Breaking: TUF – Heavy Hitters cast revealed.

Premierieng on August 29th,  the highly anticipated 28th season of The Ultimate Fighter® will see UFC® middleweight champion Robert Whittaker coach opposite No. 4 ranked contender Kelvin Gastelum.

Following the series, which debuts Wednesday, August 29 on FS1, the two will clash for the middleweight title at a date that will be determined in the near future.

Continue reading “Breaking: TUF – Heavy Hitters cast revealed.”

BRAVE 13: Andy Young Interview – “The mental area is the most important out of anything”

On the 9th of June, Brave Combat Federation makes its European debut when it arrives to the SSE Arena, Belfast, Northern Ireland. This is a landmark occasion for the fast-growing promotion as it branches out for the first time into the continent.

Fitting for such a historic occasion, the card is packed with exciting fights as well as fan favorite names. In the main event we see bantamweight champion Stephen Loman (9-2) defend his belt in a rematch against highly touted SBG man Frans Mlambo (5-2), who looks to avenge his loss against Loman, this time hoping to walk away with a championship. In the Co-Main event we see Northern Ireland’s own and former UFC contender Norman Parke (24-6-1) take on Irish man Myles Price (10-6) in a very exciting lightweight match up.

Also on the card, we see two extremely entertaining fighters come head to head when Liverpudlian Bryan Creighton (8-6) takes on Belfast’s own Andy Young (11-10). While Creighton is coming off a 3 fight finish streak, Young is coming off a loss. However, it was to former top 5 UFC flyweight Ali Bagautinov who has beaten top fighters such as Tim Elliott, John Lineker and has fought current UFC flyweight champion Demetrius Johnson. With 11 Finishes between both fighters, this fight will surely live up to expectation and deliver a barn burner.

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The mental area is the most important out of anything, I will beat him there and take whatever I see to get the finish in this fight.”

After fighting one of the very best flyweights in Ali Bagautinov in Russia, Andy will be looking to get back to winning ways with a victory over rising British prospect Creighton. Andy is a dangerous fighter, both on the feet and on the ground, which we seen in an impressive victory over Dominic Wooding, a very hot young prospect, with a record of    3-0 (3 TKO) at BAMMA 28. Andy is currently 5-3 in his last 8 bouts, with 3 finishes. These wins include impressive performances over fighters such as Alexander Barabash and Aaron Aby. I caught up with Andy Young to get his thoughts on his upcoming opponent and how he feels to be fighting on such a huge card in his home town of Belfast.

Eamonn Scott: Andy, this is your first fight under the Brave banner. When exactly did you get the call about fighting for them and was there anything in particular that interested you the most about fighting for brave?

Andy Young: “I was contacted back in March about their plans to run a show in Belfast and to have me on it, I was thrilled to hear that BRAVE was coming to my home town, I heard a lot of great things about the promotion and how it’s run.”

ES: You make your return to your hometown in Belfast, which you have an excellent record in. What is it that’s so special about Belfast which also always seems to bring the very best out of you.

AY: “The energy of the people here is unrivaled! Belfast knows how to make some noise!  I get so much support and feel a real uplift getting to represent and get the win for them.”

ES: Northern Ireland has a thriving MMA scene at the minute. With fighters such as James Gallagher, Rhys McKee and Norman Parke, do you believe that this will only improve and how do you see the MMA scene in Northern Ireland at the minute?

AY: “It is scary to see how good the local scene is getting. The sport is becoming more and more popular and gaining great traction. There is a plethora of  talent, ability and skills in the new breed of upcoming mixed martial artists here, and for sure will only improve.”

ES:  You’re fighting against a very tough opponent in Bryan Creighton who himself is coming off an impressive 3 fight win streak. When this fight was proposed to you, what were your first thoughts on fighting Bryan?

AY: “I was excited to get an opponent who i know brings a great fight, he’s very game. well-rounded and likes to trade, so i know this will be fun!”

ES: You’ve fought top quality fighters in your career such as the former top 5 UFC contender in Ali Bagautinov. Do you thrive off facing the biggest names you can get?

AY: “There are a number of reasons to be in this sport, and one of the main factors is to compete against and be best in the world. I love and jump on the opportunities to do this.”

ES: Bryan has multiple wins by TKO, Sub and Decision, showing that he has skills in all departments. However, is there a particular area that you believe you can exploit and get the best over him in?

AY: “The mental area is the most important out of anything, I will beat him there and take whatever I see to get the finish in this fight.”

ES: How has this training camp gone for you? Is there anything specific that you have focused on in this camp and do you think you have improved it as much as you aimed to?

AY: “It has went great, I have made a few changes and stepped things up. It’s all about getting the right formula, I’ve enjoyed working all areas and getting a bit creative with things, it will all be on show 9th June.”

ES: You’ve been in this game for a while now, do you believe that you still have a lot to accomplish?

AY: “Yes, I want to be the very best version of myself in there and fully realise my potential. In addition, that UFC title will be in my hands by the end of my career.”

ES: Finally, if there’s one message you have for Bryan, what would it be?

AY: “Let’s put on a show and bring your best.”

This fight is surely going to live up to every expectation. With Andy young being the home town fighter, he is certainly going to receive an incredible atmosphere. Bryan Creighton will also be defending the best win streak of career, both fighters have a lot to defend in this epic Flyweight battle. SEE YOU THERE!

