Two fighters looking for another chance were rewarded and two fresh faces made their mark on the latest episode of the Contender Series.
Middleweight Antonio Arroyo, heavyweight Don’Tale Mayes, bantamweight Ode Osbourne, and middleweight Brendan Allen were all given UFC contracts by president Dana White after scoring finishes on Tuesday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. The lone winner to miss out was Kevin Syler, who impressed in a decision victory, but failed to make weight for his featherweight bout.
In the main event, Arroyo (9-2) was getting a second chance to earn a Contender Series contract and he sealed the deal by submitting Stephen Regman (9-4) with an arm-triangle choke.
Arroyo’s last fight was on last year’s Brazilian edition of Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series and that experience was bittersweet as he picked up a win, but was left hanging as four other fighters on his card were added to the UFC roster.
This time, his strong submission skills assured that he would not be denied. In the standup, Arroyo exclusively used leg kicks to keep the hard-hitting Regman at bay, and though Regman had success getting Arroyo down, Arroyo’s defense allowed him to avoid submissions and get back to his feet.
That was a key factor in round two when Arroyo clipped Regman with a high kick that knocked Regman down. He had Regman in survival mode, then avoided an armbar attempt to end up in top position. From there, he worked his way into position for an arm-triangle choke that he secured at the 3:31 mark of the second round.
Osbourne’s (8-2, 1 NC) slick striking was giving Armando Villareal (5-2) problems, but like Arroyo, it was a submission that sealed the deal. “The Jamaican Sensation” used his length and reach well to keep space between himself and Villareal, but Villareal eventually connected with a takedown about three minutes into the round.
With time ticking down, Villareal tried to posture up, only to have his arm captured by Osbourne. It wasn’t long before Villareal was shouting a verbal submission.
The official time of the stoppage was 4:39 into round one.
The third time was the charm for Tale Mayes (7-2). After two previous Contender Series appearances (Mayes lost to Allen Crowder the first time and defeated Mitchell Sipe the second time), Mayes punched his way to the UFC with a buzzer-beating finish of Ricardo Prasel (10-2).
Mayes had a speed and movement advantage over Prasel, making it difficult for the taller Prasel to initiate the grappling. Prasel’s takedown attempts were well defended and Mayes was able to consistently score with strikes in close. As time wound down in the opening round, Mayes closed the distance before landing a clean left hand that put Prasel down against the cage. A few follow-up punches later, the fight was over with just one second remaining in round one.
He may have struggled with the scale, but Bolivia’s Syler (9-0) picked up a convincing unanimous decision (30-27, 30-26, 30-26) win over Lance Lawrence (5-1) with busy striking and superior grappling.
A day after coming in 6.5 pounds over the featherweight limit, Syler did what he could to make up for the gaffe by piecing Lawrence up on the feet with combinations in the early going. Syler also mixed in takedowns to show off his all-around game, punishing Lawrence with ground-and-pound from top position.
Lawrence’s resilience was on full display as he slipped out of an ankle lock at the end of round two and actually ended up on the offensive in the closing seconds of that frame. With his face bloody and a large hematoma over his left eye, Lawrence went for broke in round three and took the fight to a tiring Syler. After being taken down, Syler was able to reverse him and eventually move to Lawrence’s back where he punched away from back position to stay ahead on the scorecards.
Allen (12-3) entered his fight as one of the biggest favorites on the card and he didn’t disappoint. Aggressive from the start, Allen dropped his hands and beckoned opponent Aaron Jeffery (6-2) to come at him. Jeffery, the first Canadian to compete on the Contender Series, obliged and soon the two were jockeying for position against the cage.
It was Allen who proved to be the superior grappler as he achieved an early back take that Jeffery was able to slip out of. Allen stuffed Jeffery’s takedown attempts and then found an opening for a knee up the middle that dropped Jeffery. Another back take led to Allen securing a rear-naked choke that ended the fight 3:23 into round one.
