UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson in a bantamweight title fight on Versus on Oct. 1, 2011. After that loss, Johnson dropped in weight, won the flyweight title and is now fourth in the UFC's pound-for-pound rankings. He'll defend his belt on Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden in the main event of UFC 178 when he takes on massive longshot Chris Cariaso. Things worked out dramatically differently for Cruz in the aftermath of that outstanding win. He injured a knee while preparing for a rematch with Urijah Faber at UFC 148 and had to pull out of their planned 2012 rubber match. Later in 2012, Cruz's body rejected a ligament from a cadaver that had been used to repair his torn ACL, so he required another surgery. He missed all of 2013 while healing, but was preparing to face Renan Barao in February when he tore a groin. After waiting patiently, UFC president Dana White could wait no more. He stripped Cruz of his bantamweight title. Cruz is finally healthy and, assuming he doesn't trip in the next few days, will meet Takeya Mizugaki on Saturday at the MGM Grand. Because of the insane time he's been away -- Exactly two years, 11 months and 27 days, or 1,093 total days by fight night -- there is legitimate question about what kind of a fighter Cruz will be when he steps into the Octagon on Saturday. He's a fighter who relied on terrific lateral movement and agility, and he's had a pair of knee surgeries since last he fought. No doubt the quality of the fighters in the sport has improved since Cruz last was seen. He's not getting a "gimme" in his return, either. Mizugaki is ranked No. 5 at bantamweight and has won five in a row and six of his last seven. If Cruz isn't prepared, Mizugaki will handle him.  The bet here, though, is that not only is Cruz going

Three years later count on ex-champ Dominick Cruz being better than ever [Yahoo! Sports: Blogs: September 24, 2014, 7:41 pm]
LAS VEGAS -- Dominick Cruz was once one of the greatest fighters alive. Three years and a slew of injuries later and no one knows for sure what, if anything, Cruz has left. Cruz last fought when he defeated current UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson in a bantamweight title fight on Versus on Oct. 1, 2011. After that loss, Johnson dropped in weight, won the flyweight title and is now fourth in the UFC's pound-for-pound rankings. He'll defend his belt on Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden in the main event of UFC 1789 when he takes on massive longshot Chris Cariaso. Things worked out dramatically differently for Cruz in the aftermath of that outstanding win. He injured a knee while preparing for a rematch with Urijah Faber at UFC 148 and had to pull out of their planned 2012 rubber match. Later in 2012, Cruz's body rejected a ligament from a cadaver that had been used to repair his torn ACL, so he required another surgery. He missed all of 2013 while healing, but was preparing to face Renan Barao in February when he tore a groin. After waiting patiently, UFC president Dana White could wait no more. He stripped Cruz of his bantamweight title. Cruz is finally healthy and, assuming he doesn't trip in the next few days, will meet Takeya Mizugaki on Saturday at the MGM Grand. Because of the insane time he's been away -- Exactly two years, 11 months and 27 days, or 1,093 total days by fight night -- there is legitimate question about what kind of a fighter Cruz will be when he steps into the Octagon on Saturday. He's a fighter who relied on terrific lateral movement and agility, and he's had a pair of knee surgeries since last he fought. No doubt the quality of the fighters in the sport has improved since Cruz last was seen. He's not getting a "gimmee" in his return, either. Mizugaki is ranked No. 5 at bantamweight and has won five in a row and six of his last seven. If Cruz isn't prepared, Mizugaki will handle him.  The bet here, though, is that not only is Cruz goi





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