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UFC Announces Two New Main-Events

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

August is heating up for the UFC as the fight promotion has announced two new headlining summer fights. UFC 164 and the first UFC on FS1 now have main-events and fans will be able to see one of the more intriguing 2013 fights for free.

Chael Sonnen announced his next fight on the UFC Tonight program and while the fight wasn’t a surprise, the location may have been a bit of a stunner. Most MMA fans and media expected earlier in the week that Sonnen vs. Mauricio Shogun Rua would take place in less than two weeks. Instead it will take place live on FS1 on August 17.

“Shogun and I are going to be the main event on FOX Sports 1 on August 17. We were going to fight in Winnipeg, and they pulled it.”

It is kind of interesting how this fight came about. Rua was scheduled to fight Lil’ Nog at UFC 161 while most expected Sonnen to be fighting Wanderlei Silva next. Nog got hurt and Sonnen immediately volunteered for the spot. For whatever reason and the holdup according to rumors was getting Sonnen into the country on such short notice, the fight didn’t happen. I presume that the UFC liked the initial buzz of the fight so much that they decided to shift gears and sign it.

“I like Shogun. I admire him a lot. I wanted to fight Wanderlei. He’s the worst fighter in the UFC. I couldn’t get him. I figured I’d get the guy who destroyed Wanderlei in the practice room for all these years.”

I like this fight a lot. You get one of if not the best talkers in MMA promoting the first UFC on FS1 event. You also have a light heavyweight fight between two star fighters that won’t have any real impact in the division in losing or winning. You always have a storyline anytime Chael is fighting a Brazilian which comes with a bigger Brazilian audience than usual. The UFC gets its star fight without compromising any big future plans. At the same time you are signing a fight that wouldn’t sell as a main-event on pay per view yet could do some real business as a free attraction.

I love Chael going into this fight with a full training camp. As I have said before, give me the guy who just went toe-to-toe with the two best fighters in MMA over the guy who struggled against Brandon Vera. A lot of the predictions in the MMA social media world are for a Shogun route. I don’t see it. It’s a shame I don’t get to Vegas until October or I’d be all over Chael on this one.

Benson Henderson will be returning to pay per view after a lengthy layoff with a UFC lightweight title defense against TJ Grant at UFC 164. The championship fight will be supported by heavyweights Frank Mir vs. Josh Barnett underneath. I am a big Henderson fan and I’m sure this fight will be good, but a pay per view main-event? I don’t know about that. They better have a stacked card here.

I really think that the UFC missed the boat on a Gilbert Melendez vs. Henderson rematch. I know you don’t want to promote too many rematches but you are talking about a fight that millions of people watched on free television. Why not capitalize on the fight that casual fans are already invested in?

GSP – The Way of the Fight Book

Anderson Silva – MMA Instruction Manual: The Muay Thai Clinch, Takedowns, Takedown Defense, and Ground Fighting

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UFC On FOX 7 Results and Wrap Up

April 22, 2013 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

Benson Henderson defended his UFC Lightweight title on the Fox network against a member of the Cesar Gracie Fight Team once again this weekend, but it was hardly like his dominant victory against Nate Diaz months earlier. In front of a hostile San Jose crowd, the reigning UFC Lightweight Champion took home a somewhat controversial Split Decision victory to retain his title. I hate to label the decision as highly controversial, since the entire bout was close and the scorecards of the MMA Media members are widely varied, anywhere from 49-46 for Henderson all the way to 49-46 scores for Melendez. Either way, it was a close fight and one that both fighters should be proud of.

In the co-main event of the evening Frank Mir welcomed Daniel Cormier; the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix winner to the UFC, unfortunately it was relatively smooth sailing for the debuting Cormier. He used his hand speed advantage and a grinding clinch game to completely stifle the offense of Frank Mir. Mir who switched camps to Greg Jackson’s for this fight looked to be in great shape before the fight and his cardio seemed much improved during the actual fight, but none of that translated to a lot of success as he was defeated by Unanimous Decision with scores of 30-27 across the board. In other main card action Matt Brown continued his impressive career resurgence at 170 pounds with an exciting back and forth scrap against Jordan Mein and in Lightweight action Strikeforce import Josh Thomson became the first man to stop a Diaz brother with strikes inside the UFC.

Welterweight Bout: Matt Brown defeated Jordan Mein via TKO (Punches and Elbows) at 1:00 of Round Two

Matt Brown continued his impressive streak in the UFC’s Welterweight division and continues to rise from a veteran mid-tier fighter to a fringe contender in the division. This was an exciting back and forth bout. Brown knowing Mein’s striking talent refused to give him space to open up, he continued to swarm the young fighter and never gave Mein enough room to get comfortable with his striking. After landing some big shots in the opening round, Brown got caught with a huge hook to the body that sent him to the mat and nearly finished him. He managed to compose himself and even sunk in a triangle choke from his back. In the second round, he continued to pressure the young fighter and landed some solid knees and elbows in the clinch, one that opened a massive cut that immediately began to leak blood. It seemed to panic Mein who shelled up on the ground and Brown was relentless with ground and pound to earn the stoppage victory.

What’s next for Brown? He’s now won five straight in the Welterweight division and deserves a step up in competition. Patrick Cote recently made his Welterweight debut in his return to the UFC and was successful. He’s a striker which makes this an intriguing stylistic match up due to the high probability that they just slug it out on the feet. Cote is also a former UFC title challenger, so he presents a step up in competition for Brown. Put it on a card in Canada and you’re golden.
What’s next for Mein? He did the UFC a favor by taking this fight on late notice and likely won’t be punished for losing here. Mein is still young and can be rebuilt from this, give him a winnable fight against a striker and let him get his footing back. A bout against fellow Canadian Chris Clements on the undercard of a Canadian fight card would make a lot of sense. So would a potential bout with Mike Swick, who was the last man to lose to Brown.

Lightweight Bout: Josh Thomson defeat Nate Diaz via TKO (Head Kick and Punches) at 3:44 of Round Two

Josh Thomson showed that he could follow a game plan and that he may have solved the riddle of Nate Diaz’s boxing. Benson Henderson used wrestling to nullify Diaz’s striking, Thomson used a game plan similar to that of Carlos Condit against big brother Nick Diaz. Thomson used his speed advantage and constantly moved so as to never stand in front of Diaz for a long period of time. He threw a sizeable number of kicks, many more than is normal for him. He attacked the lead leg of Diaz several times, before switching it up and going for head kicks and then body kicks. In the second round, he tagged Diaz with a huge head kick that stunned him. Thomson swarmed Diaz and was putting a beating on Diaz that had his corner throwing in the towel just as the referee stopped the fight.

I also want to note one thing about this from Diaz`s corner. Although many people may give the corner men, including Nate`s brother Nick flack for throwing in the towel here, I have to commend them for the move. Diaz is known for his iron chin and even seeing he was severely rocked, he was still aware enough to be fighting back, some referees would have considered it intelligent defense. Thomson was landing huge shots and after the head kick he is definitely piling on unnecessary punishment, good for Diaz`s corner to protect their fighter from himself and his own toughness by throwing in the towel.

What`s next for Thomson? He’s a former Strikeforce Lightweight Champion and he was the number one contender in that promotion for a long time. He just beat a former UFC Lightweight title challenger, so he’s definitely established himself as a top contender in the division. He’ll need an opponent to match. Diego Sanchez is a big name near the top of the pack at Lightweight, so that fight makes sense. As does the winner of the upcoming bout between Jim Miller and Pat Healy.

Heavyweight Bout: Daniel Cormier defeated Frank Mir via Unanimous Decision at 5:00 of Round Three

Frank Mir looked impressive at the weigh-ins and said all the right things about switching camps during the lead up to this fight. Unfortunately none of it mattered once he got in there with Cormier. It wasn’t an impressive knockout performance for Cormier, who admitted to being extremely nervous heading into his UFC debut after the fight. Mir didn’t get much offense off, as Cormier used a dominant clinch game to stifle Mir against the cage and grind away at him. Cormier won most of the exchanges on the feet, by using his superior hand speed, but it was far from the dominant performance many people were expecting from him. In the end though, he took a clear cut, Unanimous Decision over a former UFC title challenger, not bad for his debut.

