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Count Ben Askren among the parties interested in a potential celebrity showdown between Justin Bieber and Tom Cruise.

Speaking to TMZ, Askren agreed Bieber vs. Cruise would be a big fight for the UFC. And if the fight does come to fruition, Askren has already made his pick.

“I’m going to say Tom Cruise wins. Justin Bieber seems like a wimp,” Ben Askren said. “I’m gonna say Tom Cruise (wins). Like, Tom Cruise at least seems like he’s probably been through some sh*t.”

Askren was asked if he’d watch the fight, and he said he would.

“Someone told me Cruise is a great athlete, I don’t know if that’s true or false,” Ben Askren said. “But you’d watch it, I’d watch it. Fighting’s funny. There’s a lot of sports where if someone sucks, like in basketball, you don’t want to watch them. But there’s something about fighting that if they suck you would still watch.”

In fact, Askren went so far as to say he would even help Cruise train his wrestling for this potential bout.

“All I’d teach him is the double leg takedown and then he’d beat his ass,” Ben Askren said. “Little typewriter action on his face.”

You just knew that Askren — one of the most outspoken personalities on the UFC’s roster — would have a fun time with reporters when prodded about this potential fight. As ridiculous as the notion of Bieber vs. Cruise is, Asken agrees with UFC president Dana White that as ridiculous as the fight is, it’s still a money fight.

“That would make a whole bunch of money,” Askren said.

For now, though, Ben Askren certainly has bigger fish to fry at the moment. The former Bellator and ONE Championship welterweight champion makes his Octagon debut at UFC 239 on July 6 opposite top contender Jorge Masvidal. Should Askren win the fight, he could very well earn a title shot against UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman later this year.

Do you agree with Ben Askren that Tom Cruise would beat Justin Bieber?

The post Ben Askren calls Justin Bieber a wimp appeared first on | BJPenn.com.

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There will be no hiccups this time around in regards to UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones securing a fight license for his UFC 239 matchup against Thiago Santos.

According to a report from ESPN’s Marc Raimondi, Jones will officially be licensed on Wednesday by the Nevada State Athletic Commission. The commission’s executive director himself Bob Bennett confirmed the news to ESPN.

Jon Jones last competed in Nevada at UFC 235 in March against Anthony Smith. But he fought that contest on a conditional one-fight license. Jones agreed to enhanced drug testing as part of that conditional deal with the NSAC.

The ESPN report says that Jones complied with the NSAC’s drug testing requirements and passed all of his drug tests. That’s why Jones, according to Bennett, will be given a license for the remainder of 2019. According to Bennett, ‘Bones’ passed all of the NSAC’s drug tests, plus drug tests from VADA and USADA. Therefore, Bennett said Jon Jones will not even need to be present at his licensing hearing on Wednesday.

The full quote from Bennett states that Jones has “been a consummate professional and given his full cooperation.”

Notably, Bennett confirmed that Jones’ recent drug tests have still actually detected minuscule amounts of turinabol, which is the drug that Jon Jones tested positive for back in August 2017 following his head kick KO win over Daniel Cormier at UFC 214. These same picograms were what kept Jones from fighting against Alexander Gustafsson in Nevada at UFC 232 back in December, with the fight being shifted from Las Vegas to Los Angeles at the last minute. However, the NSAC believes that Jones is still experiencing a pulsing effect and therefore does not believe he is still using banned substances, which is why he is getting his license.

With less than two weeks to go, the main event UFC 239 looks to be a go.

Does Thiago Santos stand a chance against Jon Jones at UFC 239?

The post Jon Jones Licensed For UFC 239 appeared first on | BJPenn.com.

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Earlier today, BJPenn.com reported that UFC President Dana White is working with the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) to get the lone loss on Jon Jones’ record — a 2009 disqualification to Matt Hamill — expunged. UFC commentator Joe Rogan is in full support of this plan from the UFC boss.

This controversial loss, which Rogan was cage-side for, occurred after Jones stapled Hamill to the canvas with a series of spearing, 12-6 elbows. Because this move was and still is illegal, Jones was handed a disqualification, despite the fact that he had absolutely dominated Hamill.

Speaking on Twitter in response to BJPenn.com’s article on the topic, Joe Rogan explained why he believes Jones’ record should be cleared of this loss, in place of a no-contest at the very least. In his eyes, the rule outlawing 12-6 elbows resides amongst the dumbest in combat sports  — which is definitely saying something.

