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UFC 2013 Spring/Summer Events Preview

April 18, 2013 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

As the UFC schedule continues to roll along at breakneck speeds, MMA fans should be gearing up for an action-packed Spring-Early summer schedule as the world’s leading promotion has a number of events scheduled over the next few months. In this blog we’ll take a look at a schedule of the upcoming cards and highlight the fighters and fights to watch out for. Before we get started, I should point out the usual UFC disclaimer that all fight cards are scheduled to change, and if the past is any indication, there could be a number of these cards shuffled, main events scrapped or changed as fighters become injured.

APRIL

Event: UFC on Fox 7: Henderson vs. Melendez

Date: April 20, 2013

Venue: HP Pavilion in San Jose, California

The first stop on our preview takes us to the Sunshine State of California where Benson Henderson will once again defend his UFC Lightweight title on free television. He’ll welcome Striekforce Lightweight Champion Gilbert Melendez to the UFC in a match between two champions. The co-main event will see debut of Heavyweight star Daniel Cormier as he makes his UFC debut by taking on former UFC Heavyweight Champion Frank Mir. A lightweight scrap that seems destined for Fight of the Night honors is also on tap as Nate Diaz battles Strikeforce import Josh Thompson. Recently debuted Jordan Mein fresh off his impressive stoppage of Dan Miller at UFC 158 replaces injured Dan Hardy to take on the surging Matt Brown.

CARD GOES HERE

Fight of the Night Award Projection: Nate Diaz vs. Josh Thompson or Joseph Benavidez vs. Darren Uyenoyama

Event: UFC 159: Jones vs. Sonnen

Date: April 27, 2013

Venue: Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey

Grudge match? Says who? If you watched the latest season of The Ultimate Fighter you certainly wouldn’t think that these two men were bitter rivals preparing for a huge battle against each other. While I’m sure the UFC was banking on fireworks and trash talk, Jones and Sonnen remained mostly courteous and calm when dealing with each other during the show. Trash talk will certainly ramp up as the show ends and Sonnen goes into full on promotion mode. The co-main event of the evening features another grudge match as Middleweight sluggers Michael Bisping and Alan Belcher are set to square off. Also featured on the main Pay Per View card is a Heavyweight fight between Roy Nelson and Cheick Kongo, a Light Heavyweight bout between Phil Davis and Vinny Magalhaes and a Lightweight bout between Jim Miller and Pat Healy.

CARD GOES HERE

Fight of the Night Award Projection: Michael Bisping vs. Alan Belcher or Erik Perez vs. Johnny Bedford

MAY

Event: UFC on FX 8: Belfort vs. Rockhold

Date: May 18, 2013

Venue: Arena Jaragua in Jaragua do Sul, Brazil

The UFC returns to one of it’s new favorite destinations as they head to Brazil for yet another summer card on FX. The main event is a highly intriguing bout between Brazilian MMA pioneer Vitor Belfort and the final Strikeforce Middleweight Champion Luke Rockhold. Both men are well known for their striking prowess, so I would expect that the majority of this bout will take place on the feet, at least until someone gets knocked out. The co-main event of the evening features 2 more rising stars in the Middleweight division as Constantios Philippou looks to continue his winning streak against debuting Strikeforce veteran Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza. That bout will certainly be an interesting styles-clash pitting the powerful boxing of Philippou against the top-level Brazilian Jiu Jitsu of Souza. Other main card bouts include Rafael dos Anjos vs. Evan Dunham in a potential Lightweight thriller and Chris Camozzi battling Rafael Natal in Middleweight action.

CARD GOES HERE

Fight of the Night Award Projection: Rafael dos Anjos vs. Evan Dunham or Vitor Belfort vs. Luke Rockhold

Event: UFC 160: Velasquez vs. Bigfoot 2

Date: May 25, 2013

Venue: MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada

Heavyweight action is on the docket for the UFC’s return to Las Vegas. Although the main event is a rematch that no one was really asking for, it’s nice to see a title bout where the challenger actually earns his shot. Something that Antonio Silva did by smashing former number one contender Alistair Overeem. Speaking of Overeem he was expected to battle Junior dos Santos in a Heavyweight grudge match in the co-main event, but an injury to him has seen him replaced by former K-1 kickboxer Mark Hunt. Other main card action sees Glover Teixeira trying to continue his run up the Light Heavyweight rankings as he battles hard-hitting James Te-Huna. A pair of Lightweight bouts round off the main card in what could both be potential Fight of the Night award winners. First off Donald Cerrone battles Strikeforce import KJ Noons in a battle between two guys who love to stand and trade. The second is a bout between fringe contenders in the Lightweight division TJ Grant and Gray Maynard.

CARD GOES HERE

Fight of the Night Award Prediction: Donald Cerrone vs. KJ Noons or Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Abel Trujillo

JUNE

Event: UFC on Fuel TV 10: Nogueira vs. Werdum

Date: June 8, 2013

Venue: Paulo Sarasate Arena in Fortaleza, Brazil

This event will serve as the finale for the second season of The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil. Head coaches for the season are Heavyweights Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Fabricio Werdum, those two men will square off in the main event with a potential title shot likely looming for the victor. The card will feature the finals of the Welterweight season of the show. Other main card bouts scheduled for the show include Light Heavyweights Thiago Silva taking on former Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion Rafael Cavalcante and Welterweight young guns Erick Silva and John Hathaway.

CARD GOES HERE

Fight of the Night Award Projection: Erick Silva vs. John Hathaway or Thiago Silva vs. Rafael Cavalcante

Event: UFC 161: Barao vs. Wineland

Date: June 15, 2013

Venue: MTS Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

The UFC makes its debut in Winnipeg as they head to the MTS Centre, the home of the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets. The card features a main event for the UFC’s Interim Bantamweight Championship as Renan Barao defends his title against former WEC Bantamweight Champion Eddie Wineland. A throwback to the golden days of PRIDE is also planned for the co-main event as Mauricio Rua and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira rematch in Light Heavyweight action. Former Light Heavyweight Champions do battle when Rashad Evans battles Dan Henderson. A women’s Bantamweight bout will open the Pay Per View event as Rosi Sexton battles Alexis Davis. Heavyweight action rounds out the main PPV card as Pat Barry battles Shawn Jordan.

CARD GOES HERE

Fight of the Night Award Projection: Mauricio Rua vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira or Renan Barao vs. Eddie Wineland

JULY & BEYOND

Event: UFC 162: Silva vs. Weidman

Date: July 6, 2013

Venue: MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada

The Spider finally returns to the octagon, as Anderson Silva is set to defend his Middleweight title in the main event against undefeated challenger Chris Weidman. Weidman is an interesting style match up for the champion and that combined with his undefeated professional record has many people interested in this bout. The co-main event of the night has fireworks written all over it as top Featherweight contenders Chan Sung Jung and Ricardo Lamas do battle for a shot at the UFC Featherweight Championship. Middleweight scrappers Mark Munoz and Tim Boetsch will look to get their octagon careers back on the right track against one another. More top Featherweight contenders will be in action as Frankie Edgar looks for his first victory in his new weightclass when he battled Charles Oliveira. In the opening bout of the Pay Per View Featherweight sluggers Cub Swanson and Dennis Siver will lock horns.

CARD GOES HERE

Fight of the Night Award Projection: There are just way too many on this card. Without exception all of the fights on the PPV card could be potential Fight of the Night candidates, some of them maybe even Fight of the Year candidates. Since that’s a bit of a cop out, I’ll take Siver vs. Swanson as my pick.

Event: UFC on Fox 8

Date: July 27, 2013

Venue: Key Arena in Seattle Washington

Currently the only bout announced for this card is a bout between struggling Lightweights Melvin Guillard and Mac Danzig. I don’t suspect those two will even earn a spot on the Fox card by the time this event fills up, especially with the way the UFC has been stacking these cards recently. I would expect to see a title defended in the main event. The leading contender is probably the Flyweight title, provided that champion Demetrious Johnson can recover from his injury in time.

Event: UFC 163: Aldo vs. Pettis

Date: August 3, 2013

Venue: HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Georges St-Pierre: The Way of the Fight Book

Anderson Silva: Like Water

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Jose Aldo Says No To Farce UFC Title Fight

February 25, 2013 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

Jose Aldo has become my new favorite UFC fighter. After months of ridiculous UFC championship fights Aldo has become the first fighter to put an end to this farce and Dana White is not a happy man.

Somewhere over the last year the UFC began sacrificing credibility for entertainment in regards to their championship fights. At one time the only way a fighter could earn a title fight in the UFC is by becoming the number one contender. In 2013 all it takes is a tweet and a text and anyone can get a title shot. Finally one champion has had enough.

UFC president Dana White revealed over the weekend that featherweight champion Jose Aldo is refusing to defend his title against Anthony Pettis. Pettis mind you who hasn’t fought in the division, was granted a title fight after he sent Dana White a text after Aldo’s last fight asking for a title fight. Somehow Pettis immediately became the top contender in the eyes of the UFC, but not in the eyes of the champion.

Jose Aldo came out and said, ‘There’s no way in hell I’m fighting Pettis,’White said following Saturday’s UFC 157 post-event press conference. “He’s absolutely refusing to fight Pettis – doesn’t think he deserves the shot.

I say bravo Jose Aldo! It is about time one of these UFC champions stood up like champions and said no to these showtime fights in favor of credible title fights. Anderson Silva, Georges St-Pierre, Jon Jones, Ben Henderson, and even Aldo have sacrificed credibility for business over the last several months, leaving rightful top contenders in the dust. Finally Aldo has had enough.

Fighters coming off of losses or guys who haven’t even fought in the division are getting more title fights in the UFC than ever before. I certainly understand that the UFC is a business and the number one contender isn’t always going to get the title shot. However, these showtime title fights have become an epidemic where credible title fights are becoming the minority and not the norm.

How many more times are guys like Dan Henderson, Pettis (at lightweight), Ricardo Lamas, Johny Hendricks going to take backseats to fighters who have jumped ahead of them due to anything but their record? The window of a number one contender is short and can close at anytime, as Hendo just found out at UFC 157. Yet these top contenders are expected to keep fighting and fighting for what? These undeserving title fights have gotten completely ridiculous!

Ironically Aldo is coming off a fight where he just fought a guy who had not fought in his division, Frankie Edgar. The difference there is that Edgar was stepping in for an injured fighter as a replacement. It wasn’t right but I have no problem with guys getting undeserving title fights as last minute replacements. The show must go on. But this is a much different situation and I agree with Aldo 100%.

Dana White is talking a big game right now. According to Ariel Helwani, White is already making threats against Aldo.

Dana said Aldo will fight Pettis or he’s not going to like the way this turns out. He’s absolutely refusing right now.

What can Dana do? Strip him of the title for not fighting a guy who hasn’t fought in the division? White’s threats are laughable. I have read reports that indicate Aldo would fight Pettis, just not for the title. This is not a case of someone that is scared. This is a case of a guy that wants to be tested and truly fight the best. I say kudos to Jose Aldo.

It’s a shame more UFC champions don’t feel the same way.

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UFC On FOX 6: Johnson Vs. Dodson Results and Wrap Up

January 28, 2013 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

The UFC has closed the book on another free event on network television and they have to be pleased with the results. Although the broadcast started with some technical issues, and many fans were left complaining when some Fox affiliates switched to re-runs of the Big Bang Theory during the main event of the evening, fans were treated to some exciting fights and brutal finishes throughout the night. Topping it all off is strong ratings results, which peaked at 3.77 million viewers for the broadcast.

Featuring a nasty, bloody and brutally violent ground and pound finish, some of the most scintillating striking on the planet, a Light Heavyweight slugfest and two of the UFC’s fastest athletes battling it out for a full 25-minutes, this card had it all. Let’s take a look at the fights, and see what’s next for each main card fighter.

Featherweight Bout: Ricardo Lamas defeated Erik Koch via TKO (Elbows and Punches) at 2:52 of Round 2

What began as a well-matched chess match between two great fighters got violent quickly. In the first Lamas looked to take Koch to the ground, but Koch defended well and was able to get off some decent shots before the closing of a very close first round. In the second round, an inadvertent slip by Lamas spelled the end for Koch. He tried to follow Lamas to the ground, but tripped himself and ended up underneath of Lamas after a brief scramble. From there Lamas fired off some nasty elbows and punches, one of which opened a gruesome cut on Koch’s face. It certainly left the Fox executives feeling antsy as they refused to show Koch after the fight and even spray-painted over the blood inside the cage.

What’s next for Lamas? Likely the winner of the upcoming UFC Featherweight title bout between Jose Aldo and Frankie Edgar at UFC 156 next weekend. Lamas is now 4-0 since dropping down to the Featherweight division and has looked more and more impressive with each consecutive win. Throw in the quality of names he’s beaten in his past three bouts Cub Swanson, Hatsu Hioki and Erik Koch and he surely deserves a shot.

What’s next for Koch? A bit of time to get back into the swing and a chance to rebuild himself. He needs to prove that he can handle talented grapplers as well as strikers, so someone well rounded enough to challenge his skills. Perhaps a bout with Nam Phan or Diego Nunes who both recently suffered losses would work for Koch.

Lightweight Bout: Anthony Pettis defeated Donald Cerrone via TKO (Liver Kick) at 2:35 of Round 1

This one had Fight of the Night contender written all over it, unfortunately for fans, it didn’t last long enough to live up to the hype. Anthony “Showtime” Pettis certainly lived up to his nickname, throwing a wild variety of flashy strikes at Cerrone en-route to a one-sided beating. In the end it wasn’t a capoeira wheel kick or a Showtime Knee off of the cage that did the job, but a steady liver kick that ended Cerrone’s night. With the TKO victory Pettis became the first man to ever stop Cerrone via Strikes.

What’s next for Pettis? Dana White was finally convinced that Pettis deserves a title shot that has eluded him in the past. With Benson Henderson scheduled to defend his Lightweight title against final Strikeforce champion Gilbert Melendez at the next UFC event on Fox, I would expect Pettis to be cage side for a post fight stare down.

What’s next for Cerrone? Let’s take a look at the people who have been successful against ‘Cowboy’ in the past, Pettis, Nate Diaz and Benson Henderson, the last title challenger, a future title challenger and the current champion. Cerrone remains a tough test for almost any other fighter and his success outside of the top 3 makes him a viable gatekeeper for the division. A bout with Joe Lauzon could be highly entertaining, as could a bout against Thiago Tavares.

