Jairzinho Rozenstruik said Monday that he wasn't surprised when referee Dan Miragliotta rushed in to stop Saturday night's main event at UFC Fight Night in Washington, D.C. Alistair Overeem was slumped against the cage with his upper lip split open by a Rozenstruik right hand as the fight, which Overeem was winning, was stopped with just four seconds left in the fifth round.
"I saw he was out, and that's why I walked away," Rozenstruik said. "I saw the damage.
"I looked at him, and I was going with the right again, then I saw him go down, and then I turned my back and walked away. The ref was running at me, so I walked away. I can't keep hitting him. I give him the respect."
Rozenstruik understood the situation as the fifth round began.
"I know I was down. I was losing that fight," he said. "The coach kept telling me, you want to win this fight? That last round, he gave me the kick in the ass, and I was like, 'yeah.'
"It's not over until it's over."
Rozenstruik reiterated his desire to face Francis Ngannou next.
Ngannou: I can't keep staying like this
Francis Ngannou hasn't fought since a first-round TKO win over Junior Dos Santos on June 29, and he's frustrated. He said that despite a recent meeting with UFC brass, he doesn't know when or against whom he'll fight next.
Jairzinho Rozenstruik repeatedly called him out last week, before and after his TKO win over Alistair Overeem on Saturday. Ngannou is ESPN's No. 3-ranked heavyweight, so don't expect him to get too excited about the unranked Rozenstruik.
"At this point, I don't have many options, so yes, I'm interested as long as I have a fight, I can fight," Ngannou said. "He made himself very clear and loud about his desire to fight me.
"I asked [UFC brass] about the title shot," Ngannou continued, "and they said they have a trilogy between [champion] Stipe [Miocic] and [Daniel Cormier], and they don't know exactly what's going to happen because (Miocic is recovering from an eye injury). So here we are."
Ngannou said it might be good to finish out his contract - he has three fights left - because then "I might have options. I can't keep staying like this."
Amanda Nunes wants to defend at 145 after Germaine de Randamie bout
"I want to keep doing things nobody has seen before," Nunes said during an appearance on Ariel Helwani's MMA Show. "I want to be the first one to defend the two belts."
Nunes wants to fight at featherweight after de Randamie bout
Amanda Nunes announces her intention for her next fight to be at featherweight after she takes on Germaine de Randamie this weekend.
Nunes also spoke about the Cris Cyborg rematch and why it ultimately didn't come to fruition.
Liz Carmouche still wants to fight. Is Bellator her next stop?
Carmouche: I was cut by UFC because I beat all the contenders
Liz Carmouche joins Ariel Helwani and elaborates on why she was cut from UFC.
Mitchell on how he pulled off the Twister submission
One of the highlights of Saturday's UFC Fight Night card in Washington D.C. was Bryce Mitchell's unlikely twister submission victory over Matt Sayles.
The Arkansas native earned his third straight UFC victory, but his method of victory was just the second such case of a twister ending a UFC fight, following "Korean Zombie" Chan Sung Jung's 2011 win over Leonard Garcia. It's a submission Mitchell's held in his back pocket for at least five years, after searching it out on the internet.
"Just seen it on YouTube," Mitchell told Helwani. "Eddie Bravo gives such a detailed description of how to do it, I mean, anybody can learn [it] on YouTube... Nobody believes me -- I get stuff on YouTube all the time."
Mitchell had never previously tried it in a fight, and didn't set out to try the move going into the fight, but the opportunity presented itself and flowed naturally into what he was already doing. Once Mitchell realized Sayles didn't know how to counter the move, he started to lock it in tighter and tighter.
"I've never, ever cranked into a twister that hard. If you cranked that hard into a twister in a gym, you oughta be kicked out of your gym," said Mitchell. "I was trying to break that dude's back.
"I'd never felt a twister with that much tension on it. I don't know what gives first -- it f---s your hips, your back and your neck up," said Mitchell. "His back felt like a big rubber band -- I felt resistance, but I felt myself pulling through the resistance. I felt tension, and then I felt it releasing, and I felt more tension and it just felt like I was tearing something."
Mitchell also offered a unique solution if Sayles was feeling any lingering effects from the move.
"I honestly think the best thing for him to do right now would be for him to let me twister the other side and so he would be all evened up," said Mitchell. "I'm no chiropractor, but I guarantee you he's got some crooked walk going on right now."
Aspen Ladd proud of her 2019 campaign
Aspen Ladd entered 2019 as an undefeated UFC fighter and did not make it through the year with her record unblemished. But despite suffering her first career loss in July, the 24-year-old says she is "extremely happy" with her year.
"Fought three times, headlined a card for the first time ever, didn't go my way, came back from it, had an excellent showing this past weekend," said Ladd (9-1), who beat Yana Kunitskaya by third-round TKO on Saturday. "So there's ups and downs. I learned some stuff. It was a successful year from my point of view."