I’m in agreement with this 100%. The 12-6 elbow rule is one of the dumbest rules in combat sports. At the very least that fight should be a no contest. He was completely dominant.

— Joe Rogan (@joerogan) June 25, 2019

“I’m in agreement with this 100%,” Joe Rogan wrote on his official Twitter account. “The 12-6 elbow rule is one of the dumbest rules in combat sports. At the very least that fight should be a no contest. He was completely dominant.”

After several turbulent years that saw him stripped of more than one UFC title, Jon Jones is now once again the UFC light heavyweight champion. The dynamic American reclaimed the title with a December TKO over long-time rival Alexander “The Mauler” Gustafsson, and has since defended it with a lopsided decision defeat of Anthony Smith.

Jones is now scheduled to defend his title opposite Thiago Santos in the main event of UFC 239, which goes down during International Fight Week, this July 6 in Las Vegas. From the sounds of it, he could enter the cage with Santos as an undefeated fighter, and Joe Rogan would be more than happy to acknowledge him as such during his cage-side commentary.

This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 6/25/2019.

The post Joe Rogan believes Jon Jones’ only loss should be overturned appeared first on | BJPenn.com.

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UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones has recently traded quite a bit of trash talk with interim middleweight champion Israel Adesanya, but he’s not sure he’d be willing to fight him. Jones’ next opponent Thiago Santos, however, would relish the chance to fight Adesanya, even if it meant dropping back down to the middleweight division.

In fact, Thiago Santos says he has had a few encounters with Israel Adesanya in the past, and they haven’t been particularly pleasant.

”I’d love to beat up Adesanya,” Santos told the media in Brazil recently (via MMA Fighting). “I don’t think he’s a nice guy. I would love to fight him. I don’t know, the times I’ve met him… I don’t know, we didn’t get along. The energy, I don’t know. I can’t explain. Same thing with (Michael) Bisping. I’m like that, I feel the person’s energy. I have nothing to say about him. If he’s a bad person or not, I don’t know. But we didn’t get along.”

If Thiago Santos were to meet Israel Adesanya in the cage, he’s confident he’d be able to defeat him. That being said, this is not a fight he’s thinking about for the moment. His focus is glued exclusively to the massive test ahead in Jon Jones.

“As a fighter? He’s talented, he has a gift,” Santos said of Adesanya. “I can’t say a thing about that. But I don’t think he can take it against me. He can’t handle someone who hits him hard, who doesn’t fall for his games. His fight with Anderson [Silva], you can see he’s not that big of a deal.

”But that’s something to think about down the line, I can’t think about it now. I have to think about Jon Jones. I think that, if things go right against Jon Jones and I win, I might unify both [division’s] belts.”

Does a future fight between Thiago Santos and Israel Adesanya interest you? Who do you think would win?

This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 6/25/2019.

The post Thiago Santos would ‘love to beat up Adesanya’ appeared first on | BJPenn.com.

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Eryk Anders did not expect to fight this soon.

The 32-year-old is coming off of a brutal decision loss to Khalil Rountree at UFC 236 where he was knocked down several times. But, when the call came to step in on short notice to take on Vinicius Moreira at UFC Minneapolis, it was an easy decision for the former Alabama football star.

“Man, I am down to fight anybody, anywhere. It is just as easy to step in on short notice at 205 as I don’t have to cut much weight,” Anders told BJPENN.com. “Usually, they make you sit down for a little bit after a loss. I didn’t think I would be fighting so soon. I was going to lobby for the San Antonio card. Before they even announced San Antonio they offered me this fight so I take what they give me.”

Given it was short notice, Eryk Anders didn’t have the opportunity to train at Factory X with Marc Montoya and all their fighters. Rather, he did the training camp in Alabama with UFC heavyweight Walt Harris. “Ya Boi” believes he will be much stronger in this fight after drilling with a heavyweight for weeks.

“It’s good to work with a guy that is bigger than you, stronger than you,” he explained. “It is really good to sharpen the skills. Just feeling the weight, and wrestle around with him. He has hands and footwork, too, so it has been awesome.”

But, taking on Vinicius Moreira will be no easy task. The Brazilian has very good jiu-jitsu, and Anders knows that the only way he loses this fight is if he gets caught by a submission. Yet, that is not how he sees it playing out.

“He will be desperate for the takedown, but he doesn’t try to until at least halfway through the first round,” he said. “If I find my distance early it will be a short night for him. I definitely see myself getting him out there by knockout or TKO. I am conformable anywhere even if I have to work off my back.”