Light Heavyweight Bout: Glover Teixeira defeated Quinton Jackson via Unanimous Decision after 3 Rounds

This was supposed to be Rampage’s final bout in the UFC and many people thought he would come in out of shape and simply there for a paycheck. That proved not to be the case, but he was still soundly outclassed by Teixeira. Teixeira was certainly not flawless in victory but he managed to land some big blows, including a few that wobbled the usually iron-chinned Rampage. He also used well-timed takedowns and ground and pound to control the action the rest of the way. It was a fairly dominant performance, but probably not quite enough to elevate him to top contender status as of yet.

What’s next for Teixeira? He looked good beating up on Rampage, but that story is kind of getting old for a lot of fans. Jackson isn’t the fighter he once was, and although the Brazilian dominated him, he still showed some weaknesses that will need to be shored up before his next contest. Only two fighters really make sense to me for him at this point, Ryan Bader who came off an impressive victory on the undercard, or Rashad Evans should he get by Lil’ Nog at UFC 156 next weekend.

What’s next for Rampage? Retirement maybe? It’s probably his best option, but there’s still a lot of money to be made for him in smaller organizations so I doubt he’ll hang ‘em up. He seemed to be admitting to himself after the fight that he wasn’t a top tier fighter anymore, but he’ll still command top dollar on the open market. I expect to see him in Bellator or regional promotions knocking out cans for years to come.

UFC Flyweight Championship Bout: Demetrious Johnson defeated John Dodson via Unanimous Decision after 5 Rounds

The first title defense for the UFC’s Flyweight champion got off to a bit of a rough start. He was dropped a couple of times in the first two rounds and seemed a bit surprised to be in the cage with someone who could match his speed. Still even after dropping a couple of rounds and being dropped, he continued to push the pace and in the championship rounds he let his conditioning to the talking for him. With Dodson’s gas fading Johnson showed off some impressive Muay Thai skills, battering the challenger with knees from the Thai plum. In the end he couldn’t find a finish in the final round, but he did seal up a Unanimous Decision.

What’s next for Johnson? Unfortunately with a division this young, there is a bit of a lack of challengers. That usually leads to rematches, which is somewhat unfortunate but necessary while the natural contenders emerge themselves. John Moraga and Louis Gaudinot are emerging as contenders, but the biggest stars other than the champion are Joseph Benavidez and Ian McCall. They face off next weekend, with the winner likely to get a title shot even though they have a combined 0-2-1 record against Johnson in the past.

What’s next for Dodson? Anyone really. He’s a tough match up for anyone and he’s highly entertaining. Any Flyweight will probably do, but it’d be best to keep him away from the major up and comers. Perhaps a bout against Louis Gaudinot in a battle of former TUF alums.

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Chael Sonnen: The Voice of Reason: A V.I.P. Pass to Enlightenment

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UFC On FOX 6: Johnson Vs. Dodson Predictions and Analysis

January 25, 2013 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

Free fights, free fights, free fights! The UFC continues it’s 2013 roll with yet another night of free fights, this weekend it’s on major network television as the UFC presents UFC on Fox 6. After some weak ratings during 2012, Fox executives must have told the UFC to seriously step up their games for their Fox offerings in 2013, as this is the second straight UFC on Fox event to be headlined by a title fight. This weekend it’s the UFC’s smallest fighters who take center stage as the UFC Flyweight title will be on the line in the main event as Demetrious ‘Mighty Mouse’ Johnson takes on TUF-champion John ‘The Magician’ Dodson.

Light Heavyweight action is slotted for the co-main event as Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson is set to make what is expected to be his final octagon appearance against the man he was supposed to battle months ago in Brazil; Glover Teixeira. A fight with Fight of the Year potential is also on the card as Lightweights Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone and Anthony ‘Showtime’ Pettis lock horns in a grudge match with serious title implications in the 155-pound division. Opening the main card is a Featherweight bout between top-10 fighters Erik Koch and Ricardo Lamas, where an impressive showing by either fighter could earn them a shot against the winner of next weekend’s UFC 156 Featherweight title main event.

Preliminary Card (Facebook): Welterweight Bout: Simeon Thoresen vs. David Mitchell

Simeon “The Grin” Thoresen is a 28-year-old fighter from Sandejford, Norway. He is a member of Hellboy MMA training under famed Norwegian fighter Joachim “Hellboy” Hansen in Oslo, Norway. Thoresen holds a professional record of 17-3-1. David “Daudi” Mitchell is a 33-year-old fighter from Windsor, California. Fighting out of Santa Rosa, California he is a member of the Nor-Cal Fighting Alliance. Mitchell holds a career record of 11-2.

Quick Pick: Simeon Thoresen via Submission in Round Two

Preliminary Card (FX): Middleweight Bout: Rafael Natal vs. Sean Spencer

Rafael “Sapo” Natal is a 30-year-old fighter from Belo Horizonte, Brazil. A black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu he is a member of the Gracie Fusion Gym in New York City, New York. He holds a career record of 14-4-1. Sean “Black Magic” Spencer is a fighter from Bluefield, Virginia. He will be making his UFC debut and trains out of the Octagon MMA Gym in Virginia. He holds a career record of 9-1.

Quick Pick: Rafael Natal via Unanimous Decision

Preliminary Card (FX): Welterweight Bout: Mike Stumpf vs. Pascal Krauss

Pascal “Panzer” Krauss is a 25-year-old German fighter from Breisach, West Germany. Krauss now trains in the United States with the Roufusport Gym in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Krauss holds a career record of 10-1. Mike Stumpf is a 29-year-old fighter from Crystal Lake, Illinois. He is a member of the Team Curran Gym training under famed coach and fighter Jeff “Big Frog” Curran. He holds a career record of 11-3.

Quick Pick: Pascal Krauss via TKO in Round Two

Preliminary Card (FX): Heavyweight Bout: Mike Russow vs. Shawn Jordan

Mike Russow is a 36-year-old fighter from Kankakee, Illinois. A police officer in his hometown of Chicago, he is also a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler who trains with the DeatchClutch Gym in Minnesota. Russow holds a career record of 15-2-1. Shawn “The Savage” Jordan is a 28-year-old fighter from El Paso, Texas. He is a member of Greg Jackson’s Submission Fighting Camp in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He holds a career record of 13-4.

Quick Pick: Mike Russow via TKO in Round Two

Preliminary Card (FX): Light Heavyweight Bout: Ryan Bader vs. Vladimir Matyushenko

Ryan “Darth” Bader is a 29-year-old fighter from Reno, Nevada. He is a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler who was a cast member and the eventual winner of the eighth season of The Ultimate Fighter. Bader trains with the Power MMA Team in Tempe, Arizona and holds a career record of 14-3. Vladimir “The Janitor” Matyushenko is a 42-year-old fighter from Recyca, Russia. The Belarusian now trains and resides in El Segundo, California. He holds a career record of 26-6.

Quick Pick: Ryan Bader via TKO in Round One

Preliminary Card (FX): Featherweight Bout: Clay Guida vs. Hatsu Hioki

Clay “The Carpenter” Guida is a 31-year-old fighter from Round Lake, Illinois. Guida trains with Greg Jackson’s team in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Guida will be making his Featherweight debut in this fight. He holds a professional MMA record of 29-13. Hatsu “Iron Broom” Hioki is a 29-year-old fighter from Nagoya, Japan. Hioki trains at the ALIVE Shooto Academy in Nagoya, Japan but also spends time training in Canada at the Tristar Gym. Hioki holds a career record of 26-5-2.

Quick Pick: Clay Guida via Unanimous Decision

Preliminary Card (FX): Lightweight Bout: T.J. Grant vs. Matt Wiman

T.J. Grant is a 28-year-old Canadian fighter from Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia. With a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu who trains at the Fit Plus Gym in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. He holds a career record of 19-5. “Handsome” Matt Wiman is a 29-year-old fighter from Denver, Colorado. Wiman trains with the Kline Brothers at Easton BJJ Gym in Arvada, Colorado. Wiman holds a career record of 15-6.

Quick Pick: T.J. Grant via Split Decision

Main Card (Fox): Featherweight Bout: Erik Koch vs. Ricardo Lamas

Erik “New Breed” Koch is a 24-year-old fighter from Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Koch has been training in Tae Kwan Do since the age of four. Koch is a member of the Roufusport Gym training out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Koch joined the WEC in 2009 and has compiled a record of 5-1 inside the UFC and WEC, combined with 2 Knockout of the Night performances. He is a talented striker, but is competing for the first time in over a year after a major knee injury. He holds a career record of 13-1.

Ricardo “The Bully” Lamas is a 30-year-old fighter from Chicago, Illinois. He trains at the MMA Masters Gym in Miami, Florida. Lamas is a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu who is also a former NCAA Wrestler from Elmhurst College. Lamas is a talented grappler with a smothering top control game, nasty ground and pound and excellent submissions from the top. Lamas is currently 3-0 inside the UFC’s Featherweight division and is ranked in the top 5 in the weight class according to most publications, a strong showing here could catapult him to contender status. He holds a professional fighting record of 12-2.

Analysis and Prediction: Erik Koch was most recently scheduled to challenge Jose Aldo for the Featherweight title, but injuries have kept him out of action for over 16 months, that kind of ring rust will always have an effect on your performance. Koch is an aggressive and dynamic striker, while Lamas usually prefers a more ground-based approach, so it’ll certainly be an interesting contrast in game plans. Lamas is a former NCAA Wrestler and Koch has been controlled by a strong wrestler in Chad Mendes in the past. However, he has stuffed almost every other Featherweights takedowns in the UFC and has proven very tough to control. Koch will probably start slow, but he’s young and he can overcome the potential ring rust. After a shaky opening round he rallies back to win via TKO late in the fight. Erik Koch via TKO in Round Three

Main Card (Fox): Lightweight Bout: Anthony Pettis vs. Donald Cerrone

Anthony “Showtime” Pettis is a 25-year-old fighter from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He was the final WEC Lightweight Champion, who holds a career victory over current UFC Lightweight Champion Benson Henderson. Despite being passed over a number of times for promised title shots, he remains at the top of his division and could earn a title shot with an impressive victory. Pettis is a talented and innovative striker who is best known for his famous ‘Showtime Kick’ in the WEC. Pettis owns a black belt in Tae Kwan Do and a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Pettis is a member of the Roufusport Gym in Milwaukee, where he trains under famed Muay Thai kick boxer and MMA trainer Duke Roufus. He holds a professional MMA record of 15-2.

Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone is a 29-year-old fighter from Colorado Springs, Colorado. Cerrone is a tough and well-rounded fighter but does his best work in the striking department. Cerrone is a former professional Muay Thai kick boxer and often relies on those skills as the basis of his overall MMA game. Cerrone is a member of Greg Jackson’s camp in New Mexico where he trains daily with some of the best fighters in the sport. Cerrone is an aggressive and highly entertaining fighter with excellent cardio who constantly puts the pressure on his opponents. Despite his excellent striker he is also a capable grappler with strong submissions from top control. Cerrone holds a professional record of 19-4 with 1 No Contest.

Analysis and Prediction: This one has Fight of the Night written all over it, in fact Dana has probably already prepared the bonus checks for these two. They’ve engaged in a war of words for well over a year now and will finally get the chance to settle their differences in the cage. Pettis is a talented and innovative striker, who is also competent on the ground. Cerrone is also a capable striker who has been much more active since Pettis has been off for injury. If Pettis can shake off the ring rust early and get into a rhythm he has all the skills to knock Cerrone off of his game. However, Cerrone is a dangerous fighter with big power and excellent kickboxing who throws with bad intentions all the time and has the cardio to do it for three full rounds. The only person with a ton of success against Cerrone was the volume-boxing style of Nate Diaz. That’s not Pettis’ bread and butter, but if he’s smart he’s watched that fight over and over and incorporated some of that volume striking into his game, the key for him will be to keep Cerrone on his toes and on the defensive, not allowing him to get comfortable for any extended periods of time. If he does that he takes what will surely be a close and entertaining decision victory. Anthony Pettis via Unanimous Decision


Main Card (Fox): Light Heavyweight Bout: Quinton Jackson vs. Glover Teixeira

Quinton “Rampage” Jackson is a 34-year-old fighter from Memphis, Tennessee. Despite being only 34-years-old he has been fighting professionally since 1999, getting his start in King of the Cage, but becoming widely known for his time spent in PRIDE Fighting Championships in Japan. Jackson is highly entertaining both inside the cage and outside of it, but he has struggled in some of his more recent bouts. Many have credited his decision to begin acting on a part time basis as the reasons for his struggles. Despite those struggles, he remains a dangerous match up for almost any fighter as he has decent takedowns and knockout power in both of his hands combined with strong counter punching skills. He is a member of the Wolfslair MMA Academy in the UK, but also trains at his own gym in Irvine, California. Rampage holds a professional MMA record of 32-10.

Glover Teixeira is a 33-year-old fighter from Minas Gerais, Brazil. Despite his Brazilian heritage he now lives and trains in the United States with John Hackleman at The Pit in San Luis Obispo, California. Teixeira is an extremely talented grappler with excellent takedowns, a strong submission game from top control and nasty ground and pound. Teixeira is a former member of the Brazilian National Wrestling Team and combined with his black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has one of the best ground games in the Light Heavyweight division. Teixeira holds a professional MMA record of 19-2 and hasn’t lost since March of 2005.

Analysis and Prediction: Rampage has been exposed on the ground before, most recently by wrestling standout Ryan Bader. While Teixeira may not be as an accomplished amateur wrestler as Bader, he is still a talented and capable grappler with strong takedowns who is sure to use a similar game plan. Rampage has two big weapons, his fists and that’s about it, otherwise he’s fairly one-dimensional. He has trouble adapting a new game plan mid-fight, he rarely checks leg kicks allowing his lead leg to get battered in the process and his defensive grappling from his back is almost non-existent. I hate to bash Rampage like this, but he’s not the feared Light Heavyweight that he once was and to be honest, the UFC probably won’t miss him when he’s gone. Teixeira is too smart to fight into Rampage strengths, so expect a steady stream of thudding leg kicks followed up by takedowns before the Brazilian eventually grabs hold of a submission in the second. Glover Teixeira via Submission in Round Two

Main Card (Fox): Flyweight Championship Bout: Demetrious Johnson vs. John Dodson

Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson is a 26-year-old fighter from Madisonville, Kentucky. Johnson is the UFC’s first ever Flyweight Champion and will be defending his title in this bout. A former Bantamweight title challenger, he made the cut down to 125-pounds when the UFC announced the 4-man mini tournament for the title last year. Johnson is a member of the AMC Pankration Gym, training in Kirkland, Washington under the tutelage of world-class coach Matt “The Wizard” Hume. Johnson is a fast, accurate and technically sound striker who uses great movement, speed and footwork to compliment his boxing. Johnson is also a capable wrestler with strong takedowns and an excellent top control game. Johnson holds a career record of 16-2-1.