The Ultimate Fighters 5 Biggest Underachievers And What They’re Doing Now

The Ultimate Fighter has been the golden ticket to the UFC for many mixed martial artists. The show has produced some of the greatest fighters in UFC history and has made champions with the likes of Michael Bisping, TJ Dillashaw, Matt Serra, Forrest Griffin, Rashad Evans and Rose Namajunas, all originating from the show. The show has just finished filming its 27th series which is expected to be on your screens in the near future. So as you can imagine in 26 series’ the show has had its fair share of unimpressive fighters, I’m going to take you through 5 great fighters from the show who for some reason couldn’t make things click inside The Ultimate Fighter or inside the UFC.

5. Nick Osipczak

Season 9 of The Ultimate Fighter saw Team UK coached by former UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping, and Team USA coached by Dan Henderson, go head to head in a special nations version of the show. In team UK was Nick Osipczak. The Brit had accumulated a 3-0 professional record before appearing on The Ultimate Fighter. He won his first three fights and was going strong. In the semi-final, Osipczak lost to Demarques Johnson in a fight Dana White called “One of the greatest fights in TUF history”.

Osipczak defeated Frank Lester in the finale of the show and was given a UFC contract. Just five months later, Osipczak also defeated Matthew Riddle, and things were looking good for the Londoner. That was until three decisions went against Osipczak and he was cut from MMA’s greatest proving ground, so he decided to stop fighting. Nick opened up his own MMA school in 2011, and after 4 years made a return to professional fighting saying he felt reborn. Despite a first round rear naked choke victory over Kyle Redfearn in Milton Keynes, Osipczak never returned to fighting.

Now Osipczak concentrates on his art.  An avid painter, Nick was selected to be the In-House artist for one of London’s top Interior Design shops and made a documentary “Hitting the canvas with Nick Osipczak.”

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4. Mehdi Baghdad

Mehdi Baghdad had two stints in The Ultimate Fighter. The first time was in series 22. He came into the competition with a vast amount of experience, an impressive 11-3 record, and held two different titles at other organisations before appearing on the show. Victory over Artem Lobov was a great start for “The Sultan”, but he crashed out of the tournament with a terrible performance against Julian Erosa. However, Baghdad still had two fights for the UFC and lost them both to Chris Wade and John Makdessi.

Series 25 Redemption dropped, and Baghdad got his second chance, but a fired up Jesse Taylor was too much for “The Sultan”  who for a second time found his TUF days cut short. Baghdad has fallen off the radar since and has been silent regarding his future. I hope we one day see the Frenchman back inside the cage but I certainly would not count on it.

3. Hayder Hassan

Hayder Hassan, much like Mehdi Baghdad, also had two separate opportunities to impress in The Ultimate Fighter. BlackZillians vs American Top Team was his first shot. Lightning fast power puncher Hassan, fought his way to the finale where he lost to top welterweight contender Kamaru Usman by arm triangle. Hassan got a single shot in the UFC but another submission loss, this time to Vicente Luque, meant that Hassan’s UFC career was short-lived.

Series 25 Redemption was Hassan’s second chance too. An 18-second K.O over Joe Stevenson got many excited, but a fired up Jesse Taylor had other ideas and he submitted Hassan leaving the American out of the competition.

Hassan has not given up hope on his dreams. He now fights at Pheonix Fighting Championships in Dubai. He lost his debut via DQ after landing elbows to the back of the head, which was a little harsh. Hassan will have his second fight for Pheonix against Pavel Kushch in Dubai. No date has been set, but I look forward to following Hassan in his career.

Hayder Hassan

2. Jonathan Brookins

Jonathan Brookins came to The Ultimate Fighter with an 11-3 record and lived up to his own expectations. He made easy work of his opponents before winning the competition by beating Michael Johnson in the finale via decision. But despite winning the show, his UFC career was far from what we had become to expect from Brookins.

A loss in his first fight to Erik Koch seemed a minor setback as he returned with a sensational knockout victory over Vagner Rocha. The UFC chose not to renew Brookins contract after two back to back submission defeats to Charles Oliveira and Dustin Poirer.

The Ultimate Fighter winner was not done though, he is still fighting but in smaller organisations. A 3-4 record since his UFC departure is far from ideal for his fans, but they would be pleased with his recent victory over Decky Dalton at Bamma 28 back in February of last year.

1. Junie Browning

Junie Browning appeared on season 8 of The Ultimate Fighter. He only had a 2-0 record, but he showed great potential and looked like a future contender very early on. Antics inside the house meant Browning was on thin ice from the start with Dana. A complete lack of respect, boozing, and starting fights with everyone in a 3-mile radius, gave us quite the entertaining show. But this showed mental fragility in Browning’s head, who was quite clearly crying out for some sort of attention.

Browning impressively fought his way to the semi-final before losing to Efrain Escudero. Browning fought on the finale card against Dave Kaplan and won in great style. But, he lost his next fight to Cole Miller, which ended “The Lunatiks” reign in the UFC. Browning went on to fight Scott Cornwell at MMA Big Show. Browning went on to lose his next five fights and he gave up on his fighting career.

Browning has since moved back to his hometown Lexington, Kentucky and has taken a coaches job at 4 Seasons MMA with long-time friend and trainer Michael O’Donnell. In recent posts on Facebook, Junie has claimed he has found a true passion in “being alive”, and has taken to training the students. After four years away from the sport, Browning won a fight against Jeremy Myers in his hometown but has since gone off the radar.

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Well, that concludes our list, I hope you have enjoyed the article and look forward to many more seasons of The Ultimate Fighter!

Ryan Cambridge