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Archive for the ‘UFC | Mixed Martial Arts’

Top 20 MMA Fights Of 2013

January 02, 2014 By: Category: lists, Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

In honor of the UFC’s 20th anniversary this year, I figured it only appropriate that my year end fight countdown involved the top 20 fights from the calendar year 2013. Although not all of these fights took place in the UFC it’s hard to ignore the UFC’s place at the head of the class in terms of mixed martial arts promotions. Although there are a number of other promotions represented in the list including Bellator, Maximum Fighting Championship, ONE FC and Invicta. Enough rambling, let’s get to the year’s top fights.

#20 – ONE Fighting Championship: Moment of Truth – Featherweight Championship Bout: Honorio Banario vs. Koji Oishi – December 6, 2013

The opening round of this bout wasn’t the most exciting, but the second and third rounds really make up for it. In title bout rematches, this is often the case, especially in a fight between two proven power punchers like Banario and Oishi. The second and third rounds mainly featured a game of cat and mouse as Banario pressed forward with big punches, while Oishi coyly backed off and did his best to land the big power shot, eventually in the third round he found the shot and delivered a highlight reel knockout to retain his title.

#19 – Maximum Fighting Championship: True Grit – Bantamweight Bout: Anthony Birchak vs. Ryan Benoit – May 10, 2013

This fight was the debut of Maximum Fighting Championship’s Bantamweight division and granted the winner a future title shot. Both men carried winning streaks into the bout and put it all on the line in this bout. The result was a fast and furious scrap that had action both on the feet and on the mat. Each man had their chances to end the fight, either with submission attempts or ground and pound, but each man was able to hang tough. Eventually, the two warriors made it to the final bell and in the end it was Birchak that took home the Unanimous Decision victory.

#18 – Ultimate Fighting Championship: UFC on FOX 7 – Lightweight Championship Bout: Benson Henderson vs. Gilbert Melendez – April 20, 2013

Entering into this contest, many people were intrigued to see how the fight would play out. The long-reigning and final Lightweight champion of the Strikeforce promotion crossing over to battle the UFC’s reigning Lightweight champion, this would had the feeling of a champion vs. champion bout. Melendez was fighting in front of his hometown crowd in San Jose and the fans backed him relentlessly throughout the fight as Melendez shrugged off numerous takedown attempts and used leg kicks and a steady jab to throw the UFC’s champion off balance. In the end, the result was a hotly contested Split Decision victory that went to Benson Henderson.

#17 – Bellator Fighting Championship: Bellator 85 – Featherweight Championship Bout: Pat Curran vs. Patricio Freire – January 17, 2013

At Bellator 85 there were a number of title contests, one of which was a Featherweight Championship tilt between champion Pat Curran and Patricio “Pitbull” Freire. Despite both fighters coming off of long layoffs, the bout still delivered. Freire pushed the action early and often, which left Curran stumbling and reeling at times. But Curran seemed to get better and better as the fight wore on and began to take control of what was mostly a kickboxing contest. In the end Curran took home a very close Split Decision victory to retain his Featherweight title.

#16 – Invicta Fighting Championship: Invicta FC 4 – Women’s Strawweight Bout: Tecia Torres vs. Paige Van Zant – January 5, 2013

This was an entertaining women’s scrap that opened quickly. Torres showed an impressive striking acumen in the opening stanza, battering Van Zant’s face with a strong jab and several creative elbow strikes. The second round featured some exciting grappling as Van Zant took the bout to the mat to try and slow the striking prowess of Torres. With nearly four minutes remaining, Torres was able to reverse the position and took her opponent’s back, working for a choke finish but Van Zant was able to hang tough. The final few minutes of this fight was excellent as both women just turned it into a slugfest and let it all hang out in the middle of the cage. In the end Torres took a Unanimous decision victory.

#15 – Ultimate Fighting Championship: UFC on Fuel TV 8 – Heavyweight Bout: Mark Hunt vs. Stefan Struve – March 3, 2013

This Heavyweight bout could have gone a number of ways, Hunt promised a slugfest, but most experts expected the grappling savvy Struve to take the bout to the ground quickly. In the first round, that’s exactly what happened, as Struve quickly pulled guard and did his best to work for a submission. In the second Hunt took over and kept the bout standing, where he tagged Struve with a number of big punches, while the massive Struve seemed to fade and gas out. In the third round, Hunt really took over. With Struve’s defensive striking wavering Hunt began to land power shots at will. A huge combination of punches put Struve down for good, and lead to a long layoff for Struve as he suffered significant damage to his jaw from the punches in the knockout loss.

#14 – Ultimate Fighting Championship: UFC 168 – Women’s Bantamweight Championship Bout: Ronda Rousey vs. Miesha Tate – December 28, 2013

There was a lot of hype heading into this bout, a full season’s worth of feuding on the latest season of The Ultimate Fighter. Not to mention the built in rivalry of this being a rematch from both ladies’ Strikeforce days. With all of that in mind, Miesha Tate was sold as a credible challenger to Rousey’s throne, but the odds makers in Vegas didn’t buy in, billing the challenger as a 7-to-1 underdog. In the end Tate put up a decent fight, and was able to hang tough, hanging in the Octagon with the champion longer than anyone else in history. At the end though, it was more domination from the champion and despite Tate’s ability to survive, she eventually succumbed to yet another Rousey arm bar.

#13 – Bellator Fighting Championship: Bellator 106 – Lightweight Championship Bout: Eddie Alvarez vs. Michael Chandler – November 2, 2013

It was the biggest rematch in the history of Bellator’s existence as undefeated Lightweight Champion Michael Chandler defended his title against former champion Eddie Alvarez. Their first scrap was a highly entertaining bout, which left big shoes to fill. I’d have a hard time describing the blow for blow coverage for this five round brawl, but it was a highly entertaining fight with tons of action on the ground and on the feet. While this fight failed to live up to the excitement that their first contest did, it was still an incredible fight that highlighted everything that MMA is about and despite the controversial Split Decision victory for Alvarez it remains the best fight in Bellator’s 2013 calendar year.