John “The Magician” Dodson is a 28-year-old fighter from Albuquerque, New Mexico. He is best known to fans as a cast member and the eventual winner of The Ultimate Fighter: Mayhem vs. Bisping season. Dodson is an accurate boxer who throws with a lot of power for a Flyweight. He is a member of Greg Jackson’s camp in New Mexico and holds a black belt in GaidoJutsu under coach Jackson. One of Dodson’s biggest assets is his physical strength and athleticism, as these traits make him incredibly difficult to take down and control. In fact on the show he claimed to have never been taken down in a fight. Dodson holds a career record of 14-5.

Analysis and Prediction: Dodson is a physically strong and athletic fighter who has speed and big power for the Flyweight division. He often foregoes tight, crisp boxing for wild haymakers that pack more power, but often leaves him exposed to counter-strikes. Sounds a lot like describing Joseph Benavidez there. If you remember correctly, Johnson just defeated Benavidez by using an approach custom tailored to avoid the big power shots of Benavidez and used excellent footwork to outland him. Given the similarities in opponents, I would expect a somewhat similar approach from Johnson this time around.

The key for Johnson against Benavidez was constantly circling away from the power punches of Benavidez and mixing his kicks and punches well to keep him off balance. Dodson is probably a better technical striker than Benavidez, but he often foregoes that technical approach in a more balls-to-the-wall striking style. The problem for Johnson will be that Dodson is probably the most athletically gifted and speediest fighter that he has come up against. Benavidez and Ian McCall are tough fighters who are quick on the feet and have good hand speed, but Dodson is certainly a slight step above them on the speed ladder.

In the end we know that Johnson has the gas tank to go for five solid rounds and while Dodson probably does too, I’ve seen it from Johnson. He keeps up an aggressive but not overly reckless style over five rounds. Ducking in and out and using leg kicks aggressively to keep the New Mexico native off balance and on the defensive. In the end, Johnson takes a close Decision victory. Demetrious Johnson via Unanimous Decision

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UFC 2012-13 Winter Events Preview

December 28, 2012 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

Happy Holidays, CamelClutchBlog faithful.  I sincerely hope everyone enjoyed whatever holiday they may or may not have celebrated this year.  I don’t think there is a politically incorrect way (and if there is, please tell me) for me to address the arrival of 2013 so I’d like to start by wishing everyone a happy and healthy New Year.

Speaking of healthy, I think we’d all like to wish a healthier 2013 for so many fighters who’ve been injured.  Yes, there is the purely selfish part of all of us who wants them healthier so they can entertain through this sport we love so much, but they obviously suffer from the lack of a paycheck.  Is GSP’s “Camp For Only One Fighter Like In Boxing” approach the answer, as Dana White recently mentioned? I have no idea.  If I knew how to stop fighter injuries, I feel like that information would be very valuable to promoters, gyms and bookies and I’d probably have heard from somebody by now.

But alas, I digress.  With over 30 events between pay-per-view, cable and free TV this year, not to mention compilations and weekly T.U.F. episodes, the UFC has been busy.  With one heavyweight title fight to go and a 2013 that’s shaping up nicely, let’s take a 30,000 foot view of what’s coming up and key fights look for in the year ahead.  Honestly, I could speak at length about each and every one of the fights that’ll be mentioned (particularly the Super Bowl weekend card) but again, this is more of a snapshot.  I’ll leave the in-depth analysis to our very own Lee McGregor, who’ll paint you a detailed portrait, complete with flowers and shading and colors and happy little trees.

These are just my thoughts, mind you, so if there’s something you feel I missed or a grievance with anything I say, throw it in the comments. Just don’t immediately jump to trolling. Let’s talk. No big whup.

UFC 155: Dos Santos vs. Velasquez II

What a difference a year makes.  Last November, the UFC debuted on Fox with then-champ and “we’d-later-confirm-he-was-injured” Cain Velasquez getting KO’d in 64 seconds by Junior dos Santos.   This Saturday, the UFC rings in the New Year with the anticipated rematch.  Since then, JDS successfully defended the title against Frank Mir and Velasquez healed up, turning the Octagon into a crimson Jackson Pollack at UFC 146 (using Bigfoot Silva’s face as the palette) along the way.  A healthy Velasquez looking to avenge his only loss makes him even more dangerous so I don’t see JDS swinging for the fences and clubbing him into 2013, but either way, this is a great fight.  As for the rest of the card, losing Forrest Griffin/Phil Davis was a bit of a blow, but if anything, I am most pumped about Jim Miller/Joe Lauzon in the co-main event.  Other key fights on the undercard are Brad Pickett/Eddie Wineland, Melvin Guilliard/Jamie Varner and the return of Todd “Don’t Let the Mike Russow Punching Bag Punch You Back” Dufee to the heavyweight division against Phil De Fries.

UFC on FX: Belfort vs. Bisping

Time to save your pennies with a PPV-less January since the UFC doubled up for February (more to come later).  No need to go into withdrawal, though, since there are back-to-back weekends of free fights, starting January 19th with Belfort vs. Bisping on FX.  The Brazilian returns home both in terms of geography (the fight is in Sao Paolo) and weight (his new home of 185) after moving up to LHW against champ Jon Jones.  Barring that near-upset armbar, Belfort spent most of the title fight getting beaten like a redheaded stepchild, but there’s no shame in that considering it was against Jonny Bones.  Bisping rebounded from a questionable decision loss to Chael Sonnen in January with a solid UD win over Brian Stann in September.  A win for either fighter should raise the question of a title shot, if only for the fact that the division is shallow and the idea of Silva vs. GSP or Jones super fights have subsided.  I’m prematurely picking Belfort, but Bisping’s surprising me lately so if he can survive the onslaught, I wouldn’t put it past him to get a tight decision.  Also, T.U.F: Brazil finalist Daniel Sarafian makes his UFC debut against C.B. Dolloway, Gabriel Gonzaga takes on Ben Rothwell in heavyweight action and undefeated Khabib Nurmagomedov takes on Thiago Tavares.  Finally, be sure to catch Edson Barboza against Justin Salas on the Fuel undercard.  His hype train got derailed a bit by Jamie Varner at UFC 146, but he’s an exciting fighter with lots of KO power and I see him getting back on track in a big way in his home country.

UFC on FOX: Johnson vs. Dodson

I like the UFC’s decision to put a flyweight title fight on free TV with some great support behind it.  “Mighty Mouse” and Dodson, the first T.U.F. finalist to get a title shot since season 5, will make viewers at home think they hit fast-forward with a breakneck pace that’ll hopefully get some lighter weight class fighters their dues.  Johnson has only one finish between his stint in WEC and now the UFC, but I for one didn’t expect him to hold off Joseph Benavidez to become the promotions first 125 lb champ.  I’ll give Dodson the power advantage so if he can frustrate Johnson by stuffing his takedowns and landing a few shots, I think he’ll pull off the win.  Much like a good sitcom with an excellent supporting lead, Donald Cerrone vs. Anthony Pettis has early “Fight of the Year” potential and puts the winner in LW title shot discussion (perhaps more so for Pettis than Cerrone given the story around a Pettis/Henderson rematch).  While it might not have direct title-shot implications, Glover Teixeira vs. Rampage is the kind of fight you invite your non-MMA friends to watch since there’s a good chance someone is getting knocked out.  On the undercard, Ryan Bader tries to stay relevant at 205 against Vladimir Matyushenko and hopefully Clay Guida does not employ his “punch and run” game plan like he did against Gray Maynard when he takes on Hatsu Hioki.

UFC 156: Aldo vs. Edgar

The first super card of 2013 is happening Super Bowl weekend on February 2nd.  It feels like we’ve been waiting forever now to get the featherweight title fight between Jose Aldo and Frankie Edgar.  I personally blame motorcycle accidents and rematches.  After questionable back-to-back title losses at lightweight  (I know I’ve said questionable twice already, once when referring to Bisping/Sonnen, but really watch Henderson/Edgar 1 and 2 and tell me Edgar didn’t win at least one of those fights), Edgar moves down to 145, the weight class everyone keeps saying he belongs in.  Aldo has not lost since 2005 and is one of the most exciting fighters in all of MMA. Edgar is going to have to drag Aldo into deep water, where we saw shades of him fading against Mark Hominick. Again, another “Fight of the Year” potential before March.  Before you even get to the title fight, though, the main card has three other fights that could headline a Fox or FX event in Rashad Evans vs. Lil Nog, Alistair Overeem vs. Bigfoot Silva (should Overeem win, he’ll probably be given a shot at the winner of JDS/Cain) and Jon Fitch vs. Demian Maia.  Oh, but my favorite fight on the undercard? Joseph Benavidez vs. Ian McCall, who both came up short in the inaugural flyweight tournament, but this could be a #1 contender fight to face the winner of Johnson/Dodson.

UFC on Fuel TV: Barao vs. McDonald

Kudos yet again to the UFC for giving an interim title some legitimacy and not using it as a marketing ploy to be used for unification bouts! Renan Barao, fresh off handing Urijah Faber what seems like his 100th title-fight loss at UFC 149, will defend his interim bantamweight title against Michael McDonald.  No, not the guy from The Doobie Brothers.  The guy who knocked Miguel Torres out of the UFC at UFC 145 and hasn’t lost under the Zuffa banner. Yup. That guy. Add to that a main card with two swing-for-the-fences LHW fights in James Te Huna vs. Ryan “Greatest Robot/Split Celebration in Octagon History?” Jimmo and undefeated Jimi Manuwa vs. Cyrille Diabate. Oh, and Brock Lesnar’s German kickboxing mini-me (!) Denis Siver looks to extend his featherweight winning streak to 3 against Cub Swanson.  All in all, I love this card and how it’s booked.  The UFC is ever so slightly increasing exposure for up-and-coming fighters but minimizing their own risk of underperforming by putting it on Fuel.  Paul Sass, if you’re reading this, another “Sassangle” submission on Danny Castillo on the undercard would be just fine with me.

UFC 157: Rousey vs. Carmouche

Welcome to the “Rhonda Rousey Show,” ladies and gentlemen.  UFC’s first ever women’s champion Rhonda Rousey will have the first ever women’s MMA fight in the promotion against Liz Carmouche, who’s riding a two-fight winning streak coming out of Invicta FC.  Again, if we’re playing wheelchair matchmaker and the “business” around the card’s composition, the UFC is supporting this inaugural lady’s scrap very well with a potential #1 contender fight at 205 between Dan Henderson and Lyoto Machida, perennial contender Urijah Faber vs. Ivan Menjivar, two struggling but game HWs in Lavar Johnson and Brendan Schaub plus the return of Robbie Lawler both to the UFC and to welterweight to fight Josh Koscheck.  While I don’t necessarily agree with the timing since the UFC will be hot off a big card like 156 and I fear people might get tight with their wallets with two fights in one month, they’ve paired Rousey up with a tough fighter to build a story around and it should make for a solid landing.  No disrespect to Carmouche, but I, like many, anticipate another armbar victory for Rousey.

Quick Hits – March & Beyond…

– UFC on Fuel TV (March 3): Wanderlei Silva vs. Brian Stann and Stefan Struve vs. Mark Hunt? The fans of Saitama Super Arena will go home happy.  One, if not two, of those fighters will need to be woken up by smelling salts.  Not sure if Siyar Bahadurzada will be able to match his 42 second KO of Paulo Thiago against a durable Kim Dong-Hyun, but it’ll be fun to see him try. Also, Diego “The Dream” (really, you have to chuckle) Sanchez returns yet again to 155 against Japanese legend Takanori Gomi. TONY ROBBINS. YES.

- UFC 158: St. Pierre vs. Diaz (March 16): GSP fighting in his hometown of Montreal again? I’m shocked.  Not sure I agree with Nick Diaz jumping Johnny Hendricks for a title shot after a loss/weed suspension, but it’s a bigger draw and GSP’s been very vocal about wanting to take out the “disrespectful” Diaz.  Speaking of Hendricks, he’s slated to fight Jake Ellenberger and Carlos Condit looks to rebound from his loss to the champ in a rematch against Rory Macdonald.  Lots of potential storylines for the UFC welterweight division hang in the balance.  Grab a Labatt Blue and enjoy.

– BEYOND: April 27 is when Chael Sonnen gets his shot at the LHW belt against fellow T.U.F. coach and current champion Jon Jones in NJ. In related news, Twitter and wit will get you title fights regardless of records in that particular weight class and this season of T.U.F. will actually be worth watching; Anderson Silva will return mid-late 2013 in a non-super fight.  If he wants Anderson Silva money, my bet is he’s hoping Bisping beats Belfort in January; for the love of God, will someone get Eddie Alvarez, Gilbert Melendez and Daniel Cormier in the UFC already?

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UFC On FOX 6 Fights Announced

November 07, 2012 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

The UFC is starting to put the wheels in motion for its first FOX special of 2013. The UFC on FOX 6 is coming together with some star power, a title match, and championship eliminator, yet the card appears to be missing something.

I would have though that the UFC learned their lesson when they attempted to headline a FOX special with Nate Diaz vs. Jim Miller. For fans like me, I was ecstatic about the fight. However, the lesson learned is that the appeal of fights to hardcore fans and casual fans are much different. The UFC will be taking a big gamble with this lineup in January which follows two stacked FOX events.

The headliner (yes headliner) will feature the first title defense of the first UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson as he battles John Dodson. The idea that the UFC would headline a televised event with a fighter whose fight was just booed out of the building is perplexing to say the least. It is a gamble. If Johnson and Dodson have a good fight, the flyweight title and division are established as exciting. But are casual fans really going to tune in to watch a headliner featuring two guys that are smaller than most people in your audience?

The show will also feature what is likely a lightweight title eliminator between Anthony Pettis vs. Donald Cerrone. Again this is a Nate Diaz vs. Jim Miller type of a fight that appeals to hardcore fans like me yet probably won’t resonate with casual fans. I like the fight and I think it’ll be exciting but how many fans are going to go out of their way in January?

