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Dana White: Mark Hunt fight vs champ Junior Dos Santos at UFC 146 "ain't gonna"

STOCKHOLM – It was a valiant effort, Mark Hunt fans. But the rally will come up short. Following a massive online campaign to get Mark Hunt under consideration for a potential title fight – complete with its own #RallyforMarkHunt hashtag – UFC president Dana White squelched the possibility. If Alistair Overeem isn't cleared to fight heavyweight champion Junior Dos Santos at UFC 146, Hunt won't be the replacement. "They can keep rallying," White said on Saturday following UFC on FUEL TV 2 at Stockholm's Ericsson Globe Arena. "That ain't going to happen. "Listen, Mark Hunt is going to have to fight one of the top guys. You don't just jump right into the title shot." When Overeem badly failed a surprise drug test earlier this month due to elevated testosterone levels, his availability for the May 26 pay-per-view event was cast into doubt. While ex-champ Frank Mir would appear the most likely candidate should Overeem be nixed following an April 24 Nevada State Athletic Commission hearing, many fans rallied for Hunt, a Kiwi kickboxer who's won three straight UFC fights since a 5-7 start to his pro MMA career. While Hunt has defeated the likes of Chris Tuchscherer, Ben Rothwell and Cheick Kongo during his recent run, White said the PRIDE veteran needs to face more quality competition before he'd get a chance at the belt. Hunt (8-7 MMA, 3-1 UFC) gets that opportunity on the UFC 146 main card when he meets Stefan Struve (23-5 MMA, 7-3 UFC) at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. "I have apologized and praised Mark Hunt for what he's been able to accomplish in the situation that he was in," White said. "I think this fight with Struve is a good fight for him. If he beats Struve, he'll break in and start fighting some of the top-five heavyweights in the world. "But first of all, I've got to say, anything can happen in a fight, but in all reality, it's not fair to Mark Hunt either to put the guy right in there with a Junior Dos Santos for a title shot. The guy (ideally) works his way up, he beats Struve, fights somebody in the top-five." In a recent interview Hunt said his fill-in status was a longshot. But the fighter, who's accumulated nearly 11,000 Twitter followers in just a few weeks, said he understood his new celebrity status among MMA fans. "I think they just like to see someone that's been down for such a long time and come back," Hunt said. "Everyone has hard times. This whole planet is going through bad times. I think it's just that they like to see the underdog get some. It's always the other way around." White, though, did offer some words of encouragement. While he won't get a title shot at UFC 146, Hunt isn't too far away, he said. "I guarantee you this: If he beats Struve, his next fight will be (against) somebody that's top-five that can get him closer to that title shot," he said. 

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ALEXANDER GUSTAFSSON WANTS TOP 5 OPPONENT, ‘MORE THAN READY’ IF UFC TITLE SHOT MATERIALIZES

Alexander Gustafsson held the hopes of an entire nation of MMA fans on his back, and he delivered the goods.

Widely regarded as Sweden’s most promising prospect, the lanky light heavyweight cruised to a unanimous decision victory over hard-hitting opponent Thiago Silva in the main event of Saturday’sUFC on Fuel TV 2. Though “The Mauler” headlined the UFC’s inaugural trip to Ericsson Globe Arena in Stockholm, Gustafsson claimed after the bout that he felt no extra pressure to perform well.

“It just motivated me more. I was super excited for this fight. I don’t feel any pressure. I just go out there and do what I love to do,” Gustafsson told Fox Sports. “The crowd was amazing. I couldn’t even hear my coaches in the corner. I’m proud fighting here at home and in the UFC.”

UFC President Dana White later disagreed with Gustafsson’s internal assessment at the post-fight press conference, giving credit to the 25-year old for handling himself with such poise in the main event.

“I think he’s full of s---,” said White. “I think there was a ton of pressure on him.”

Gustafsson used superior length and footwork to keep Silva on the outside for most of the contest, dropping the American Top Team representative with a slick uppercut early in the first frame and continually popping Silva with straight shots as the bout progressed.

“Silva is a tough guy,” said Gustafsson. “I’ve got a lot of respect for him, and I know he has some good power in his punches. I had my game plan to stay active, like I always do, and tried to pick him apart.”

Silva, who owns technical knockout wins over Keith JardineHouston Alexander and Tomasz Drwal, moved the Swede backwards with a hard right hand in the second frame. The blow would serve as Silva’s most meaningful offense of the night, save for a brief spurt of aggressiveness in the bout’s waning seconds.

“[Silva] threw, and I felt it, but it didn’t rock me,” said Gustafsson of Silva’s right cross.