#12 – Ultimate Fighting Championship: UFC on FOX 7 – Welterweight Bout: Matt Brown vs. Jordan Mein – April 20, 2013

“The Immortal” Matt Brown made a career resurgence in 2013 and this bout was a big part of his statement year. Many expected the brawling style of Brown to struggle with the crisp and technical kickboxing of young Jordan Mein. The bout was contest mostly on the feet and Brown outworked his younger opponent with a stronger jaw and big power punches. After dropping Mein at the end of the first and having him saved by the bell, Brown continued to swarm the youngster in the second round. An onslaught of strikes against the cage and on the ground eventually led to Brown earning the TKO via referee stoppage.

#11 – Ultimate Fighting Championship: UFC on Fuel TV 7 – Featherweight Bout: Cub Swanson vs. Dustin Poirier – February 16, 2013

Cub Swanson bouts tend to be highly entertaining contests, Dustin Poirier fights tend to be highly entertaining scraps, both of those statements remained true in this contest. Swanson used a plethora of kicks to keep Poirier off-balance and keep the fight standing. In the second round, Swanson began to show some of his underrated grappling skills as both men exchanged in some excellent transitions on the ground. The final round started with a number of exchanges on the feet, before both men went to the ground. Swanson dominated the final minutes on the ground, en-route to sealing the deal on a hard fought Unanimous decision victory.

#10 – Ultimate Fighting Championship: UFC 156 – Featherweight Championship Bout: Jose Aldo vs. Frankie Edgar – February 2, 2013

Fresh off of losing consecutive decisions to Lightweight champion Benson Henderson, both in somewhat controversial fashion, Frankie Edgar made the drop to the Featherweight division for an immediate title shot against reigning kingpin Jose Aldo. What followed was a highly entertaining scrap that went the full five rounds, with every minute being filled with action. Through the early rounds Aldo used thudding leg kicks and a stiff jab to keep the challenger at bay, but as the rounds went on, the challenger seemed to get stronger as the champion slowly faded. The final two rounds were highly entertaining as Edgar tried to battle his way back and began to swing the fight in his favor. In the end his comeback bid fell short, and Edgar lost yet another close decision in a title fight.

#9 – Ultimate Fighting Championship: UFC 160 – Heavyweight Bout: Junior dos Santos vs. Mark Hunt – May 25, 2013

Junior dos Santos was a heavy favorite heading into this contest, and most expected JDS to show off his improved wrestling skills and exploit the subpar grappling skills of Mark Hunt. Instead he decided to slug it out with the heavy-handed former K-1 champion.  Early on JDS nearly cracked the iron jaw of Hunt and in the second round when he finally took the fight to the mat, he nearly stopped Hunt with a barrage of ground and pound. In the third, with the fight likely secure in his favor, JDS continued to pressure his highly dangerous opponent and the result was one of the best knockouts of the year. Dos Santos used a highlight reel spinning back kick to drop Hunt with under a minute left in the fight.

#8 – Ultimate Fighting Championship: UFC on FOX 6 – Flyweight Championship Bout: Demetrious Johnson vs. John Dodson

Despite the fact that the UFC’s Flyweight division has failed to catch on with the casual fan, it has continued to produce top quality contests. After steamrolling through a number of top fighters in both the Bantamweight and Flyweight divisions, most people wondered if anyone would be able to stop the Flyweight Champion. However, Dodson who’s speed would allow him to match up well with Johnson and who held big time knockout power. In the opening few rounds, the fight was quite close, with Dodson actually dropping the champion in the second round. But as the fight continued to wear on the champion seemed to get stronger and ran away for an eventual decision victory.

#7 – Ultimate Fighting Championship: UFC Fight Night 33 – Heavyweight Bout: Mark Hunt vs. Antonio Silva – December 6, 2013

Are we sensing a theme yet? For a division not known for having a number of highly exciting fighters, Mark Hunt fights simply deliver. Win or lose, Mark Hunt puts on exciting fights, as he makes his third appearance on this top 20. This bout has recently come under a bit of scrutiny as Antonio Silva has since tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone from this contest, but the results remain impressive and the fight remains highly entertaining. Despite this being a slugfest between two men who weigh well over 250 pounds and possess fight ending knockout power in both their hands and feet, this contest managed to turn into a 25-minute brawl that no one knew either man had in them. Bloody, highly violent and highly sloppy at times, this is a fight that you can’t help but love.

#6 – Ultimate Fighting Championship: The Ultimate Fighter 17 Finale – Women’s Bantamweight Bout: Cat Zingano vs. Miesha Tate – April 13, 2013

If there’s another trend that this list seems to indicate it’s that exciting fights aren’t just for the men. The women of MMA have provided a number of highly entertaining bouts throughout the year, but this may be the most exciting of them all. This fight had it all. Technical striking exchanges, a few wild and sloppy striking exchanges and a number of impressive mat transitions. Tate used her grappling skills in the first round to control the action on the ground, using a steady stream of elbows and ground and pound to swarm her opponent. In the second it was more of the same, although Zingano showed a few signs of life. In the third, likely down two rounds to none and needing a stoppage for the victory, Zingano came out on fire. Pressuring Tate against the cage, Zingano delivered a number of brutal knee strikes that battered and bloodied Tate, before eventually earning her the stoppage and a comeback victory.

#5 – Ultimate Fighting Championship: UFC 166 – Lightweight Bout: Gilbert Melendez vs. Diego Sanchez – October 19, 2013

Despite being two highly talented and technical Lightweight fighters, these two men seemed to disregard that for one night to engage in a brawl for the ages at UFC 166. This was one of the bloodiest bouts of the year, as Melendez left a cut on Sanchez’s face that probably still hasn’t completely healed. Melendez looked like the more technically refined striker and won a number of the striking exchanges, but even battered and bloodied, Sanchez never backed down. In the end Melendez took a hard fought decision victory in a bout that Joe Rogan called the “best he’d seen in all of his years of calling fights.”