Rampage Jackson may have given this card a much needed boost of star power when he tweeted that he would be fighting Glover Teixeira on the same event.

Outside the cage I hate no one. Life is too short for that. In side the cage my Job is to destroy! Glover is done on Jan 26 n Chicago..” – @Rampage4Real

This is a great fight for television and a win-win situation for the UFC. The UFC will certainly capitalize off of Rampage’s star power and draw in some casual fans to the FOX event. At the same time, the UFC will have a chance to showcase Teixeira in front of a large audience. If Teixeira wins as is expected, he could be looked at as an immediate title contender for Jon Jones.

There is still something missing from the lineup. I find it hard to believe that the UFC would go with a flyweight title fight as a FOX headliner. Can the UFC be that naïve or is there another fight the company is waiting to announce? Is the UFC waiting on Showtime to bail from Strikeforce and bring over someone like Gilbert Melendez, Daniel Cormier, Luke Rockhold, or even Ronda Rousey? This one just seems hard to believe if this is the finalized plan going into UFC on FOX 6.

2013 will be a make or break year in the UFC and FOX deal. The first year was what many called a feeling out process between the two entities. The second year will be a put up or shut up year for the UFC. If the UFC numbers fall or lack any real mobility upwards, this relationship could get ugly by the end of the year, which is why going with this card is a curious move at best for the UFC and FOX.

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UFC Confirms Edgar Vs. Henderson Rematch

March 06, 2012 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

Former UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar will be staying at 155, at least for one more fight. Frankie Edgar broke the news on Twitter that he has signed to fight Ben Henderson in a rematch of their UFC 144 bout. “Rematch anyone??…….it’s on!!”

An excited Edgar broke the news late on Tuesday night, later confirmed by the UFC president with a retweet.

“Rematch anyone??…….it’s on!! Thanks to @danawhite @lorenzofertitta. Me and Henderson 2. Here we go!!” – @FrankieEdgar

Dana White confirmed the news on Tuesday night. The news comes a little over a week that saw the UFC president try and pressure the former champion to move down a weight class and fight Jose Aldo. After going back and forth in media interviews as to who would fight next for the UFC lightweight title, White is giving fans the rematch most have been asking for.

“Frankie Edgar and Ben Henderson rematch will be this summer” – @DanaWhite

This now makes the third time the championship has been defended in dual fights in the UFC lightweight division, going back to Edgar’s series against BJ Penn. I am no MMA historian but I am guessing that has to be a first in the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

I am excited about the news. As I wrote in a lengthy blog on Monday, Edgar deserved the rematch. The calls for Frankie to move down in weight were baseless in my opinion. As I said Monday, Edgar has had several years of success at lightweight. Just because he loses one fight to a guy that looked bigger than him, doesn’t mean he is too small for the division. Ask Sean Sherk, Gray Maynard, and BJ Penn about having a size advantage over Edgar.

The championship fight now adds to the fantastic schedule of upcoming UFC championship fights. In addition to the lightweight title fight, Jon Jones will defend his UFC light heavyweight title against Rashad Evans, Dominick Cruz defends his UFC title against Urijah Faber, Junior Dos Santos defends his UFC title against Alistair Overeem, and Chael Sonnen will challenge Anderson Silva for the UFC middleweight title. That is a very impressive docket of upcoming championship fights if you ask me.

Anthony Pettis will be the big loser in this equation. Pettis was in line to challenge the Henderson vs. Edgar winner after demolishing Joe Lauzon at UFC 144. Pettis will now have to wait. This is the second time Pettis’ promised title shot was put on hold since joining the UFC. I would guess that Pettis would have to fight again while waiting if Edgar and Henderson aren’t fighting until summer. Then again, Carlos Condit seems to content to wait Georges St-Pierre out until November.

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UFC 144 Edgar Vs. Henderson Results – Henderson Wins UFC Lightweight Championship

February 26, 2012 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

Ben Henderson and Frankie Edgar ended one of the most exciting UFC events in months with a spectacular main-event. In the end of what could only be described as a war, Henderson got the win and the UFC lightweight championship.

I think it is fair to say that the Henderson vs. Edgar fight lived up to expectations. The fight was non-stop action for a full 25 minutes. The highlight of the fight came in the final seconds of the second round when Henderson nailed Edgar from his back with an up kick. The up kick brutalized Edgar and appeared to open a blood faucet on Edgar’s nose. Henderson’s size and power just seemed to be too much tonight for Edgar.

The theme of the fight here was size matters. As fast and elusive as Edgar is, he was just no match for Henderson’s size. While both fighters share the lightweight class, Henderson looks like he could be a welterweight. He was just so much bigger than Edgar that he was able to out-power and out-muscle Edgar for most of the fight. Edgar can usually overcome this edge with superior cardio but Henderson’s conditioning was just sick. His coach asked him if he was ready to go five more minutes before the fifth round and Henderson responded, “I could go fifteen!”

Edgar was a mess after the fight. His left eye was close to, if not completely shut. His nose was broken. Yet he never stopped coming after Henderson. The fight ended with Henderson on top of Edgar. Two judges scored the fight 49-46 while one scored it 48-47. Henderson looked ready to go another five rounds in the post fight interview. Henderson officially ends the almost two year reign of Edgar which began on April 10, 2010 in Abu Dhabi with a win over BJ Penn. This is only the second loss of Edgar’s career, his first loss in 7 fights, with his last coming in 2008 to Gray Maynard.

I think the pressure will be on Edgar to move down in weight and challenge Jose Aldo for the UFC featherweight championship. Personally, I am not ready to give up on Edgar on lightweight. One loss shouldn’t automatically force a guy out of the division. I think the money is on another Edgar vs. Henderson fight before even considering a drop to featherweight. Yes Henderson is much bigger but it wasn’t a problem for 14 fights.

I could see the UFC moving past Frankie and making a Henderson vs. Anthony Pettis UFC lightweight title, which would be a rematch of their WEC lightweight title fight from 2010. Pettis won the championship from Henderson via unanimous decision, although the fight is most remembered for Pettis’ kick off the cage. Pettis destroyed Joe Lauzon in the first round at UFC 144 in what appeared to be a number one contender’s fight.

In other UFC 144 news, Ryan Bader finally got that first win over an elite UFC fighter. Bader defeated Rampage Jackson via unanimous decision in the semi main-event. Jackson came into the fight overweight and looked every bit of it here. Jackson was able to slam Bader at one point which looked to rock Bader hard. Jackson’s slam likely blew him up because he didn’t swarm in for the kill in what would really be the only opening for a win. Jackson has been talking retirement lately. Jackson hasn’t had “it” in awhile. It wouldn’t shock me to see Rampage close out his career at UFC 144.

Full UFC 144: Edgar vs. Henderson results & winners…
Benson Henderson defeated Frankie Edgar via unanimous decision to become new UFC lightweight champion
Ryan Bader defeated Quinton Jackson via unanimous decision
Mark Hunt defeated Cheick Kongo via first-round TKO
Jake Shields defeated Yoshihiro Akiyama via unanimous decision
Tim Boetsch defeated Yushin Okami via third-round TKO
Hatsu Hioki defeated Bart Palaszewski via unanimous decision
Anthony Pettis defeated Joe Lauzon via first-round KO
Takanori Gomi defeated Eiji Mitsuoka via second-round TKO
Vaughan Lee defeated Norifumi Yamamoto via submission
Riki Fukuda defeated Steve Cantwell via unanimous decision
Chris Cariaso defeated Takeya Mizugaki by unanimous decision
Issei Tamura defeated Tiequan Zhang via second-round KO

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UFC 144: Edgar Vs. Henderson Predictions & Analysis

February 23, 2012 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

The Ultimate Fighting Championship makes it’s somewhat long-awaited return to the Land of the Rising Sun, this weekend when they hold their first card in Japan since UFC 29 all the way back in the year 2000. They are returning to the former hotspot of PRIDE Fighting Championships, the massive Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan. The main Pay Per View card of the event has been amped up to four hours of run time and has added an additional two bouts.

Featuring a main event for the UFC’s Lightweight Championship between challenger Benson Henderson and champion Frankie Edgar, the UFC is offering a very solid card this weekend. Also the card features nearly every Japanese fighter employed by the UFC, so it offers a lot for the hometown crowd as well as a number of intriguing bouts for those of us who will be watching the card from the comfort of our own living room.

In addition to a potential barn-burner in the Main Event, this card offers a lot of intriguing bouts throughout the entire main card. The heavyweight bout between Mark Hunt and Cheick Kongo could turn into a complete slug-fest. The lightweight contest between Anthony Pettis and Joe Lauzon could feature all kinds of crazy high-octane action and that bout has some definite title implications at 155-pounds. A potential number one contender bout in the Featherweight division will take place when world-ranked Hatsu Hioki takes on Bart Palaszewski. Bouts featuring Quinton Jackson, Ryan Bader, Yoshihiro Akiyama, Jake Shields, Yushin Okami and Tim Boetsch round out the main PPV card. Let’s get right into the action.

Preliminary Card Bout (Facebook): Featherweight Bout: Zhang Tiequan vs. Issei Tamura

Zhang “The Mongolian Wolf” Tiequan (anglicized Tiequan Zhang) is a Chinese-born fighter and is the first fighter from China to fight for the UFC. He is a member of the Black Tiger Team from China, as well as a notable member of China Top Team. Zhang is a BJJ, Sanshou and Shuai Jiao (Chinese Wrestling) based fighter. He is a brown belt in BJJ and excels when the fight hits the mat. Zhang is one of the better grapplers in the Featherweight division who has good takedowns with decent kick-boxing skills. Zhang started his career by going 14-0, stopping all of his opponents. Zhang has a career record of 15-2 and has never been finished in a fight.

Issei Tamura is a Japanese born fighter, who fights out of the Krazy Bee Dojo in Tokyo, Japan. He is actually taking this bout as a late-replacement for the injured Leonard Garcia. Tamura is a wrestling based fighter who has spent the majority of his career under the Japanese Shooto promotion’s banner. Tamura is relatively new to MMA, making his pro debut in June 2008. Tamura is fairly undersized as a Featherweight fighter, who cuts relatively little weight to make 145 pounds, and stands only 5’5” so he may be fairly undersized in this bout. However, he remains a strong wrestler who is able to takedown and control his opponents as the base of his offense.

Analysis and Prediction: There is a lot to say about Octagon jitters, as they have been the downfall of many fighters in the past. Also account for the fact that Tamura is a late replacement and is somewhat undersized for the division, there is a lot going against him in this bout. In Zhang’s previous fights he has hunted submissions relentlessly, sometimes at the expense of winning the bout. This proved to be his downfall in his last bout against Darren Elkins, where he was taken down because of his willingness to go after Guillotine Chokes which never really came close to stopping the bout. Tamura isn’t the greatest of fighters, but he has the tools to beat Zhang here, unless Zhang has worked considerably on his game planning and cardio, he’s going to struggle against someone who is perfectly willing to grind away at him from top control. Issei Tamura via Unanimous Decision

Preliminary Card Bout (FX): Bantamweight Bout: Takeya Mizugaki vs. Chris Cariaso

Takeya Mizugaki is a 28-year-old fighter from Ibaragi, Japan. Mizugaki formerly fought for the Shooto promotion in his native Japan, before being brought in as supposed cannon-fodder for then WEC Bantamweight Champion Miguel Torres. Mizugaki ended up going five rounds, in a highly entertaining slugfest that earned him some serious job security. Mizugaki is a striker first, with developing ground skills, but he definitely prefers to keep his fights in the pocket. He is a member of the Shooting Gym Hakkei gym in Kanagawa, Japan. Mizugaki has done well in both the WEC and UFC, falling only to the elite of the division (Urijah Faber, Brian Bowles, Scott Jorgensen, Miguel Torres) but has defeated all other comers. Mizugaki owns a professional record of 15-6-2.

Chris “Kamikaze” Cariaso is a 30-year-old fighter from San Fransisco, California. Cariaso has fought for a number of large MMA promotions including Strikeforce and Elite XC before signing with the WEC. Cariaso is a striker with solid kick-boxing skills who like his opponent has fared well but has fallen against the higher-level fighters in the Bantamweight division. Cariaso also adds competent grappling skills to his strong kick-boxing background, which makes him a tough match up for nearly anyone in the division. He owns a professional MMA record of 12-3.

Analysis and Prediction: Both of these guys are strong strikers with competent ground skills. Both men would also much prefer to stand in the pocket and trade with their opponents rather than work the fight to the mat. The similarities do not end there, as they both have fared well against mid-level competition but have struggled against the upper class of Bantamweights. The biggest thing here may be that Mizugaki will enjoy a four-inch height and reach advantage, which could be the downfall of a striker like Cariaso. This one is likely going to feature three rounds of back and forth kick-boxing, but don’t be surprised if it degenerates into a brawl at times. One of a number of potential Fight of the Night contenders here, but the Japanese fighter takes it on home soil. Takeya Mizugaki via Unanimous Decision

Preliminary Card Bout (FX): Middleweight Bout: Riki Fukuda vs. Steven Cantwell

Riki “Killer Bee” Fukuda is a 31-year-old fighter from Tokyo, Japan. Fukuda is a boxing and Shooto based fighter, who was an All Japan University Wrestling Champion. He has fought for a number of notable MMA promotions including DEEP, Dream, Elite XC, Shooto and K-1. Fukuda is a member of the Grabaka Gym and is a very grinding fighter. Fukuda is very tough and durable who is constantly moving forward. He throws solid one-two combinations as a way to close the distance against his opponents before shooting for takedowns. From top control he is very effective at grinding away at his opponents with constant ground and pound. One thing that may be concerning for Fukuda is that he has been out of the cage for over twelve months due to injury. Fukuda owns a career record of 17-5.

Steven “The Robot” Cantwell is a 25-year-old fighter from Long Beach, California. He is a former WEC Light Heavyweight Champion who now trains out of the One Kick’s Gym in Las Vegas, Nevada. Cantwell has had a bizarre history with the UFC, pulling out of a number of fights due to undisclosed injuries, one of which Dana White said “May cause him to never fight again.” When he is fighting Cantwell is a strong grappler with mediocre striking skills. He does however own a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, but outside of a few fights, hasn’t really been able to translate those skills effectively to the cage. Cantwell has a career record of 7-5, but hasn’t won a bout since 2009 and is likely fighting for his employment in this bout.