As she heads into 2020, Ladd believes she has established herself as a bantamweight. She has had much-documented troubles making the 135-pound limit, most notably at a July weigh-in where she was shaking and unsteady on her feet. But her weight cut leading up to this past weekend, she said, "was one of the easier ones I've had."
That's not to say featherweight is out of the question.
"If the right fight comes up at '45, I'm completely game to take it," Ladd said. "But I am a '35er. ... I want to be able to fight in this weight class but have the opportunity to fight at '45 if I wish to as well, not just because I have to."
Volkanovski: After this fight, everyone is gonna know who I am
Volkanovski: I'm about to steal featherweight GOAT status
Alexander Volkanovski reveals that he thought he'd become UFC champion even way back when he was renting UFC tapes from Blockbuster in Illawarra.
When Max Holloway was first asked about Alexander Volkanovski early last year, Holloway admitted he didn't know who Volkanovski was. Few did at that point. But then Volkanovski beat Darren Elkins, knocked out Chad Mendes and took out Jose Aldo.
Now, Volkanovski is sure Holloway knows exactly who he is - the top contender for the UFC featherweight title. Holloway will defend his belt against Volkanovski in the co-main event of UFC 245 on Saturday in Las Vegas.
"I guarantee you he knows this is a tough fight," Volkanovski said Monday on Ariel Helwani's MMA Show. "He's a smart man. I believe there's levels to this game and I believe Max is up there, he knows the game and he knows why I've been so effective in my last fights. He knows the little things that I do and I do well. They're a smart camp, so they know they're in for a tough fight. They know I'm a big threat in areas, I guarantee you. And if they don't know, they're gonna be in for a rude shot."
Volkanovski (20-1) has won 17 in a row, all seven of his UFC fights and has not lost since 2013. He knows he hasn't gotten the push others have, citing his tactical nature and unwillingness to get into slugfests. This weekend, though, the confident Australian expects that all to change.
"After this fight, everyone is gonna know who I am," Volkanovski said. "They won't know until I take out the best. They try and say 'Blessed' is best. I'm gonna show them that he was the best for a while. Now it's my time."
Volkanovski, 31, said he has spent a lot of time away from his family for training camp in New Zealand and now in Las Vegas for fight week. He has not even considered the thought of returning Down Under without the UFC gold around his waist.
"A job needs to be done and I want to bring that early Christmas present back to my family," Volkanovski said. "That's what I'm gonna do. I spend too much time way from family to not win, mate. I refuse to lose. An early Christmas present is coming back to my family in Australia. Everyone back home that supported me, I'm gonna prove them right and I'm gonna prove the doubters wrong."
Terence Crawford focused on Saturday's fight and keeping his kids out of the ring
Crawford doesn't see a 2020 fight with Mayweather or Spence happening
Terence Crawford doesn't expect to ever fight Floyd Mayweather, and he doesn't see a fight with Errol Spence happening in 2020.
Terence Crawford headlines the Top Rank on ESPN card this Saturday night at Madison Square Garden, facing off against Egidijus Kavaliauskas with his WBO welterweight title on the line. He has high aspirations for a bigger fight in 2020, but knows he must get past his mandatory first.
"We can sit down and talk about who I want to fight and when I want to fight, but at the same time, I have to get past my mandatory first," said Crawford to Helwani. "I've got to see how business falls into place in the near future. But my main focus and my main objective is to go out there and get this victory."
Crawford unified the junior welterweight division before moving up to welterweight in 2018. At 35-0, he is considered one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world, but doesn't want his children to follow in his footsteps.
"I don't want him to do any one of those sports," Crawford said about his son, who is currently ranked No. 1 in the nation as a wrestler. "I don't want him to do MMA nor boxing nor football. I'm making the sacrifice right now for him to do something better with his life, that's less dangerous. He can do whatever he wants, but if he chooses to box or go down the MMA route, I will support him 120 percent."
To Crawford, the dangers of boxing have never been more front and center.
"It's heartbreaking to see any fighter get hurt in the ring, but at the same time for me I think it just drives me more to work even harder to where those type of things I can try to avoid by not getting hit as much, or finish a fight sooner than later," he said. "[I try to] be in the best shape that I can possibly be in. Just try anything and everything that I possibly can to make sure and try my best to get into certain situations."
With all the talk of Stipe Miocic and Jorge Masvidal wanting to box, Crawford said he's also open to having a MMA fighter come over to the squared circle.
"It just depends on the fighter and what they bring to the table. We can get it on if that's what [the fans] want to see."
Paul Felder has a four-fight plan
Paul Felder clearly isn't afraid of pressure. In fact, he's willing to put it on himself.
