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ufc fight night 81

It’s difficult to look at T.J. Dillashaw vs. Dominick Cruz and not expect a “Fight of the Night” performance from the two bantamweights this Sunday at UFC Fight Night 81.

However, there is another main card bout that has all the makings of an instant classic and possible “Fight of the Year” candidate by the end of the year.

Anthony Pettis vs. Eddie Alvarez.

The two lightweights will be the co-main event on FOX Sports 1, and with both former champions looking to make an immediate 2016 impact, fireworks should be expected.

Pettis will be returning to the Octagon for the first time since a March decision loss to Rafael dos Anjos cost him the lightweight title. “Showtime” was unable to do anything of note vs. RDA, suffering his first setback in almost four years.

After claiming the WEC title with a victory over Benson Henderson in 2010, Pettis debuted in the UFC a year later and was bested by Clay Guida. He rebounded, reeling off five consecutive wins including a first round submission of Henderson that scored him the UFC title.

Following a second submission win over Gilbert Melendez, which was his fourth straight finish, Pettis ran into a buzzsaw. You can believe, though, that he has taken the loss to heart ahead of facing Alvarez.

An ex-Bellator champion, Alvarez finally found his way to the UFC in 2014, falling to Donald Cerrone. Almost a year later, he returned and scored a split decision vs. Melendez to position himself in this title-eliminator.

During his MMA career, Alvarez has bested the likes of Michael Chandler, Shinya Aoki, Roger Huerta and Pat Curran, reeling off a stretch that saw him go 10-1 at one point.

Along with Dillashaw-Cruz, Travis Browne-Matt Mitrione, Patrick Cote-Ben Saunders and Paul Felder-Daron Cruickshank should all bring the TD Garden crowd to their feet throughout the night.

king mo lawal

Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal appeared poised for a run with the UFC after Zuffa purchased Strikeforce.

Instead, Lawal signed with Bellator and has put together an 8-3 record over the past couple of years. Recently, the former Strikeforce champion won three fights in two days to claim the Rizin FF Heavyweight Grand Prix.

While the UFC remains atop the MMA world in terms of promotional rankings, Lawal is happy with Bellator and doesn’t see himself ever competing inside the Octagon.

“Dawg, listen. I’m not a UFC fighter. I never will be. I don’t fit the mold,” said Lawal, during a recent interview with Submission Radio. “You know, I’m too much end work for them. You know what I’m saying? Straight up, I can’t play the game. Like, they do their thing, I do my thing. People there, they do great. I’m happy for them. They’re getting paid. I just can’t, it’s not me. I don’t feel comfortable. Even when I go to a fight, because of my people I’m there, I don’t feel comfortable in that environment. I don’t know what it is. I feel more at home with like, the Strikeforce and the Bellator feel, and even in Japan. It’s just different with the UFC. I just felt different.

“Like, I shut down. And people there are cool and I’ve got all friends that fight for them and they’re doing great. They fit the mold and they’re making a lot of money. The UFC is promoting them. The UFC do their thing. They’re doing their thing, Bellator and me, we’re doing our thing. As far as competition, we ain’t trying to compete. We’re just trying to put on good fights and entertain our fans. That’s all we’re trying to do. The UFC’s doing their own thing. You know what I’m saying?

“We don’t talk about the UFC. I talk about the UFC when people ask me about it. I just chill. Just chill and take care of what I gotta take care of.”

After claiming the Rizin title, Lawal made it known that he wants to fight former heavyweight champion Fedor Emelianenko in 2016. “The Last Emperor” returned from a self-imposed retirement to fight in Japan.

“Well, you know, that’s where I’m from. You know what I’m saying? I wouldn’t mind having a big fight in Dallas,” he said. “We could do big things there; you know what I’m saying. Fedor is a known legend. We can go to Japan – at the same time, you know, why not do…you know, Bellator did me a favour by letting me go out there and fight and fighting in Rizin. So why not me return the favor back to Bellator and let Fedor fight me in a Bellator, free on Spike TV?”

stipe miocic

Stipe Miocic made an impact this month when he knocked out Andrei Arlovski.

Following the performance, Miocic immediately spotted UFC president Dana White Octagon-side and unleashed a verbal tirade on White, demanding to be the next UFC heavyweight title challenger.