Analysis and Prediction: Fukuda is being thrown a soft-ball here from the UFC in my opinion. He is coming off of a long layoff and is getting an opponent tailor-made for him to beat. Cantwell is a fairly sloppy striker and although Fukuda isn’t the second coming of Muhammed Ali, he’ll likely hold the edge striking. On the ground Cantwell had nothing to offer Mike Massenzio who is a pretty comparable grappler to Fukuda, so it’s unlikely that Cantwell can do much to stop Fukuda from taking him down. He’s too tough to be finished, but he’s likely going to drop a clear cut decision to the Japanese fighter. Riki Fukuda via Unanimous Decision

Preliminary Card Bout (FX): Bantamweight Bout: Norifumi Yamamoto vs. Vaughan Lee

Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto is a 34-year-old fighter from Kanagawa, Japan. A few years ago Yamamoto was one of the most feared fighters in the lighter weight-classes in the world. His stellar wrestling background as well as strong striking and knockout power that is abnormal for a man so small, made him a nightmare for many opponents. Since coming over to the UFC, he has not fared as well, dropping back to back decisions and is 1-4, in his last five bouts. Fighting out of his own Krazy Bee Gym in Tokyo, Japan he’ll be looking to get back on track in this bout. Despite his recent struggles, his approach to fighting remains the same. Strong wrestling that he uses to keep the bout standing, while hunting for the huge right hand that can end anyone’s night. Despite his recent struggles Yamamoto owns a professional record of 18-5.

Vaughan Lee is an English fighter from Birmingham, England. He is a member of the Ultimate Training Centre in Birmingham, England. Lee is a fairly well-rounded fighter. During his fight against Chris Cariaso, Lee was able to dominate Cariaso on the ground for the first round. He has also shown fairly strong kick-boxing skills in previous fights. However, in his bout against Cariaso, once he was taken down, he showed very little ability to do anything from his back. Lee also has significant power in his strikes as well, as he holds a number of first round stoppage victories on his resume. Still he remains a fairly hot and cold fighter, with a professional record of 11-7-1.

Analysis and Prediction: This is a fight that’s likely going to take place on the feet. I don’t have a whole lot of confidence in either fighter, but I think Yamamoto holds enough advantages here to win the bout. His wrestling hasn’t looked great in recent bouts, but he was once a contender to join the Olympic Wrestling team for Japan, so it’s unlikely that Lee will be able to work the bout to the mat easily. In a striking battle, Yamamoto struggles at times against fighters who are faster than him, which I don’t actually think Lee is. Throw in the home crowd advantage and it’s likely that “Kid” will land a huge right hand at some point that ends the Brit’s night. Norifumi Yamamoto via TKO in Round Two

Preliminary Card Bout (FX): Lightweight Bout: Takanori Gomi vs. Eiji Mitsuoka

Takanori “The Fireball Kid” Gomi is a 33-year-old fighter from Kanagawa, Japan. Formerly the face of the lighter weight-classes in PRIDE, he is the former PRIDE Lightweight Champion. During his peak he was the Lightweight version of Chuck Liddell. A striker with big power who threw massive looping punches that hit with a ton of power, while using his strong wrestling skills defensively to avoid being taken down to the mat. Things have been tough for Gomi since 2008, as his skill set has since deteriorated. His wrestling skills have not gotten any better and his striking has slowed with age. He is no longer the feared striker he once was, as in his last bout he was outclassed in the striking department by Nate Diaz. Outside of an impressive one-punch KO of Tyson Griffin in 2010, Gomi hasn’t looked like his former self in a number of years. Still, his one-punch KO power has to be respected and he is still one of the most recognizable Japanese fighters in the history of the sport. Gomi holds a professional MMA record of 32-8 with 1 No Contest.

Eiji Mitsuoka is a 36-year-old fighter from Saitama, Japan. He is accepting this bout on late notice as an injury replacement for George Sotiropoulos. Despite his relative unknown status in North America, he has fought for a number of major Asian MMA promotions including Dream, DEEP, World Victory Road and PRIDE. Mitsuoka is an extremely talented grappler with limited striking skills to complement. However, he recently took a year long sabbatical from competition where he trained exclusively in striking skills, so who knows what kind of impact that might have. Mitsuoka is a member of the Wajyutsu Keisyukai RJW Fight Team. Mitsuoka holds a professional MMA record of 18-7-2.

Analysis and Prediction: Despite the fact that he holds little name value, Mitsuoka is a dangerous opponent and is one that Gomi cannot overlook. Striking, Gomi holds a distinct advantage, as he throws significantly better combinations and hits harder than Mitsuoka, even with his deteriorating speed. However, Gomi has always been prone to gassing out and being out-classed in the grappling department. Mitsuoka is extremely tough and durable, having never been stopped due to strikes in his career. If Gomi hasn’t improved his cardio issues, it is entirely possible that he pummels Mitsuoka for two rounds, before getting taken down and submitted in the third. It’s actually the outcome that I’m predicting. Eiji Mitsuoka via Submission in Round Three

Main Card Bout (Pay Per View): Lightweight Bout: Anthony Pettis vs. Joe Lauzon

Anthony “Showtime” Pettis is a 25-year-old fighter from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He is a member of the Roufusport Fight Team based out of his hometown, where he trains regularly with fighters like Alan Belcher, Pat Barry and Ben Askren under legendary kick-boxer Duke Roufus. Pettis is a very well-rounded fighter with backgrounds in Muay Thai, Tae Kwan Do and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Pettis was the final WEC Lightweight Champion and actually defeated headliner Ben Henderson at the WEC’s final show to win that title. Pettis has very flashy and quick striking skills, perhaps being most notable for “the Showtime Kick” where he scaled the cage wall, before delivering a head kick to Ben Henderson in their bout. On the ground Pettis has an active guard and is very active from both the bottom as well as top control, constantly searching for sweeps and submission attempts. Pettis holds a career MMA record of 14-2.

Joe “J-Lau” Lauzon is a 27-year-old fighter from Brockton, Massachusetts. He trains at his own home gym Lauzon MMA in Bridgewater, Massachusetts. Like his opponent Lauzon is a very well-rounded fighter. He is a competent striker who can put together combinations well, as well having a very impressive and aggressive grappling skill set. Lauzon is a former cast-member of The Ultimate Fighter, where he was defeated in the semi-finals by Manny Gamburyan. Lauzon is coming off one of the biggest wins of his career at UFC 136 when he stunned Melvin Guillard with a big punch, before latching onto his back and submitting him via Rear Naked Choke. Lauzon has a professional record of 21-6, including 17 wins by way of submission.

Analysis and Prediction: This is an extremely intriguing bout and is a serious contender for Fight of the Night. Pettis is one of the flashiest strikers in the Lightweight division, but in his last bout showed that he could follow a game plan if needed by outwrestling and grappling Jeremy Stephens. Pettis was controlled by Clay Guida, but Lauzon doesn’t have the wrestling chops to control Pettis on the mat like that. Most likely this bout takes place wherever Pettis wants it to, which means it will likely turn into a striking battle. Lauzon is decent, but he’s shown a tendency to gas out in the later rounds and he won’t be able to keep pace with “Showtime.” Pettis will wear him down with leg kicks and body punches before finally stopping the bout in the third round. Anthony Pettis via TKO in Round Three

Main Card Bout (Pay Per View): Featherweight Bout: Hatsu Hioki vs. Bart Palaszewski

Hatsu “Iron Broom” Hioki is a 28-year-old Japanese fighter. He is a member of the ALIVE Shooto & Jiu Jitsu Academy in his hometown of Tokyo, Japan but also trains at the famed Tristar Gym in Montreal, Quebec, Canada alongside Georges St. Pierre. Hioki has fought for a number of notable organizations including TKO, Shooto (where he was the Lightweight Champion) and World Victory Road. Hioki is a competent striker, who can put together stellar combinations and has a very strong chin, but his bread and butter is his grappling game. Hioki is a black belt in BJJ and the majority of his wins have come via Submission. From top control Hioki is absolutely relentless, constantly pressing to pass guard and throw ground and pound as well as search out submission opportunities. Hioki’s professional MMA record is 25-4-2.

Bart “Bartimus” Palaszewski is a Polish born fighter that resides and trains in Illinois. He is a member of Jeff Curran’s Team Curran gym in Wonder Lake, Illinois. Palaszewski despite not yet being 30 years old is a veteran of the fight game with 50 career professional bouts. Despite his training with Jeff Curran and his black belt level in BJJ, striking is where Palaszewski is most confident. He throws solid combinations with big power. He recently made the drop to Featherweight and had impressive results as he flattened Tyson Griffin at UFC 137 with a huge left hook that knocked Griffin out cold. Palaszewski owns a career record of 36-14.

Analysis and Prediction: I’ll admit a couple things right away here, 1) I bet pretty big on Hioki against George Roop. 2) It was a less than impressive victory for someone who is touted as the number two Featherweight fighter in the world, 3) I actually had it scored 29-28 in favor of Hioki. With that out of the way, we move on to this bout. Hioki struggled against Roop’s lengthy frame, but striking has never been his strong suit, he is often willing to oblige opponents in that realm, but he prefers the ground. Against Palaszewski he faces a BJJ black belt, that should be significantly better on the ground than he actually is. This one will certainly come down to Hioki’s ability to get the fight to the mat. Palaszewski hits hard and hits often, so this fight could end at any time, but in front of a home crowd and with octagon jitters out of the way, I think Hioki finds a way to drag Palaszewski down to the ground and runs game on him from there, eventually earning a late stoppage. Hatsu Hioki via Submission in Round Two

Main Card Bout (Pay Per View): Middleweight Bout: Yushin Okami vs. Tim Boetsch

Yushin “Thunder” Okami is a 30-year-old fighter from Kanagawa, Japan. He is a Judo based fighter, with a black belt in that discipline. Okami also has very strong wrestling skills which he has continued to improve since beginning to train in the USA with Chael Sonnen at Team Quest. In addition to his strong wrestling and Judo skills, Okami is one of the larger fighters in the Middleweight division and is extremely strong which aids him in controlling his opponents on the ground. Okami has decent technical boxing, backed mostly by a solid jab and basic one-two combinations, but he uses his strikes simply to close the distance and get into a clinch with opponents. From there it’s a Judo throw, or a double leg takedown away from hitting the mat, where Okami can grind away on his opponents with ground and pound from the top. Okami holds a professional MMA record of 26-6.

Tim “The Barbarian” Boetsch is a 31-year-old fighter from Lincolnville, Maine. Like his opponent he is a Judo and Wrestling based fighter. After struggling as a Light Heavyweight fighter an improved diet and drop to Middleweight has rejuvenated him as a fighter. Boetsch often struggled to control his opponents at 205 pounds, but now is better able to impose his wrestling skills against Middleweight fighters. Boetsch has proven very competent in the clinch in his UFC career, showing good dirty boxing skills, with nasty uppercuts, as well as a strong ability to earn takedowns using his Judo skills. Boetsch holds a career record of 14-4.

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Analysis and Prediction: Boetsch has found new life at Middleweight. As a Light Heavyweight, he faced some of the biggest, toughest wrestlers in the division and was completely man-handled by most of them. However, at Middleweight he hasn’t had that problem. Against Okami, he may be back in problematic territory. Okami is one of the biggest, strongest fighters in the Middleweight division. Okami probably has the better stand up. The only area I really think Boetsch has an advantage is in the clinch with his dirty boxing, but it’s unlikely Okami let’s him hang out there for very long before he takes him down. On the ground Okami is one of the best grinders out there, constantly pounding away at his opponents. Boetsch has big power, so if Okami gets baited into a firefight it’s possible he could be in trouble. But Okami has never shown himself to be reckless, he’s a controlled fighter, who usually follows the game plan and even though Boetsch knows what it is, he doesn’t have the track record to stop it. Yushin Okami via Unanimous Decision

Main Card Bout (Pay Per View): Welterweight Bout: Yoshihiro Akiyama vs. Jake Shields

Yoshihiro “Sexyama” Akiyama is a 36-year-old fighter from Osaka, Japan. He is a 3rd degree black belt in Judo and also holds strong boxing skills. He currently splits training time between Team Cloud in Japan and Jackson’s Submission Fighting in New Mexico. Akiyama is making his Welterweight debut in this fight, so it may be interesting to see how the weight cut affects him, as he has never really been known for having strong cardio. Still, he was a small Middleweight fighter and fans have been calling for him to shed the weight for a while now, so it’s unlikely to have a massive impact on him come fight night. Akiyama’s biggest issues have always been his cardio and is inability to game plan, often resorting to brawling against fighters and ignoring his obvious ground advantages. Still, because of his amazing chin and ability to withstand punishment he’s mostly gotten away with it (save for his last bout against Vitor Belfort where he got annihilated striking and KO’ed for the trouble.) Akiyama holds a professional MMA record of 13-4-2.

Jake Shields is a 33-year-old fighter from California who is a member of the famed Cesar Gracie Fight Team where he trains regularly with Gilbert Melendez and the Diaz brothers. Shields has fought for and held titles in a number of notable MMA promotions including Elite XC, Shooto and Strikeforce. He is a black belt in BJJ as well as a former NCAA Division 2 Wrestler at San Fransisco State University. Shields is best served when using his wrestling to get the fight to the mat and then working his high level Jiu Jitsu skills against his opponents. His stand up is fairly rudimentary, although he can absorb a lot of punishment, which usually keeps him out of trouble, in fact Jake Ellenberger was recently the first person to finish Shields via strikes in more than 10 years of pro completion (and that was a week after Shields’ father and manager had passed away, so it’s hard to ignore the psychological effects that likely had on Shields.) Despite his recent setbacks, he remains one of the best Welterweight fighters on the planet and is probably the top one or two grapplers in the UFC’s Welterweight division. Shields owns a professional MMA record of 26-6-1.

