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ufc on fox 15

Saturday’s UFC on FOX 15 card will feature a solid mix of past champions and headliners, along with a bevy of up-and-coming prospects.

Sprinkle in a little female action and you have the makings of a solid night.

Here’s a look at the media notes, courtesy the UFC, for the card:

MIDDLEWEIGHT SHOWCASE

Four of the top six ranked middleweights in the world will be on display in Newark. In the main event, No. 3 Lyoto Machida faces No. 5 Luke Rockhold while the co-main will feature top-ranked Jacare Souza taking on No. 6 Yoel Romero. With champ Chris Weidman set to defend his title against Vitor Belfort the following month, this could be considered a tournament of sorts for the next shot at the 185-pound title. One of the most intriguing aspects of the two fights is the fact all four competitors bring a drastically different style to the fight. Machida is known for his unorthodox striking and karate background while Rockhold may be one of the best pure athletes in the sport. In the co-main, Jacare is a world renowned jiu jitsu player and Romero is an Olympic wrestler. (Note: These were published before Romero was injured and removed, with Chris Camozzi taking his place.)

TOP-10 STRAWWEIGHTS

Two of the most recognizable names in the strawweight division will clash in Newark when No. 8 Felice Herrig meets No. 10 Paige VanZant. Known just as much for their beauty as they are their fighting ability, this is a true case of not judging a book by its cover. Herrig is the owner of a 23-5 professional kickboxing record and is a former Muay Thai champion and VanZant is a true mixed martial artist who stormed onto the scene with a third-round TKO in her UFC debut. Both women have the natural ability to market themselves and a win on FOX in front of a national audience could propel one woman to the next level of stardom and more importantly, one step closer to the title.

TOP PROSPECTS

Aljamain Sterling will put his perfect 10-0 record on the line while Beneil Dariush goes for his fourth straight win as they look to crack the top-15 in the bantamweight and lightweight divisions respectively. With each fighter set to take a big step up in competition facing ranked opponents, the stakes are high. Sterling is a two-time NCAA Div. III All-American wrestler and training partner of Chris Weidman. Dariush takes the bout on short notice and with a quick turn-around after defeating Daron Cruickshank at UFC 185 March 14 via second round rear naked choke.

HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE

When the Octagon touches down in Newark, it’ll be a home game for five fighters on the card. Aljamain Sterling (Uniondale, N.Y.), Eddie Gordon (Freeport, N.Y.) and Gian Villante (Bellmore, N.Y.) are all fighting out of Long Island; while Jim Miller (Sparta, N.J.) and Corey Anderson (Robbinsville, N.J.) are Jersey guys.

arianny celeste

UFC Octagon girl Arianny Celeste has stayed clear of the headlines for a while, leaving her “feud” with Ronda Rousey in the past for the time being.

Now, though, Celeste is back, but this time showing off her incredible figure.

Check out the pictures she posted on Twitter recently in describing what the “best cut and style for petite bodies and bootys” are on her personal blog:

ufc 186

Maveryk Allen Johnson will get to see his proud father’s first title defense, if he can stay awake long enough.

Demetrious Johnson and his wife, Destiny, welcomed the newborn on Wednesday. Maveryk weighed in at eight pounds and 13 ounces, just a few away from “Mighty Mouse,” who is the reigning UFC flyweight champion.

“Officially a father of two,” Johnson posted on Instagram, along with a picture of his wife and new son holding a glove with “UFC” on it.

Johnson returns to the Octagon next Saturday, defending his title against Kyoji Horiguchi at UFC 186.

ufc rankings

Fresh off his victory over Gabriel Gonzaga, Mirko Cro Cop finds himself in the Top-15 of the latest UFC rankings.

Cro Cop, a former top contender in multiple promotions, debuted at No. 15 in the heavyweight rankings.

Stefan Struve also moved up a spot to 14th at heavyweight.

A handful of fighters moved up two spots, including Patrick Cummins (13th, light heavyweight), Zach Makovsky (seventh, flyweight) and Dustin Ortiz (flyweight).

Those climbing a spot each included Thales Leites (ninth, middleweight), welterweights Tarec Saffiedine, Dong Hyun Kim, Kelvin Gastelum, Jake Ellenberger, Rick Story, Thiago Alves, Gunnar Nelson and Ryan LaFlare, while Neil Magny debuted at No. 15.

Saffiedine, Kim, Gastelum, Ellenberger, Story, Alves, Nelson and LaFlare hold down spots 7-through-14.

Eddie Alvarez and Jim Miller are now ninth and 12th at lightweight, while Mitch Gagnon is 13th at bantamweight. Henry Cejudo (ninth), Chris Cariaso (10th), Wilson Reis (13th) and Chico Camus (14th) all moved up at flyweight, while Brad Pickett entered at No. 15.

Jessica Penne and Randa Markos moved up to third and sixth at strawweight, while Maryna Moroz debuted at No. 9. Liz Carmouche is now eighth at bantamweight.

Champions Rafael dos Anjos and Robbie Lawler flipped for eighth and ninth in the pound-for-pound rankings.

Those that fell a spot each included Erik Perez, Josh Thomson, Tony Ferguson, Michael Bisping, Fabio Maldonado, Dan Henderson, Rose Namajunas, Joanne Calderwood, Aisling Daly, Paige VanZant, Juliana Lima, Angela Hill, Seo-Hee Ham and Amanda Nunes.

ufc 188

Interim UFC heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum feels he is in the same mind-set as before his career-defining win over Fedor Emelianenko.

Werdum will unify the title with Cain Velasquez at UFC 188 in Mexico this June. He won the interim title with a finish of Mark Hunt last year after an injury knocked Velasquez out.

“When I beat Fedor, I had the same feeling,” said Werdum, during a recent appearance on UFC Tonight. “I’m very confident. I don’t think I’ll lose the fight. I’m going to win for sure.”

Werdum (19-5-1) is a perfect 5-0 since returning to the UFC in 2012, earning wins over Roy Nelson, Mike Russow, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Travis Browne and Hunt. His last loss came in 2011 to Alistair Overeem via decision after earning a first round submission of Emelianenko while both were in Strikeforce.

Ever the student, Werdum knows where the strengths of the UFC champion are, and he plans to test him there.

“I think Cain has good boxing, good wrestling and good conditioning,” Werdum said. “But if he takes me down, I say ‘thank you.’ I’m good. It’s my home.

“I think he’ll stay there; I’ll finish him.”

During the interview, Werdum heard from Daniel Cormier, who is a close friend and training partner for Velasquez at American Kickboxing Academy.

“The UFC heavyweight champion, Cain Velasquez, told me to tell you to stop carrying the belt everywhere,” Cormier said. “It’s making him mad. If you take it to the Florida media tour, he’s going to take it away from you.

“To be the man, you have to beat the man.”

Werdum laughed at the comments, saying “I love him” to Cormier.

“Five years ago, he helped me with a lot of training with wrestling,” he continued. “When we first met, I took him down. I took him down three times. He grabbed me in a double-leg and took me down and I got him in an armbar.”

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