#4 – Ultimate Fighting Championship: UFC 157 – Featherweight Bout: Dennis Bermudez vs. Matt Grice – February 23, 2013

Despite being billed as a contest between two fighters with wrestling heavy styles, this fight ended up being highly entertaining and action packed. In the first round each man found a number of offensive openings, but Grice had the best of the round when he dropped Bermudez with a short left hook that dropped Bermudez. In the second round Grice continued to push forward and pressure Bermudez with big shots, but also ate a number of big punches, including one that bloodied his forehead. In the third round Bermudez came out firing on all cylinders. He dropped Grice with an uppercut and continued his assault with ground and pound. When Grice was finally able to regain his footing, Bermudez continued to swarm him against the fence, not allowing Grice to get free. In the final 45 seconds both men continued to just swing punches at one another searching for a stoppage that never came. In the end Bermudez took a hotly contested Split Decision victory.

#3 – Ultimate Fighting Championship: UFC 158 – Welterweight Bout: Johny Hendricks vs. Carlos Condit – March 16, 2013

On his way to a Welterweight title shot, Hendricks had to clear a very tough hurdle in the form of former UFC title challenger Carlos Condit. This fight had everything that a good MMA fight should have highly technical and fast paced striking exchanges, fast and furious grappling and a number of close calls. Hendricks landed a number of big punches early, but Condit showed a strong chin and was able to withstand them. Hendricks used his wrestling well in the early rounds of the bout, following up big punches with takedown attempts, which Condit struggled to fend off. Condit as always, was highly active from his back and attempted a number of submissions, but Hendricks controlled from the top and was able to defend well. In the second round Condit nailed a huge flying knee that many thought might swing the tide, but Hendricks was able to eat the shot and continue fighting. In the third round, Hendricks slowed and Condit attempted to mount his comeback. Condit threw everything he had at Hendricks, but couldn’t earn a stoppage and couldn’t do enough to sway the judge’s decision and dropped the decision to Hendricks who parlayed the win to a shot at GSP’s Welterweight title.

#2 – Ultimate Fighting Championship: UFC 165 – Light Heavyweight Championship Bout: Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson – September 21, 2013

Immediately after this fight was over, Twitter was abuzz and calling this the best fight in the history of the UFC’s Light Heavyweight division and one of the best fights in MMA history. While some of that might be hyperbole, the fact remains that this was a highly entertaining scrap and definitely has its place as one of the most entertaining fights of the year. I had a hard time ranking this fight against the eventual first place on this list, and would consider them more of a 1A and 1B. Still I wouldn’t be doing this fight justice to describe it in detail, it is something that needs to be watched in full to be truly appreciated. Alexander Gustafsson gave Champion Jon Jones everything he could handle and more in the fight and the result was a highly entertaining scrap that must be seen.

#1 – Ultimate Fighting Championship: UFC on Fuel TV 8 – Light Heavyweight Bout: Wanderlei Silva vs. Brian Stann – March 3, 2013

During my midyear assessment of the best fights of the year, and even with another six months there hasn’t been another to surpass it. This fight is a thing of beauty for anyone who loves a good old brawl. There was little in the way of grappling or beautiful combinations, but there was a lot of punches, a lot of knockdowns and a highly entertaining scrap. One that you should find on the Internet, and watch immediately.

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UFC 168: Weidman Vs. Silva 2 Results: Weidman Wins, Silva Breaks Leg

December 29, 2013 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

If you were expecting the questions surrounding Chris Weidman’s KO win over Anderson Silva to be answered at UFC 168, well think again. Another controversial ending leaves doubts yet it is Weidman again who leaves the octagon as champion.

Silva and Weidman met at UFC 168 in what the most anticipated UFC championship rematch since Sonnen vs. Silva 2. Weidman’s win in the first fight brought more questions than answers. Was it a fluke? Has Silva regressed? Unfortunately it looks as if several of those remaining questions about Weidman’s win will remain in doubt thanks to one of the most bizarre finishes in a big fight that I can remember.

Weidman dominated the first round against Silva. Weidman rocked Silva hard with a punch while the two were clinching and wound up on top of the former champion. The replay actually showed Silva’s eyes closing for a moment. Weidman proceeded to smother Silva from the top although it was the champ who was ironically busted open at the end of the round. Silva rebounded from the hard punch and nailed Weidman with some vicious strikes from his back including a nasty elbow. At the end of the round it looked like Weidman had Silva’s number but there were still four more rounds to go.

Silva opened up the second round with some leg kicks, leg kicks which were absent from round 1. It looked like Silva was starting to finally get into a groove when the unthinkable happened. Silva’s leg snapped after Weidman checked the leg kick. Silva fell to the ground in tremendous pain as his leg lay separated in a gruesome scene. Silva’s broken leg stopped the fight and gave Weidman the win via TKO once again in round 2. The only finish that I can compare it to was a fight years ago in UFC where Corey Hill broke his leg in similar fashion. Silva left on a stretcher. That is a terrible way to go out if that was his last fight ever

Things like that happen but I can’t help feeling disappointed that we didn’t get to see a conclusion. Weidman clearly won the first round but so did Dan Henderson and Chael Sonnen only to have the Spider bounce back. That said, I’ll be the first to admit that Silva didn’t look like himself. He looked older, a little slower, and above all lost that mystique. No matter how you slice it he just wasn’t the same fighter he once was.

Vitor Belfort will be up next for Weidman. I am highly intrigued by this fight. Belfort has looked unstoppable in his recent wins. If Weidman can’t take the fight to the ground, he is going to be in trouble. Yet at the same time I get the feeling that Belfort is a sucker’s bet. He has always been the kind of fighter that looks great as a contender but chokes in the big fights. He’s earned this one but I am still not completely convinced that he can win when it counts.

One thing that has to be mentioned is that no matter how you slice it this result is not good for the UFC. In a matter of a few weeks the UFC has had Georges St-Pierre retire and Anderson Silva stretchered out after breaking his leg. It is looking like neither will compete in the UFC in 2014 or maybe ever again. That leaves Jon Jones as the company’s top star and I am sure that thrills Dana White and the Fertittas. The UFC as a brand is not nearly as strong as it was domestically as it was a few years ago. The company needs stars desperately. I would be surprised if the UFC don’t make GSP an offer to sweet to refuse at this point to return at the end of the year. The company is in big trouble.