What’s next for Cormier? That depends on a lot of things, mostly relating to Cormier and his training camp. He tried to cut weight for wrestling in the past and nearly died from a kidney complication, but has said he’s much lighter now and has expressed interest in dropping to 205 pounds to challenge Jon Jones. He’s training partners and close friends with UFC Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez and is a small Heavyweight so that makes sense for him. If he’s able to make the cut to 205 he should have one tune-up fight before his shot against Jon Jones. At UFC 161 in Winnipeg he’ll see four possible opponents as Mauricio Rua battles Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Rashad Evans battles Dan Henderson. The winners of those bouts are top contenders just under Lyoto Machida and Alexander Gustafsson, he should fight the winner of one of those fights.

What’s next for Mir? He’s never getting back to title contention, but he’ll remain a big name fighter who is popular and can serve as a great gatekeeper for the Heavyweight division. Knowing that the UFC likes to match up fighters coming off losses, I think there is one big name that makes a lot of sense, Alistair Overeem. I’m sure the UFC wants to rebuild Overeem and a bout against Mir can do a lot for rebuilding the Overeem brand.

Lightweight Championship Bout: Benson Henderson defeated Gilbert Melendez via Split Decision at 5:00 of Round Five

It was a close decision once again as Melendez pushed Benson Henderson to his limit. Early on in the fight Henderson did not look at all like his nickname ‘Smooth’ as he struggled to get comfortable against the awkward style of Melendez. For his part Melendez had definitely watched a lot of fights of Henderson as he incorporated a lot of things that other fighters have had success with against the champion. He caught a number of kicks and used a few to earn takedowns against Henderson, and he used an interesting step in low inside kick followed by a haymaker combination that was finding a home early.

In the later rounds, Henderson became more fluid and began to take back some momentum. His kicks started landing and he was able to pressure Melendez and for the first time had the California native moving backwards instead of forwards. Entering the final frame most people had it even at 2 rounds each and thought the final round would decide the fight. It was an excellent round for Melendez, who I actually scored the fight for, giving him rounds 1, 2 and 5. In the end though the judges disagreed and Henderson took the belt with a close Split Decision.

What’s next for Henderson? This one is easy, at the post fight press conference UFC President Dana White announced that the winner of the upcoming Lightweight bout between former title challenger Gray Maynard and surging contender TJ Grant would be granted a shot at Henderson.

What’s next for Melendez? This is the more tricky matchmaking problem. Many people felt that Melendez won the fight and even if he didn’t, they have to admit it was razor close. He’s being passed over for an immediate rematch which is somewhat interesting given the history of Lightweight title defenses. So where does he go from here? He demands a fight against a top contender but outside his lone UFC fight, which is a loss not many fight fans know who the hell he is, if they didn’t follow Strikeforce. There are two major UFC Lightweight title eliminator fights coming up, the aforementioned Maynard vs. Grant, as well as Jim Miller vs. Pat Healy. Melendez should probably be fighting the loser of one of those two fights to try and re-establish himself in the Lightweight pecking order.

Georges St-Pierre: The Way of the Fight Book

Anderson Silva: Like Water

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UFC On FOX 7 Predictions and Analysis

April 19, 2013 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

The UFC delivered an exciting finale, to one of the most exciting seasons of The Ultimate Fighter in recent memory last weekend. They’re not giving that event much time to simmer in our memories, as they move forward with another free event, this time on network television as the 7th UFC on Fox event goes off this weekend. The UFC returns to California, more specifically to San Jose, California, the home base of their former sister promotion Strikeforce.

It’s fitting that the UFC is hosting this event in San Jose and at the HP Pavilion the home of a number of Strikeforce shows in the past, since this card features a number of fighters that were prominent in Strikeforce’s success. In main card action former Strikeforce Lightweight Champion Josh “The Punk” Thomson battles former Lightweight title challenger Nate Diaz. Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix winner and emerging star Daniel Cormier battles former UFC Heavyweight Champion Frank Mir in the co-main event. And in the main event of the evening UFC Lightweight Champion Benson Henderson makes yet another appearance on the Fox Network as he battles the final Strikeforce Lightweight Champion Gilbert Melendez in a battle of two champions.

Preliminary Card (Facebook): Middleweight Bout: Clifford Starks vs. Yoel Romero

Clifford Starks is a 31-year-old fighter from Pomona, California. Starks is a member of the Arizona Combat Sports Gym training in Tempe, Arizona. Starks is a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler from Arizona State University. He holds a professional MMA record of 8-1. Yoel “Soldado de Dios” Romero is a 35-year-old fighter from Pinar del Rio, Cuba. He is a former member of the Cuban Olympic wrestling team. He now trains with the Kampfsport Althof Gym in Palmdale, California. He holds a professional MMA record of 4-1.

Quick Pick: Yoel Romero via TKO in Round Two

Preliminary Card (Facebook): Lightweight Bout: Anthony Njokuani vs. Roger Bowling

Anthony “The Assassin” Njokuani is a 33-year-oldfighter from Lagos, Nigeria. Njokuani is a talented striker who is a member of the Janjira Muay Thai Gym in Las Vegas, Nevada. Njokuani holds a professional MMA record of 15-7 with 1 No Contest. Roger “Relentless” Bowling is a 30-year-old fighter from Neville, Ohio. Bowling is making his UFC debut after his Strikeforce career. Bowling is a member of Team Vision training out of Cincinnati, Ohio. He holds a professional record of 11-3.

Quick Pick: Anthony Njokuani via Unanimous Decision

Preliminary Card (FX): Bantamweight Bout: TJ Dillashaw vs. Hugo Viana

TJ “The Viper” Dillashaw is a 27-year-old fighter from Sonora, California. Dillashaw is a former cast member of The Ultimate Fighter and is also a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler from Cal State Fullerton. Dillashaw trains with Team Alpha Male in Sacramento, California. He holds a career record of 7-1. Hugo “Wolverine” Viana is a 30-year-old Brazilian fighter from Salvador, Bahia, Brazil. Viana is a member of the Champion Fight Team in his hometown. Viana is a black belt in Tae Kwan Do and a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. He holds a perfect professional record of 7-0.

Quick Pick: TJ Dillashaw via Submission in Round Two

Preliminary Card (FX): Lightweight Bout: Tim Means vs. Jorge Masvidal

Tim “The Dirty Bird” Means is a 29-year-old fighter from Wilburton, Oklahoma. Means is a former King of the Cage Lightweight Champion. Means is a member of the Power MMA Gym in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He holds a professional record of 18-3-1. Jorge “Gamebred” Masvidal is a 28-year-old fighter from Miami, Florida. Masvidal is a member of the American Top Team training out of Miami. He is a former professional boxer, who will be making his UFC debut in this fight. He holds a professional record of 23-7.

Quick Pick: Tim Means via Unanimous Decision

Preliminary Card (FX): Flyweight Bout: Joseph Benavidez vs. Darren Uyenoyama

Joseph “Beefcake” Benavidez is a 28-year-old fighter from San Antonio, Texas. Benavidez was a State Wrestling Champion during his high-school wrestling career. Benavidez is a member of the Team Alpha Male Gym training in Sacramento, California. He holds a professional record of 17-3 with the losses coming against only current UFC Champions Dominick Cruz and Demetrious Johnson. Darren “BC” Uyenoyama is a 33-year-old fighter from San Francisco, California. Uyenoyama has fought for a number of major MMA promotions including Strikeforce, Dream, Shooto and DEEP. He holds a professional MMA record of 8-3.

Quick Pick: Joseph Benavidez via TKO in Round One

Preliminary Card (FX): Lightweight Bout: Ramsey Nijem vs. Myles Jury

Ramsey Nijem is a 25-year-old fighter from Concord, California. He is a former cast member of The Ultimate Fighter, where he made it to the finals of the show’s tournament. Nijem is a member of the Pit Elevated Gym, training in Orem, Utah with the likes of Court McGee and Steven Siler. Nijem holds a professional record of 7-2. Myles “The Fury” Jury is a 24-year-old fighter from Hazel Park, Michigan. Jury is a member of the Alliance MMA Gym in San Diego, California. Jury is a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu who holds a perfect professional record of 11-0.