Though the Alliance MMA representative took a well-deserved unanimous decision, Gustafsson believes he still has more work to do, both in the gym and the cage. He declined to call anyone out by name, the Swede was clear about his desire to climb the UFC’s light heavyweight ladder.

“I executed my game plan, but I’m a finisher. It was my first decision in the UFC, so I’m still learning,” he said. “I want to fight the top five guys in the world in my division, but if the UFC were to give me a title shot, I would be more than ready if that day comes.”

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UFC KNOCKOUT ARTIST SIYAR BAHADURZADA: "I FIGHT FOR AFGHANISTAN"

Siyar Bahadurzada is proud man in regard to his heritage.

The Afghan-born welterweight’s past is well-documented: Bahadurzada grew up surrounded by war in his homeland before he and his family moved to the Netherlands in 1999. On Saturday night, “Siyar the Great” earned the highest-profile win of his mixed martial arts career, stopping Paulo Thiago atUFC on Fuel TV 2.

Following his victory at the Ericsson Globe Arena in Stockholm, Bahadurzada revealed his hope of representing his native country in a positive way while competing as the UFC’s first Afghan-born talent.

“I fight for Afghanistan,” Bahadurzada (Pictured, file photo) told Fox Sports after his win. “When I have the flag on my shoulders, I don’t want to step on anybody’s toes with that. I just want to put Afghanistan in positive news headlines. That is my goal. That is what I want to do for my country.”

Bahadurzada’s victory came just 42 seconds into his inaugural UFC appearance. After a feeling out process, Thiago plowed forward, winging an overhand right at his foe. Bahadurzada deftly backpedaled and connected with a perfectly placed right hand to the Brazilian’s jaw, snapping his head around and causing him to fall unconscious to the mat, face-first.

“Those punches are knockout punches because people don’t expect them,” Bahadurzada said of the finish. “It’s not a hook or an uppercut. It’s in between. I don’t want to say [exactly] what it is, because then people will know the secret, but those are the punches that I throw a lot in training. Tonight, Thiago was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Bahadurzada, 27, stated after the contest that he had injured his hand in training 10 days before the bout, possibly breaking it. Nevertheless, he threw his wounded appendage without hesitation, instantaneously turning out the lights on his highly regarded foe.

“I expected Thiago to [rush forward] like that with his head down. The only thing that I see when I fight is my target. I want to take him out as soon as possible. I don’t see or hear [anything else],” Bahadurzada told UFC.com. “This is the perfect start for me in the UFC. I see Paulo Thiago as one of the top 10 [welterweights], and to knock out a top 10 guy so quick, that’s a great start.”

As for what is next for the heavy-handed Golden Glory representative, Bahadurzada is eager to reenter the cage to deliver another fan-friendly finish.

“I’m looking forward to my next fight. I could fight [next week at UFC 145],” said Bahadurzada. “There will be more knockouts like this. I promise you.”

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Thiago Silva Post Weigh-In Interview: UFC On FUEL TV 2

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UFC 145 Pre-Fight Conference Call Audio

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Alexander Gustafsson excited for rare opportunity at first UFC card in Sweden

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UFC on FUEL TV 2, Reza Madadi's UFC dream

STOCKHOLM

 

"A few years ago, some guy asked me, 'What is your biggest dream?'" Madadi told the press in Stockholm. "I said, 'I want to buy a ticket, go to Las Vegas and watch a UFC.' I can't believe that now I'm here, and in a few days I'm going to fight in the UFC."

Born in Iran, Madadi's family relocated to Sweden when he was 12 years old. He still resides in Stockholm, but he retains intense feelings for his birth country, as well.

"I feel like I have two nationalities, Iranian and Swedish," Madadi said. "I love both countries."

Madadi's first exposure to martial arts was wrestling, which he started started in his youth and continued to do so into adulthood. However, Madadi admits he grew tired of the routine.

"At the end of my wrestling career, it was really boring," Madadi said. "Nothing special happens. Just go wrestle two minutes. They changed the rules, and it was just very boring."

But in 2006, that all changed. Madadi was exposed to MMA for the first time, and his life instantly changed.

"I followed a friend to his MMA fight," Madadi said. "When I saw my first MMA fight, I couldn't sleep that night. I said, 'Wow. This is amazing.' I started with MMA, and after two months, I did my first pro fight."

That first bout, a 2006 matchup with Ville Manninen, didn't go exactly as planned, as Madadi dropped a unanimous decision. However, he said the evening was certainly not a complete loss.

"I got a lot of experience from it," Madadi said. "I remember when I stepped in the ring, I thought, 'Oh, my God. What am I doing? Now it's serious because now I'm going to get punched. Now it's just me and the guy.' But after 15 minutes, it was the best feeling of my life. I cannot explain, but it was amazing."

