Updated: Wednesday, 8th July 2020 @ 4:17pm

'All about winning': Manchester braces itself for night of action as UFC touches down at Phones4U Arena

'All about winning': Manchester braces itself for night of action as UFC touches down at Phones4U Arena

By Richard O’Meara

Tonight sees the UFC touch down at the Phones4u Arena as part of a two day MMA takeover of Manchester which started with yesterday’s fan event and weigh in.

The two main eventers of UFC Fight Night 30, Lyoto Machida and Mark Munoz, weighed in at 185 and 186 pounds respectively.

The fight fans who attended the weigh in at Manchester Central were also treated to an hour long Q&A session with master of trash talk and self-proclaimed ‘American Gangster’ Chael Sonnen.

Besides a number of entertainingly fanciful anecdotes, including the Nogueira Brothers mistaking a bus for a horse, Sonnen had a few barbed words for his nemesis Wanderlei Silva.

Calling the Brazilian a ‘Knucklehead’ Sonnen reaffirmed his long standing desire to finally fight him, and in his deadpan words ‘punch him in the face repeatedly.’

Sonnen also confirmed his eyes were still on UFC gold after bouncing back from his pair of defeats to Anderson Silva: “The only point to our sport is winning that belt, when I started in MMA there was no money, no fame – it was about winning the Championship and it still is.”

Talking of his fondness for aiming rhyming put downs at opponents and the possibility of a change of profession to Rapper, Sonnen said his favourite Hip-Hoppers were ‘Tone Loc and Digital Underground… before they started doing profanity.’

UFC Promoter Dana White also showed up at the event, as did Irish fighter Connor McGregor and Englishman Michael Bisping who was disappointed to have been pulled from his fight: “When I heard the UFC was coming back to Manchester I said to Dana straight away – I need to be on this card whatever it takes.”

Tonight’s favourite - Brazil’s Lyoto Machida, 35, will likely prove to be a more than capable replacement for the injured Bisping who was originally pencilled to face Munoz.

‘The Dragon’, who has won 23 and lost only 4 professional bouts, will be looking to make a strong impression in his first fight since switching to the light heavyweight division.

Mark Munoz, also 35, with a record of 13-3 will likely look to his ground game and his Machida’s inexperience at a new weight to try and pull off what would be a minor upset.

‘The Philippino Wrecking Machine’ said of his sparring partner turned main event foe: “We were training two days before the fight was announced, we probably train 3 or 4 times a week and next thing you know were fighting.

“At the end of it we’ll be sparing together again, we’ll just leave 25 minutes aside - it’s business, not personal.”

Also eager to give his friend another check in the loss column Machida said: “The winner buys dinner. I will buy the dinner."

The weigh in itself was cordial and while neither man could match the charisma or braggadocio Sonnen showed earlier both will look to amp things up in the Octagon tonight.

Sunderland’s Ross Pearson and Louisiana native Melvin Guilliard also made weight. Both of the competitor’s came in at 156 pounds for what could be a show stealing co-main event.

Other rising stars fighting at the Phones4u Arena include Ryan Jimmo, 24-year-old Andy Ogle and the unbeaten Jimi Manuwa.

Picture courtesy of Marcos Joel Reis via CreativeCommons, with thanks.

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