Abel Trujillo is facing serious charges stemming from an arrest that occurred last May.
The former UFC fighter has been charged with obscenity and sexual exploitation and is currently in custody at a detention facility in Douglas County, Colo., per online inmate records. Trujillo’s charges were first reported by TSN, who noted that the 35-year-old was arrested in Broward County, Fla. He was later extradited and booked in Colorado on June 16.
Douglas County Sheriff’s Department
Though the sensitive nature of the charges prohibit details from being released to the public, sexual exploitation of a child in the state of Colorado is defined as “possessing, producing or distributing sexually explicit material (pornography) involving a child under 18,” while an obscenity charge is defined as “the wholesale promotion of obscenity to a minor if, knowing its content and character, such person wholesale promotes to a minor or possesses with the intent to wholesale promote obscene materials to a minor.” (h/t TSN)
Both charges are considered Class 6 penalties in Colorado, and carry a minimum penalty of one-year imprisonment and/or a $1,000 fine. The maximum penalty is 18 months and a/or a $100,000 fine.
Trujillo’s bond has been set at $10,000. His next court appearance is set for Thursday.
From December 2012-December 2017, Trujillo competed 11 times for the UFC, compiling a 6-4 record with one no contest. After parting ways with the promotion, he was next scheduled to fight Will Brooks at an upcoming Battlefield FC event in Macau on July 27. It was later announced he would be replaced by Gleison Tibau.
Trujillo has a criminal history. In 2012, he twice pleaded guilty to domestic abuse assault causing bodily injury, and in 2007, he pleaded guilty to obstruction of an emergency communication. (h/t Bloody Elbow)
Ericka Almeida fought twice under the UFC banner in 2015.
Ericka Almeida, a former Jungle Fight strawweight champion who fought twice under the UFC banner in 2015, accused her ex-coach Herman Gutierrez of assault. Almeida’s sister, Ellen Almeida, has also pressed charges against him for assault. Brazilian TV show Fantastico reported the news on Sunday night.
Ericka was 17 when she started working at Gutierrez’s gym in Sorocaba as a receptionist in 2007. Gutierrez, who was 38 at the time, was married to another woman when they started a relationship.
According to Ericka, the aggressive behavior started some time after. For any reason, like wearing makeup, Gutierrez would verbally and physically assault her, she said. The former UFC fighter says Gutierrez would often push her and hit her with kicks or elbows.
Ellen, who didn’t know her sister was also having a relationship with the coach, started dating him after joining the team to train. She also accuses Gutierrez of assault. In her diary, she wrote at the time that “every single month one of us gets beat up. Almost every single day he threatens us.”
Fantastico aired a recorded phone call between Ericka and Gutierrez, from 2017, in which he can be heard calling her a “b****,” saying he was being expelled from the team, and asking Almeida when she didn’t “deserve” to get hit.
Photo via Fantastico
Almeida recorded a video after one of the alleged assaults.
Later that year, Ericka says she was assaulted after Gutierrez saw that she was texting with friends in a group chat on the phone. With a bloody face, Almeida recorded a video on her phone saying, “Nobody deserves this, nobody. I never thought this would happen to me. But if something happens, it was Herman who came to my home to do this.”
Fantastico showed Gutierrez the video. He denies doing that to Almeida, and questions why she never pressed charges against him before. Almeida says she was afraid that something would happen to her family.
A friend convinced Ericka to finally tell her parents about the situation, break up with Gutierrez and then move to another city. Now living in Curitiba and engaged to another man, Almeida decided to press charges against Gutierrez. Almeida’s lawyer wants Gutierrez to be charged with attempt murder.
Speaking with the police, Gutierrez denied the assaults but confirmed he had a relationship with her. In an interview with Fantastico, he denied both the assaults and the relationship. After hearing the aforementioned phone call audio, Gutierrez covered the TV camera and ended the interview.