Ronda Rousey defeated Miesha Tate via submission to an arm bar in the third round to retain her UFC championship. The atmosphere for this fight was just unbelievable. Rousey dominated Tate for most of the fight but Tate just wouldn’t go away. Tate did get the better of Rousey a few times on their feet as evident by Rousey’s swollen face. Rousey was unstoppable and took Tate down at will. Her judo was quite frankly a thing of beauty. I can’t imagine anyone stopping Rousey at this point. Her judo is just that good. Which is why I have no idea why Tate would attempt to take Rousey down throughout the fight. It may have been the worst game plan I have ever seen from a challenger in a title fight. In the end it was a Rousey arm bar that did Tate in. The post-fight saw Rousey refuse to shake Tate’s hand which resulted in the champion getting booed out of the building.

Full UFC 168 Redemption winners and results…
Chris Weidman defeated Anderson Silva via second-round TKO (injury)
Ronda Rousey defeated Miesha Tate via submission (armbar)
Travis Browne defeated Josh Barnett via first-round KO
Jim Miller defeated Fabricio Camoes via submission (armbar)
Dustin Poirier defeated Diego Brandao via first-round TKO
Uriah Hall defeated Chris Leben via first-round TKO
Michael Johnson defeated Gleison Tibau via second-round TKO
Dennis Siver defeated Manvel Gamburyan via unanimous decision
John Howard defeated Siyar Bahadurzada via unanimous decision
William Macario defeated Bobby Voelker via unanimous decision
Robbie Peralta defeated Estevan Payan via third-round KO

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UFC 168 Weidman Vs. Silva 2 Predictions and Preview

December 27, 2013 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

When it comes to the numerous UFC events held during the 2013 year; it’ll be 31 by the time this card rolls around, the promotion is definitely saving one of the best for last. To cap a highly active and highly entertaining 20th anniversary year of UFC action, the UFC has a card featuring two massive title fight rematches. In the main event of the evening the legendary Anderson “The Spider” Silva looks to reclaim his place at the top of the Middleweight division when he battles undefeated incumbent champion Chris Weidman. The co-main event of the evening features a long brewing grudge match between the two coaches from the most recent season of The Ultimate Fighter as Miesha Tate challenges “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey for her Women’s Bantamweight title.

From the fight capital of the world UFC 168 takes place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on December 28, 2013. With a top-loaded card the rest of the bouts may be somewhat lacking in big name value, but the card remains loaded with a number of intriguing bouts with plenty of potential for fireworks. In other main card action Heavyweights Josh Barnett and Travis Browne will brawl it out, Jim Miller will battle Brazilian Fabricio Camoes in a Lightweight tilt and Dustin Poirier will scrap with Diego Brandao in a Featherweight bout that has potential to take home the Fight of the Night Award.

Preliminary Card (Online): Featherweight Bout: Robbie Peralta vs. Estevan Payan

Robbie “Problems” Peralta is a 27-year-old fighter from Escondido, California. Peralta is a member of the Team Xplode MMA Gym in his hometown. Before joining the UFC he fought for a number of big time MMA promotions including Gladiator Challenge and Strikeforce. He holds a professional MMA record of 16-4 with 1 No Contest.
Estevan “El Terrible” Payan is a 31-year-old fighter from Tempe, Arizona. He is a member of the Arizona Combat Sports Gym. He like his opponent has fought for some other notable MMA promotions, including Rage in the Cage, Strikeforce, Shark Fights and Bellator. Payan holds a professional MMA record of 14-4 with 1 No Contest.

Quick Pick: Robbie Peralta via TKO in Round Three

Preliminary Card (Online): Welterweight Bout: William Macario vs. Bobby Voelker

William “Patolino” Macario is a 22-year-old fighter from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Macario began training in Muay Thai as a teenager and at only 22 is one of the youngest fighters on the UFC’s roster. He was a cast-member of the second season of The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil. He trains with the Pejor Fight Team in Rio de Janeiro. He holds a pro record of 6-1 with his lone pro loss coming in the finale of the Ultimate Fighter.

“Vicious” Bobby Voelker is a 34-year-old fighter from Kansas City, Kansas. He is an MMA veteran with over 30 professional fights in a number of promotions including Strikeforce, Titan FC and M-1 Challenge before making his way to the UFC. He is a member of Finney’s MMA Gym and holds a professional record of 24-10, with most victories coming by KO or TKO.

Quick Pick: William Macario via Submission in Round Two

Preliminary Card (Fox Sports 1): Welterweight Bout: John Howard vs. Siyar Bahadurzada

John “Doomsday” Howard is a 30-year-old fighter from Boston, Massachusetts. Howard has fought at both Middleweight and Welterweight in the UFC, and recently made his UFC return as an injury replacement where he defeated highly touted Uriah Hall via Split Decision. He is a member of the Wai Kru MMA Gym in Boston and holds a professional MMA record of 21-8.

Siyar “The Great” Bahadurzada is a 29-year-old fighter from Kabul, Afghanistan. Before joining the UFC he was a prominent fighter in the Asian MMA scene where he fought for Shooto and World Victory Road. Bahadurzada is a prominent striker who trains with Golden Glory in the Netherlands, but also with the Blackzillians in Boca Raton, Florida. He holds a professional record of 21-5-1.

Quick Pick: Siyar Bahadurzada via TKO in Round Two

Preliminary Card (Fox Sports 1): Featherweight Bout: Dennis Siver vs. Manvel Gamburyan

Dennis “The Menace” Siver is a 34-year-old fighter from Omsk, Russia in the former Soviet Union. Siver is a tough, well-rounded fighter who has reinvigorated his career since dropping to 145-pounds. Siver has a background in Tae-Kwan-Do and Judo as well as holding a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. He trains with the MMA-Spirit Gym in Mannheim, Germany. Siver’s professional record stands at 21-9.

Manvel “The Anvil” Gamburyan is a 32-year-old fighter from Gyumri, Armenia, but currently living in Hollywood, California. Gamburyan was a cast member on the fifth season of The Ultimate Fighter and is notable for his Judo background. Gamburyan is a member of the Glendale Fighting Club in North Hollywood. Gamburyan holds black belts in both Judo and Kyokushin karate. His professional record is 13-7.

