A huge week for our MMANews.com Weekly Interview Round-Up! This week we check in with PFL flyweight Dakota Ditcheva after she punched her ticket to next season at PFL London, while PFL 2022 finalist Bubba Jenkins discusses a unique idea for fixing fighter pay.
On the UFC side, Misha Cirkunov pays tribute to Elias Theodorou, Daniel Rodriguez talks what’s next. Meanwhile, Heili Alateng looks to re-negotiate a new contract, and Brandon Royval tells us his plans for his October 15th bout against Askar Askarov.
Undefeated flyweight phenom Dakota Ditcheva punched her ticket to the big show with a R1 body-shot KO over Hassna Gaber. Fighting out of Manchester Top Team, the 3x Muay Thai World Champion talks to our own Curtis Calhoun about timeline for return, developing her grappling, and wanting to reach Kayla Harrison levels of stardom.
“Having an opportunity like this, obviously being the first girl in the flyweights… I feel like this is now my chance to… be a face in the PFL for the girls and push it up, following Kayla’s footsteps basically. That’s what I’m going to push to do basically. That’s always been my dream. To be an inspiration for a lot of other people… A lot of other women in the sport. So I feel like I’m in the right place to do that definitely. And with someone like Kayla to look up to, I know things are going to work out well for me.”
Former BRAVE Featherweight Champion Bubba Jenkins sits down with Curtis following his R1 RNC over Ryoji Kudo, which stamped his ticket to the PFL Finals this November. He talks preparing for specific opponents, time off before the finals, and floats his idea for improving fighter pay.
“I personally have tried to create my own app… called ‘Tip-a-Fighter’… I’m going to bring it back… I was thinking of a way for the crowd to tip. You tip a bartender, you tip a waitress, you tip the taxi driver on the way there. But then you get to the fight and some of these guys… the loser only gets half his check. Then he’s got to pay his camp, pay for his injuries.
“But we don’t tip those guys who probably won the fight, but the refs said they lost, but everyone in the crowd thinks they won… Holly Holm knocked out Ronda Rousey that night and everybody and their mom won $10,000. You could have tipped her $500. 1000 people tip her $500, and you’ve changed her night drastically just by showing your love for them.”
Our very own James Lynch sits down with Misha Cirkunov to talk upcoming bout with Alonzo Menifield, moving up in weight, and the need for a win in the last fight on his contract. Cirkunov rules out retirement, affirming his desire to continue to compete.
However, he acknowledges that he will have to retire eventually, but wishes to remain in the sport as a coach. He also pays a heartfelt tribute to the late Elias Theodorou, who Cirkunov described as a Candanian MMA pioneer.
“Elias was a great guy. Always happy, always positive. Every time he showed up to train, he always had good energy. It’s very unfortunate… Everyone in Canada obviously knows who he is. He made a big statement in the UFC here, representing Canada. He’s a Canadian MMA pioneer and unfortunately, he’s no longer with us. He had a cancer, and I believe he got diagnosed in February. September 11th, he lost his battle.”
We are all at MMANews.com deeply saddened by the loss of such a pioneer in the sport. Aaron Bronsteter said it best when he described Theodorou as one of very few people in the sport of whom nobody could say a negative word about.
Theodorou was a huge advocate of medical marijuana, and his family have asked for donations to The Theodorou Foundation and Higher Access in lieu of flowers. Theodorou founded both of these foundations to “help others facing barriers accessing hospital support and medical cannabis, without the resources that Elias was blessed with.”
UFC 279 standout, Alateng Heili talks his victory over Chad Anheliger, his time at Fight Ready, and his plans to stay active. He tells James that he has moved to Arizona full time, and while the time away from his family is difficult, but he has no intentions of returning home until he has a number beside his name.
He reveals his desire to sign a new contract when his current deal expires after his next bout. He’s also got his eyes on a bout with Sean O’Malley. However, he also wants to get back in action before December, so it seems like one or the other.
Daniel Rodriguez sits down to discuss UFC 279 switch-ups, Dana White‘s comments, and a return to action. “D-Rod” praises Kevin Holland for trying to ensure that, were Holland to take the fight against Chimaev, D-Rod wouldn’t be left without a sparring partner. In the end, D-Rod and Li Jingliang had an extremely competitive bout, with a controversial scorecard. Only two media members scored the bout for D-Rod, who reiterates that he thinks it could have gone either way.
“I felt like it was a close fight. It wasn’t that shocking… It was a close fight. Looking back on the numbers, yeah, he landed a couple more significant strikes in the first round but in the second and third, I [did]. He has a takedown scored, which in my opinion is not even a takedown. I head-kicked him and it was at the end of the round, so that shouldn’t even count. I pushed the pace, I was the one controlling the octagon, I was the one pressing the fight.”
Brandon Royval sits down with James ahead of his top five match-up against Askar Askarov in October. Royval has been calling for a bout against Askarov, and is excited to be fighting up, after fighting down in his last two bouts. Royval tells James
“I’m not a fan of his style at all, but he’s a worthy opponent and adversary. He’s been able to get the job done a lot of times. If I can go out there and finish him, it kinda cancels out and eases my mind about the Pantoja loss. I’m still very much not over that loss right now. It’ll ease my mind a little bit on that and maybe even [help me] campaign for the rematch.”
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