Analysis and Prediction: This bout has some serious contrast in styles. Neither fighter has great striking, but of the two, Akiyama’s is definitely better. If Akiyama could stay disciplined when striking, he would hold a significant edge, but his tendency to throw wild punches often ends up hurting him. On the ground Shields is an absolute beast, his blend of NCAA level wrestling and BJJ skills, combined with great athleticism and strength makes him tough for anyone to handle on the mat. His striking is surprisingly bad for someone who’s been in the fight game for as long as he has, but it’s rarely been a problem for him in the past. On the ground Akiyama is no slouch, but he is not a dynamo from his back. His grappling game is mainly focused on being effective from top control. On the bottom against a fighter like Shields, he’s going to be focused on covering up and playing defense, the perfect chance for Shields to capitalize on a small mistake and latch onto a submission. Akiyama has also always had problems with his cardio and after cutting weight to drop a weight-class, I doubt it’s going to improve in this fight. Shields on the other hand has fought in numerous championship bouts and has looked solid over all five rounds, so we know he won’t slow down. If Akiyama gets tired in round three, expect him to get taken down, pounded on and Rear Naked Choked for his troubles when he turtles up. Jake Shields via Submission in Round Three

Main Card Bout (Pay Per View): Heavyweight Bout: Mark Hunt vs. Cheick Kongo

Mark “The Super Samoan” Hunt owns one of the strangest resumes in all of MMA completion. A former Super Heavyweight fighter who used to weigh in at well over 300 pounds, but has since made the permanent cut to 265 pounds to make the UFC’s heavyweight limit, Hunt is one of the most powerful strikers in all of MMA. Hunt holds career victories over Wanderlei Silva, Ben Rothwell and Mirko Cro Cop, but has losses to other fighters like Sean McCorkle and Melvin Manhoef. As a former professional K-1 Kickboxer that is where Hunt’s skills lie. The New Zealand born fighter is now a world traveler, training at a number of notable MMA Gyms in his quest to improve his all-around MMA game, his most recent stop was at American Top Team. Hunt holds a professional MMA record of 7-7.

Cheick Kongo is a French born Heavyweight fighter from Paris, France. Kongo trains at the Wolfslair MMA Academy in Paris. The 36-year-old stands 6’4” and with an 82 inch reach regularly holds reach advantages over his opponents. Kongo is a kick-boxer first and foremost with backgrounds in Muay Thai, Savate and traditional kick-boxing. Recently he has shown a more dynamic MMA game, with an ability to game plan, by utilizing wrestling and top control against his opponents. Kongo is very successful in the clinch, where he can use knees to the body to wear out his opponents, before searching for a takedown. Although his ground game is fairly basic, he still excels at sitting in guard and posturing up to use his size to deliver ground and pound to his opponents. Kongo holds a professional MMA record of 17-6-2.

Analysis and Prediction: This one is definitely one of the more intriguing bouts on the card, that could go a couple of ways. It also feels as though it’s a bit of a throwback to the sideshow fights that Pride used to put on. Kongo is a kick-boxer, but he doesn’t have the most solid of chins. In his bout against Pat Barry he tried to strike which earned him a ticket to queer street and if it wasn’t for Barry’s poor decision-making he probably could have won that fight. Instead Kongo made the epic comeback. Against a powerful striker like Hunt, it’s hard to think that Kongo will be making any kind of comeback if he takes anything more than a jab directly to the chin. Hunt is fairly one-dimensional, but he has been improving in other areas. However, Kongo has also improved considerably recently. In his most recent bout against Matt Mitrione he used a plethora of leg kicks and a newfound wrestling skill set to dominate Mitrione for three rounds. If he employs a similar approach against Hunt, he should be able to outwrestle the samoan for three rounds, but if he chooses to stand and trade, it becomes a dicey situation for the Frenchman. Overall, Kongo has shown himself to be getting smarter, so I think he plays this one safe and earns a clear unanimous decision, but if he decides to trade, it could be upset city for Mark Hunt. Cheick Kongo via Unanimous Decision

Main Card Bout (Pay Per View): Light Heavyweight Bout: Quinton Jackson vs. Ryan Bader

Quinton “Rampage” Jackson is a 33-year-old fighter from Memphis, Tennessee, but he will be returning to his second home for this bout. Jackson is a former standout from the Pride Fighting Championship days and is loved by Japanese fight fans. He’s already stated that he’s looking forward to putting on a show for the locals. Jackson is a strong striker and a decent wrestler, however, he prefers to use his wrestling mostly for defense, preferring to stand and trade with his opponents. Jackson is probably one of the most straight-forward fighters in the UFC. He comes to bang. Jackson constantly uses his footwork to shuffle around, searching for the opportunity to throw a counter right hand, or a big overhand hook, all of which have the potential to end any fighter’s night. Jackson owns a professional MMA record of 32-9.

Ryan “Darth” Bader is a 28-year-old fighter from Reno, Nevada. Bader is best known as the winner of the eighth season of Spike TV’s The Ultimate Fighter. Bader was a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler, winning three Pac-10 Championships during his time at Arizona State University. Bader is a member of the Power MMA Team and a former member of Arizona Combat Sports Fight Team. He prefers to use his wrestling in his fights, using takedowns and top control to earn points on judge’s scorecards, while using ground and pound to wear out his opponents. Since his time on the reality show, Bader has continually improved his striking skills and is now a fairly competent boxer. Still, his boxing skills are fairly basic, throwing simple combinations and sometimes winging big power punches. Despite his skills being somewhat rudimentary, no one can knock his ability to throw with power as he has earned several recent KO victories. Bader’s career record is 13-2.

Analysis and Prediction: Many people seem to think that Bader has a decent chance at pulling off the upset in this one. The easiest thing to point to is following the game plans that Jon Jones and Rashad Evan have both used successfully against Rampage. Leg kicks, fighting at range and then dragging him to the mat at every opportunity. Rampage’s weakness has always been that he’s too straight-forward. He doesn’t check leg kicks… ever, it’s a serious problem for someone so high on the Light Heavyweight food chain. His other problem coming into this bout is his love for the Japanese fans. At a recent press conference he admitted that he fought stupidly in his Pride days, not fighting intelligently and instead fighting for fan reaction instead of winning, and even worse than that, he’s promising to do it again!

Bader has the tools to win this fight, but it won’t be easy. Rampage has some of the greatest takedown defense in the division and is extremely durable. His loss to Jon Jones was pretty lopsided, but he has lasted the longest of any of Jones’ victims in the UFC so far, so that has to say something. Also, you can never count out the power in Jackson’s counter-punches. The perfect game plan for Bader is to stay outside, work the leg kicks intelligently and use a solid jab to set up his takedown when closing the distance. From the bottom, Jackson has very little to offer other than covering up and trying to scramble, so if Bader is patient he should be able to control the bout on the mat for the majority of the time that it stays there.

All of this of course is easier said than done. Rampage is one of the biggest punchers in the division and is probably the most well-rounded striker that Bader has ever faced. Jackson is an expert at using his footwork to avoid getting trapped in the cage and his massive frame and brute strength make him a nightmare to try and work to the ground. His counter-punching style is extremely effective and if he says he’s willing to let the fists fly in the cage, it could be lights out early for Bader, who’s chin was somewhat exposed by Tito Ortiz. Even if Bader tries to replicate the game plan that Evans used, it’s worthy to note that Rampage won the third round of that fight and after shrugging off a takedown attempt landed some huge uppercuts that nearly knocked Rashad out cold. If the same thing happens to Bader, history has proven that he might not be able to last like Rashad did. Quinton Jackson via TKO in Round Two

Main-Event Bout (Pay Per View): Lightweight Championship Bout: Frankie Edgar vs. Benson Henderson

Benson “Smooth” Henderson is a 28-year-old fighter from Colorado Springs. Henderson is probably best known as a former WEC Lightweight Champion. Henderson is an extremely aggressive fighter, constantly pressing forward against his opponents. Henderson is a member of the MMA Lab Fighting Team in Glendale, Arizona. He has a background in a number of different martial arts disciplines, including a black belt in Tae Kwan Do, a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and was a former NAIA All-American Wrestler when he was in college. Henderson is a decent boxer, but he lacks the high-level technical aspects such as strong footwork and tight defense to make him a truly strong striker. Instead he relies more on pressure and getting in close. In clinches there are so many things that Henderson can do including punches, knees, elbows, takedowns and submission attempts, it’s hard to defend against, because opponents never know exactly what’s coming. On the mat is where Henderson truly excels as he uses his strong wrestling base to earn takedowns and is very dangerous from top control, constantly forcing opponents to work to avoid submissions and ground and pound. Henderson owns a career MMA record of 15-2.

Frankie “The Answer” Edgar is the reigning and defending UFC Lightweight Champion. Edgar is a 30-year-old fighter from Toms River, New Jersey. Edgar is a member of the Renzo Gracie Combat Team based out of New Jersey. There Edgar is a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu under Ricardo Almeida and also trains his boxing under Mark Henry and his Muay Thai skills under the tutelage of Phil Nurse. Before joining the UFC Edgar was an NCAA Division 1 Wrestler at Rutgers University. Edgar is the best boxer in the UFC’s Lightweight Division, using strong footwork, hand speed and incredible timing to overwhelm his opponents in exchanges. Edgar also uses angles well, constantly moving around, which makes him difficult to wrestle against as he is never straight ahead for wrestlers to shoot for takedowns or force him into clinches against the fence. Edgar owns a professional MMA record of 14-1-1.

Analysis and Prediction: This one definitely has the potential to be five rounds of intense, high-paced, back and forth action. The fighting styles of both men definitely lends itself to this one going all five rounds. Edgar is one of the most difficult fighters in the UFC to finish, as he’s escaped more submissions than anyone else and has never been knocked out in his entire career. Edgar on the other hand has shown how hard he is to finish, mainly throughout his trilogy of fights against Gray Maynard, where he was rocked in nearly every fight, before storming back to win the remaining rounds in those bouts.

Henderson has said in media interviews that he plans to use his size and cut off the cage against Edgar, to try to trap him against the walls. However, that might be easier said than done for him, as Edgar’s footwork is extremely impressive and will not be easy to control in the cage. Edgar will almost certainly have the speed advantage on the feet, so it’ll be tough for Henderson to try and trap Edgar without taking a number of punches for his trouble. The other problem is that Edgar is an excellent wrestler himself and his ability to sprawl and brawl is extremely impressive, it definitely will not be smooth sailing for Henderson in this realm.

Henderson has been impressive in his last few fights, but it’s important to note that Edgar will be the best striker that he has faced in a long time. And the last time he faced a striker of this calibre, he lost to the “Showtime Kick” to Henderson, in the WEC’s final show. Edgar will certainly want to keep this bout standing, as he has a decided advantage there. Trained under Ricardo Almeida in Jiu Jitsu, the champion is certainly no slouch on the ground, but it’s that area where his opponent excels. Henderson can really push the pace if this fight hits the mat, his ability to create scrambles and pressure opponents during those scrambles, is what makes him very dangerous and it was one of the tools he used to defeat both Clay Guida and Jim Miller.

This fight is going to come down to who can impose their game plan on the other man. Both fighters have strong, solid cardio and can fight for all five rounds, and both have done it several times before in their careers. Both fighters are also able to push the pace on their opponents, so it will be interesting to see which fighter begins to slow down first. For Henderson, although it’s something that’s been missing a bit from his game lately, he should be looking to throw a high volume of leg kicks. As Carlos Condit showed against Nick Diaz, nothing slows down a strong boxer more than leg kicks. Edgar is very quick and agile on his feet, but if Henderson can land some big leg kicks to slow the champion down, he’ll have more success trying to stalk him down throughout the fight.

For Edgar, I imagine he’ll fight at a range. He is an expert at closing the distance quickly and darting in and out before taking a lot of return fire. His superior footwork, combined with Henderson’s at times sloppy striking defense, should allow Edgar ample opportunities to get combinations off. Once he hits Henderson it will be just as important that he gets away quickly, Henderson will likely be the larger and stronger fighter in the cage, so Edgar will want to avoid spending any extended time in clinches with Henderson, where the challenger can begin to control the pacing and placement of the bout. Overall, I think Edgar is highly criticized as a UFC champion, but he definitely should not be. Solid wins over Maynard, BJ Penn (twice) and Sean Sherk are nothing to laugh at. At the end of the day, I think his boxing will be too much and he’ll be too quick on the feet for Henderson to slow down and control. I’ll take Edgar by a close, but ultimately clear and unanimous decision. Frankie Edgar via Unanimous Decision

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UFC 136: Edgar Vs. Maynard III Results – Edgar & Aldo Retain, Sonnen Returns

October 08, 2011 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts, Videos

Edgar Maynard IIIUFC 136 was headlined by two championship matches but it was a post match promo that will be most remembered. Chael Sonnen was the man who stole the headlines with his post fight challenge, turning the UFC upside down with his WWE style challenge to Anderson Silva.

Chael Sonnen returned after a fourteen month layoff and defeated Brian Stann in the second round with an arm-triangle. Sonnen just smothered Stann with ground and pound for a round and a half before finally ending Stann’s misery. As impressive as Sonnen was during the fight, it was what Sonnen said after the fight that is making headlines.

Anderson Silva, you absolutely suck. Super Bowl, weekend, the biggest weekend but we’re upping the stakes. I beat you, you leave the division. You beat me, I will leave the UFC forever.

Sonnen upped the stakes and said that he would leave the UFC if he lost and asked that Anderson leave the middleweight division if the champion lost. This challenge has had the world of MMA buzzing the entire night.  Check out more on this in a full blog I wrote earlier on the challenge and fight.

Once the dust settled it was Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard that would close out the show with an exciting main event. Edgar and Maynard picked up right where they left off at UFC 125 with round eight! Maynard connected early with an uppercut and was all over Edgar. It was just like their last fight with Edgar just absorbing a ton of punishment yet getting out of the round. It appeared that Maynard broke Edgar’s nose with the shot. Somehow Edgar escaped as did Maynard’s chances at becoming UFC lightweight champion.

Edgar was able to rebound in the following round and seemed to confuse Maynard for the remainder of the fight. Maynard appeared to be looking for the knockout punch while Edgar just got in and out with strikes and kept on moving. Maynard never appeared in any real danger in the second round but Edgar certainly edged him out.

The next two rounds saw more of the same. It just appeared to me that Maynard was to one dimensional here just looking for another punch rather than mixing it up on the ground. In the fourth round the two had a scramble for a takedown and Edgar just rocked Maynard hard with an uppercut. Edgar swarmed with strikes and the fight was over at 3:54 of the fourth round.

Frankie Edgar is just indestructible. Once again, he survives a brutal onslaught of strikes and comes back seemingly from the dead to finish and win this particular fight. It would appear that Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez will be Edgar’s next challenger. There were rumors that Melendez would step inside of the cage following the fight and challenge the winner but that never happened.