Quick Pick: Myles Jury via Unanimous Decision

Preliminary Card (FX): Middleweight Bout: Francis Carmont vs. Lorenz Larkin

Francis “Limitless” Carmont is a 31-year-old fighter from Sant-Tropez, France. Carmont is now a member of the Tristar Gym training out of Montreal, Quebec alongside fighters like Georges St. Pierre and Rory MacDonald. Carmont holds a professional MMA record of 20-7. Lorenz “The Monsoon” Larkin is a 26-year-old fighter from Riverside, California. Larkin is a member of his own gym Team Monsoon in his hometown of Riverside. Larkin will be making his UFC debut after spending his recent career in Strikeforce. He holds a career record of 13-0 with 1 No Contest.

Quick Pick: Lorenz Larkin via Unanimous Decision

Preliminary Card (FX): Featherweight Bout: Chad Mendes vs. Darren Elkins

Chad “Money” Mendes is a 27-year-old fighter from Hanford, California. Mendes is a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler from California Polytechnic State University. Mendes is a member of Team Alpha Male and is one of the top ranked Featherweight fighters in the UFC. He holds a professional record of 13-1, with the lone loss coming to UFC Featherweight Champion Jose Aldo. Darren “The Damage” Elkins is a 28-year-old fighter from Hobart, Indiana. Elkins is a member of the Duneland Vale Tudo Gym in his hometown of Hobart. Elkins is taking this bout as a late injury replacement for Clay Guida. Elkins holds a professional MMA record of 16-2.

Quick Pick: Chad Mendes via TKO in Round Two

Main Card (Fox): Welterweight Bout: Matt Brown vs. Jordan Mein

Matt “The Immortal” Brown is a 32-year-old fighter from Xenia, Ohio. Brown was a cast member of the seventh season of The Ultimate Fighter. Brown is a member of Jorge Gurgel’s Gym in Cincinnati, Ohio. He holds a brown belt in Judo and a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Brown is known for his fan friendly style and his iron chin, having never been stopped via strikes in nearly 30 career bouts. He holds a professional MMA record of 16-11, but is currently on a bit of a career resurgence having won his last 4 bouts, 3 via stoppage.
Jordan “Young Gun” Mein is a 23-year-old Canadian fighter from Lethbridge, Alberta. Despite being only 23-years-old he has already accumulated 35 professional MMA bouts. Mein is a talented striker with amateur kickboxing experience, beginning his training very early in his childhood. Mein is taking this bout as an injury replacement for Dan Hardy, and recently made his UFC debut with an impressive first round stoppage of Dan Miller. Mein trains at the Canadian Martial Arts Centre in Lethbridge, Alberta. He holds a professional MMA record of 27-8.

Analysis and Prediction: Brown is a grinder with an iron chin, so he’s definitely not going to be overly scared of Mein’s striking credentials. We all saw what Brown did to heavily hyped striking prospect Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson, as he basically put on a clinic on how to impose your will on a striker. That said, Mein is a far more talented mixed martial artist than Thompson. Although young he has been in the fight game for a long time, has a lot of cage experience and knows a lot of tricks. I expect Mein to come in with an intelligent game plan, he’ll use his strikes to work on a trip or a takedown from the clinch. From there his grappling is strong enough to control Brown or search for a submission in the scramble. Brown has the ability to make this fight interesting, but I think Mein is too talented as an all-around fighter. Jordan Mein via Submission in Round Two

Main Card (Fox): Lightweight Bout: Nate Diaz vs. Josh Thomson

Nate Diaz is a 27-year-old fighter from Stockton, California. He is best known as a competitor and the eventual winner of the 5th season of The Ultimate Fighter. This will be Diaz’s first bout since losing his shot at the UFC Lightweight Championship against Benson Henderson. Diaz is a talented boxer, who employs a high-volume based boxing approach. Diaz is also a talented grappler with a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Diaz trains with the Cesar Gracie Fight Team in Stockton, California, but has also been splitting his time with the Team Alpha Male Gym in Sacramento, California. He holds a professional MMA record of 16-8.

Josh “The Punk” Thomson is a 34-year-old fighter from San Jose, California. Thomson is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Thomson has fought for a number of major MMA promotions throughout his career, including a previous stint in the UFC, Pride FC in Japan and most recently Strikeforce. Thomson is a former Strikeforce Lightweight Champion who trains with the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose. Thomson holds a professional MMA record of 19-5 with 1 No Contest.

Analysis and Prediction: Diaz should be well prepared for this fight, he is a training partner with Gilbert Melendez and Gilbert has spent 75 minutes in the cage with Thomson. The question will likely come down to Thomson and his well being entering the fight. He has had nagging injuries for the past few years of his career and they have often hindered his ability to compete. If he follows a smart, wrestling based game plan he has the ability to stifle Diaz. That said, if he tries to strike with Diaz, he’s probably going to get overwhelmed on the feet by Diaz’s high-volume, high-octane striking. In the end I’ll take a slight upset and think Thomson can pull it off, but it’ll be close. Josh Thomson via Unanimous Decision

Main Card (Fox): Heavyweight Bout: Frank Mir vs. Daniel Cormier

Frank Mir is a 33-year-old fighter from Las Vegas, Nevada. Mir is a former two-time UFC Heavyweight Champion. Mir holds a black belt in Kenpo Karate and a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Mir is one of the most talented grapplers in the Heavyweight division and has won 9 bouts via Submission. Mir is a member of Greg Jackson’s camp training in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Mir holds a professional MMA record of 16-6, including being the only man to hold a submission victory over Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.

Daniel “DC” Cormier is a 34-year-old fighter from Lafayette, Louisiana. Cormier is a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler who wrestled at Oklahoma State University. Cormier is best known as the winner of the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix, after entering the event as a tournament alternate. Cormier is also a former member of the United States Freestyle Wrestling team. Cormier’s striking has been rapidly improving to compliment his wrestling ability. Cormier trains with the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, California where he is a regular training partner of UFC Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez. Cormier has a perfect professional record of 11-0.

Analysis and Prediction: Frank Mir made the move to Greg Jackson’s camp for this fight and he said it has changed him as a fighter. Unfortunately, we’ve heard those words come from Mir a number of times, and it usually doesn’t end well for him. He’s one of the most talented grapplers in the Heavyweight division, but against Cormier, I don’t like the match up. Cormier is a technically sound striker with solid hand speed for a Heavyweight, he also moves well for a big man. Add to that Cormier’s rock-solid wrestling base and you know the fight isn’t hitting the ground unless Cormier wants it to. Cormier batters Mir on the feet and eventually pounds him out on the ground as Mir fades in the third. Daniel Cormier via TKO in Round Three

Main Card (Fox): UFC Lightweight Championship Bout: Benson Henderson vs. Gilbert Melendez

Benson “Smooth” Henderson is a 29-year-old fighter from Colorado Springs, Colorado. Henderson is the reigning and defending UFC Lightweight Champion. Henderson is a former NAIA All-American Wrestler from Dana College in Blair, Nebraska. Henderson is now a member of the MMA Lab training in Glendale, Arizona. Henderson has a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and a black belt in Tae Kwan Do. Henderson is also a former WEC Lightweight Champion. Like many collegiate wrestlers, Henderson has been improving his striking during his MMA training and is a formidable kick boxer. He holds a career record of 18-2.

Gilbert “El Nino” Melendez is a 31-year-old fighter from Santa Ana, California. Melendez was the final Strikeforce Lightweight Champion. Melendez is a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu who trains with the Cesar Gracie Jiu Jitsu Team in California. Melendez has fought for a number of major MMA promotions across the world including WEC, Rumble on the Rock, Shooto, Pride and Strikeforce. Melendez is a talented wrestler who uses top control and ground and pound to wear out his opponents and open them up for submission opportunities. Melendez holds a professional MMA record of 21-2 but has avenged both of his career losses.

Analysis and Prediction: I like Melendez a lot, but he’s had a long layoff, having not fought in nearly a year. Injuries and backstage drama with Strikeforce have kept him out of the cage since a less than impressive showing against Josh Thomson. After that fight Melendez said he found it hard to get motivated for a third fight with Thomson, but that sounds like a weak excuse for coming into a title fight against a dangerous opponent unprepared. Henderson on the other hand is coming off of a dominant performance against Melendez’s teammate Nate Diaz.

