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  • Carla Esparza, Maryna Moroz set to face off at UFC Fight Night 112

    A former UFC champion will look to right the ship later this spring.

    Carla Esparza will take on Maryna Moroz at UFC Fight Night 112 on June 25 in Oklahoma City, MMA Fighting confirmed Thursday. ESPN’s Brett Okamoto was the first to report the news.

    Esparza (11-4) is coming off a split decision lost to Randa Markos last month in Halifax. The California native was the first-ever UFC women’s strawweight champion, earning the belt after winning The Ultimate Fighter 20. Esparza, 29, has lost two of three and had injury issues since beating Rose Namajunas for the title.

    Moroz (8-1) has not fought since a split decision win over Danielle Taylor last August. The Ukraine native has won three of four in the UFC. Moroz, 25, owns a submission victory over Joanne Calderwood.

    UFC Fight Night 112 will feature a featherweight bout between legend B.J. Penn and Dennis Siver, as well as a middleweight contest pitting former welterweight champion Johny Hendricks against Tim Boetsch. No main event has been made official yet.

  • Daniel Kelly vs. Derek Brunson added to UFC Fight Night 110 in Auckland

    Daniel Kelly will be returning to the Octagon this summer.

    The judoka fighter has been scheduled to face top-10 middleweight Derek Brunson at UFC Fight Night 110 on June 10 in Auckland, New Zealand. The UFC announced the news on Thursday.

    Kelly is coming off the biggest win of his career, having defeated former UFC light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans via split decision earlier this month at UFC 209. The win over Evans didn’t propel Kelly into the middleweight rankings, but did extend his win streak to four in a row. The 39-year-old Australian is 13-1 as a professional fighter and 6-1 in the UFC, with his lone loss coming to Sam Alvey.

    Kelly’s opponent, Brunson, last fought at UFC 208 in February where he lost a controversial decision to MMA legend Anderson Silva. The loss to Silva marked Brunson’s second straight loss, as he previously lost to Robert Whittaker in November. Prior to the two fight skid, Brunson was on a five-fight win streak that included four stoppage victories.

    UFC Fight Night 110 takes place at the Vector Arena. Heavyweights Derrick Lewis and Mark Hunt are scheduled to meet in the main event of the card.

  • Blue-chip prospect Aaron Pico set for MMA debut at Bellator 180

    A Bellator blue-chip prospect will make his pro debut on one of the world’s most famous stages.

    World-class wrestler Aaron Pico will make his professional debut on Bellator’s June 24 card at New York’s Madison Square Garden in a lightweight matchup against an opponent to be determined.

    MMA Fighting confirmed an initial Thursday report by ESPN. Bellator sources also indicated that Pico will likely be on the Bellator 180 undercard portion of the evening’s festivities, rather than the pay-per-view card.

    Pico, a 20-year-old from Whittier, Calif., signed with Bellator in late 2014 as part of a bumper crop of amateur wrestling-related signings, hinging on the idea his pro debut would come at some point after the qualifiers for the 2016 Olympics. Pico narrowly missed qualifying for the U.S. team at 65 kilograms.

    His name is the latest added to the New York City event, which includes Chael Sonnen vs. Wanderlei Silva, Fedor Emelianenko vs. Matt Mitrione, lightweight champion Michael Chandler vs. Brett Primus, and welterweight champ Douglas Lima vs. the debuting Lorenz Larkin.

  • Wanderlei Silva happy to settle ‘old rivalry’ against Chael Sonnen at Bellator 180

    Three years later, Wanderlei Silva and Chael Sonnen will finally meet inside the cage.

    The MMA veterans were originally scheduled to meet three different times in 2014 after coaching the fourth season of The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil, but the bout was eventually canceled after Silva skipped an out-of-competition drug test.

    Silva, who signed with Bellator MMA after being granted his release from the UFC in Jan. 2016, is set to meet Sonnen in the main event of Bellator 180 at New York’s Madison Square Garden on June 24, and is "happy" that his 50th professional MMA fight is against the Oregon native.

    "I’m happy to announce to you that my next fight is done for Bellator 180, against Sonnen, an old rivalry that will finally be settled,” Silva said in a video posted on his Facebook page.

    "I have 49 fights and I really wanted to do this 50th fight, but more than that, it had to be with him. I was going to fight 'Cro Cop’ (Mirko Filipovic) at the end of the year, but I couldn't recover. But the 50th fight, I really wanted it to be against him, and it will. And I will beat him up.”

    Silva (35-12-1, 1 NC) was booked to meet “Cro Cop” a third time at RIZIN on Dec. 29, but pulled out due to injuries sustained in a hit-and-run accident suffered in Brazil in May. Silva’s last fight took place in March 2013, a TKO win over Brian Stann.

    Sonnen (28-15-1) made his Bellator debut in January, losing to Tito Ortiz via first-round submission and dropping to 1-4 in his last five bouts — a run that includes UFC title fights versus Anderson Silva and Jon Jones. Sonnen hasn’t won a fight since Aug. 2013, when he tapped Mauricio "Shogun" Rua in the first round.

  • Joseph Benavidez vs. Ben Nguyen slated for UFC Fight Night 110

    How many consecutive wins will Joseph Benavidez need to collect before he gets another UFC title shot? At least seven.

    The UFC announced Thursday that Benavidez is slated to meet top-15 ranked flyweight prospect Ben Nguyen in a 125-pound contest on June 10 in Auckland, New Zealand at UFC Fight Night 110.

    Benavidez (25-4) has long been considered one of the best flyweights in the world, having racked up a 10-2 record since the division was introduced to the UFC. His only losses over that span are both to reigning champion Demetrious Johnson, the first by split decision and the second via first-round knockout. Following that second setback, Benavidez has continued to run roughshod over the rest of the 125-pound ranks, winning six straight fights against ranked competition, culminating in a hard-fought split decision last December over Henry Cejudo, who coached opposite Benavidez on The Ultimate Fighter 24.

    Benavidez expressed hope after the Cejudo victory that his current hot streak would be enough to warrant a third crack at Johnson, however that turned out not to be the case, as the UFC instead gave the next flyweight title shot to Brazilian veteran Wilson Reis.

    Now, Benavidez will look to continue his run of dominance against Nguyen (17-6), an up-and-comer who has won three of his four appearances inside the Octagon. The 28-year-old Nguyen is currently ranked No. 13 in the UFC’s media-generated rankings. He picked up a unanimous decision win over Geane Herrera in his most recent outing last November.

    In addition to Benavidez vs. Nguyen, the UFC also announced a second flyweight contest for UFC Fight Night 110 pitting one-time title contender John Moraga (16-6) against promotional newcomer Ashkan Mokhtarian (13-1). A loser of three straight fights, Moraga will look to rebound against the UFC rookie Mokhtarian, who has finished 12 of his 13 professional wins via stoppage.

    UFC Fight Night 110 takes place at the Vector Arena in Auckland, New Zealand. Heavyweights Derrick Lewis and Mark Hunt collide in the night’s main event.

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