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ufc 196

Welcome to FightLine’s live coverage of UFC 196.

While we no longer get to see champion vs. champion, we’ll still get an incredible main event and a title fight in the co-headline role.

Setting the stage, Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz will look to bring down the house from MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas in the headline bout.

McGregor, the current UFC featherweight champion, was expected to meet lightweight titleholder Rafael dos Anjos. However, a broken foot knocked dos Anjos out and opened the door for Diaz.

The contest will take place at welterweight, and a win for “Notorious” could possibly push him towards a championship match with Robbie Lawler at UFC 200.

Taking the co-main role will be Holly Holm’s first female bantamweight title defense, as she battles former Strikeforce champion Miesha Tate.

Again, Holm was originally booked for a rematch with Ronda Rousey, but that never even came to the table when Rousey asked for time off.

The rest of the pay-per-view main card will see Gian Villante meet Ilir Latifi, Corey Anderson square off with Tom Lawlor and Amanda Nunes face Valentina Shevchenko.

On the FOX Sports 1 prelims will be four bouts, headlined by Brandon Thatch vs. Siyar Bahadurzada. Joining that fight will be Erick Silva-Nordine Taleb, Vitor Miranda-Marcelo Guimaraes and Darren Elkins-Chas Skelly.

As a push for more marquee names on UFC Fight Pass continues, the early prelims include Diego Sanchez-Jim Miller, Justin Salas-Jason Saggo and Julian Erosa-Teruto Ishihara.

FightLine will be bringing you complete coverage beginning at 6:30 p.m. ET with the first Fight Pass prelim.

PRELIMINARY CARD

Julian Erosa vs. Teruto Ishihara

We kickoff this blockbuster event on Fight Pass with featherweights Julian Erosa (15-3) and Teruto Ishihara (8-2-2). Erosa was a member of The Ultimate Fighter 22, while Ishihara competed on Road to the UFC: Japan.

Round 1: Ishihara with a kick right off the touch, catching Erosa off-guard. However, Erosa, nicknamed “Juicy J,” has a huge reach advantage. Ishihara just misses on a knee, tries to capitalize on the ground, but they are back to the feet quickly. Erosa playing a counter-striking game now, as Ishihara is all over him. Damage being done to the legs of Erosa, who is getting peppered with kicks. Power shots landing by Ishihara, but Erosa gets him to the ground with a takedown off a caught kick.

FightLine scores the round 10-9 for Ishihara

Round 2: Ishihara talked about the left hook being there for him between rounds and it was, as he drops Erosa quickly into the second. Several punches on the ground later and this one is all over.

Teruto Ishihara def. Julian Erosa via KO (left-hook) at :34 of Round 2

Justin Salas vs. Jason Saggo

We’ll bump up to the lightweight division next, as Justin Salas (12-6) takes on Jason Saggo (10-2). Both of these men have been sidelined with injuries for over a year.

Round 1: Salas trying to open things up with kicks, as Salas retaliates with a huge power kick of his own. Now to the body goes Salas, looking to close the distance. He finds an opening and lands with a huge takedown, but Saggo is a black belt in Gracie jiu-jitsu, so this might be exactly what he wanted. Excellent rubber-guard and Saggo rolls to the top position. Ground game is scoring points for Saggo, but he also has advantage and slides to the back. He easily gets a hook in with over-under control, slipping in the under hook. Blood pouring from the face and Saggo is pounding away with 30 seconds left. This one is all over.

Jason Saggo def. Justin Salas via TKO (strikes) at 4:31 of Round 1

ufc 196

In an interesting turn of events, the same person who helped get Miesha Tate out of her slumber is the one trying to defeat her this Saturday night.

Tate will challenge Holly Holm for the female bantamweight belt in the co-main event of UFC 196 from Las Vegas.

Last year, when Holm knocked out Ronda Rousey, Tate felt a sense of adrenaline rush back through her body.