In the co-headliner, Jose Aldo successfully defended the UFC featherweight title against Kenny Florian. I wouldn’t call it a bad fight but it certainly wasn’t a great fight. They went the distance with Florian surprising Aldo early but Aldo itching it out for the remaining rounds. Florian tried closing the distance throughout the fight but Aldo quickly stifled those attempts.

I have to say that while Aldo is undefeated since coming to the UFC, he is hardly the fighter that he was in the WEC. Big things were expected out of Aldo when he came over and so far he has been fairly underwhelming. The talent is definitely there but something is not clicking. In his last eight WEC fights, only one went the distance. In the UFC, both fights have gone the distance and he was almost badly by Mark Hominick in the final round at UFC 129. A win is a win, but this is hardly the dominating fighter he was  in the WEC.

Full UFC 136: Edgar vs. Maynard 3 results…
Mike Massenzio defeated Steve Cantwell via unanimous decision
Aaron Simpson defeated Eric Schafer via unanimous decision
Darren Elkins defeated Tiequan Zhang via unanimous decision
Stipe Miocic defeated Joey Beltran via unanimous decision
Anthony Pettis defeated Jeremy Stephens via split decision
Demian Maia defeated Jorge Santiago via unanimous decision
Joe Lauzon defeated Melvin Guillard via submission – Round 1
Nam Phan defeated Leonard Garcia via unanimous decision
Chael Sonnen defeated Brian Stann via submission – Round 2
Jose Aldo defeated Kenny Florian via unanimous decision to retain the UFC featherweight title
Frankie Edgar defeated Gray Maynard via TKO – Round 4 to retain the UFC lightweight title

UFC 136: Edgar Vs. Maynard III DVD


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UFC 136: Edgar Vs. Maynard III Predictions & Analysis

October 07, 2011 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

UFC 136The UFC invades Houston, Texas this weekend with a blockbuster that is stacked from top to bottom. Despite losing possibly one of it’s more intriguing match-ups when the Heavyweight tilt between Dave Herman and Mike Russow was scrapped, the card still offers a number of potential slugfests and back and forth brawls.

The main event features the trilogy fight between Lightweight Champion Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard. The co-main event features Featherweight kingpin and destruction specialist Jose Aldo taking on the newly dieted Kenny Florian. Rounding out the main card is a possible Middleweight number-one contender’s bout between the always trash-talking Chael Sonnen and former US Marine Brian Stann, a rematch featuring Nam Phan and Leonard Garcia and a Lightweight bout between rising contenders in Joe Lauzon and Melvin Guillard.

In my opinion this card is full of excitement from top-to-bottom both in entertainment value (let’s be honest, if a Lightweight bout between Jeremy Stephens and Anthony Pettis is on the undercard, the main card must be stacked!) But it is also full of gambling opportunities. Those of you who have read my previous entries would know that I love a good underdog and there are a number of live underdogs in this one (at least in my opinion) so let’s take a look at some of them. As always all betting lines are the current best available market lines from Best Fight Odds (www.bestfightodds.com)

Preliminary Card (Facebook): Middleweight Bout: Steve Cantwell (-140) vs. Mike Massenzio (+125)

Steve “The Robot” Cantwell is a 24-year-old former Light Heavyweight fighter. He was the last reigning WEC Light Heavyweight Champion, before the promotion folded it’s heavier fighters into the UFC. Cantwell is a Muay Thai fighter who fights out of the One Kick’s Gym in Las Vegas, Nevada. In addition to his solid striking he has a black-belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and is perhaps most famous for breaking the arm of UFC newcomer Razak Al-Hassan. Cantwell is making the drop to Middleweight for the first time in his career after a recent skid at 205 pounds. He has a career record of 7-4.

Mike “The Master of Disaster” Massenzio is a 28-year-old fighter from New Jersey. He fights out of the Team Ironhorse MMA Gym in Patterson, New Jersey. Like his opponent his skills lie in his black belt BJJ level skills, backed by decent wrestling and improving Muay Thai skills. He is a former NAGA and Grappler’s Quest Champion. He is returning to the Middleweight division after a failed attempt at 205 pounds. Massenzio has a career record of 12-5.

Betting Analysis and Prediction: This bout sees the former WEC Light Heavyweight champion as a slight favorite. I’m inclined to agree with that, but there is always the chance that Cantwell’s weight-cut goes poorly, or he struggles to make weight. If that’s an issue, he might tire easily and allow Massenzio the chance to get back into the fight. The grappling is likely a wash, with the edge to whoever gets the takedown and Cantwell is likely the better striker, so because of that I’ll pick him. Although, with potential weight cutting problems, I’m not betting on it. Steve Cantwell by Unanimous Decision

Preliminary Card (Facebook): Middleweight Bout: Aaron Simpson (-325) vs. Eric Schafer (+325)

Aaron “A-Train” Simpson is a 37-year-old fighter from Colorado. He is now a member of the Power MMA team in Phoenix, Arizona. Simpson is a wrestler first who is rapidly improving his boxing skills. Simpson was a former NCAA All-American wrestler for Arizona State University. He uses his strong wrestling base to control the pace of his fights and control his opponents, choosing whether to use stand up, or his ground and pound skills. He is entering the fight on a two-fight winning streak. Simpson’s career MMA record is 10-2, with his only losses coming against upper-tier Middleweights like Mark Munoz and Chris Leben.

Eric “Red” Schafer is a 34-year-old fighter who is making his return to the UFC after a brief absence. Schafer’s main strength is a black belt level Brazilian Jiu Jitsu skills. Of his 12 career wins, 9 of them have come from Submission. Schafer’s weakness has long been his ineptitude with the striking portion of the game, so he will likely be an underdog in the fight standing. Schafer’s MMA record is 12-5-2.

Betting Analysis and Prediction: Simpson is a huge favorite and it’s not really hard to see why. He possesses better stand up skills and better wrestling, meaning it will be tough for Schafer to get the fight to the ground where he could exploit his grappling advantage. With no ability to get the fight to the ground, Schafer will struggle standing and will take some big punches before finally being overwhelmed late in the second round. If you don’t mind laying big money you could place a small wager on Simpson, but there are other fights I like better, so I’m laying off. Aaron Simpson by 2nd Round TKO

Preliminary Card (Facebook): Featherweight Bout: Zhang Tie Quan (-120) vs. Darren Elkins (+110)

Zhang “The Wolf” Tie Quan is a Chinese fighter who is likely a potential investment for the UFC. The UFC gaining popularity in a country as big as China could be huge business for the company, so some fans have accused the UFC of giving him beneficial match making, but that doesn’t appear to be the case in this close Featherweight bout. Quan is a Sanshou Kickboxer who is also a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. He has ten career victories by submission and has finished the fight in all 13 of his career victories, all but one in the first round. The member of Team Quest China and China Top Team holds a record of 13-1.

Darren “The Damage” Elkins is a wrestling based fighter from Hobart, Indiana. He is a member of the Duneland Vale Tudo Gym in Hobart. Elkins holds career victories over a number of notable fighters including Michihiro Omigawa, Duane Ludwig and Pat Curran. Elkins has fairly mediocre stand up and often uses his smothering wrestling to control his opponents on the ground and uses ground and pound to earn rounds on the judge’s scorecards. His professional MMA record if 12-2.

Betting Analysis and Prediction: Elkins is seen by many as a live underdog and money has actually been coming in on him recently, closing the line closer to a Pick’Em contest. However, I think he is being overvalued here. He is a strong wrestler and could possibly blanket his way to a decision, however, his stand up skills aren’t great and his submission defense has been exposed in the past, most notable to Charles Oliveira. Zhang is an excellent grappler and is very crafty on the ground, don’t count out the Chinese grappler getting hold of a limb and forcing a submission. At -120, the line is fairly well set, but Zhang could be good for a bet up to about -130, so I’ll make a small one here. Zhang Tie Quan via Submission in Round Two

Preliminary Card (Facebook): Heavyweight Bout: Joey Beltran (+210) vs. Stipe Miocic (-230)

Joey “The Mexecutioner” Beltran is a Mexican-American fighter from San Diego, California. The 29-year-old fighter is somewhat of a gate-keeper for the Heavyweight division in the UFC and will be welcoming a highly touted prospect to the cage on Saturday night. Beltran is a straight up brawler who is extremely tough. He is somewhat undersized for a Heavyweight, usually weighing in at a soft 240 pounds and standing just over 6′ tall. He is a member of the Alliance MMA gym, where he is continuing to add more levels to his skills, including a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Beltran has a career record of 13-5.

Stipe Miocic is an American fighter of Croatian descent. The 29-year-old is a relative newcomer to the sport of MMA, but is a highly touted prospect who is making his UFC debut. Miocic has a very strong background for MMA, as he was a former NCAA Division 1 wrestler at Cleveland State University. He also won the Golden Gloves Championship as an amateur boxer. He holds an undefeated professional record of 6-0, with all of his wins coming by way of strikes.

Betting Analysis and Prediction: Miocic is a big prospect with a seemingly perfect skill set for MMA. He is a strong wrestler with great technical boxing skills. At 6’4″ and 245 pounds, he is a very large man and will not be overwhelmed by some of the giants that inhabit the UFC’s Heavyweight division. There’s always the chance he chokes because of the “big-stage gitters” but Miocic holds the wrestling and boxing advantage over Beltran. Although Beltran is very durable and tough to finish, there’s no reason to think that the brawler can pull off an upset here. But remember, everyone said the same thing when Beltran faced Rolles Gracie in the latter’s UFC debut. Not interested in laying the huge juice, so I’ll stay away. Stipe Miocic by TKO in Round Three

Preliminary Card (SPIKE TV): Lightweight Bout: Anthony Pettis (-270) vs. Jeremy Stephens (+250)

Anthony “Showtime” Pettis was the final WEC Lightweight champion and rose to instant fame for his now YouTube famous “Showtime Kick” where he scaled the cage to deliver a kick straight to Ben Henderson’s face. He was promised a Lightweight title shot when he entered the UFC, but due to a draw between Edgar and Maynard in their last fight, he chose to fight instead and lost a decision to Clay Guida, in a fight where Guida simply outmuscled and out-wrestled the youngster. Pettis is a 24-year-old fighter from the Roufusport gym in Milwaukee. He has an extensive background in martial arts including a 3rd degree black belt in Taekwan Do and a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Showtime also possesses great stand up skills, with solid Muay Thai fundamentals backed by a great striking coach and loads of creativity. Pettis has a career MMA record of 13-2.

Jeremy “Lil’ Heathen” Stephens may have one of the worst nicknames in the UFC, but he is no joke. The 25-year-old fighter from Iowa likely has a lifetime employment gig from the UFC due to his fan-friendly fighting style. Fighting as a professional since the age of 16, Stephens is very experienced for his young age and has a strong striking style backed by Muay Thai and Boxing skills. Stephens fights out of the Alliance MMA gym in San Diego, California. Stephens is mostly known for his exciting stand up style and his heavy hands. He holds a career MMA record of 20-6.

Betting Analysis and Prediction: This is actually one of my favorite bets on the card. I think that at +250 Stephens is being significantly undervalued. Pettis (despite being one of my favorite fighters) isn’t likely to try and out-wrestle or grapple with Stephens so throw those advantages out the window. This fight is likely to be a three-round (or shorter) kickboxing contest. Pettis should have the edge here, as he’s quicker and more technically sound, but he’s been hit before and Stephens ends fights when he hits you. Pettis should be the favorite, but not by as much as he is. Getting 2.5-to-1 on Stephens seems like a bit of a trap, but if it is, I’m falling head over heels into it. Jeremy Stephens via TKO in Round Three

Preliminary Card (SPIKE TV): Middleweight Bout: Demian Maia (-260) vs. Jorge Santiago (+255)

Demian Maia is a 33-year-old fighter from Sao Paulo, Brazil. He is one of the world’s best Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioners who currently competes in MMA. He is also a former Judoka in addition to being a 3rd degree black belt in BJJ. Maia has also recently shown an improvement in his boxing skills, likely attributed to his time spent training with Wanderlei Silva at the Wand Fight Team gym. The former Middleweight Number One Contender holds a career MMA record of 14-3 with 8 wins via Submission.

Jorge “Sandman” Santiago is a Brazilian fighter from Rio de Janeiro. He is a former Sengoku Middleweight Champion. Santiago is a somewhat erratic fighter who is known for his talent potential, but often failing to live up to it. Santiago is also a black belt in BJJ, but is nowhere near the level of grappling when compared to his opponent in this fight. However, he is also a strong Muay Thai fighter, who will possess a standing edge against Maia. Santiago is a member of American Top Team based in Coconut Creek, Florida. He holds an MMA record of 23-9.

Betting Analysis and Prediction: Ugh, I can’t believe I’m actually going to say it, but I like Santiago in this fight. I’ve hemmed and hawed about this one for the majority of the week, but I think he holds a significant stand up edge and should have the ability to at least keep himself out of trouble on the ground. He’ll also likely be the stronger wrestler, mainly from being in the cage against more wrestlers during his career, so I think he may be able to keep the fight standing. If Maia tries to test out his improved striking for too long, he may find himself too far behind on the scorecards to catch back up. But then again, Santiago has a way of losing fights he should probably win. A quick check on my sports betting account says a parlay with Santiago and Stephens will pay $45 on a $5 bet, if you’re feeling lucky take a swing. Jorge Santiago via Unanimous Decision

Main Card (PPV): Lightweight Bout: Melvin Guillard (-340) vs. Joe Lauzon (+310)

Melvin “The Young Assassin” Guillard is a 28-year-old fighter who is finally living up to all of the hype he had as a young man. The former cast-member of the Ultimate Fighter Season 2 is a kickboxer with strong wrestling and a brown belt in Judo. He trains with Greg Jackson’s camp in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Guillard has a very fan-friendly style incorporating the speed of his stand up attack with his extremely heavy hands. Guillard enters this fight on a five-fight win streak stopping his last two opponents in the first round. Guillard’s career MMA record stands at 29-8-2 with 1 No Contest.

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Joe “J-Lau” Lauzon is a 27-year old from Brockton, Massachusetts. He is a boxer and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu fighter who is more known for his excellent grappling skills than his technical boxing skills. Like his opponent Lauzon was also a cast-member of the Ultimate Fighter, although Lauzon was on the fifth season of the show. Of twenty career victories, Lauzon owns 16 by way of Submission. He holds a career record of 20-6.