Quick Pick: Dennis Siver via Unanimous Decision.

Preliminary Card (Fox Sports 1): Lightweight Bout: Gleison Tibau vs. Michael Johnson

Gleison Tibau is a 30-year-old fighter from Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil. The Brazilian now resides and trains in the United States, training with the American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Florida. He is known as a mainstay in the UFC’s Lightweight division and for his massive frame, often cited as being one of the largest fighters in the 155-pound division. He holds a career record of 28-9.

Michael “The Menace” Johnson is a 27-year-old fighter from St. Louis, Missouri. He is a member of the Blackzillians, training at the Jaco Hybrid Training Center in Boca Raton, Florida. Johnson is perhaps best known as his stint on the twelfth season of The Ultimate Fighter. He currently holds a professional record of 13-8 and is riding high after an impressive victory over Joe Lauzon UFC Fight Night 26.

Quick Pick: Michael Johnson via Unanimous Decision

Preliminary Card (Fox Sports 1): Middleweight Bout: Chris Leben vs. Uriah Hall

Chris “The Crippler” Leben is a 33-year-old fighter from Portland, Oregon. One of the longest serving members of the UFC’s Middleweight division, he is a fan favorite from the first season of The Ultimate Fighter. He is a member of the Alliance MMA Gym in Chula Vista, California who is best known for his strong chin and his propensity to brawl. He holds a professional MMA record of 22-10.

Uriah “Prime Time” Hall is a 29-year-old fighter from Spanish Town, Jamaica. He is best known as the runner-up on the seventeenth season of The Ultimate Fighter, where he delivered one of the show’s most memorable knockouts with a spinning wheel kick. He is a member of the Reign Training Center training under coach Mark Munoz. He holds a professional MMA record of 7-4.

Quick Pick: Chris Leben via Split Decision

Main Card (Pay Per View): Featherweight Bout: Dustin Poirier vs. Diego Brandao

Dustin “The Diamond” Poirier is a 24-year-old fighter from Lafayette, Louisiana. Poirier is a member of the American Top Team Gym located in Louisiana, but also travels to their home base in Florida. Poirier is a talented grappler who holds a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. He’s a highly entertaining fighter who is extremely well-rounded and has strong cardio. He holds a professional fight record of 14-3.

Diego “DB” Brandao is a 26-year-old fighter from Fortaleza, Brazil. Brandao is an extremely tough fighter who is best known as a cast member and the eventual winner of the fourteenth season of The Ultimate Fighter. He is a well-rounded fighter with strong grappling and Muay Thai credentials. He trains with Greg Jackson’s Submission Fighting Gym in Albuquerque, New Mexico. His professional MMA record stands at 18-8.

Quick Pick: Dustin Poirier via Unanimous Decision

Main Card (Pay Per View): Lightweight Bout: Jim Miller vs. Fabricio Camoes

Jim Miller is a 30-year-old fighter from Sparta Township, New Jersey. He has long been considered a top 10 Lightweight in the UFC’s stacked 155-pound division. He is one half of the fighting Miller brothers, as his older brother Dan is also a UFC fighter. Miller is a well-rounded fighter with a grinding style of ground based fighting. He is a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler and also holds a black belt in BJJ. He trains with the AMA Fight Club in New Jersey. His MMA record is 22-4 with 1 No Contest.

Fabricio “Morango” Camoes is a 35-year-old fighter from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He is a top level grappler, being a 3rd degree black belt under Gracie family member Royler Gracie. Camoes represents Team Nogueira, but also splits time with his home gym of Gracie Humaita in San Diego, California. Despite a history in the UFC, he is likely taking on the toughest fight of his career against Miller. His current MMA record is 14-7-1.

Quick Pick: Jim Miller via Unanimous Decision

Main Card (Pay Per View): Heavyweight Bout: Josh Barnett vs. Travis Browne

Josh “The Warmaster/The Baby-Faced Assassin”” Barnett is a 36-year-old fighter from Seattle, Washington. A veteran of MMA he is one of the sport’s Heavyweight pioneers, earning early success in the UFC before leaving the promotion early in his career. He has held numerous MMA titles including the UFC Heavyweight Championship, The King of Pancrase Openweight Championship and was a finalist in the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix. He trains out of the CSW Catch Wrestling Gym in Fullerton, California. He holds a professional resume of nearly 40 fights, holding a record of 33-6.

Travis “Hapa” Browne is a 31-year-old fighter from Oahu, Hawaii. He is a massive Heavyweight, standing at 6’7” tall and weighing nearly 250 pounds. Browne is a veteran of many notable MMA promotions such as Bellator, Gladiator Fighting Challenge and King of the Cage before making his UFC debut. Browne is a member of Greg Jackson’s Camp in New Mexico. He holds a nearly perfect pro record of 15-1-1.

Quick Pick: Josh Barnett via Unanimous Decision

Main Card (Pay Per View): Women’s Bantamweight Championship Bout: Ronda Rousey vs. Miesha Tate

“Rowdy” Ronda Rousey is a 26-year-old fighter from Riverside County, California. Rousey is a former Olympic judoka, and often uses her judo and grappling skills in her fights. She is a student of “Judo” Gene Lebell and was the first American women to win a medal in Olympic judo competition. Her MMA career has been filled with success as she is the reigning and defending UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion and was a former Strikeforce Women’s Bantamweight Champion. Rousey trains with the Glendale Fighting Club in Santa Monica, California but is also known to train with the Cesar Gracie Fight Team and the Diaz brothers in Stockton. She holds a perfect professional record of 7-0 with 7 victories via armbar submission in Round One.

Miesha “Cupcake” Tate is a 27-year-old fighter from Tacoma, Washington. Tate is a former Strikeforce Women’s Bantamweight Champion and a FILA Grappling medalist. Tate is best known for her highly publicized feud and rivalry with Ronda Rousey and the two are fighting after a full season serving as opposing coaches on The Ultimate Fighter. Tate is a well-rounded fighter but does her best work on the mat. She is a member of the Team Alpha Male Gym where she trains daily with top fighters like Urijah Faber, Chad Mendes and her boyfriend Bryan Caraway. She holds a professional MMA record of 13-4.