Melendez can definitely learn a few things from watching Diaz’s fight against Henderson, unfortunately he and Nate are fairly different fighters. I would expect to see a somewhat familiar game plan from the champion. I’d expect to see a heavy dose of thudding leg kicks from both the orthodox and southpaw stances, which should significantly slow down the shots of Melendez. Henderson is a technically sound striker and his stellar jab should be able to fend off the awkward striking advances of Melendez.
On the ground it’s likely a wash, with both men being excellent grapplers. However, the key will be which fighter is in top control and for that I give the edge to the champion, Henderson, who I believe has a more refined wrestling base than Melendez. In the end, top control and a solid jab carry the day for Henderson who I expect to retain the title via decision. Benson Henderson via Unanimous Decision

Georges St-Pierre: The Way of the Fight Book

Anderson Silva: Like Water

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UFC vs. Strikeforce Fights Headline UFC On FOX 7

January 15, 2013 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

MMA fans will get their first real taste of Strikeforce vs. UFC fights this April…and it will be completely free. The UFC on FOX 7 broadcast will be headlined by two big fights featuring former Strikeforce champions making their UFC debuts.

A battle of lightweight champions will headline the FOX network event. The final Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez will make his long awaited UFC debut challenging the red hot Benson Henderson in the broadcast main-event. This will be the second title defense from Henderson to headline a UFC on FOX broadcast.

The heavyweights will also see action as the Strikeforce heavyweight Grand Prix champion will officially make his UFC debut. Daniel Cormier will waste no time as he will be jumping right back into camp in preparation of his heavyweight debut. Cormier will be welcomed to the UFC by former heavyweight champion Frank Mir.

This is a stacked UFC show, featuring two highly anticipated fighters among hardcore MMA fans. MMA fans have been debating how Gilbert Melendez would do in the UFC for quite some time. They will finally find out as he goes up against arguably the best lightweight MMA fighter in the world in Ben Henderson.

The fight has been on and off for the last several weeks. Melendez was the first Strikeforce fighter to publicly call for a fight with his UFC division champion rival after Zuffa purchased Strikeforce. Recent documents indicated that Eddie Alvarez was in line for the next title shot at Hendo, not Melendez. Obviously that wasn’t going to happen as Alvarez will be going to court to get out of his Bellator obligati0ons. This fight makes perfect sense.

Zuffa has been trying to promote a Cormier vs. Mir fight for months. They were scheduled to fight last year in Strikeforce before Mir pulled out of the fight with an injury. Cormier has publicly called out Mir since the cancelled fight, most recently doing so after earning his final Strikeforce win. The fight sets up what it starting to become a nice little grudge match between the heavyweights.

Quite honestly Cormier’s obsession with Mir has stumped me. Why would Cormier be this obsessed with an aging heavyweight on the decline of his career is beyond me? What is to gain by fighting Mir? It makes even less sense when he and the UFC are both saying that his future is at light heavyweight. If that is true and he is being considered as a challenger for Jon Jones, why even bother taking a heavyweight fight?

One thing I can say is that it is obvious that FOX made the UFC step up their game with the television lineups. Every broadcast since Jim Miller vs. Nate Diaz has been headlined (or scheduled) by a championship fight. Dana White can spin the ratings anyway he wants, it is obvious that FOX had a problem with the numbers and put the pressure on the UFC to deliver title fights on television.

And I don’t have any problem with that.

UFC: Ultimate Fight Collection 2012

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Anderson Spider Silva (Em Portugues do Brasil

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Eddie Alvarez Could Get Immediate UFC Title Shot

January 11, 2013 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

The battle for Eddie Alvarez has taken an interesting turn over the past week. Details of both the UFC and Bellator’s offers to Alvarez have been leaked which offers interesting insight into what the UFC plans to do with Alvarez from the start.

MMAJunkie.com did a great job of publishing the details of both offers. For those of you who don’t know, the Bellator star is currently involved in an ugly negotiation with Bellator and the UFC. Bellator has offered to match the UFC’s contract, thus forcing Alvarez to remain with Bellator. However, Alvarez believes that the offer is not a match and his fate will now end up in front of a judge.

The financials are all over the Internet so I won’t get into the particulars. Quite frankly the guy is due to make a lot of money, specifically off of pay per view points in the UFC. His starting salary would also be $75,000 to show, $75,000 to win, much more than some current UFC champions make for showing up. But it isn’t so much the money that grabbed my attention, it was who the UFC intends to book Alvarez with in his debut.

According to the documents, the UFC’s intent is to give Alvarez an immediate UFC lightweight championship fight against Ben Henderson. The fight would take place underneath the Georges St-Pierre vs. Nick Diaz fight in March. While the fight is not guaranteed, it is clear that the title fight is certainly on the table for Alvarez and that just boggles my mind.

The idea that Alvarez would skip over someone like Anthony Pettis or Donald Cerrone for a title shot is very hard to wrap my head around. On top of that, Alvarez would jump over Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez to get to the front of the line. Giving Alvarez this kind of preferential treatment is just another case of the UFC putting a priority on show over credibility when it comes to their titles.

Additionally, how are they going to promote the fight? What videos are they going to show of Eddie Alvarez to get their fans and customers pumped up about buying that fight? Do you think Bellator will kindly allow the UFC to use his fights to promote his UFC championship debut? With all due respect to Eddie Alvarez, casual MMA fans aren’t buying a fight on his name alone. It wasn’t as if Bellator were drawing millions of eyes on Alvarez’s fights.

Finally, just the idea of debuting your newest commodity in this fight is just asinine to me. Let’s say Henderson rolls through Alvarez. Now you have paid all of this money and fought for a guy that UFC fans will see as a minor league fighter. Unless Alvarez was signing a one fight deal, there is no need to sacrifice him to the best fighter in the division. Could Alvarez win? Sure, but I wouldn’t count on it. All your left with after the fight is highly paid mid-card fighter that will never reach his ROI after getting defeated in his first fight by the best.

My hunch is that the idea of “intent” is just language being used to beat Bellator’s deal. I can’t fathom any other reason you’d debut him against the champion if you are Zuffa.

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10 Most Anticipated UFC 2013 Fights

January 09, 2013 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

2012 will go down as a mixed year in the UFC. Unable to deliver the big super fights, the UFC will attempt to rebound in 2013 with several highly anticipated fights both scheduled and in planning.

If there was one disappointment with the UFC in 2012 it was the inability to pull off big fights. Even realistic super fights in division like Georges St-Pierre vs. Nick Diaz failed to materialize for a variety of reasons. With an all-star roster on deck featuring new fighters from Strikeforce, the UFC has the potential to blow away 2012 with several big fights this year. Now whether the UFC can pull these off or not is another story altogether.

I sat down with the idea of writing about the 10 most anticipated UFC fights of 2013. Unfortunately I had a rough time coming up with anything past five. It isn’t as if the big fights aren’t available, it just appears that the biggest ones aren’t close to taking place. So in order to get to ten, I had to throw a lot of hypothetical matchups into the mix. I tried keeping it realistic and staying away from fights like GSP vs. Silva which while gigantic, doesn’t appear to be taking place in 2013. Of course the UFC is always full of surprises but on the first week of January, here is a look at what I think are the 10 most anticipated fights both signed and likely to happen in the next twelve months.

Georges St-Pierre vs. Nick Diaz UFC 158 - This one is signed but is far away from being sealed, and further away from being delivered. Diaz is still unlicensed so until he appears before the NSAC to get reinstated, this fight is far from a lock. However, if everything comes together as planned this is undoubtedly the biggest fight on the docket in 2013 now and for the rest of the year. Grudge fights sell in the UFC and I can’t think of a bigger grudge that will be settled in 2013 than this one.

Chael Sonnen vs. Jon Jones UFC 159 - If you are a hardcore fan and have followed Sonnen and Jones over the last few months, you are probably less excited about this fight than you were when it was announced. If you are a casual fan who peeks in and out, well then you are probably just as amped. So far the “grudge” between these two has turned into a bit of a love affair. I have to think that as the fight grows closer that Sonnen will go into his usual bag of promotional tricks and start talking. Regardless you have a fight between two stars with a title on the line. That will always draw to an extent.