Eryk Anders, who is on a three-fight losing streak, understands just how important this fight is to win. He knows he can’t lose four in a row.

“You know every fight is important. It is good for me to get back into the win column,” Anders said. “I hate losing more than I like winning so I think obviously it would be great to collect a full cheque too.”

In the end, Eryk Anders is confident he leaves Minneapolis with a win and believes this is the start of a winning streak. Who do you think will win the fight between Anders and Moreira at UFC Minneapolis?

This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 6/25/2019.

The post UFC Minneapolis | Eryk Anders expects to KO Vinicius Moreira to get back into win column appeared first on | BJPenn.com.

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“I pulled out of the fight. I didn’t even wanna be here, I didn’t wanna train. I was in a bad way…panic attacks getting sick…and now I’m back, now I’m winning.”

As I watched a very relieved James Gallagher retell his experience of severe panic attacks in the weeks leading up to his victory over Jeremiah Labiano at Bellator London 223, I was reminded once again of the fine line between success and failure, and the vital role that mental health plays in not only the outcome of a fight, but life.

While the driven 22-year-old from Strabane, Northern Ireland did not allow his demons to drive him from the sport he so loves, in part due to the timely support received from SBG coach John Kavanagh and team alike, I couldn’t help but imagine a very different outcome.

Had Gallagher, overwhelmed by the sudden waves of panic, stuck to his initial knee-jerk reaction to pull out of the fight, it is likely that the upward trajectory of his career would have taken a serious blow.

While such a late cancellation of a main card bout would have left Bellator head honchos unimpressed, not to mention deeply concerned about Gallagher’s reliability going forward if the truth behind his decision was revealed, the real threat to the longevity of his career would have been much closer to home — himself.

If stepping into the Octagon following two weeks of severe panic was difficult, attempting to return following a decision to pull out of this fight would have been the more daunting experience.

Instead, having pushed through the immeasurable discomfort that only someone who has experienced the vice grip of panic can understand, the ‘Strabanimal’ has now a positive marker to which he can refer if his anxiety flares in the lead up to another fight — one in which he faced his fears, fought (and won) when feeling at his worst.

Post-fight, sporting designer sunglasses and a wine denim jacket, Gallagher presented to the media as light years away from a man who had, in his own words, “lost control”, as he confidently discussed his next fight at the 3 Arena in Dublin, which he will headline for a second time this year.

With that in mind, it would have been easy for the featherweight to have never acknowledged his gunshot reaction to pull out of the fight, nor the terror he experienced in its lead up, which left his body so ragged that he needed to be carried out of the SBG gym on more than one occasion.

Difficulties with one’s mental health, while now more openly discussed in the general public, are still widely viewed as somewhat taboo in combat sports.

While the frankness of boxing’s lineal heavyweight champion Tyson Fury and his struggles with depression have sparked conversation within the fight game regarding mental health, it can still be perceived as a chink in a fighter’s armour by not only a fighter’s opponent, but the public themselves – something which James Gallagher is all too aware of.

“Everyone’s gonna look and say ‘that’s a weak mind – he’s broke’,” He opined, “But I’ve got the strongest mindset in the f*cking game, and I’m going straight to the top.”

Gallagher’s suspicion that many will align his fear with weakness is further validated by professional boxer Anthony Joshua’s response to rumors that a panic attack had been at the root of his disquieting and uncharacteristic downcast demeanor upon entering the ring in his defeat to Ruiz earlier this month.

“I warmed up really well. I had no panic attack – I’m not that type of person, you know me.” He asserted in a self made video released days after his defeat to the Mexican.

When I heard the former heavyweight champion’s assertion that he was not the type of person to experience a panic attack, my heart sank.

While I’m sure Anthony Joshua didn’t intend to indirectly imply that only a weak individual would find their body overpowered by panic, I couldn’t help but feel that many sufferers would interpret it as just that.

This is a shame, given that anxiety and panic do not discriminate, ignorant to a person’s financial or societal status.

As we have seen with James Gallagher, a talented and handsome young man excelling in a sport he adores, everyone is vulnerable.

Panic is quite possibly the most debilitating emotion that a person can experience, and without the appropriate treatment and help, can severely impact the quality of a person’s life. The strength that it takes to sit with such feelings, and pursue your dreams despite their presence, is immeasurable.