Quick Pick: Ronda Rousey via Submission in Round Two

Main Card (Pay Per View): Middleweight Championship Bout: Chris Weidman vs. Anderson Silva

Chris “The All-American” Weidman is a 29-year-old fighter from Baldwin, New York. Weidman is a former NCAA Division1 Wrestler from Hofstra University where he was a two-time Division 1 All-American. Despite being 29-years-old he is fairly new to the MMA game, but is one of the new-breed of fighters who excels in all areas of the fight game and is incredibly tough to game plan for. He holds a brown belt in BJJ but is also complimented as being one of the toughest natural grapplers on the planet in submission fighting. Weidman is the reigning and defending UFC Middleweight Champion, having won his title from long-dominating former champion Anderson Silva. Weidman is a representative of the Serra-Longo Fight Team in Garden City, New York who holds a perfect professional record of 10-0.

Anderson “The Spider” Silva is 38-year-old fighter from Sao Paulo, Brazil. Silva is a former UFC Middleweight Champion, who dominated the division with 16 consecutive victories and ten straight title defenses before losing to Weidman earlier in 2013. Silva is a dynamic striker with extremely creative Muay Thai skills influenced heavily by a background in Capoeira. Despite his lethal striking skills, he also possesses strong grappling skills and is underrated as a ground fighter. Silva holds a number of accolades in martial arts, including black belts in BJJ, Judo and Tae Kwan Do. Silva is a member of the Black House Gym fighting and training out of Curitiba, Brazil. He holds a professional MMA record of 33-5.

Quick Pick: Chris Weidman via Submission in Round Four

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Brock Lesnar Returning To UFC? Rumors Swirling

December 26, 2013 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts, WWE | Pro Wrestling

Would you like to see Brock Lesnar back in the UFC? UFC president Dana White probably would and he may get a late Christmas present according to some of the hottest rumors in the world of MMA and pro wrestling.

Rumors have been heating up over the last few weeks regarding the former UFC champion. Rumors are flying that Lesnar may be returning to the UFC. Dana White was asked about Lesnar appearing at UFC 168 and stirred things up a little more when he offered a vague “I don’t know” with a smile. The big story here is that White did not deny it. Is something up? Well…it depends upon who you ask.

Dave Meltzer is the leading journalist in my mind when it comes to the crossover reporting of pro wrestling and MMA. I don’t think there is anyone as connected to both worlds as he is. Meltzer was asked about the rumors on Twitter and believes this is nothing more than a business move from Lesnar’s camp.

“Timing is perfect for a new contract negotiation.” – @davemeltzerWON

The rumors started heating up on the MMA forum the MMA Underground. You can read into them what you will. Before you dismiss it as just some Internet message board, the Underground has been on top of many stories over the years in MMA before they were reported elsewhere. As a matter of a fact, the board was the first to break the story about Lesnar pulling out of his match with JDS.

The other thing to keep in mind here is that the UFC is entering some dangerous territory in 2014. The company has announced more cards that at any other time in Zuffa history with less superstar headliners than at any other time in Zuffa’s history. Dana White promised super fights late last year that were never delivered. White and the UFC stirring the pot could all be a diversion to what is looking like an extremely difficult year ahead for the company.

It is also important to keep in mind that Brock is under contract through WrestleMania 31. Brock signed a two-year extension last year with the WWE. Vince McMahon would have to give Brock permission to fight in the UFC before his contract expires. I don’t see it happening. For starters Dana White wouldn’t give Brock permission to wrestle for Vince a few years ago when Brock was under a UFC deal.

But maybe he does? I have seen some people say that Vince would never let one of his top guys go to the UFC to get beat up. Pro wrestling is a work and it isn’t as if Brock has not done any jobs. Maybe Vince does let him go and works out some kind of cross-promotional deal with the UFC? I doubt it but if you look back at Vince’s history it certainly isn’t as out of the question as some would lead you to believe.

What is my take? I don’t think Brock ever fights in the UFC again. Brock could make more in one fight with the right guy in the UFC than he could wrestling three times a year in the WWE. I just don’t think Brock can physically fight anymore due to his battles with diverticulitis. Why wouldn’t he be fighting now if he could? I think these rumors are all just negotiating ploys from Lesnar’s camp as Meltzer speculates.

I also don’t think the landscape is right for Lesnar. Lesnar is a true draw but he needs a good opponent to maximize his value. Who in the UFC heavyweight division is that guy? It is easy to say Frank Mir but at this point I don’t think anyone is buying that fight. There aren’t any Fedors, Coutures, or even Shane Carwins out there to draw the big money with.

You are kidding yourself if you don’t think the UFC would take him back in a second. Brock is the biggest draw in UFC history. The UFC are days away from UFC 168 and facing the reality that the biggest card in years probably won’t even break one million buys. I don’t blame the UFC for wishful thinking but I’d be shocked to see it happen in 2014 or ever.

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UFC 170 Main-Event Makes No Sense

December 17, 2013 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

The UFC is gearing up for 2014 with at least one lackluster main-event. The UFC 170 headliner has been confirmed and it will feature a battle of light heavyweights. Unfortunately it is one of the strangest fights the UFC has put together in awhile.

Rashad Evans will fight Daniel Cormier in the UFC 170 main-event in a light heavyweight fight. Cormier will make his debut at 205 in this fight. The fight is odd for a few reasons. The most prevelant being that the UFC is taking a huge gamble here with Cormier with little payoff in the interim.

The UFC has nothing for Jon Jones after an Alexander Gustaffson rematch and that is not guaranteed. While hot shotting Daniel Cormier to the front of the light heavyweight line makes little sense, a winnable fight to get there is logical. Rashad Evans in a five-round fight is probably the least winnable fight for Cormier to take in his 205 debut.