Betting Analysis and Prediction: This one seems eerily similar to Guillard’s fight against Evan Dunham. Everyone said that if Dunham could just wrestle the fight to the ground he would likely exploit Guillard’s Achilles heel, his inferior grappling skills. In that fight, Dunham was asleep before he ever dragged Guillard to the ground. This fight is much the same, although Dunham tested his stand up a little more than Lauzon is likely going to. At over 3-to-1 there might be a chance that Lauzon snags a limb and earns a submission but it’s more likely that Guillard obliterates him and steamrolls his way towards a Lightweight title shot. Melvin Guillard via TKO (but for those of you interested, that $5 Parlay with the addition of Lauzon now pays out $190….)

Main Card (PPV): Featherweight Bout: Leonard Garcia (+205) vs. Nam Phan (-210)

Leonard “Bad Boy” Garcia is a 32-year-old fighter from Texas. He currently trains with Greg Jackson’s Submission Fighting. He is a boxer who is most well-known for his exciting brawling style which is great for fans, but not always for himself. Garcia is also a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, although he rarely shows it off in fights, choosing instead to slug it out on the feet. Garcia continually moves forward, winging huge hooks and looping punches towards his opponents. When they land they can definitely do damage, unfortunately they don’t always hit their marks. Garcia is 15-7 as a professional but has never been stopped by strikes. Garcia actually holds a win over Phan in a fight that took place nearly a year ago, although the decision was hotly-contested and most people feel that Phan won the fight.

Nam Phan is a California based fighter, who is most known to casual fans from his appearance on The Ultimate Fighter: GSP vs. Koscheck. Phan is a very well-rounded fighter with a number of martial arts backgrounds on his resume. He is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, a black belt in Karate and a black belt in Quyen Dao. Phan also has strong Muay Thai skills with great counter punching ability. Despite struggling in his past two outings, he has shown strong footwork and good counter-punching skills, which will be on full display against a fighter like Garcia. The member of the Ma Du Academy in Garden Grove, California holds a career record of 16-9.

Betting Analysis and Prediction: This fight is just a watch for me. It holds a lot of interest to me as a fan, but nearly none as a bettor. The fact that Garcia won the last fight was absolutely nuts to me and I don’t feel like losing money on that again. Garcia will likely again move forward behind looping punches and a brawling style while Phan will use effective footwork, kicks and counter-punching to be more effective. Plus after losing the last one in controversial fashion, Phan might have the judge’s looking for a reason to balance the score. Nam Phan via Unanimous Decision

Main Card (PPV): Middleweight Bout: Chael Sonnen (-260) vs. Brian Stann (+230)

Chael Sonnen is returning to the UFC after a miraculous loss to Anderson Silva in a fight where he gave it away in the final round, followed by a failed drug test and a slew of personal problems. He has not fought since that loss to Silva in August, 2010. The usual trash-talking expert has remained relatively low-key for this fight, although he has been openly campaigning for a rematch against Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva. Sonnen is a wrestler with a smothering top game, serviceable boxing skills and horrible submission defense. Sonnen is a member of Team Quest Oregon and the former Olympic Freestyle Wrestling Alternate has a career record of 25-11-1.

Brian “All-American” Stann is a former US Marine turned professional fighter. He is one of the best ambassador’s of the UFC which has likely caused the lack of trash-talk from his opponent in this fight. Stann was a struggling Light Heavyweight in danger of being cut from the UFC, but since a drop to Middleweight he has rolled with three straight victories all by way of stoppage and with a win over Sonnen is likely staring at a shot at the Middleweight title. Stann is a kickboxer with good Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Submission wrestling skills. He is a black belt in MCMAP (Marine Corps Martial Arts Program) and is also a member of Jackson’s Submission Fighting camp, where he has excelled under the tutelage of coach Greg Jackson. Stann’s MMA record as a pro is 11-3.

Betting Analysis: I’m going to go ahead and warn you that I hate Chael Sonnen. I think his style is boring, but I did predict him to stand a good shot at defeating Anderson Silva in his last fight. However, I do like Stann in this fight for a couple of reasons. One is the number of distractions and time off in Chael Sonnen’s life. The failed drug test, money laundering case, etc… has to be wearing on him mentally, and any time that a fighter takes more than a year off of fighting, you have to worry about ring rust being an issue. Stann has also shown improved submission skills and takedown defense since his switch to Jackson’s. If he can keep the fight on the feet, he will have the chance of putting his hands all over Sonnen who’s stand up is technically sound but is nowhere near elite level. It’s a long-shot, but I think there’s a bit of value on Stann at +230, so I’ll make a small wager on him. Brian Stann via TKO in Round One (by the way, that $5 parlay with the addition of Stann is now up to $619)

Main Card (PPV): Featherweight Championship Bout: Jose Aldo (-320) vs. Kenny Florian (+300)

Jose “Scarface” Aldo is the reigning and defending UFC Featherweight Champion. From Manaus, Brazil Aldo is a Muay Thai Fighter with a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu that is rarely used. Aldo is one of the fastest fighters in the UFC with great hand and foot speed as well as massive KO power and finishing ability. He is a member of the famed Brazilian camp Nova Unaio. Aldo has a number of highlight reel clips on his YouTube channel including stoppage victories over Mike Brown, Cub Swanson and Manny Gamburyan.

Kenny “Ken-Flo” Florian is a long-time UFC fighter from Westwood, Massachusetts. The 35-year-old fighter is making his third attempt at a UFC title, this time at an even lower weight class than the first two times. Florian is a very intelligent fighter who often has excellent game plans entering his fights, but who is known as a bit of a choke-artist, often coming up short in title fights or other big fights. Florian is most notable for his hosting duties on MMA Live as well as his other analyst jobs for MMA. He is perhaps best known to long-time fans for his stint on the first season of the Ultimate Fighter where he actually fought as a Middleweight. Florian has a career record of 15-5.

Betting Analysis and Prediction: A lot of people are making a big deal about the recently released YouTube video of Jose Aldo struggling to make weight for UFC 129 and his subsequent performance at UFC 129 (the video has recently been changed to private.) However, to play that card one has to look across the cage and see a former Middleweight fighter who is making the cut to 145-pounds for only the second time. All of that aside, this is Aldo’s fight to lose hence the heavy favorite status. He holds the stand up edge, the grappling is likely a wash and Aldo is the younger, more athletic fighter. These guys are both finishers, so this fight could end at any time, but even ignoring Florian’s obvious penchant for choking in big fights, it’s not hard to see why Aldo is such a big favorite. Despite the long odds, I think this line is fairly well set and I’m not interested in laying cash down on either fighter, so I’ll just be watching as a fan for this one. As for a prediction, I’ll take, Jose Aldo via TKO Round Three

Main Event (PPV): Lightweight Championship Bout: Frankie Edgar (-125) vs. Gray Maynard (+120)

Frankie “The Answer” Edgar is the reigning and defending UFC Lightweight Champion. He is a 29-year-old fighter from New Jersey. He is a well-rounded fighter, with a number of backgrounds all folded into his MMA game including Wrestling, Boxing, BJJ and Muay Thai. He was an NCAA Division 1 Wrestler at Clarion University of Pennsylvania. He is a member of the Renzo Gracie Combat Team from Toms River, New Jersey. Edgar has only one career loss and it was to Maynard in 2008. In his last fight, he fought to a Split Draw against Maynard, in a fight where he rallied from a severe beating in the first round to outwork his opponent for the rest of the fight. Edgar uses his wrestling to earn well-timed takedowns and control the pace of his bouts. He uses strong footwork and strong technical boxing, backed up by an excellent jab to dart in and out against his opponents and outscore them on the feet.

Gray “The Bully” Maynard is a 32-year-old fighter from Phoenix, Arizona. Maynard is a member of the Xtreme Couture Gym in Las Vegas, Nevada. Like his opponent, Maynard was a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler, although Maynard spent his collegiate career at Michigan State University. Maynard’s stand up is somewhat raw and unpolished. He often throws winging, loopy punches, which generate a lot of power, but often leave him susceptible to counters from quicker opponents. Maynard has never been defeated in his MMA career, holding a perfect record of 10-0-1. Maynard relies extensively on his wrestling background in his fights, often searching for takedowns and then unleashing ground and pound on his opponents.

Betting Analysis and Prediction: I picked Maynard to win the last fight, and although I was impressed with Edgar’s comeback, I think Maynard simply punched himself out in that first round and never really recovered. Clearly Edgar can take a punch and stay in the fight, so this fight is almost surely destined for the scorecards. Edgar will try to dart in and out to pepper his jabs at Maynard while constantly retreating and searching for openings to counter his slower opponent. However, I still think that Maynard holds the edge in physical strength and wrestling ability. Those are what he’s going to need to rely on if he wants to win this fight and claim the Lightweight Championship. He’s never shown a problem to be a bit of a blanket, which is likely his best path to victory in this fight. At +120 you’re not getting a lot, but this fight should probably be even, so I’m making a small play on Maynard. Gray Maynard via Unanimous Decision

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TUF 13 Finale Results – Ferguson Wins, Guida Upsets

June 05, 2011 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

The Ultimate Fighter 13 closed out one of its most disappointing seasons with a memorable finale. Tony Ferguson won the UFC contract with a fantastic performance over Ramsey Nijem. Yet it was Clay Guida’s upset over Anthony Pettis that had people talking.

Clay Guida has turned into something of a “Mr. Spike TV” for the UFC. Guida fought in his third live The Ultimate Fighter finale special but did something he hasn’t done in his previous two fights…won. Guida defeated Anthony Pettis by unanimous decision in one of his best technical showings to date.

Anthony Pettis was the last WEC lightweight champion before the UFC integrated the WEC into the company. Pettis was set to fight the winner of Frankie Edgar vs. Gray Maynard UFC 125 fight for the UFC lightweight title. Unfortunately nobody expected Edgar and Maynard to fight to a draw and the decision changed everything. An immediate rematch was signed which put Pettis back in play for a fight, a fight that he was supposed to win.

Guida just simply out-wrestled Pettis for three rounds at The Ultimate Fighter Season 13 finale. Guida timed Pettis’ kicks perfectly and took him down at will. Pettis spent most of the fight on his back, yet fought a hell of a fight. Pettis was constantly working for submissions throughout the fight which Guida kept slipping out of. Pettis caught Guida in a real bad way as the second round closed with Guida arguably saved by the bell. Pettis got Guida’s back in the third round for the first time in the fight and looked like he was going to pull off a spectacular come-from-behind win. However, Guida was able to slip out of it and stayed relatively out of harm’s way for the rest of the fight.

I think the amount of talent that Pettis has at 24 is just downright scary. The guy is lethal off of  his back and is one of the most crafty submission fighters in all of MMA. Yet I think Pettis’ youth and immaturity killed him in this fight. Remember, Pettis gained national fame with his kick off of the cage against Ben Henderson. It appeared to me that Pettis was more concerned with making Sportscenter again than defending Guida’s wrestling. Pettis would randomly attempt spectacular kicks throughout the fight only to be taken down by the Carpenter. I think tonight’s loss was a humbling experience for young Pettis and with a little bit of maturity, he could turn himself into a machine.

Pettis came into the fight as a -250 favorite while Guida came in at a +190 underdog. Make no mistake about it, this was a huge win for Guida and an absolute MMA upset.

Guida’s win continues to put the UFC lightweight division in total chaos. The good news for the UFC is that the lightweight division has never been this competitive. Clay Guida, Jim Miller, Pettis, and Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez freshen up one of the more stale divisions in the promotion. Unfortunately the division is at a standstill with injuries to Gray Maynard and the champion, Frankie Edgar. Until they can return and decide a winner, nobody is likely getting a title shot.

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A win over the number one contender would theoretically put Guida to the head of the pack right? Wrong. UFC president Dana White told reporters after the fight that Jim Miller is still ahead of Guida in the pecking order. With Edgar and Maynard potentially fighting at UFC 133 or UFC 134, I think a Guida vs. Miller fight makes a ton of sense. At the same time, there are a ton of rumblings that Gilbert Melendez will be the next fighter to sign a hybrid UFC/Strikeforce contract like Nick Diaz did, with intentions of shooting Melendez right to the front of the line over everyone. Needless to say the division has never been in more doubt or as exciting.

Tony “Where’s Your Kid” Ferguson knocked out Ramsey Nijem in Round 1 to win the 13th season of The Ultimate Fighter. Ferguson continued to train with Brock Lesnar’s camp coming into the fight. Ferguson looked good and exceptionally confident with his hands. Ferguson dominated the fight for the most part and knocked out Nijem with a fast left hook to end the fight at the 3:54 mark of Round 1.

Ferguson is going to be a real tough fighter to market. Ferguson tried after the fight to cut a sympathetic promo telling Joe Rogan how he wanted to be a role model for kids. However, Ferguson was painted as the villain of the season and arguably stepped over the line in the second to last episode of the season with a house fight. Fortunately for the UFC, TUF 13 didn’t draw the same audiences past shows did so maybe Ferguson will get more of a clean slate than past winners.

The early classes of The Ultimate Fighter produced some exceptional talent. Early winners like Rashad Evans, Forrest Griffin, and Matt Serra all won UFC championships. Unfortunately the well has dried up for the UFC with Strikeforce, Bellator, and numerous other MMA companies popping up taking fighters who would have probably wound up on the program, thus offering a smaller pool of quality talent to the competition. Since The Ultimate Fighter 4, no winner has gone on to have any kind of resounding success. Ryan Bader would probably be the best prospect at this point, but he was dominated in his last fight against Jon Jones.

Is Tony Ferguson going to turn it around? I doubt it but I never would have predicted that Rashad Evans would be a world champion either.

Full The Ultimate Fighter Finale 13 results…
Tony Ferguson defeated Ramsey Nijem via first-round TKO
Clay Guida defeated Anthony Pettis via unanimous decision
Ed Herman defeated Tim Credeur via first-round TKO
Kyle Kingsbury vs. Fabio Maldonado via unanimous decision
Chris Cope defeated Chuck O’Neil via unanimous decision
Jeremy Stephens defeated Danny Downes via unanimous decision
George Roop defeated Josh Grispi via third-round TKO
Shamar Bailey defeated Ryan McGillivray via unanimous decision
Clay Harvison defeated Justin Edwards via split decision
Scott Jorgensen defeated Ken Stone via first-round KO
Reuben Duran defeated Francisco Rivera via submission

Brock Lesnar’s autobiography – Death Clutch: My Story of Determination, Domination, and Survival

UFC 128: Shogun vs. Jones DVD

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Silver Star Clay Guida Signature Series T-Shirt

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