Anderson Silva vs. Michael Bisping/Chris Weidman TBD - Anderson’s next move is as much of a mystery as anything else in the UFC. Dana White has said that Silva would fight Bisping if he wins his next fight but when is the last time Bisping hasn’t choked in this scenario? If it isn’t Bisping than Chris Weidman looks to be the next man up for the Spider. Regardless of the opponent, Anderson will always be a draw on pay per view. Unfortunately it isn’t likely to be the two opponents that would draw him the most money in either GSP or Bones Jones.

Frankie Edgar vs. Jose Aldo UFC 156 - I am probably one of the few MMA fans incredibly psyched for this fight. I am a big fan of both and I think that this one has enormous potential to be fight of the year. Unfortunately neither are a draw on pay per view, yet I think the weak schedule puts this one at least in consideration for top 10 anticipated fights.

Cain Velasquez vs. Alistair Overeem TBD - Now is where we start diving into hypothetical fights. Have you seen Bigfoot Silva fight elite competition? He doesn’t fare so well. So I am going to presume that Overeem beats him. This one has the makings of a classic. Overeem has something that nobody else in the heavyweight division has had since Brock Lesnar left…charisma. That charisma equals money and that charisma matched up with Velasquez’s mystique will draw mega money here.

Ronda Rousey vs. Cristiane Cyborg Santos TBD - Rousey and White can scream all that they want about Cyborg having to make 135 but at the end of the day I am still of the belief that this fight happens. Dave Meltzer recently reported that negotiations are very close to making this fight happen at 135. I think you have the makings of what could be the third or fourth biggest fight of 2013 in the UFC. I hate to say it but the fate of the women’s division rests on this fight.

Georges St-Pierre vs. Johny Hendricks TBD - This one could come sooner than you think if Diaz can’t play ball in time for UFC 158. Hendricks is on an impressive winning streak in the division and by rights, should be the number one contender. Hendricks has one more hurdle to jump and I can’t imagine him stumbling at this point. Another Hendricks KO will bring some big money to this welterweight title fight. The KO artist vs. the supreme athlete is gold. Hendricks is already running his mouth about GSP. By the time this fight happens you’ll have yourself a nice grudge match. I smell a lot of green here.

Jon Jones vs. Dan Henderson TBD - I’ll continue with the hypothetical fights here and go back to the light heavyweight division. Dana White has talked about Daniel Cormier getting the next title shot but I think a Hendo win over Machida seals the deal. Henderson continues to talk trash about Jones and as fickle as Jones is, I can see him demanding a fight to shut him up. Ticket sales weren’t strong for their first scheduled fight but I think this one is different. Henderson’s streak and list of victims will be a who’s who in the division and will make him a believable contender against Jones. This division desperately needs a credible contender. Continuing the circus with Cormier will do nobody any favors. I think Henderson gets the next shot and these guys do some better than expected business.

Benson Henderson vs. Gilbert Melendez TBD – There are grumblings that this first time battle of Strikeforce vs. UFC champions will take place at the UFC on FOX 7 broadcast, although those are just rumors right now. One thing is confirmed and that is that the UFC is working hard to make this fight happen. I think Henderson has now solidified himself as one of the faces of the UFC and the idea of someone with Melendez’s pedigree and winning streak coming in to challenge him is money. Additionally, there is always added intrigue when you have a battle of champions. I know this division has struggled for attention since BJ Penn lost the title but I think Henderson brings it back to relevance in 2013.

Jon Jones vs. Glover Teixeira TBD - I’ll close out the hypothetical schedule with a fight that I think could be absolutely huge. Unfortunately Teixeira did himself no favors in his fight with Fabio Maldonado. He won but I think a bit of the mystique was off. He’ll have the chance to snatch that back when he fights on network television against Rampage Jackson. If he can brutalize Jackson as most expect, he’ll make himself a star overnight. He will look like the unstoppable killing machine getting ready to end the reign of Jones. There is major money in this fight if Teixeira gets past Rampage convincingly. Maybe they go with Teixeira vs. Henderson, Gustaffson, or Cormier in an eliminator first, but I think Teixeira gets his crack at Jones by year’s end in what turns out to be a big time fight.

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UFC On FOX 5: Henderson vs. Diaz Winners and Wrap Up

December 10, 2012 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

Overnight ratings are in for the UFC’s ‘greatest night of fights to ever be offered on network television’ and they have to be pleased with the results. Although down from the UFC’s debut on network television, the ratings were a notable increase over the last couple of offerings on Fox. According to reports from TVByTheNumbers.com the show garnered an average of 3.41 million viewers last night. One important note is that the broadcast ran longer than expected, and those numbers do not include the Lightweight title fight between Henderson and Diaz, I would expect that the show experienced an uptick during that bout and the final number might actually push closer to 3.75-4.0 million viewers.

The fights themselves did come through, as most contests were exciting, entertaining and featured a number of finishes. Although not everything went according to plan. Apparently someone at Fox will be getting fired tomorrow morning, because ads for Bellator MMA (arguably the UFC’s biggest competitor) making it’s switch to Spike TV (the UFC’s former home network.) Luckily, if we ignore what happened outside the cage and focus only on what happened inside the cage, it was a highly entertaining night. Let’s take a look at the main card fights, and examine what’s next for each of the main card fighters.

Matt Brown defeated Mike Swick via KO (Punch) at 2:31 of Round 2

Both men were coming off of big wins and both were looking to keep their momentum going in a suddenly crowded Welterweight division. Neither man has ever been one to back down from a brawl, so many people expected fireworks and these two delivered. Surprisingly the first round featured an impressive amount of mat work from Brown, who is more known as a brawler than a submission artist, but he had Swick in trouble several times, but Swick managed to make the bell. In the second round, there was more striking this time around. After a couple of high pressure exchanges, Brown managed to find an opening and tagged Swick with a beautiful punch that ended his night for good.

What’s next for Brown? He’s now won four fights in a row and he deserves a step up in competition once again. Probably someone in the top 15 or so sounds about right. A name that’s being tossed around on the Internet a lot is Siyar Bahadurzada and that is a match up that I really like. The Afghani slugger loves to throw hands and he’s got a number of highlight reel knockouts to show for it. Brown’s never been stopped in his career by strikes. Let’s see who wins.

What’s next for Swick? I hate to say it, but possibly retirement, or at least a serious look at his career path. He hasn’t looked the same in his last two bouts since dealing with major injuries and illnesses that kept him out of action for two years. If not Thiago Alves is supposed to be off until mid-2013 and has struggled recently. That fight might make some sense.

Rory MacDonald defeated BJ Penn via Unanimous Decision after Round 3

Rory MacDonald basically took the game plan that GSP laid out and turned up the tempo to dominate BJ Penn for three rounds. MacDonald was significantly larger than Penn and imposed his will on Penn over the course of the entire fight. MacDonald’s striking looked sharper than ever. Herb Dean nearly stopped the fight in the second round and after seeing the damage done to Penn’s face at the end of the bout, perhaps he should have. I’ll give Penn credit for hanging around until the final bell, but that’s about all he did.

What’s next for MacDonald? After the fight Rory called out Carlos Condit. That fight makes a whole lot of sense, since both of these guys are top contenders at Welterweight and Condit is the only man to ever defeat MacDonald in his career. If the UFC decides to take a different path the winner of the Jon Fitch-Demian Maia fight might be the best possible option.

What’s next for Penn? Hopefully retirement again, that or a return to 155 pounds. He’s simply too small for Welterweight and several of his last opponents at the weight have exploited that. If he is willing to drop to Lightweight there a number of intriguing bouts for him there. A fight against Nate Diaz might be very entertaining as a way for Penn to get some revenge against the 209.

Alexander Gustafsson defeated Mauricio Rua via Unanimous Decision after Round 3

Although it seemed close at times, this one never really had much doubt. Although I don’t agree with whatever judge gave the final round to Gustafsson by a 10-8 score, I did think he won every round of the contest. Shogun was simply swinging for the fences by the middle of the first round and had a lot of trouble getting through the excellent striking of the much taller Swede. Gustafsson’s takedowns and grappling also looked improved and he nailed a couple of nice trips and slams to control the fight on the mat.

