The latest episode of Ariel Helwani's MMA Show featured a longtime coach talking about possible retirement for his fighter, a Bellator champion coming off a successful title defense and a UFC middleweight contender describing his road to a title shot.
Here's what you might have missed:
'He has a lot of fight left in him'
Bellator welterweight champion Rory MacDonald caused a stir in the MMA community with his postfight comments after a majority draw with Jon Fitch on Saturday. In the cage after retaining his belt, MacDonald said he did not "know if I have that same drive to hurt people anymore."
"I don't know what to say," MacDonald said. "I landed some good stuff in there. I don't know. It's hard to sometimes pull the trigger now. I don't have that killer inside. It's really hard to explain. But I hesitate a little bit now. It wasn't my best performance."
Questions immediately arose about a possible retirement for the 29-year-old former UFC title challenger. After all, he's fought professionally since he was 16 years old and now has a wife and children. Perspectives change over time.
But his longtime coach, Firas Zahabi of TriStar MMA, believes MacDonald is not finished fighting.
"A lot of fighters go through these kind of things. He's not the first guy to see both sides of fighting -- the good part, the darker part -- and then kind of come to these realizations," Zahabi said of MacDonald, who is scheduled to face Neiman Gracie next in the semifinals of Bellator's Welterweight Grand Prix. "Right after a fight, you're so full of emotions. The pendulum might swing the other way. He might want to fight and continue and that's what I think will happen.
"I really feel like he has a lot of fight left in him ... he's a natural-born fighter. I think he's going to continue on his journey. "
Donald Cerrone impressed a lot of people with his dominant finish of young up-and-comer Alex Hernandez in January. But Al Iaquinta, who was in attendance in Brooklyn, New York, that night, was wowed even before "Cowboy" threw his first punch.
"He got the biggest pop out of any fighter," recalled Iaquinta, who faces Cerrone in the main event of Saturday's UFC Fight Night in Ottawa, Ontario. "They announced his name, and that crowd went crazy. He's a fan favorite. People love him. So there are going to be a lot of eyes on this fight."
Iaquinta loves that. For himself.
"I really think this is a great fight for me, stylistically," he told Helwani. "Technically, I'm there with him in every aspect. ... My experience, it's at an all-time high. My youthfulness. My hunger. My drive. It's all coming together. I'll break anybody."
Despite win, Macfarlane wants rematch with Arteaga
It's not often you see champions willingly give an automatic rematch to an opponent -- particularly against someone whom you just sliced open her forehead with an elbow. But that's not who Ilima-Lei Macfarlane is.
The Bellator flyweight titlist, who defeated Veta Arteaga via third-round TKO on Saturday after doctors could not stop the bleeding, believes her opponent needs a second shot.
"It didn't even take the doctors long to be like, 'No, this is done," Macfarlane said. "I agreed with it. I think it was meant to happen. The buildup for the rematch is going to be crazy.
"Given the chance, she would have continued fighting. It's not like she gave up. She didn't quit. She didn't tap out. She wanted to keep fighting and I wanted to keep fighting. It was out of our control. For me personally, I want to decisively beat her and shut up her fans and everyone else that said I got lucky with that doctor's stoppage. I want to decisively beat her and give her that opportunity as well to keep fighting."
Sticks and stones
"Everywhere on my head hurts, man. Like, behind my ears. Like, my jaw's petty sore, my temple's pretty sore. A few places on the top of my head are really sore. Yeah, I was getting hit. But I suppose I was getting hit in all the right places, places that aren't going to get me knocked out. So I guess I'm OK with it. ... I actually feel pretty OK -- as good as you can feel after doing 15 minutes with John." -- Cory Sandhagen, two days after his victory over John Lineker, a Roberto Duran-like power puncher with a nickname to match: "Mao-de-Pedra" (Portuguese for "Hands of Stone")
Dancing up a storm
- ESPN MMA (@espnmma) April 28, 2019
"Platinum" Mike Perry and Alex "Cowboy" Oliveira both danced up a storm in the moments before their fight Saturday night in Sunrise, Florida. After their three rounds inside the Octagon, though, neither was dancing. Walking was difficult enough.
Perry is scheduled for MRIs and X-rays on his feet, which were hurt during the fight.
"Me and him both probably hurt ourselves," Perry said during Monday's appearance on the Helwani Show. "I checked his kick and busted his toe, and I kicked his legs and hurt my feet and shins and legs themselves. It's just a part of it. It's funny: We had an awesome fight, and they paid us for it. And we couldn't walk the next day. I can barely move around the house."
- ESPN MMA (@espnmma) April 28, 2019
Yet Perry would have it no other way, especially after getting the victory not far from his Orlando home base.
"Fighting at home," he said, "with family and people that I care about and who I could genuinely see care for me, having that with me was something to fight for."
"I am officially announcing that I am the in-cage announcer of PFL MMA." Lilian Garcia, former WWE announcer, to Ariel Helwani
No quit in Jacare ... but it was close
Saturday was quite a night for Jack Hermansson, as he earned a unanimous decision over Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza, No. 3 in ESPN's middleweight rankings, to state his case as a top contender at 185 pounds. And yet it could have been even more eye-opening for "The Joker."
In the first round of that UFC main event in Sunrise, Florida, Hermansson dropped Souza with a punch and clamped on a guillotine choke. "Jacare" is a five-time Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champion, and here was 10th-ranked Hermansson on the verge of becoming the first to submit Souza in an MMA fight.
"It was super close," Hermansson told Helwani. "I promise you, it was close. He was panicking. It was just seconds away, seconds away. But he is probably the only guy that could have got out of that one. That's why he's great at jiu-jitsu. ... Most people don't know what to do. If they do a traditional escape, they're going against the choke and it feels like you're choking yourself. So he actually turned his back towards me, and he used his arm to scrape off my foot from his back. It's kind of a sacrifice move. But that's what you have to do to get out of that one."