The UFC headlining with this also makes little sense to me. Evans is not a draw. Fans respect him but don’t want to pay money to watch him in the headline fight. His style of fight is not a big secret and after eight years fans know what they are going to get. The last time the UFC tried to headline with Evans, he and Dan Henderson drew the lowest buyrate of the year. To put it into perspective, The Korean Zombie vs. Jose Aldo reportedly outdrew Henderson vs. Evans.

What if Evans wins? I am already predicting a win here for the former light heavyweight champion. Cormier may be bigger but Evans has far superior conditioning to outlast Cormier in five-rounds. Theoretically Evans should go to the front of the line with his third straight win. Which begs the question, who in the world wants to see another Jon Jones vs. Rashad Evans fight? I certainly don’t.

So what is the payoff here? I could see putting the fight together and mortgaging the Cormier-Jones fight if this was some kind of a big draw. It’s not. While Cormier has dominated since entering the UFC, he hasn’t had any exciting fights. How in the world could the UFC rationalize putting this on as a pay per view headliner?

I’ll dig a little deeper here for a conspiracy. The UFC wants Cormier to stay at heavyweight. Cormier has no interest in fighting the champion so he is moving to 205. What does Cormier do if he loses? I think the UFC are banking on Cormier losing and moving back to heavyweight. Friend or not, is Cormier going to stay in a division and damage his marketability or go back to a division in which he is undefeated? At that point the UFC are thinking that Cormier goes back to heavyweight and Velasquez has a much-needed new opponent past Fabricio Werdum or Barnett/Browne.

The conspiracy sounds ridiculous, I get it. Why would the UFC take a bath on a pay per view just to get Cormier back to heavyweight? Maybe they think that what he would draw with Velasquez will more than make up the loss?

That’s the only explanation I got.

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Georges St-Pierre Vacates UFC Title, Taking Indefinite Break

December 13, 2013 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

One of the greatest MMA fighters of all-time is stepping away. UFC welterweight champion Georges St.Pierre announced Friday that he is taking an indefinite leave of absence. He will be taking an extended break and may come back…if he wants.

The announcement which UFC president Dana White told the media earlier this week would be nothing was something. GSP was expected to announce his retirement yet he stopped short of saying the r-word. GSP will take an extended break and has vacated the UFC welterweight title. The champ (well former champion) left no timetable for a possible return.

GSP’s decision seemed to come more from the UFC forcing him to make a decision than anything else. Dana White has been adamant about Georges owing the UFC and would not be allowed to take a break. GSP told the media that he has too much pressure right now and can’t do another training camp. Rather than hold the UFC up the champion will step away.

GSP did make it clear that he intends to come back but never said when. GSP said that the next time he fights he will be in the blue corner as a challenger and not a champion. GSP said his health is good, even 100%. Dana already has a plan in place to crown a new welterweight champion. GSP will be back but when is the question.

GSP told the media that he becomes completely obsessed with his fights. He said that when the UFC announce him for fights that he becomes 100% obsessed with each fight. He said that it is a lot of pressure. He said that it is hard to explain how difficult the pressure is. GSP said he thinks he will be back but wouldn’t confirm that and said he doesn’t want people thinking about him while he is gone. He said he is tired, needs a break, and needs to get away from it.

I can’t recall anyone in MMA ever stepping away this way. It reminds me of when Barry Sanders stepped away from the NFL and announced his retirement. The only difference here is that GSP has not committed to retirement.

This puts enormous pressure on Anderson Silva at UFC 168. GSP is the biggest draw on pay per view for the UFC. With GSP gone, Anderson Silva now moves into that top spot. What if Silva loses? Silva could announce his retirement. Regardless he won’t be the same draw he was prior to that fight. That leaves Jon Jones as the big star. Unfortunately for the UFC he has never caught on with casual fans like past UFC superstars had. His most recent fight with Alexander Gustafsson drew a disappointing buyrate. Maybe if fans see him as the top dog his appeal will increase?

The UFC will move forward with a fight to decide the new champion on March 15. Johny Hendricks will fight Robbie Lawler for the vacated welterweight title. Should Lawler win he could go down as one of the biggest comeback stories in MMA history. I am glad they didn’t go with a rumored Carlos Condit vs. Hendricks fight since Condit lost his last two of three. Rory MacDonald couldn’t have picked a worse time to lose. He would have been guaranteed that spot if he defeated Lawler. Unfortunately for him he didn’t. It will be real interesting to see if Nick Diaz pops back up in the picture now that GSP is gone.

I think GSP will be back. Unfortunately we may have to wait a year to see it.

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Anderson Silva Blames Footwork On UFC 162 Loss

December 05, 2013 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

Anderson Silva is an interesting guy. Not only is he the greatest MMA fighter of our lifetime, he is certainly one of the most quotable. Silva has an interesting way of looking at things so his take on Chris Weidman KO’ing him shouldn’t be a big surprise.

Silva was stopped for the first time in his UFC career back at UFC 162 against the underdog Chris Weidman. Silva started clowning around and Weidman clocked him for the knockout while his hands were done, dethroning the middleweight champion. Silva though sees things differently.

Silva told Sport.TV that it was his footwork and not his hands being down which cost him the fight.

My mistakes in that fight, and that’s the first time I’m saying this, were basic mistakes,” Silva told Sportv. “I did everything I had to do except hit him. I didn’t counterattack. When I stopped with my feet parallel, I should have hit him and walked one step behind. I didn’t do that. I saw my mistakes and I’m working on that to train for this next fight.

Silva blames his feet here which is already causing a bit of outrage from MMA hardcore fans who believe Silva is just making excuses. One thing he does point out which I agree with his lack of counterattack. I am glad he is taking accountability here because his lack of counterattack was the difference here. Sure he goofs around in other fights but he always counters or at least tries. Here he just acted like a goof and instead of getting in Weidman’s head, he was out cold.

What this does tell me is that the second fight is going to be much different than the first. The biggest question coming out of 162 was whether it was a fluke or not. A win is a win whether it was fluky or not in my opinion. The general vibe I get from reading MMA social media content is that if you thought Weidman was going to win going in, it wasn’t a fluke. If you thought Silva was going to win, it was a fluke. I expect a much different Silva at 168. I wouldn’t be shocked at all if he clowns around. I would be surprised if he isn’t more aggressive.