What’s next for Gustafsson? Although Dana White said that the winner of this bout was likely to earn a Light Heavyweight title fight, I don’t think that he’s ready for Jon Jones yet. The other option that was discussed was taking the place of Dan Henderson in a bout with Lyoto Machida, because Henderson isn’t fully healed. The other option of waiting until mid-late 2013 for a title fight might not be the most acceptable option for Gustafsson. If it’s not Jones and it’s not Machida, it should probably be the winner of the Rashad Evans Antonio Rogerio Nogueira fight.

What’s next for Rua? He didn’t look great in this fight, but he didn’t look awful either. He was never really in trouble of being finished and still posed some serious danger to the Swede. James Te Huna or Thiago Silva might be exciting slugfests.

Benson Henderson defeated Nate Diaz via Unanimous Decision after Round 5

One-sided domination. The big question heading into this contest was how is Henderson going to deal with the high-volume boxing attack of Diaz. Very well, was apparently the answer. Henderson used leg kicks to batter the lead leg of Diaz and slow his mobility for the rest of the contest. He also used some creative striking tricks and feints to set up some openings for him to land some big shots of his own. At the end of the contest Henderson had laid the worst beating on Nate Diaz, landing over 100 significant strikes over the course of the bout.

What’s next for Henderson? The UFC hasn’t spent a whole lot of time building up a new contender for the Lightweight title, which puts them in an awkward position. The best bet is that Strikeforce Lightweight Champion Gilbert Melendez is coming over to the UFC and he would be a logical choice to face Henderson. If the UFC chooses to stick with a fighter currently on the roster, the best choice is the winner of the Anthony Pettis-Donald Cerrone on the next Fox card.

What’s next for Diaz? The UFC has a long list of Lightweight fighters who could provide entertaining bouts. Although it’s a little bit off the radar I think a bout with Sam Stout would be highly entertaining between two high-volume strikers. Although it probably wouldn’t do a whole lot of good for either fighter’s standing in the division.

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UFC On FOX 5: Henderson vs. Diaz Predictions and Preview

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

The UFC makes a return to the Fox airwaves this weekend, with an action packed card headlined by a Lightweight title fight that is almost sure to deliver fireworks as Nate Diaz takes on reigning champion Benson Henderson. The promotion has failed to catch up to the ratings of the initial Fox broadcast and surely Dana White and company are hoping that by delivering a title fight on free television will help to improve things.

They are backing the title fight with a couple of other intriguing bouts. In the co-main event of the night Mauricio “Shogun” Rua will try to get himself back into the Light Heavyweight title mix as he takes on top prospect Alexander Gustafsson of Sweden. In Welterweight action BJ Penn makes a return from brief retirement to try and gain a measure of revenge against the Tristar Gym as he battles top prospect and training partner of GSP; Rory MacDonald. The final bout on the Fox card promises a slugfest as Mike Swick battles Matt Brown.

Preliminary Card (Facebook): Bantamweight Bout: Scott Jorgensen vs. John Albert

Scott “Young Guns” Jorgensen is a 30-year-old American fighter. Jorgensen is a former NCAA Division 1 wrestler who was a 3-time PAC-10 champion from Boise State University. Since beginning his MMA career he has added a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu as well as improving boxing skills to his wrestling background. As a member of the Twisted Genetiks Gym in Boise, Idaho and holds a professional record of 13-6.

John “Prince” Albert is a 26-year-old fighter from Reno, Nevada. He is a former cast-member of the fourteenth season of The Ultimate Fighter. Despite a hot start to his career, he hasn’t had much success since his time on the show and could possibly be fighting for his UFC life in this bout. Albert is a member of the Victory Athletics Gym training out of Puyallup, Washington. Albert holds a career record of 7-3.

Analysis and Prediction: Albert is a highly aggressive fighter that isn’t afraid to bring the fight to his opponents, unfortunately for him, he might be slightly overmatched here. His grappling is a little bit sloppy, especially when he’s fighting at a frantic pace. Jorgensen is a capable wrestler who can put Albert on his back and overwhelm him from top control. I see him snagging a submission in a scramble somewhere in the second round after a back and forth affair. Scott Jorgensen via Submission in Round Two

 Preliminary Card (FX): Lightweight Bout: Tim Means vs. Abel Trujillo

Tim “The Dirty Bird” Means is a 28-year-old American fighter from Wilburton, Oklahoma. Means was a former King of the Cage Lightweight Champion before joining the UFC. Means is a member of the Fit NHB Gym in Albuquerque, New Mexico. After a somewhat mediocre start to his career, Means has not lost a bout since March of 2010 and is riding an 11-fight winning streak. Means holds a career record of 18-3-1, including 16 victories by way of stoppage.

Abel “Killa” Trujillo is a 29-year-old American fighter from Des Moines, Iowa. Trujillo is the owner of one of the nastiest mean mugs in the sport. Trujillo trains out of the Jaco Hybrid Training Center in Boca Raton, Florida as a member of the Blackzllians. Though his record is somewhat lackluster he has decent potential with strong top control and ground and pound and has looked improved in his bouts since becoming part of the Blackzillians. Trujillo holds a career record of 9-4.

Analysis and Prediction: Means is 6’2” and still fights at Lightweight, he’s going to be enjoying a significant height and reach advantage. Trujillo has made some strides since joining the Blackzillians, but he’s still a ways behind Means in almost every area of the fight. Means is one of the better prospects in the division and Trujillo has basically lost to anyone of note that he’s ever faced, I think this one could be ugly. Means via TKO in Round One. Tim Means via TKO in Round One

 Preliminary Card (FX): Lightweight Bout: Daron Cruickshank vs. Henry Martinez

Daron “The Detroit Superstar” Cruickshank is a 27-year-old from Westland, Michigan. Cruickshank was a cast member of the fifteenth season of The Ultimate Fighter. Cruickshank was a former NCAA Division 3 collegiate wrestler from Olivet College. After fighting for a number of other promotions like King of the Cage and Score Fighting Series in Canada. He is a member of the Mash Fight Team in Wayne, Michigan. He holds a career record of 11-2.

Henry “Sicario” Martinez is a 29-year-old fighter from Albuquerque, New Mexico. Martinez is a member of Greg Jackson’s Submission Fighting camp in his hometown of Albuquerque. Martinez is a well-rounded fighter who showcased an impressive skillset against Matt Riddle in a late notice fight, but was overpowered by the much larger fighter. In his last bout he returned to the Lightweight division with a victory by decision over Bernardo Magalhaes. He holds a career record of 9-2.

Analysis and Prediction: Henry Martinez made his UFC debut on late notice, at a weight class above his usual against one of the bigger fighters in the division and still barely lost a close decision. Unfortunately he didn’t do much to win his second fight back at Lightweight. Martinez didn’t really have an answer for Riddle’s wrestling skills and while Cruickshank is significantly smaller than Riddle, he’s still a strong wrestler. He should be able to control Martinez on the mat long enough to take a decision victory. Daron Cruickshank via Unanimous Decision

Preliminary Card (FX): Lightweight Bout: Yves Edwards vs. Jeremy Stephens

Yves “Thugjitsu Master” Edwards is a 36-year-old fighter from Nassau, Bahamas. Edwards is a veteran of the sport with 60 career bouts on his resume, having fought for a number of major MMA promotions such as Pride, WEC, Strikeforce, Bellator and Elite XC. Edwards is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, but is a well-rounded fighter with decent striking. Edwards is a member of the American Top Team, training in Woodlands, Texas. He holds a career record of 41-18-1, competing as a pro since 1997.

Jeremy “Lil Heathen” Stephens is a 26-year-old fighter from Des Moines, Iowa. Stevens was originally scheduled to fight Edwards at UFC on FX 5, but legal issues prevented the bout from going on as scheduled. Stephens is a tough, well-rounded fighter but he loves to throw hands, even when it’s not to his advantage. Stephens is a member of the Alliance MMA Gym, training out of San Diego, California. He holds a professional record of 20-8, with 14 TKOs.

Analysis and Prediction: This could end up being a highly entertaining fight for as long as it lasts. Edwards is probably the more technically sound striker, but Stephens hits harder and Edwards’ chin isn’t able to take the pounding that it once was. Stephens is also the more capable wrestler and should have good enough submission defense that Edwards struggles to survive from the bottom position. After a back and forth first round, I expect that Stephens can score a takedown and pound out a stoppage from the top position. Jeremy Stephens via TKO in Round Two

Preliminary Card (FX): Lightweight Bout: Ramsey Nijem vs. Joe Proctor

Ramsey Nijem is a Palestinian-American fighter from Concord, California. The 24-year-old is best known as a finalist of the thirteenth season of The Ultimate Fighter. Nijem attended Utah Valley University and wrestled for the school during his time there. Nijem is a member of The Pit Elevated gym, training out of Orem, Utah under famed coach John Hackleman. Nijem has won 2-straight fights since losing at the TUF finale and holds a professional record of 6-2.