“My attitude had a complete 180 when Holly knocked out Ronda,” said Tate, during a luncheon earlier this week (thanks to MMAjunkie.com for the quotes). “I thought, ‘Well, there we go. I’m back in. I’m back in the game, ladies and gentlemen.'”

Two of Tate’s (17-5) last three losses have come at the hands of Rousey, with the other being a No. 1 contender match vs. Cat Zingano. Since the second loss to Rousey, the 29-year-old has scored four consecutive wins, including two over former title challengers Sara McMann and Liz Carmouche.

Still, it took an upset by Holm to get not only get Tate back in the title picture, but to want to compete again.

“I was considering retirement out of frustration, not out of feeling like I didn’t have what it takes anymore,” she said. “My fate was in someone else’s hands and I was frustrated thinking that.”

ufc 196

Former UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo didn’t think for a second about accepting a short notice bout with Conor McGregor.

And Aldo wouldn’t think twice about it even now after being called out by others.

The Brazilian appeared on Monday’s edition of “The MMA Hour” to explain why he turned down the UFC when they came call last week about replacing Rafael dos Anjos and facing McGregor this coming Saturday night.

“It’s not a cockfight where I go there and put my rooster to fight,” Aldo said. “It’s a high-level sport. I’m going there to do my job. When I have time to train, it can happen at any time, anywhere.

“I can’t speak for others and I don’t care what they say. I know I deserve an immediate rematch. People who say I don’t, I don’t care about them.”

Aldo suffered a loss to McGregor in 13 seconds this past December, knocking him from a perch atop the 145-pound division that he sat in since the UFC decided to begin promoting such fights.

As for when he might be ready to return, Aldo is targeting UFC 200 on July 9, saying “It’s a historical edition, a great event. I would like to be part of it.”

McGregor will instead meet Nate Diaz in a non-title fight at welterweight this Saturday.

bubba jenkins

Bubba Jenkins admits he has always gotten by on his pure athleticism.

But now, as he prepares for his 10th Bellator fight this Friday night at Bellator 151 against Goiti Yamauchi, the 28-year-old has an understanding of the sport he calls home.

“I grew up in Bellator,” said Jenkins, during a recent interview with FightLine. “I am now starting to come into my own as a mixed martial artists. I am starting to understand why I am doing things and how they are going to help me later in a fight.

“I am starting to understand why setting things up in the first round will pay off in the third. I see fighters for what they are doing and who they are, striking angles, where to put my arms, my head. You gain knowledge with experience and become better, and that’s not just in MMA.

“You can be writing letters to the Pope. You write more and more letters and you become good at it. You understand the ins and the outs. I have definitely grown and become a more mature man and a better mixed martial artists.”

Following three pro fights, and no matches at the amateur ranks, Jenkins (10-2) signed with Bellator in 2013. He scored a second round TKO victory over Mike Barreras, but suffered his first pro loss later that year to veteran LaRue Bentley.

“If I had taken some amateur fights, I truly believe I would have one less loss and that’s the Bentley loss,” Jenkins said. “I had two fractured ribs, but I thought I could get in there and get out as quick as possible. But against a decent fighter and a professional, you can’t do that. Being a wrestler, I would go into matches hurt all the time. I was hardly ever at 100-percent, but I had seven minutes to get it done. I was accustom to getting off the couch and getting the work done.

“I think amateur experience would have shown me that you can’t just hop into a fight against a professional. Looking back, if I had gone through the amateur ranks, I think I would have known that.”

Jenkins competed for both Penn State University and Arizona State University in college, winning the 2011 157-pound title for the Sun Devils. He was also a runner-up in 2008 for the Nittany Lions at 149 pounds.

He jumped right into MMA the same year as his NCAA winning performance, scoring a first round submission win over Josh Williams. A few months later and Jenkins added another first round win with a stoppage.