Felder, who will face Dan Hooker in the UFC Fight Night main event on Feb. 22, recently signed a four-fight extension with the UFC. The timing of the deal seems perfect for "The Irish Dragon," who is sizzling. He's won five of his past six fights, and a win over Hooker could vault him into lightweight title contention.
But Felder admitted on the Helwani Show, that it's now or never when it comes to competing for a title. Felder is 35 years old and said that if he can't get into championship contention, he's fine with stepping away from the Octagon when this deal expires.
"That's a lot of pressure to put on oneself," Helwani suggested.
"Or you can look at it the other way," Felder replied. "Look, this is my chance. I got my contract, I've got the fight I want, I got a main event. Things are lining up to get what I want. I just gotta go in there and pull it off.
"That's the easy part -- go in there and fistfight, right?"
Struve holds no grudge after controversial fight
Stefan Struve suffered an especially painful loss on Saturday night, falling to Ben Rothwell by second-round TKO after the bout was twice paused because of accidental groin strikes by his opponent. But the 7-foot Dutchman, who was returning after announcing his retirement earlier in the year, holds no grudge against either Rothwell or the much-maligned referee.
"I don't blame Ben for anything," said Struve (29-12). "I told him that. I sent him a message. I really don't believe he did it on purpose. No ill feelings toward him, but it definitely did change the course of the fight, in my opinion. I was totally in control."
That apparently was an opinion shared by referee Dan Miragliotta, who during the second pause in the action was heard telling Struve he was "probably winning both rounds." There were 90 seconds left in the second, and the telecast microphone picked up the ref telling Struve, "Last this round and see how you do."
Had Struve had opted not to continue at that point, the fight would have been declared a no contest.
Some fans and media members have criticized Miragliotta, saying he overstepped his duties and entered territory reserved for coaches and judges.
But Struve does not believe Miragliotta was in the wrong.
"I don't think he pushed me; he was just trying to give me info," said Struve. "A lot of people are talking a lot of smack about Dan doing that, but I've always liked him. He's reffed a lot of my fights, has always done well. I actually thought about it this afternoon. My really bloody fight in Germany [against Denis Stojnic in 2009], he was the referee and he let me continue at that point. I really think he meant the best with what he did."
Diego Sanchez wants Mike Tyson in his corner
Diego Sanchez is the longest tenured fighter in the UFC, having fought exclusively for the UFC since 2005, when he won "The Ultimate Fighter" Season 1 middleweight tournament.
But after a loss to Michael Chiesa in July at UFC 239, Sanchez took stock of his career and explored his options outside of the UFC. After consider bare knuckle boxing and ONE Championship, Sanchez ultimately decided to remain with the promotion and signed a new five-fight contract with the UFC.
Sanchez returns to the Octagon in February in his home state of New Mexico, taking on Michel Pereira as part of a UFC Fight Night card in Rio Rancho. One of the big questions Sanchez currently faces is that he has a limited team to work with. He departed long-time team Jackson Wink in the lead-up to the Chiesa fight, and Sanchez doesn't intend to expand his corner far beyond his mentor Joshua Fabia.
He did, however, extend an invite to a boxing legend, should he be free around that time.
"Shout out to Mike Tyson right now. If you want to work my corner in the next fight, I would love to have the legend Mike Tyson in the corner. If you ain't doing anything Feb. 15, OG Diego Sanchez needs a cornerman."
As for how long he plans to fight, Sanchez said that he feels his current contract should be a good measuring stick and that he'll base his future on how things stand once he reaches the end of the deal.
"I'm taking life one day at a time, living it moment for moment, appreciating every single human being that comes in my path. I'll go from there. I have everything I need, I'm well taken care of, set for life, and so I'm doing this for the passion of the platform. I'm going to do these last five fights in the UFC, and go from there. It's going to be two years from now, we'll see where I'm at. I'm going to be 40 years old. If it's time to hang it up, it's time to hang it up."
Kara-France says Cejudo finished at flyweight
Henry Cejudo was on a mission to save the flyweight division when he fought then-UFC bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw in January. But according to UFC flyweight Kai Kara-France, Cejudo might soon be exiting the division.
Kara-France, who is on an eight-fight win streak and faces Brandon Moreno at UFC 245, has become friends with Cejudo, the UFC's 125- and 135-pound champ. They've even talked about how they might square off for the flyweight title someday. That fight, however, likely won't happen as Kara-France said on the Helwani Show that Cejudo is planning a permanent move to bantamweight.
"From what he was saying, I don't think he's going to come back to fly," Kara-France said of a recent conversation with Cejudo. "He said I'm getting older, I can't keep doing these big weight cuts. He kind of was hinting he's going to stay at bantamweight. ... It's going to be interesting to see what happens to the [flyweight] division."