Joe Proctor is a 27-year-old fighter from Weymouth, Massachusetts. Proctor was a competitor and cast member of the fifteenth season of The Ultimate Fighter on FX. Proctor has decent stand up, but he’s not a world-beater in the striking department and he does his best work in the grappling department. Most of Proctor’s career victories have come via Submission. He is a member of the Team Aggression Gym fighting out of Bridgewater, Massachusetts. He holds a career record of 8-1.

Analysis and Prediction: Nijem looked out of place in his bout against Anthony Ferguson at the TUF finale, but has looked markedly better since his time on the show. He is a strong wrestler with improving striking and excellent submissions. Proctor like Nijem does his best work on the mat, using takedowns and submissions as the main basis of his offense. Nijem is probably the more talented striker, but it could be close, because it’s hard to tell how improved young fighters can become in between fights. Overall I think Nijem holds a slight edge wherever the fight goes and he can take a Unanimous Decision or late stoppage. Ramsey Nijem via Unanimous Decision

Preliminary Card (FX): Featherweight Bout: Dennis Siver vs. Nam Phan

Dennis “The Menace” Siver is a 33-year-old fighter born in Omsk of the former Soviet Union. Now fighting out of the Kiboju Gym in Mannheim, Germany he is a former Lightweight fighter who is 1-0 since dropping to Featherweight. Siver is a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and also holds a black belt in Tae Kwan Do, a discipline that he began training in 1994. Siver is also a former amateur kick boxer who won the WAKO Amateur Kickboxing Championships in Germany as a youth. He holds a career record of 20-8.

Nam Phan is a 29-year-old fighter from Westminster, California. Phan is a member of the Ma Du Academy, as well as spending time with Team Alpha Male in Sacramento, California. Phan is an accomplished martial artist, holding black belts in a number of disciplines including Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Karate and Quyen Dao. Phan also holds a brown belt in Judo. He is perhaps best known for his time as a cast member on the twelfth season of The Ultimate Fighter, or for his pair of highly entertaining bouts against Leonard Garcia. Phan holds a career record of 18-10.

Analysis and Prediction: Phan is a talented striker who mixes his combinations well, mainly attributed to his professional boxing experience. He’s also tough as nails, but he hasn’t had the most success in MMA. Siver is a talented kick boxer himself and while his hands might not be as strong as Phan’s (which is debatable) his ability to mix it up certainly is. Siver has also developed a decent grappling game, which Phan had no answer for in his bout against Jimy Hettes. Phan is tough as hell, but he’s probably going to get pummeled here. Dennis Siver via Unanimous Decision

Preliminary Card (FX): Bantamweight Bout: Raphael Assuncao vs. Mike Easton

Raphael Assuncao is a 30-year-old fighter from Recife, Brazil. Like many fighters from the region he is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Assuncao is a talented grappler, but his Muay Thai kickboxing skills have been rapidly improving over recent bouts. He is the middle brother of a fighting family, as both his older and younger brothers are professional fighters. Assuncao is a member of the Ascension Mixed Martial Arts Gym in Atlanta, Georgia. Assuncao is actually taking this bout as a late replacement for TJ Dillashaw. He holds a career record of 17-4.

Mike “The Hulk” Easton is a 28-year-old fighter from Camp Springs, Maryland. Before signing with the UFC he was a the Ultimate Warrior Challenge Bantamweight Champion. Easton has been fighting professionally since he was 20-years-old. Easton holds black belts in Tae Kwan Do and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu but oftentimes prefers to strike. Easton holds a near perfect professional record of 13-1, with the lone loss coming because of an arm injury.

Analysis and Prediction: Easton has strong grappling credentials, but he’s been mainly showcased as a striker throughout his entire career. Assuncao has been improving his Muay Thai skills, but he’s probably not on the level he needs to be to out strike Easton. Assuncao is probably the better and more dangerous grappler, but it’s going to be extremely tough for him to work the fight to the mat against Easton who’s very strong physically and tough to take down. I think Easton will play it safe like he’s usually content to do and he ‘ll take a rather uninspiring decision. Mike Easton via Unanimous Decision

 Main Card (FOX): Welterweight Bout: Mike Swick vs. Matt Brown

Mike “Quick” Swick is a 33-year-old fighter from Houston, Texas. The former Light Heavyweight and Middleweight fighter is best known for his time as a cast member of the first season of The Ultimate Fighter. Swick earned his nickname of ‘Quick’ when he entered the UFC by securing a number of first round stoppage victories. Swick is a talented and accurate striker who blends his kicks and punches well. Swick recently returned from a long layoff caused by injuries and illnesses that led to him missing over two years of his career. Swick is a member of the American Kickboxing Academy training out of San Jose, California. He holds a career record of 15-4, including 8 via TKO or KO.

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Matt “The Immortal” Brown is a 31-year-old fighter from Xenia, Ohio. Brown holds a brown belt in Judo and a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Despite his impressive grappling credentials, Brown is a brawler who would much rather settle fights with his fists. Brown is also known for his tough chin, having never been knocked out in over 25 career fights. Brown was a competitor on the seventh season of The Ultimate Fighter and has had an up-and-down UFC career. He is currently riding a three fight-winning streak but holds a career record of 15-11.

Analysis and Prediction: This one has potential to be fight of the night, and it’s probably going to kick the main Fox card off with a bang. Both of these two guys would prefer to stand and trade for three full rounds, despite what might be in their best interest. Swick is probably the more technically sound striker, but Brown’s chin isn’t going to fail him in this fight, making a TKO victory unlikely. However, Brown seems to have one glaring piece of kryptonite, submission defense. 9 of his 11 career losses have come via Submission. If Swick is smart he takes this bout to the mat quickly and overwhelms Brown. Mike Swick via Submission in Round Two

 Main Card (FOX): Welterweight Bout: BJ Penn vs. Rory MacDonald

BJ “The Prodigy” Penn is an American fighter from Kailua, Hawaii. Penn is a legend of the sport of MMA and is one of the top talents of all time. Penn will actually be returning to action after a brief retirement for this bout. Penn is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu who was the first non-Brazilian winner of the World Jiu Jitsu Championships at the black belt level. In addition to his excellent grappling credentials, Penn also has excellent boxing skills, backed by an excellent counter jab and lead left hook. Penn is a former UFC Lightweight and UFC Welterweight Champion, one of only two men to hold UFC titles in two different weight classes. He holds a career record of 16-8, with 13 stoppage victories.

Rory “Ares” MacDonald is a 23-year-old fighter from Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada. MacDonald is one of the hottest prospects in the UFC’s Welterweight division and is one of the new breed of fighters who began training specifically for MMA as opposed to a number of different disciplines. MacDonald is a member of the Tristar Gym and is a training partner and close friend of Georges St. Pierre, the UFC Welterweight Champion who holds notable career victories over Penn. MacDonald is a tough, well-rounded fighter who is excellent on the mat and is a solid striker, although at times is slightly easy to hit. MacDonald holds a career record of 13-1, with 12 stoppages and the lone loss coming to recent Welterweight title challenger Carlos Condit.

