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MMA buzz: WWE stars excited about Pereira-Hill and the growth of the sport

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As the year progresses, the news and rumors begin with updates on potential matchmaking, promotion news and fight locations in UFC, PFL, Bellator and more. So we'll cover it all here, with analysis and insights from our reporters and writers.

Check out our latest updates now and update regularly throughout the year to stay up to date.

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April 9: WWE stars and MMA winners are excited about UFC 300

Eddie Maisonet: Four of WWE's biggest stars just finished working at WrestleMania 40, but their previous work in MMA has them ready for another tough fight on Saturday night. CM Punk, Bobby Lashley, Shayna Baszler and Big E – all current WWE Superstars with MMA connections – sat down to give their perspectives on a historic UFC 300 card.

“A monster… I like to watch [Alex] Pereira,” said Lashley, who is 15-2 in MMA and 5-0 in Bellator. “I like his swing. His stroke is very gentle. But he hits hard and is a scary man to fight.”

Punk – who fought under his real name Phil Brooks in the UFC and compiled an 0-1 record, not competing at one point – is surprised by the feedback some fans have given to the top fight on the card.

“I hear criticism about, 'Oh, this isn't big enough to be the main event of UFC 300,' and I think people are absolutely crazy,” Punk said. “Of course I think people want Jon Jones and Stipe [Miocic]They want a heavyweight title. But if you can't take the heavyweight title, what's next best? Light heavyweight title.

“The division still feels very open to me,” said Big E, who was a collegiate wrestler at the University of Iowa. “I think Pereira has a great chance at 205 to make a run here.” [pounds].”

Shayna Baszler, who competed in 26 MMA fights (15-11), including a loss to Amanda Nunes at UFC Fight Night in Rio de Janeiro in 2015, was curious about Pereira's focus.

“About a month ago when Pereira asked to be there too [UFC] 301 card a month later [UFC] 300,” said Baszler. “So maybe he’s looking past Hill a little bit?”

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CM Punk: Without professional wrestling there would be no MMA

CM Punk explains how pro wrestling set the stage for MMA and how mixed martial arts is the ultimate test for fighters.

Later, during the conversation, the panel was asked about the parallels between MMA and professional wrestling, noting that the development of one profession would not have been possible without the development of the other.

“To make a baby face, you have to have a heel. And that’s the same as MMA,” Lashley said. “If there's that antagonist where there's the good guy and the bad guy and people are more drawn to that, then it's storylines… We do storylines in our business, and their storylines start to develop in their business.”

“As we know, MMA wouldn’t exist right now if it weren’t for professional wrestling,” Punk said. “Conversely, the funny flip side of the coin is that I know so many people who, if MMA was a viable option to make a living and get paid like it is today, would never have gotten into professional wrestling.”

“A guy like Ken Shamrock might have been a pro wrestler before he was a fighter. Correct? “Kurt would never have become a professional wrestler.” Kurt would have been discovered and drafted into an MMA super gym.


April 8: Adesanya tells Hill how to tackle Pereira at UFC 300

Jeff Wagenheim: A former light heavyweight champion with a chance to reclaim the title on Saturday, Jamahal Hill looks up and down the UFC 300 fight lineup and sees so many champions that he's starting to consider a sport other than MMA.

“The best way I can describe it is like in basketball, whenever you go to the All-Star Game, for example, right?” Hill said of a fight card in which he was one of 12 current or former UFC champions is. “All-Star weekend, everyone wants to show off their skills.”

Hill – who will be competing for the first time in nearly 15 months after tearing his Achilles tendon while playing basketball and losing the title he had just won – will challenge Pereira in the main event. To prepare, Hill spoke to another ex-champion who wasn't on the UFC 300 card.

Preparation for Pereira, as Hill revealed last Saturday night on the UFC Post Show, included a conversation with former middleweight titleholder Israel Adesanya, who spent more than 25 minutes in the cage with Pereira during two title fights – one was a Pereira- Knockout, the other an Adesanya knockout.

What did Adesanya offer?

“Just giving me some advice and some insight into what he saw in the fight against Alex,” Hill said. “How to proceed.” [Pereira] and such things.”

Of course, Pereira will likely receive similar advice about Hill from his trainer and mentor Glover Teixeira, whom Hill dethroned in his last fight in January 2023.


April 4: Dakota Ditcheva stands out at the PFL's season-opening event

Brett Okamoto: It's so hard to excel in mixed martial arts. It's actually ironic that in a sport that's somewhat defined by viral knockout moments, it often takes something very special to significantly cut through the noise.

Dakota Ditcheva has all the qualities for it. Her coach, American Top Team's Conan Silveira, described her to me as “vicious as fuck” ahead of Thursday's PFL regular-season debut. She is definitely tech savvy. She is charismatic. She is just very friendly. But more than that, she seems to be made for big moments. Silveira believes that this is due to her upbringing, as her mother was a multiple kickboxing champion. Ditcheva is at its best when the lights are brightest.

I remember thinking Jon Jones was different in 2010 when he tossed Brandon Vera to the ground like a rag doll and finished him off with punches in three minutes. I remember thinking Conor McGregor was different when he knocked out Dustin Poirier in 2014. Just the way they behaved, the way they moved. They stood out.

I am NO WAY That would put Ditcheva in the same category as those two, but I will say that she feels different when she sees them on Thursday. She scored a first-round TKO over Lisa Mauldin and did it in under four minutes – faster than any other women's flyweight champion, giving Ditcheva an early lead in the season standings. Beyond the result that night, Ditcheva showed that she has real star potential coupled with real skill and mental state. Her chances of winning the PFL women's flyweight tournament this year, which features names like Liz Carmouche and Taila Santos, aren't particularly high. But maybe she'll come earlier than planned and make it. She seems special enough for this to be possible.


April 2: Mark Coleman presented the BMF belt at UFC 300

ESPN Staff: Max Holloway said he wants to see UFC Hall of Famer Mark Coleman back in the Octagon at UFC 300, but in a different role.

Holloway, the former featherweight world champion who will challenge BMF champ Justin Gaethje for his title at the April 13 pay-per-view event, called on Coleman to wrap the belt on the winner of the fight. And according to Coleman's recent post on Instagram, the UFC has honored that wish. Coleman said the UFC offered him and his daughters tickets to UFC 300 in Las Vegas.

Coleman, who became the first UFC heavyweight champion in 1997, was recently hospitalized after saving his parents from a house fire. Unfortunately, he was unable to save his family dog, Hammer. With Coleman's apparent recovery, Holloway sees no better candidate to hand the belt to any fighter who raises his hand. In the previous two BMF title fights, the belt was presented by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Jorge Masvidal.

When asked who should present the title – before Coleman announced he would compete in the event – Holloway told MMA Junkie: “The only correct answer is Mark Coleman.”

“Especially given what he recently went through with his dog and his dog woke him up to save his stuff and then he goes in there and runs to his dog? The guy is a G. This is a real BMF. That would be sick if he. It would be my honor to get him to do that.