One thing that is bound to get you pumped is the trash talking coming from The Spider. I have only heard it a few times and it generally seems to work.

It’s going to be a tough fight,” he said, “and it won’t last too long if it stays standing.

I can’t wait!

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UFC Network Announcement Is Troubling

December 04, 2013 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

The UFC is gearing up for its most ambitious year in its 20 year existence. The MMA giant is scheduled to unleash close to 50 live events in 2014. The company will air many on an exclusive network in what I believe is the beginning of a long ending to UFC as we know it.

I have no qualms admitting that I am hardly the UFC fan today I was 20, 10, 5, even one year ago. The handful of shows I miss has now turned into the handful of shows I catch over the course of a year. There is just too much UFC and the announcement of this network confirms it.

The UFC will reportedly launch its own network in 2014. The new network will be available online and will offer access to streaming live events around the world, international The Ultimate Fighter seasons, as well as the UFC library for a monthly fee. Lorenzo Fertitta told USA Today that he wants to make sure every fan has the access to catch all of the events.

The UFC’s expansion into international markets, and the extended calendar of events, is certainly part of the reason it makes sense to launch the digital network in 2014,” Fertitta said. “UFC fans are the most passionate fans in the world, and we want to ensure they can see every fight and every event no matter where in the world the octagon may be.

I look at this as the beginning of the end. Don’t get me wrong. I think the end came this year when the company just oversaturated itself to the point that even hardcore fans began missing shows. No longer was every UFC event a must-see show. Contrary, most events were watered down to the point where only a select few events actually mattered.

The news about this network is troubling. What this tells me is that the fans aren’t the only ones losing interest. The UFC’s partner FOX Sports is losing interest as well. We were all told that once FOX launched their new networks, that the UFC would be a key part of the programming. The idea that FOX is passing on these shows tells me that this is not news to be celebrated. Let’s charge people to watch shows that our own broadcast partner isn’t even interested in producing!

One of the biggest if not the biggest problem with the UFC is its inability to create superstars. With Georges St-Pierre and Anderson Silva on the way out, Jon Jones is about it. What is troubling about that is that Jones doesn’t draw anywhere comparable to what UFC stars of his level have drawn in the past. Who is the big draw past Jones? Don’t say Cain Velasquez until you look at the buyrate he drew against JDS. It is Jones and everyone else and that isn’t going to change.

By holding all of these events, fans can no longer invest their interest into an up and coming star. Fans won’t be able to see all of their favorite fighter’s fights as easily as they did before. Take Alexander Gustaffson for example. He will be headlining the O2 Arena event which is only accessible by live stream. How do you take a guy like him who most fans don’t see fight and then expect him to draw in another featured fight against Bones or anyone else? He is just one example. It will be almost impossible to create homegrown stars with this many shows, 14 or so not even accessible to casual fans.

This also puts the MMA media in play. How many media outlets are going to pay to send their reporters or columnists to 50 live events? Does MMA coverage offer the kind of ROI on this investment? It is telling when Dave Meltzer who has been reporting on the UFC for 20 years readily admits on his podcast that it is probably time to stop covering all of the events. He is making that choice, how many MMA writers will have that choice made for them by their employer?

The UFC is in trouble. At some point the bubble is going to burst and it isn’t going to be pretty. The promotion is making it near impossible for fans to religiously follow the company and that can’t be good for anyone. When your own television partner is passing on your shows, you know you are in trouble.

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Lyoto Machida Opens Door On Anderson Silva UFC Fight

November 21, 2013 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

Anderson Silva has said numerous times that he would never fight Lyoto Machida. Silva often calls Machida a brother. Apparently his brother never got the memo because the former UFC champion isn’t ready to close the door on a potential.

The Super Fight has eluded the UFC for years. Dana White’s inability to sign cash bonanzas like GSP vs. Silva and/or Silva vs. Jon Jones has left the UFC without that historic epic big fight. Fortunately or unfortunately there is one big fight left on the table. It is certainly telling that this is what the epic fight has come down to in 2013.

Lyoto Machida stunned the MMA world when he moved to middleweight several weeks ago. Machida made an immediate impact, quickly disposing of his friend Mark Munoz in his 185 debut. It didn’t take long for the Silva vs. Machida questions to start. Up until now that fight has been off the table. While not confirming anything, the Dragon said enough recently when he kept the door open on the big 185 showdown.

Machida was asked recently about fighting his training partner and close friend Anderson Silva. Machida surprisingly said he’d consider it when the time is right.

“I don’t want this fight,” Machida said. “We’re close, and we have the same manager. He’s fighting for the belt, and I’m still far from it. It’s hard to talk about it now. I don’t know if we will cross paths one day. Let’s let things happen and decide what to do. You have to be prepared to face to situation. You have to talk about it.”

This is a much different sentiment than what Silva has conveyed whenever he has been asked about the fight. The talk first started a few years ago when Machida ran through Rashad Evans for the UFC light heavyweight title beginning what Joe Rogan called “the Machida era.” Silva immediately squashed any talk about a potential dream fight at the time. Even as recently, Silva said that the match is not only off limits, he’d retire before he’d fight his friend.

“Jacare is a guy that has been doing a great job and can earn a title shot,” Silva said. “Lyoto is a close friend, a great athlete, and we train together, just like Jacare (Souza).”

“If we get to a point where we’d have to fight, I’d even give up the title.”

Obviously these two aren’t on the same page. I always wondered why someone like Machida would even bother moving to 185 if his end-goal wasn’t to win the title, Silva being champion or not. I thought the second Machida dropped to middleweight that he would fight if Silva if presented the opportunity.

MMA is a weird sport. You see friends and even family members compete against each other all of the time at the highest levels of sport from football to basketball to baseball, etc. Yet in MMA, a sport where these guys spar together all of the time, they refuse to fight each other, sacrificing business and money in the name of friendship. Honorable yes but I just never understood that.

Fortunately for both of these guys they may not have to worry about it if Silva can’t get past Chris Weidman in December.

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