Almeida signed with the UFC in 2015 after winning and defending the Jungle Fight strawweight belt, improving to 7-0 as a professional fighter. She came up short under the UFC banner, losing decisions to Juliana Lima and Aisling Daly. Three months after a split decision defeat to Virna Jandiroba in Brazil in April 2017, Almeida returned to the win column with a first-round TKO over Luciane Silva. She hasn’t fought since.
When Georges St-Pierre retired, the former two division champion said that a big part of his decision came down to not getting the opportunity to face Khabib Nurmagomedov in a fight that could secure his legacy as arguably the greatest mixed martial artist of all time.
St-Pierre already accomplished a lot during his career with the longest welterweight title reign in history along with winning the middleweight belt in a fight against Michael Bisping in 2017.
The Canadian superstar hoped to become the first fighter to ever win titles in three division by facing Nurmagomedov with the lightweight title on the line but the UFC wasn’t interested in making his dream become a reality.
UFC president Dana White has stated several times that he wasn’t going to make the fight and it seems a past promise broken by St-Pierre is the root cause of his disinterest.
“Well there’s two things — first of all, who doesn’t love Georges St-Pierre? Love Georges St-Pierre, the best ever as far as human beings, great guy, love him. Georges St-Pierre and I had a deal, he was going to fight [Michael] Bisping at 185 pounds and if he won, he would defend the title. He bailed on that. Didn’t do it,” White told TSN recently in Canada. “So you can’t just come out and hand pick fights that you want for titles.”
When St-Pierre previously returned after a nearly four year long hiatus, he wanted a shot at the middleweight title but said that he would stick around to defend the belt if he was successful in his bid to win the championship.
St-Pierre took care of Bisping with a third round rear naked choke submission but then 34 days later he relinquished the belt citing health issues that would prevent him from defending the title in a timely fashion.
Part of the problem St-Pierre dealt with in the aftermath of that fight was a bout of colitis, an internal condition he believes was partially caused by adding so much weight to his body so he could compete at 185 pounds.
Regardless, White gave him the opportunity to fight for the middleweight title under the precondition that he would stick around to defend the belt and that never happened.
“He made this deal with me that he would defend the title,” White explained. “He went in and he saw Bisping as an easy fight. He fought Bisping and then you look at the guys that are behind Bisping and they’re all killers. They’re all literally killers.
“But now to come back and he wants to fight at 155 for the title. We’re not doing a goofy 165 [pound] whatever, that’s not going to happen.”
As much as he doesn’t want the fight to take place, White admits if Nurmagomedov pushed for it hard enough, he would have to at least consider giving the undefeated Russian the fight against St-Pierre but it’s not something he ever intends on doing.
Add to that, the list of contenders lining up in the lightweight division seems to grow every week, which means Nurmagomedov already has plenty of competition to face at 155 pounds without St-Pierre skipping the line.
“I guess if I get into a position where Khabib the champ wants it bad enough, we’re going to have to talk about it but at the end of the day it doesn’t make sense to me,” White said. “You have other guys lined up behind him. You’re just asking me if Tony Ferguson is going to get a shot. We’ll give you a shot after Georges St-Pierre slides in at 155 and gets his shot. Then you’ve got Conor [McGregor] who wants a rematch.
“There’s guys backed up that want to fight in that division. You can’t come back out of retirement and hand pick fights that you want when you didn’t even keep your word with me on defending the  pound belt. Have I made that clear?”
Bellator champion Julia Budd wants a bigger challenge next — and by bigger, she means literally bigger.
The featherweight queen defended her title with a first-round TKO win over Olga Rubin in the main event of Bellator 224 last Saturday in Thackerville, and droppedGabi Garcia’s name in her post-fight interview.
Garcia, 6-0 as a professional MMA fighter, usually competes in heavyweight or openweight fights at Rizin. The Brazilian grappler, a multiple-time world champion in jiu-jitsu, is 6-foot-2 tall and weighed in at 226 pounds for her last MMA bout, a first-round submission win over Barbara Nepomuceno in December.