“It’s crazy to think about (how many fights since turning pro),” he said. “Coming straight into pro MMA without any amateur experience, being this beast wrestler trying to deal with people who train and know the ins and outs, I’ve had to grow and close that gap.

“As we get better, coming up on my 13th pro fight and 10th with Bellator, I see self-growth and understand what I need to become a champion. Once I become a champion, then I can become legendary.”

Jenkins has scored seven finishes among his 10 pro wins, recording four via knockout and three by submission. After going the distance with Jordan Parsons last November, he doesn’t believe this fight reaches that point.

“Third round knockout,” Jenkins said, of how he sees it ending. “I am looking for it however I can get it. I’m not Conor McGregor when it comes to predicting the way it is going down, but in the third round, I will put him away whether it is with a knee, elbow or a fingertip.

“I am going to try to get him out of there because I don’t want it to go to a decision.”

joe warren

Joe Warren first stepped foot inside the Bellator cage in 2010 with a decision victory over Eric Marriott.

At the time, the former standout wrestler was just 2-1 and coming off a tough submission defeat to current ONE champion Bibiano Fernandes.

But the prospects of Warren as an MMA fighter were only starting to grow, and Bellator picked up a valuable piece by claiming his rights.

Fast-forward six years later and Warren is the only two-division champion in promotion history, and on the cusp of competing yet again for more hardware.

He’ll main event this Friday night’s Bellator 151 card against top prospect Darrion Caldwell on Spike TV.

“I have been saying for years that Bellator is where the cool kids come to fight,” Warren said during an exclusive interview with FightLine recently. “Now, they are bringing in more and more top names and I am honored to welcome all these studs into the Bellator family. I’ve been here since the beginning and have had three belts (featherweight, bantamweight and interim bantamweight titles); that’s a tough thing to do.

“I am just honored that people are taking that step and coming to fight (in Bellator). To see what huge numbers the shows have been doing; it just gets cooler every single fight.”

Warren, who won the 2006 FILA Wrestling World Championships Senior Greco-Roman gold medal and was gold medalist that year at the Pan American Championships, is 6-1 over his last seven. His lone loss came to Marcos Galvao last March, costing him the bantamweight title.

With a record of 13-4 overall and 11-3 with Bellator, the 39-year-old Warren holds notable wins over L.C. Davis, Eduardo Dantas, Joe Soto, Patricio “Pitbull” Freire and Georgi Karakhanyan.

“When I came out of Dream, I had the choice of signing with either the UFC or Bellator,” Warren said. “Bellator really wanted me and paid me what I deserved. The UFC saw me as just another guy.

“Bellator has never told me something that they haven’t done. They have always held up their end of the bargain, and now that Viacom is behind them, they are making big moves and hosting big shows. People come to watch and it is exciting to be part of the Bellator movement.”

Warren captured his first Bellator title in 2010 when he knocked out Soto in the second round. He claimed the interim bantamweight title four years later with a decision over Rafael Silva and unified the titles later that year with a decision over Dantas.

In Caldwell, Warren will be facing another former standout wrestler, but that is about all he knows about his opponent.

“I haven’t watched tape of any fighter ever,” he said. “I am usually such an underdog that I don’t want to see something to be nervous. The task at hand is to win and I know how to win better than anyone.

“I’m just going to do what I’m suppose to do and not worry about what the other guy is doing. To me, (Caldwell’s) just a body standing between me and the belt, and I’m going to run through him to get (the belt) back.”

The fact that the two share a wrestling background isn’t much of a common aspect, according to “The Baddest Man on the Planet.” At the University of Michigan, Warren was a third place finisher and Big Ten runner-up. Caldwell, competing at North Carolina State University, won a national title and finished with 109 career victories.

“I am a world champion Greco-Roman stud, while he is a former Div. I national champion, which is a tough thing to do,” Warren said. “Fighting in the cage, I believe my MMA wrestling is superior to him. I’ve been tested before and I am expecting to be tested again by a young stud.

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