Three months give or take out from his next bout, it is certain that in the weeks ahead, James Gallagher will scour within and assess with both his coaches and family in an effort to unearth the root cause of the visceral reaction he experienced.

Whatever the reason, I have no doubt that he will not allow such feelings to dictate his future. After all, his panic has now lost the two elements that gave it oxygen – that of surprise and power.

If I was ever sure that the young Irishman who has in many ways grown up in Conor McGregor’s shadow was set to be a World Champion, it is now. And so as The Notorious one once told ESPN’s Ariel Helwani

“Don’t be hatin.”

This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 6/25/2019.

The post James Gallagher gives the middle finger to panic appeared first on | BJPenn.com.

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Leave it to Ben Askren to go big-game hunting.

At the UFC 239 pre-fight press conference, Askren was asked who his ideal next three opponents were. The first name he listed was Jorge Masvidal, who he fights at UFC 239 on July 6 in Las Vegas. The second name was Kamaru Usman, the UFC welterweight champion. And the third name was the Canadian legend himself, Georges St-Pierre.

“Jorge Masvidal, Marty Usman, and Georges St-Pierre,” Askren said when asked by reporters who his three next ideal opponents were (video via MMAWeekly.com).

Ben Askren, who had a successful Octagon debut back at UFC 235 with a first-round submission win over Robbie Lawler, was involved in the first-ever trade in mixed martial arts late last year when ONE Championship sent him to the UFC in exchange for Demetrious Johnson. Askren has fought almost all of his MMA career in ONE and Bellator and has never had the opportunity for big-money fights like he has now in the UFC.

Although GSP recently retired from the sport, you can’t blame Askren for calling him out. For Askren, not only is this a big-money fight, but it’s also his dream matchup.

“Georges St-Pierre,” Askren replied when asked who his top fantasy matchup would be in the history of MMA.

Ben Askren (19-0, 1 NC) is undefeated in MMA since making the transition to the sport from collegiate wrestling back in 2009. After a decade of fighting for ONE and Bellator, Askren has immediately become a star for the UFC, and the promotion has taken notice as it’s given him two high-profile matchups against Lawler and Masvidal in his first two UFC fights. With Colby Covington — the assumed No. 1 contender — now taking on Lawler at UFC Newark, a big win over Masvidal would give Askren the presumed upper-hand to fight Usman for the belt later this year. And if he gets by Usman, you better believe he’ll be back to calling out GSP for a superfight between two of the best MMA wrestlers ever.

Would you be interested in a potential Ben Askren vs. Georges St-Pierre fight?

This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 6/25/2019.

The post Ben Askren calls out Georges St-Pierre appeared first on | BJPenn.com.

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Former boxing heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko is lucky to be alive after his yacht caught fire in Mallorca, Spain on Monday.

Klitschko detailed this harrowing ordeal in a recent post to Twitter, complete with a short video.

Be careful what you wish for: fate took my wish for “some #adrenalin” a bit too literally and our boat-trip Sunday night ended up in our boat #igniting and family & friends being evacuated by coast guard and fire rescue-team. No worries: we are all fine! #theroofisonfire #songpic.twitter.com/sGN7xfG5JM

— Klitschko (@Klitschko) June 25, 2019

“Be careful what you wish for,” Wladimir Klitschko wrote in his Twitter post (h/t Sporting News).

“Fate took my wish for ‘some adrenalin’ a bit too literally and our boat trip Sunday night ended up in our boat igniting and family and friends being evacuated by coast guard and fire rescue team.

“No worries: we are all fine!”

Spain’s Maritime Rescue Service verified to The Associated Press that it did respond to an emergency call involving nine people on Monday, but could not confirm that the boxer and his compatriots were the ones being rescued.

Wladimir Klitschko has not fought since April of 2017, when he was stopped in the eleventh round of a back-and-forth war with Anthony Joshua, who has since relinquished the title he won that night. In his next most recent bout, the Ukrainian heavyweight lost a decision to “The Gypsy King” Tyson Fury, who is still the lineal champion.

After these back-to-back losses, Klitschko retired from boxing with a 64-5 overall record. He competed in a whopping 29 world title fights.

This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 6/25/2019.

The post Wladimir Klitschko rescued from burning yacht in Spain appeared first on | BJPenn.com.

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CBD is making waves in professional sport. The legalization of Marijuana in different states is opening doors for business, especially for companies who are eager to capitalize off new sponsorship opportunities. Many of these business prospects are popping up in the MMA world, and Bellator is leading the way. This week they announced a multi-year, exclusive partnership with cbdMD, Inc.

