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ufc 180

Mark Hunt has the opportunity of a lifetime next Saturday night when he steps foot inside the Octagon to meet Fabricio Werdum for the interim UFC heavyweight title.

The two will collide in the main event of UFC 180 from Mexico, and Hunt has gotten himself situated in the country for the past several days to prepare for battle.

After finishing Roy Nelson earlier this year, officials tabbed “The Super Samoan” to replace Cain Velasquez in the headline bout. He strung together a four-fight win streak from 2011-13 before falling to Junior dos Santos and scoring a draw with Antonio Silva.

Now, matched up with Werdum, Hunt told Submission Radio out of Australia recently that he has the exact answer to Werdum’s excellent ground game.

“Everyone’s a world-class ground fighter until they get a punch in the face,” he said. “That’s hod I deal with all these ground fighters. I hit’em in the head and there goes your (expletive) black belt.

“His game will be to push the pace and try to get me tired, to try and shoot the takedown, so I’m on the ground. If he tries to stand and bang, then good for me. If he doesn’t then he’s gotta work his game plan.”

Prior to the Nelson bout, rumors were circulating that Hunt would not make the heavyweight limit to weigh-in. He says there will be no issues with that this time around, as reason for his decision to get to Mexico early.

“I’ve got no excuse about not making weight,” he said. “Even 10-and-a-half kilos. I gotta talk to (UFC president) Dana (White) about a few things, but if you can’t make weight, don’t take the fight. We’ll just chew an arm off. I’ve got a lot of weight on me I can lose.

“I’m making weight so there’s no problem.”

He expanded on the weight-cut surrounding the Nelson bout, stating it was “my third weight cut ever. I’m just starting to get used to how this all works.

“I’m a fat guy with a lot of fat on me, so it’s easy for me to lose it,” he added. “I’m getting used to these things. I know how far I’m at and what I can cut, so I think the media exaggerates a bit about certain things.”

After going from almost being out of the UFC to a title shot, Hunt isn’t surprised by his string of excellent performances. He holds just an overall record of 10-8-1, but is 5-1-1 in his last seven.

“Well it’s no surprise to me. Like I said before, I always felt like I was the best fighter on the planet and I think this is just another example of what I’m saying is right,” he said. “This is for the No. 1 spot to fight the champ. I mean I do feel Fabricio Werdum would be upset about it, and I would be upset about it too if I had my shot at the world champ and then had to step back to fight someone else. It’s my opportunity regardless, and hey, I’m taking my opportunity and that’s it. That’s all I’m interested in doing.”

ufc fight night 55

UFC Fight Night 55 main event fighters Michael Bisping and Luke Rockhold have done a tremendous job building the hype for their bout this coming Friday night on Fight Pass.

Bisping, coming off a finish of former Strikeforce champion Cung Le, appeared on a recent edition of “UFC Tonight” to try and keep the spark going. And, as usual, “The Count” did just that.

Rockhold, also an ex-Strikeforce champion, has made comments in the past that he would be willing to place a large sum of money on the line that he stops Bisping within the first round. The Brit has been finished just twice, with both happening in the second to Vitor Belfort and Dan Henderson.

“This is another delusionary comment from Luke Rockhold,” Bisping said. “He comes out with nonsense day after day. Just yesterday he said he’s going to beat me because he has a better beard than me.

“I’ve fathered three children. This is a prepubescent teenager. I’m more of a man than he’ll ever be.”

Bisping (25-6) kept his string of never losing two straight active by dominating Le for three-plus rounds in August before putting the finishing touches on him. He’s gone 3-2 in his last five overall, adding wins over Alan Belcher and Brian Stan to his resume.

That added aggression and power put on display vs. Le is something Bisping has been working on in training, he said.

