The Ultimate Fighting Championship returns to Florida, this Saturday April 27, for UFC Fight Night: Jacare vs Hermansson on ESPN +. This event will take place at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida, home of the Florida Panthers. Fight Night was originally scheduled for Paulo Costa vs Yoel Romero, but Costa was forced to withdraw from the fight due to a fine from The New York State Athletic Commission (NYSAC) for an undisclosed violation. Costa stated that this violation was due to a stomach medication he was taking in 2017. Jeff Novitzky stated that USADA is “still evaluating” the circumstances behind the violation. Unfortunately, Yoel Romero also withdrew from the fight due to an undisclosed medical issue.
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Although the main event had to be changed numerous times due to unfortunate circumstances, it still has the potential for fight of the night. This is Jacare’s 3rd main event and Hermansson’s 1st, both looking to cement their spot for title contention. Jacare is a -190-betting favorite and is coming off an impressive third round TKO over former UFC Middleweight Champion, Chris Weidman. All of Jacare’s wins in the last 5 years have come via stoppage. Jacare stated at his last press conference, “I come to win this fight. I’ll destroy this guy, go back home and sit and wait.” Jacare is a former Strikeforce Champion but has yet to contend for the coveted UFC championship. He affirmed recently that “The UFC promised me that if I win this fight, then I’ll fight for the title against the winner of Adesanya vs Whittaker”. Jack “The Joker” Hermansson is gaining momentum with a quick turnaround, after an impressive 1st round guillotine choke, over coveted Renzo Gracie black belt, David Branch. Hermansson has the largest strike differential among UFC middleweights, with his opponents only landing 14 significant strikes in his last 5 wins. Both Hermansson and Jacare have an 84% finish rate.
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This event marks UFC’s 12th event in Florida since inception. The first UFC event to take place in Florida took place at the American Airlines Arena in Miami Florida on April 25, 2003 for UFC 42: Sudden Impact. UFC 42’s main event was between Matt Hughes and Sean Sherk for the Welterweight title, where Hughes won by decision.
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This Saturday’s fight is featuring a myriad of fighter that train out of Florida. Jacare Souza and Mike Perry both train out of Fusion X-Cel, out of Ocoee, Florida. Mike Perry left Jackson Wink MMA Academy after his last loss to Donald Cerrone to train with his original team to prepare for his fight with Alex Oliveira. Perry stated on the UFC Unfiltered podcast that his plan is to “sprawl and brawl” and attempted to quote Bruce Lee by saying “when the time is right, it will land all on its own” (Actual Bruce Lee quote: “I do not hit, it hits all by itself”). Gilbert Burns is also on the card, starting off the prelims against Mike Davis. Burns is also a Florida fighter, training out of Jaco Hybrid, which is located in Boca Raton.
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When discussing Florida’s importance to MMA or just MMA in general, it is impossible to leave out Dan Lambert and American Top Team (ATT). ATT has become the gold standard for professional MMA training by routinely developing the best MMA talent. Most UFC events will have a few ATT fighters on the card, including this current one. Former Heavyweight Champion Andrei Arlovski, UFC veteran Ben Saunders, Glover Teixeira and controversial UFC newcomer Greg Hardy are all fighting on this card and train out of American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Florida. ATT currently has dozens of fighters contracted with the UFC and other professional organizations, with current UFC Champions Amanda Nunes and Dustin Poirier. Other notable fighters that train out of ATT are Joanna Jędrzejczyk, Tyron Woodley, Colby Covington, Junior Dos Santos, Jorge Masvidal, Yoel Romero, and the list goes on. American Top Team was awarded Gym of the Year in 2017 and 2018 and has received public praise from Joe Rogan, stating “In my opinion, American Top Team is the best MMA camp in the country”.
See ya 2018! What an incredible year it has been! We were fortunate enough to be part of 3 PFL Championships, 2 UFC Champions, a TUF Heavyweight Champion, RIZIN Bantamweight World Champion, KSW Featherweight Championship, and more…It was also great to see the continued success of @dustinpoirier, @pantoja_oficial, @raniyahyamma, @junior_cigano, @pedromunhozmma @renato_moicano_ufc, @sponzinibbiomma and @jussierformiga. All of them knocking on the door for their own championship run. In addition, we have some talented up and comers ready to make some serious noise in ‘19: @jay185, @johnnyeblen, @shockthisworld, @judokayla, @leadfeathermma, @urosjurisic, @juan_espino_oficial and other talented young guns. Excited for their growth and promising future. We just wanted to thank all the fighters, coaches, staff and fans for helping us make 2018 an unforgettable year. We’re looking forward to 2019, and the exciting challenges that lie ahead. We wish everyone a tremendous 2019! Let’s Go!!! #americantopteam, #attnation, #attarmy, #team, #teammates, #weareone, #goals, #titles, #raisethebar, #thankful, #mma, #fighters
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Dan Lambert mentioned on MMA Junkie radio that he almost purchased the UFC with his friend and former owner of Extreme Fighting, John Perretti, from Bob Meyrowitz when the company was struggling to fund UFC 30, which ended up taking place at the Trump Taj Mahal, in Atlantic City, NJ. He mentioned that the deal fell through after Meyrowitz abruptly sold the company to Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta and their business partner Dana White. Lambert was a hotel executive and lawyer at the time with a passion for professional wrestling and mixed martial arts. Lambert mentioned “I wasn’t really looking to own the UFC; I just didn’t want to see it go out of business because I like having a promotion for my guys to have fights in”. In an interview with Fox Sports, Lambert described how he met with the Silveira brothers at an Extreme Fighting event and subsequently became business partners with them. The Silveira brothers operated a gym named Silveira Brothers Fight Team in Miami. Around that same time, Lambert met with Ricardo Liborio, co-founder of Brazilian Top Team, which produced fighters such as the Nogueira brothers, Ricardo Arona, and Vitor Belfort. Liborio decided to move to Florida and join forces with Lambert and the Silveira brothers to open American Top Team. Ricardo Liborio was noted in saying, “Hey, I’m BTT, I’m going to move here and we’ll be ATT”.
I would be remiss if I failed to mention the importance of Kevin Ferguson, aka. Kimbo Slice when discussing Florida MMA. Kimbo gained notoriety in the early 2000’s by being one of the first viral YouTube stars by posting his backyard bare knuckle fighting videos and eventually turning pro. Kimbo Slice had some fame from YouTube but he became mainstream after competing on The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights. Slice lost his first fight on the series against Roy Nelson but was able to win his UFC debut against Houston Alexander.
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Jorge Masvidal also gained prominence by competing in Kimbo’s backyard fighting “league” and has received millions of views on YouTube for his bare knuckle fight against Kimbo’s protégé, “Ray”. Masvidal has come a far way from fighting in backyards, with his recent KO win against Darren Till and he is currently booked to face off against Ben Askren at International Fight Week in Las Vegas. United States Senator, Rick Scott, has stated, “I am absolutely convinced that Florida will become the most exciting place in the world to live and work”. This will certainly be the case this Saturday, for UFC Fight Night: Jacare vs Hermansson!
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