The MMA promotion is joining forces with the American registered cannabinoid (CBD). As a result, cbdMD will receive an array of integrated partnership assets such as category-exclusive branding inside the Bellator cage. CbdMD joins corporate powerhouses such as Monster Energy and Burger King who sponsor Bellator.

cbdMD Statement:

Caryn Dunayer, President of cbdMD released a statement:

“We’re excited to have our company represented in the cage alongside some of the fiercest competitors on the planet. Our partnership with Bellator and Viacom/Paramount will facilitate a unique opportunity to educate athletes and fans about the many benefits of CBD. We believe we’ve started a lasting relationship that will help push both industries into the future.”

Bellator Statement

The CEO of Bellator, Scott Coker said:

“I am pleased to welcome cbdMD to the Bellator family. As the sport of MMA continues to evolve, teaming up with innovative partners is equally important, and they are leading the way in a rapidly growing industry. I want to thank Hans Molenkamp, as well as the entire team at cbdMD for this great opportunity, and I look forward to their integration into the Bellator brand and introducing them to our passionate fans.”

This isn’t the first time an MMA organization has joined forces with a cannabis company. Earlier this year, the UFC made a lucrative sponsorship deal with Aurora Cannabis. The deal is rumoured to profit $15 million per year for the UFC over the next five years.

Sponsorships for Fighters

Many fighters also have their own sponsorships with cannabis companies and speak positively of the impacts. Bellator star Quinton “Rampage” Jackson recently said to Yahoo Finance:  “When I knew CBD works is when I had problems with my elbow… all the years of fighting, I couldn’t really do push-ups, and whenever I lifted weights, it was a big pain. Then I started taking CBDMD, and after a week I noticed less pain, and I could do a full push-up… I take my CBD supplements every day. I do the bath bombs, the creams, I do it all. I was sceptical at first, but it works.”

Future of CBD

There is still some resistance from companies who have been critical regarding a lack of regulation and clear labelling. For example, Acreage Holdings (CBD company) had a commercial that was rejected during the Superbowl by CBS. New scientific research is continually investigating the health implications of CBD, so there is still a level of scepticism within the corporate sphere.

However, as cultural and legal perceptions of cannabis change, the potential business opportunities will likely increase. This sponsorship deal between cbdMD and Bellator will definitely promote CBD product information and increase much-needed visibility of the cannabis industry.

This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 6/25/2019.

The post Bellator partners with cannabis company cbdMD appeared first on | BJPenn.com.

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Look over the impressive resume of Jon Jones, and you’ll spot only a single loss: a 2009 disqualification to Matt Hamill.

This DQ occurred after Jones hammered Hamill with a series of illegal, 12-6 downward elbows, and has been a subject of controversy among many fans ever since. The primary argument is that Jones absolutely decimated Hamill with a maneuver that should probably be legal anyway.

If UFC President Dana White has his way, this controversial loss will soon be overturned, and Jon Jones will be able to officially call himself an undefeated fighter.

The UFC boss dropped this interesting detail during an interview with ESPN Los Angeles, divulging that he is working with the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) to have this loss expunged from Jones’ record (h/t Omar Villa).

Dana White said on @ESPNLosAngeles radio he’s working with the Nevada State Athletic Commission to get Jon Jones’ only loss, DQ (illegal downward elbows) to Matt Hamill overturned. #UFC239

— Omar Villa- (@ohmar762) June 24, 2019

If White is successful, it doesn’t mean Jon Jones would suddenly have a win over Matt Hamill on his record, but that the fight will appear on both fighter’s records as a no-contest. This would be the second no-contest on Jones’ record, as he also had a 2017 knockout win over Daniel Cormier overturned when he failed a drug test.

After several turbulent years that saw him stripped of UFC titles more than once, Jon Jones is now once again the UFC light heavyweight champion. He reclaimed the title with a December TKO over long-time rival Alexander Gustafsson, and has since defended it with a decision defeat of Anthony Smith. He’s now scheduled to defend his title opposite Thiago Santos at UFC 239, on July 6 in Las Vegas. From the sounds of it, he could enter the cage with Santos as an undefeated fighter.

Do you think overturning Jon Jones’ 2009 disqualification loss to Matt Hamill is the right move?

This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 6/25/2019.

The post Report | Dana White attempting to get Jon Jones’ only loss overturned appeared first on | BJPenn.com.

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