Backstage at UFC 169

Thanks to a presence on television that has increased at a seemingly exponential rate, a worldwide reach that has brought shows to nearly every corner of the globe, and a Fight Pass subscription service that gives fans insight into what happens backstage, there are very few unique perspectives left when it comes to the experience of a live UFC event. But there is still one angle that is rarely seen, and it’s a point of view that shapes much of what the general public sees and perceives. Want a peak behind the curtain? Want to see the ugly, bloody process of how the sausage gets made? Then let me welcome you to…the press room.
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Former TUF Fighter: Julianna Pena In For A New World

One of the biggest stories going around prior to this past Saturday’s UFC 169 event was the knee injury suffered by recent Ultimate Fighter winner Julianna Pena.

I just happened to be talking with another former TUF competitor, Gilbert Smith, after news of Pena’s incredibly horrible knee injury was reported. She had suffered a torn ACL, MCL, PCL, meniscus and other damage, likely keeping her on the sidelines for at least a year – while UFC president Dana White stated two years out of action for her.

Smith, who himself suffered a partially torn MCL prior to his most recent fight, said he felt “sorry for her.”

Some reports said Pena was “attacked” by a jealous teammate. Others said it was just a training injury. Either way, Smith knows she is in for the long haul in terms of working her way back.

“She’s maybe done,” he said. “Two years on the sidelines out. When she does come back, if she does, the whole game will have changed. Two years not competing……

“She doesn’t have a lot of fights in her career, she is still pretty new, still adjusting to fighting at a high level.

“I have never heard of such a bad knee injury.”

Smith suffered his own injury during a training session, which he admitted was while “goofing around” with a teammate.

Cowboy Calling: Cerrone Willing To Face Khabib Nurmagomedov

If Khabib Nurmagomedov can’t fight Nate Diaz, or Gilbert Melendez, there is somebody out there willing to face him.

Donald Cerrone, fresh off a recent victory, answered Nurmagomedov’s challenge on Twitter Monday.

“(Cerrone) wants to fight a lot. I need opponent for a long time. Lets do this fight in April,” Nurmagomedov posted.

Cerrone, wasting little time, replied back “I’m down.” When a follower mentioned everybody being afraid to face Nurmagomedov, he stated, “I’m not scared.”

The trash-talk between followers of both fighters continued, as someone wrote to Nurmagomedov, “Promise not to lay n pray on Cowboy,” to which he replied, “Of course, I’m a striker now.”

Nurmagomedov (21-0) has defeated Pat Healy, Abel Trujillo, Thiago Tavares, Gleison Tibau and Kamal Shalorus since debuting in 2012.

Cerrone (22-6) is on a two-fight win streak after going 1-3 in 2013.

UPDATE: UFC officials have indeed booked Cerrone, but not against Nurmagomedov. Instead, he will face Edson Barboza this April at UFC on FOX.

Chuck Liddell Disappointed In UFC 169 Finish

Former UFC light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell has been in some bloody, knock-down, drag-out battles.

Now, as a member of the UFC’s front office, Liddell has a different vision of the action.

That doesn’t mean he isn’t going to step up and speak his mind when something controversial happens.

Liddell sounded off on Twitter late Saturday night after the finish of UFC 169. Renan Barao retained the UFC bantamweight title with a TKO victory over Urijah Faber.

Faber appeared to be fine to continue, but referee Herb Dean stepped in and waved the action off.

“I’m not saying Barao didn’t have him hurt and probably would have finished him, he is a beast,” Liddell posted. “I’m just saying it’s a title fight and he was recovering and intelligently defending himself in that position and not getting hurt more.”

Liddell also stated that Dean is “one of my favorite refs,” and added that the thumbs-up Faber gave him would only count “if Herb saw it” as far as allowing the action to continue.

When his thoughts were called into question on Twitter, Liddell defended his statements.

“U call that being rained down??” he responded. “I’m not attacking Barao he fought great and the early stop probably didn’t change the outcome. If he gives the thumbs up when asked he is still thinking.”

Jose Aldo Ready To Test Waters, Wants Anthony Pettis

UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo appears set to move to lightweight.

Aldo, fresh off defeating Ricardo Lamas Saturday night at UFC 169, told UFC Brazil video host Paula Sack that he wants Anthony Pettis next.

Pettis, the current UFC lightweight champion, remains sidelined after an injury late in 2013. UFC president Dana White mentioned a possible bout between the two later in the year.

“I wanna fight against Pettis,” Aldo said.

The two were expected to square off last year for the UFC featherweight title before Pettis went down with an injury. “Showtime” returned and defeated Benson Henderson for the 155-pound title, but has yet to make a defense of it.

White stated that Aldo would drop the featherweight crown and move to lightweight if the fight came together. He added during the post-fight press conference that the fight is done, as long as Pettis agrees to it – which he did minutes later with a phone call to the UFC boss.

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