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Sparks fly at UFC’s ‘Summer Kickoff’


Sparks fly at UFC’s ‘Summer Kickoff’

The UFC certainly know how to put on a press conference and their showpiece events announcing multiple fights are always essential viewing for any MMA fan.

Their latest effort, dubbed ‘Summer Kickoff’, continued in that trend as we saw a host of fights confirmed for the UFC’s summer season of events, with the eagerly-anticipated rematch between light-heavyweight rivals Daniel Cormier and Jon Jones the biggest of the bunch.

They were joined by a clutch of UFC stars set for action during the middle part of 2017 as the promotion looks to ramp up the anticipation ahead of a big summer of fights.

UFC ‘Summer Kickoff’: Matchups on stage

Claudia Gadelha v Karolina Kowalkiewicz – UFC 212, June 3
Holly Holm v Bethe Correia – UFC Fight Night 111, June 17
Michael Chiesa v Kevin Lee – UFC Fight Night 112, June 25
Michael Johnson v Justin Gaethje – TUF Redemption Finale, July 7
Amanda Nunes v Valentina Shevchenko (UFC women’s bantamweight title) – UFC 213, July 8
Joanne Calderwood v Cynthia Calvillo – UFC Fight Night 113, July 16
Chris Weidman v Kelvin Gastelum – UFC on FOX 25, July 22
Daniel Cormier v Jon Jones 2 (UFC light-heavyweight title) – UFC 214, July 29

UFC commentator Jon Anik presided over the event in Dallas as the fighters, led by Cormier and Jones, exchanged verbal jabs and – in one notable case – punches in front of a lively crowd.

Tempers boiled over when Michael Chiesa launched himself at lightweight rival Kevin Lee after ‘The MoTown Phenom’ mentioned Chiesa’s mother during a response.

Security managed to get between the pair, but not swiftly enough to stop Lee landing a punch on ‘Maverick’ before both men were removed from the stage.

While most of the pairings set about each other with verbal barbs, the noticeable exception was the middleweight duo of Chris Weidman and Kelvin Gastelum, whose good-natured responses during the presser and the face-offs that followed drew notable applause and cheers from the crowd, who seemed as impressed with the pair’s respect as they were with the bad blood elsewhere on the stage.

Sports journalist and editor with 18 years’ experience, working on national UK mainstream media coverage of the world's biggest sporting events, from the Olympic Games and World Cups to world title fights and Formula 1 Grands Prix. Covered mixed martial arts for the last eight years for MMAjunkie/USA Today, BBC Sport, BBC Three, BT Sport, The Daily Mirror, The Sun and The Independent.

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