The “attack” stemmed from White telling Miocic that he wasn’t popular enough to warrant a title shot.

“Yeah, 100-percent,” Miocic said during a recent interview with Submission Radio. “I just wanted to get my point across, let him know I wasn’t messing around – just not for show. I was being serious. It was more personal than anything else.”

The 33-year-old Miocic (14-2) has won two in a row and is 5-1 over his last five, scoring finishes vs. Arlovski, Mark Hunt and Fabio Maldonado around a five-round decision defeat to former champion Junior dos Santos.

Ever a popular figure on social media, Miocic believes his outburst at UFC 195 has helped solidify him as a top-level heavyweight.

“Yeah I think the feedback’s been great. I think everyone thinks I deserve it,” he said. “I think it worked out well.”

ufc fight night 81

The Octagon will set up shop for a special Sunday night event this weekend, as UFC Fight Night 81 takes place from the TD Garden in Boston.

After fighting just once in over three years, Dominick Cruz will try to regain the UFC bantamweight title when he meets T.J. Dillashaw on FOX Sports 1. Cruz never lost the belt, as officials stripped him due to the series of injuries.

Along with Dillashaw-Cruz, lightweight contenders Anthony Pettis and Eddie Alvarez will square off, along with heavyweights Travis Browne and Matt Mitrione.

Prelims begin on UFC Fight Pass with five scheduled matches, while the remaining eight air live on FS1.

FightLine will be providing live and complete coverage of all the action this weekend.

Below is the current lineup:

MAIN CARD (FOX Sports 1/10 p.m. ET)

UFC Bantamweight Championship
T.J. Dillashaw (c) vs. Dominick Cruz

Lightweight: Anthony Pettis vs. Eddie Alvarez

Heavyweight: Travis Browne vs. Matt Mitrione

Lightweight: Ross Pearson vs. Francisco Trinaldo

PRELIMINARY CARD (FOX Sports 1/8 p.m. ET)

Welterweight: Patrick Cote vs. Ben Saunders

Lightweight: Mairbek Taisumov vs. Chris Wade

Featherweight: Maximo Blanco vs. Luke Sanders

Featherweight: Augusto Mendes vs. Charles Rosa

PRELIMINARY CARD (UFC Fight Pass/6 p.m. ET)

Lightweight: Paul Felder vs. Daron Cruickshank

Middleweight: Tim Boetsch vs. Ed Herman

Light Heavyweight: Sean O’Connell vs. Ilir Latifi

Bantamweight: Rob Font vs. Joey Gomez

Light Heavyweight: Elvis Mutapcic vs. Francimar Barroso

invicta fc 15

A pair of Invicta FC titles will be on the line this Saturday night at Invicta FC 15.

In the main event, Cris “Cyborg” Justino defends her featherweight title against Daria Ibragimova on UFC Fight Pass. The event takes place inside the OC Fair and Event Center in Costa Mesa, California.

Also, the Invicta FC strawweight title is up for grabs, as champion Livia Renata Souza defends vs. DeAnna Bennett. Souza was originally scheduled for a title defense with Alexa Grasso, but the unbeaten Bennett stepped in when she suffered an injury.

For Cyborg, this was expected to be her bantamweight debut as she worked to try and get down to 135 pounds and compete in the UFC.

The card also features notables such as Angela Hill, Lacey Schuckman, Amanda Bell, Ediane Gomez and Megan Anderson.

Below is the complete lineup:

INVICTA FC 15 (UFC Fight Pass/8 p.m. ET)

Invicta FC Featherweight Championship
Cris “Cyborg” Justino vs. Daria Ibragimova

Invicta FC Strawweight Championship
Livia Renata Souza vs. DeAnna Bennett

Atomweight: Amber Brown vs. Shino VanHoose

Bantamweight: Colleen Schneider vs. Raquel Pa’aluhi

Strawweight: Angela Hill vs. Alida Gray

Strawweight: Lacey Schuckman vs. Mizuki Inoue

Featherweight: Amanda Bell vs. Ediane Gomes

Flyweight: Katy Collins vs. Christine Stanley

Featherweight: Megan Anderson vs. Amber Leibrock

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