It was also the night Madadi earned his nickname, "Mad Dog," given to him by his manager who couldn't help but laugh a little at his client's high energy and mangled face.

But since that first setback, Madadi has gone 11-1, including recent wins over UFC vets Rich Clementi, Carlo Prater and Junie Browning. The work actually earned him a UFC bid at January's UFC on FX 1 card, but injury forced him to withdraw from the bout.

Just as he though he was going to reach the sport's pinnacle, he rolled back down the mountain.

"I can tell you, it was one of the hardest times of my life," Madadi admitted. "It was very tough because all fighters want to be in the UFC. When I got the chance, I couldn't be there. I was so sad, like a kid."

Fortunately for Madadi, the UFC was more than happy to give him another invite. Even more fortunate, that second chance now comes in his hometown's Ericsson Globe Arena at Saturday night's UFC on FUEL TV 2 event. The night's main card airs in the U.S. on FUEL TV, while prelims – including Madadi's fight with Yoislandy Izquierdo (6-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC) – stream on Facebook.

"I'm more excited because it's my hometown," Madadi said. "I grew up here. All my fans and all my coaches can be here and watch me.

"Everything happens for a reason."

So Madadi, whose previous dreams just included a seat around the octagon, will now step into it on Saturday night. The eight-sided cage has long been called "the ultimate proving" ground, but Madadi believes he's in a perfect position to leave no doubt.

"I don't want to be too cocky, but I really, really feel like I belong here at this level because I fought with Junie Browning, who's a tough guy with a lot of experience, and I beat him first, then Carlo Prater, then Rich Clementi," Madadi said.

Six years ago, Madadi hadn't even seen an MMA fight. Now he'll take to the cage and fight in front of thousands of his countrymen in hopes for a UFC win.

He never even dreamed of being here, but Madadi says he wouldn't have it any other way.

"It's like drugs – exactly like a drug," Madadi said. "But I never, ever, ever thought I was going to be part of the UFC. My biggest dream came true.

"When I step in the octagon, I'm going to fight until I die."

 

Source: MMAJunkie

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Frank Mir: If Mark Hunt is picked I would not be happy

Frank Mir appeared last night on MMA Live about his potentially replacing Alistair Overeem vs Junior Dos Santos if the Dutchman is unsuccessful in convincing the Nevada State Athletic Commission that his drug test results were not in violation, at a hearing on April 24.

 

"As of right now, I'm still training for Cain. Obviously, I'm like everybody else. I see that, in the background, there's a possibility Overeem's not going to be able to make the fight on the 26th, and if that's the case, I wanna make sure I'm in a position where I can jump in."

"I feel that I have the most credentials, going into it. I think I have the longest winning streak of the heavyweights that were already posted on that card to fight. As far as what the rankings are, I feel I have the most credentials going in, and I'm motivated to do so".

"Obviously I'd feel a little slighted (if someone else were picked to fight dos Santos). But, both those guys (Hunt and Velasquez) are great fighters. I would never be mad at them for taking advantage of the situation. Would I be angry? Of course. I wouldn't wanna be at my house on the night that's announced. I would not be a happy individual. I would probably just stay away from my house for a couple of days."

"(Fighting JDS as opposed ot Velasquez) is a little bit of an adjustment, but I'd rather go in that direction than the other way. Just for the reason being the kind of conditioning it takes. Wrestling in the gym as much as I am with the kind of guys that are more wrestling-oriented, collegiate wrestlers, that conditioning is just extremely anaerobic and extraordinarily tough to train for. Anybody who trains realizes that anybody can spar three, four, five, six rounds, if it's just striking with no takedowns. But maybe if you start taking people down and fighting on the ground and we wrestle to get back up, that's when it's extremely fatiguing. so, going from a grappler to have to prepare for a striker, I feel it's easier than the other way around."

"I'm very much on the point of 'innocent, until proven guilty.' If he has a hearing and he comes in and speaks, I wanna hear what he has to say and what's going on. All six of us were tested on that day, that were on that stage, and he had some complications with his test, obviously. Give the man a chance to speak about it."

 

We predict here on PersianMMA Overeem will fight Junior Dos Santos for the UFC HW belt so there is no reason for Frank to worry.

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Tito Ortiz's UFC Sweden Fan Q&A (complete + unedited)

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Swedish crowd goes bananza when Reza Madadi enter the weigh-ins in Stockholm

 

Reza Madadi got the star treatment from the crowd in Ericsson Globen, Stockholm during the weigh in for UFC on Fuel TV 2

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