“When you start working with a new coach, you see the progress in the gym, then to sparring and into fights. I believe that started happen,” he said. “When I came back from my layoff, I had a bad match up with Tim Kennedy. I feel like I’ve progressed more now. I’m generating more power with the punches and kicks. I’m mentally and physically better than ever. I’m going into this fight in a good place.”

vitor belfort

Ahead of their February meeting, UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman found it interesting that Vitor Belfort had yet to be tested.

Following the decision to ban TRT, Belfort was asked to submit to random testing ahead of his December fight with Weidman for the title. However, Weidman suffered an injury and the bout was moved to February at UFC 184 in Los Angeles.

Weidman took to Twitter over the weekend to call into question the lack of testing.

The Nevada Athletic Commission, though, sent out a collector to Florida to test Belfort recently, according to a report by Yahoo! Sports. “The Phenom” previously failed a post-fight drug test, and was given both a blood and urine test by the NAC.

News of the testing gave Weidman some solace in his quest.

ufc fight night 55

Al Iaquinta believes in the natural approach to training for UFC fights: working hard in the gym, taking care of your body and training even when you aren’t scheduled to fight.

So, when the former Ultimate Fighter runner-up hears about his fellow fighters failing drug tests and trying to explain themselves, he doesn’t provide a shoulder to cry on.

“Piotr Hallmann says he is innocent. Cung Le says he is innocent,” said Iaquinta, during an interview with FightLine. “I don’t believe either. Where there is smoke, there is fire.

“Everyone else on those cards’ test results came back negative. Except the people everyone suspected was taking something. Give’em a polygraph or something, I don’t know.”

Iaquinta (9-3-1) defeated Hallmann in 2013 via decision and will square off with Ross Pearson next week at UFC Fight Night 55 in the co-main event from Sydney, Australia.

shogun rua

Former UFC champions Anderson Silva and Mauricio “Shogun” Rua were announced as the head coaches for the fourth season of The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil on Wednesday.

Tryouts recently took place in Brazil for the season with nearly 600 lightweight and bantamweights competing. The series will be filmed in Las Vegas, and unlike past seasons, Silva and Rua will not compete against one another.

Silva (33-6) is set to make his return after a year-long hiatus this January against Nick Diaz. The former UFC middleweight champion suffered a broken leg last December in a loss to Chris Weidman.

“I think I can offer this next generation of Brazilian talent real insight into what it takes to succeed in the UFC,” he said. “I will bring everything I know about the martial arts, and my own values of what it means to be a martial artist, to my team.”

Rua meets Ovince St. Preux next Saturday at UFC Fight Night 56. Rua was scheduled to meet Jimi Manuwa, but a broken foot knocked the Brit from the contest.

“To coach on The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil is a dream come true, and an opportunity I wanted for a long time. To have my team compete against a team coached by a legend and former training partner like Anderson Silva makes it even better,” he said. “Me and Anderson go a long way, training together back when we were both aiming to be stars, and to do this with him now on the biggest platform and having a chance to show people what MMA is really about is just amazing. I look forward to finding great talent and helping them become winners.”

Past coaches on TUF: Brazil include Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Fabricio Werdum, Vitor Belfort and Wanderlei Silva.

“A lot of people were worried we’d never see Anderson Silva back in the UFC. But, not only is he back in the Octagon on January 31 at UFC 183, he’s coaching TUF for the very first time,” UFC president Dana White said. “Anderson Silva is as committed to the UFC and the sport of mixed martial arts than he’s ever been, and I cannot wait to see one of the greatest of all time pass his knowledge on to a new generation of Brazilian fighters.

“And if there’s any Brazilian fighter who can go up against Anderson as a coach, it’s Shogun. Shogun Rua has done everything in the sport and if he trains his team to fight in the same attacking style he’s always used, Anderson’s team is in for one hell of a season.”

The series will air live on Globo and stream on UFC Fight Pass beginning in April.

“Once again, The Ultimate Fighter Brazil was designed and developed by the great partnership between Globo and the UFC,” said Brazilian TV producer Boninho. “We’ve come up with some great concepts for this new season and supervised the creative execution of what I know will be another hit season.”

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