“She’s talking about the size difference, saying that I’m a challenge for her, but no, it’s a challenge for me,” Garcia told MMA Fighting. “She’s undefeated since 2011, has way more experience than me. I didn’t even think about fighting MMA back in 2011. She’s faced great names in the sport, so fighting her is a big challenge for me.”
Garcia, who has fought at light heavyweight bouts before, would expect to have a 40-pound advantage over Budd if the fight is booked at 205 pounds — with Budd coming in weighing around 175 pounds. With the talks of a potential Bellator vs. Rizin card by the end of the year in Japan, Garcia hopes she gets the chance to face the Bellator queen by then.
“Forty pounds is a lot, but if she’s asking for that… Careful what you wish for,” Garcia said. “I never called anyone out, she’s the one asking for this fight. I’ll fight her tomorrow. I respect her a lot, but she has no idea what she’s asking for.”
The only roadblock that would stop Garcia from fighting Budd sooner than December would be the weight, if she had to make the 205-pound limit for it. Not even an injury she suffered recently, a right knee LCL tear, will prevent her from competing — she recently won the IBJJF Pan-American championship and a grappling match at Fight 2 Win despite the injury.
“I’ve been working on my striking every day despite the injury because that’s what I need to evolve at,” Garcia said. “I train boxing and muay thai every single day, and I’m also working more on my wrestling now. She’s a great fighter, but I’m sure I’d beat her.”
“Every day there’s a girl calling me out, and I’m happy with that,” she continued. “I respect Julia a lot. She’s a great fighter and is always in shape. She’s checking my Instagram stories every day… I guess she’s my No. 1 fan now [laughs].”
Garcia would expect the weight difference to be an advantage for her in terms of punching power — “My strikes are definitely heavier than hers, and I’d have an advantage if I can take her to the ground” —, but a disadvantage in terms of speed — “I’ve trained a lot with Cris (Cyborg) and when I throw a five-strike combo she responds with a 15-strike combo, so she’ll move way faster than me”.
“I don’t think she has punching power to knock me out,” Garcia said. “I’m not scared of her. I chose to be a fighter so I really want to fight her. She’s being very respectful in her callout, but she wants to make he name against me and that won’t happen. She made a mistake by asking for this fight. She thinks it’s gonna be easy. If I land a punch, I think she goes down.”
Welsh middleweight John Phillips will look to end a run of three consecutive losses in the Octagon when he faces Macedonia’s Alen Amedovski at UFC Copenhagen on Sept. 28.
UFC announced the fight via social media on Tuesday.
Phillips (21-9-0) is still searching for his first UFC win since signing for the promotion. Hugely popular among U.K. and Irish fans, the former BAMMA champion has yet to showcase the knockout power that has becoming his calling card in Europe after suffering defeats to Charles Byrd, Kevin Holland and most recently, countryman Jack Marshman. “The White Mike Tyson” boasts wins over former European champions Chris Fields, Cheick Kone and former UFC fighter, Charlie Ward.
Amedovski (8-1-0) came up short in his UFC debut when he faced experienced Polish campaigner, Krzysztof Jotko, which resulted in the first loss of his professional career. Ahead of his UFC signing, he banked two wins under the Bellator banner. Most notably considering his next assignment, Amedovski handed Phillips’ SBG training partner Will Fleury his first defeat via first-round stoppage when they clashed at Bellator 203 in July.
Darren Till has remained tight lipped about whether his future will remain at welterweight or if he will move up to middleweight following two consecutive stoppage losses to Tyron Woodley and Jorge Masvidal — the first two losses of his professional career.
Till has missed the welterweight limit on two occasions in eight outings for the UFC. Talk of his move to middleweight began to generate a lot of interest following his failure to hit the scales at 171-pounds ahead of his hometown main event at UFC Liverpool against Stephen Thompson.
In the early hours of Tuesday morning, “The Gorilla” posted a photograph to Instagram from Brazil along with the caption: “Come den motherf*cking middleweights”.