Analysis and Prediction: The tale of this fight is going to come down to what version of BJ Penn shows up. If the Fox ‘Road to the Octagon’ specials are anything to be believed, we might be in for one hell of a show on Saturday night. When properly motivated and in shape Penn can be one of the most dangerous match ups for anyone on the planet. His boxing is top shelf and taking him down isn’t always the best of solutions, as he owns one of the more dangerous guards in MMA. MacDonald is a talented grappler himself and is a large Welterweight who could easily control Penn on the mat if he’s improperly prepared. The one thing that MacDonald needs to worry about is that he’s hittable at times, meaning he’ll need to keep his hands up when he comes in, or he’s going to be eating a jab on the way in all night. I really like BJ Penn as an underdog in this fight as I think his boxing skills can steal him two rounds if not three. If he comes in under-prepared or out of shape though, Penn is going to get creamed on the mat. I’ll gamble and take Penn in an upset, but who knows. BJ Penn via Unanimous Decision

Main Card (FOX): Light Heavyweight Bout: Mauricio Rua vs. Alexander Gustafsson

Mauricio “Shogun” Rua is a 31-year-old fighter from Curitiba, Brazil. A veteran of the sport he has been fighting since 2002, debuting when he was 21-years-old. Rua is a former PRIDE Middleweight Grand Prix Champion and a former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion. Shogun is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and is also a black belt in Muay Thai. Now training out of the Universidade da Luta, he is a former member of the famed Chute Boxe Academy, formerly one of Brazil’s top fight teams. Rua is an aggressive striker who does his best work when he is pushing the pace against his opponents, however knee surgeries and questionable cardio have plagued some of his more recent bouts. He holds a career record of 21-6, with 18 victories via KO or TKO.

Alexander “The Mauler” Gustafsson is a 25-year-old fighter from Arboga, Sweden. Gustafsson is one of the top prospects from Europe in the UFC’s Light Heavyweight division and will likely earn himself a title shot with an impressive victory over the former champion. At 6’5” tall Gustafsson is extremely tall and lanky and fights to his height very effectively. He is a competent striker with crisp, technical boxing. His ground game is improving and he currently owns a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Gustafsson is a member of the Stockholm Shoot Gym in Sweden and Alliance MMA when training stateside. He holds a pro record of 14-1 with his only career loss to other top contender Phil Davis.

Analysis and Prediction: This bout is being billed as a possible changing of the guard in the UFC’s Light Heavyweight division. Shogun hasn’t looked overly impressive in his last few bouts. First he was dominated by Jon Jones, but really who isn’t. In his bout against Dan Henderson he forged a late comeback, but that wasn’t until Henderson gassed and he basically got battered for the first three rounds and against Brandon Vera there were some moments where he looked less than impressive despite winning the bout in the end. He’s struggled with cardio lately and it makes me wonder if those knee surgeries and PRIDE era wars are catching up to him.

Gustafsson on the other hand represents one of the new breed of MMA. He’s a tall and lean 205-pound fighter, who is going to enjoy a significant height and reach advantage against Rua. Gustafsson has an excellent jab and he puts his combinations together very well. Most of all Gustafsson knows how to fight tall and can use his athletic advantages in his fights to batter his opponents from a range. Shogun is an excellent grappler, but Gustafsson is readily improving in that area and makes great use of his long limbs while searching for submissions. Shogun does his best work from top control, but I don’t think he’ll be able to power his way to a takedown against the Swede. I’m picking Gustafsson here, but it’s unlikely to be a blowout, still it should be a unanimous decision. Alexander Gustafsson via Unanimous Decision

Main Card (FOX): Lightweight Championship Bout: Nate Diaz vs. Benson Henderson

Nate Diaz is a 27-year-old fighter from Stockton, California. Diaz is best known to fans as being the younger brother of famed fighter Nick Diaz, as well as for winning the fifth season of The Ultimate Fighter. A black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Diaz is extremely dangerous on the ground with 11 career submission victories. In addition to his ground skills he has aggressive and technically sound boxing. Diaz constantly moves forward and throws a ridiculous number of strikes, relying more on technical precision and accumulation of damage to overwhelm his opponents rather than looking for a knockout punch. Diaz also has excellent cardio, running marathons with his brother when not training for fights. Diaz is a member of the Cesar Gracie Fight Team and holds a career record of 16-7.

Benson “Smooth” Henderson is a 29-year-old fighter originally from Colorado Springs, Colorado. Henderson is a former NAIA All-American Wrestler from Dana College in Nebraska. Henderson is a black belt in Tae Kwan Do and is a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Henderson is the reigning and defending UFC Lightweight champion, although he is making his first title defense against someone not named Frankie Edgar. Henderson’s Tae Kwan Do background has blended well with his wrestling, as he throws thudding leg kicks and often backs that up with well-timed takedown attempts and top control. Henderson is extremely athletic and durable, able to withstand a lot of punishment and flexible enough to get out of a lot of sticky submissions. Henderson is a member of the MMA Lab training out of Glendale, Arizona. He holds a career record of 17-2.

Analysis and Prediction: The game plan for Henderson to retain his title is going to have to be to follow what’s worked against Diaz in the past. Leg kicks are going to be a big part of that. Henderson has already shown that he has the ability to kick well. In his bouts against Edgar he threw thudding kicks to the legs and body throughout, Diaz is more of a straight boxer than kick boxer and struggles to check leg kicks properly. Donald Cerrone’s only real measure of success against Diaz came through the use of kicks to Diaz’s lead leg as he came forward. Takedowns and top control are also going to be important. Diaz’s guard is very dangerous and he’s tough to hold down, but he has been controlled in the past.

For Diaz the game plan is likely going to be the same as always. Move forward and don’t stop throwing hands. Diaz’s striking output is ridiculous and he nearly crashed the Fight Metric website in his bout with Donald Cerrone by throwing and landing so many punches. Edgar had the most success in his bouts by getting close and pressuring and crowding the Lightweight champion and nobody in the sport does that better than Diaz. Diaz’s submissions are also top notch, but so is Henderson’s submission defense so it will be interesting to see how that plays out, my guess is though that Diaz won’t be looking to bring the fight to the ground very often. Diaz’s best chance of scoring the upset victory comes on the feet and from his high volume striking offense.

Looking at Henderson’s losses we can glean a few things, he’s nearly impossible to submit, he’s tough as nails and he’s very tough to finish. He also struggles against fighters who can pressure him and not allow him to get composed. Diaz is exactly that kind of fighter. Diaz is definitely going to have to improved his ability to check leg kicks, or the thudding strikes of Henderson are going to hamper him significantly and slow him down in the later rounds. That won’t help a strategy that is based solely on moving forward. I actually thought that Edgar won the second meeting with Henderson and I think that Diaz can execute a similar game plan to Edgar, and will enjoy a significant height and reach advantage that will turn the tide in his favor. Add to that he’s physically larger than Edgar and won’t be easily bullied by Henderson and I think we might see a new champion on Saturday night. Nate Diaz via Unanimous Decision

Full UFC On FOX 5 fight card…
Bantamweight Bout: Scott Jorgensen vs. John Albert
Lightweight Bout: Tim Means vs. Abel Trujillo
Lightweight Bout: Daron Cruickshank vs. Henry Martinez
Lightweight Bout: Yves Edwards vs. Jeremy Stephens
Lightweight Bout: Ramsey Nijem vs. Joe Proctor
Featherweight Bout: Dennis Siver vs. Nam Phan
Bantamweight Bout: Raphael Assuncao vs. Mike Easton
Welterweight Bout: Mike Swick vs. Matt Brown
Welterweight Bout: BJ Penn vs. Rory MacDonald
Light Heavyweight Bout: Mauricio Rua vs. Alexander Gustafsson
UFC Lightweight Championship Bout: Nate Diaz vs. Benson Henderson

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Frankie Edgar Announces Move To Featherweight

August 22, 2012 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

The UFC moving truck continues to busy in August with fighters moving up and down in division. The latest is former UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar. Edgar has caved into the pressure and announced his move to the featherweight division.

I have to admit that I was stunned when I read this announcement. The calls for Edgar moving to featherweight have been loud since he was first defeated by Ben Henderson earlier this year. Edgar was adamant that he had no interest in moving. Even after his most recent fight he still was adamant that he was not moving. Guess what? He’s moving.

UFC president Dana White has been putting the public pressure on Edgar to move for awhile. In my opinion, this is more about Jose Aldo than it is about Edgar. Jose Aldo is so good, that he has practically no competition in the division. As a draw he is about as poor as it gets right now. Moving Edgar allows the UFC to finally cash in on Aldo for a fight or series with Edgar.

I don’t get this whatsoever in looking at the big picture. I blogged extensively in the past about why the calls for Edgar to move to featherweight were ridiculous. In short, the man has only lost one fight in his entire UFC career in the division. The man has beaten every top lightweight fighter he has ever been matched up with up until Ben Henderson. Even with Henderson, he was never finished. Plus and this is a huge plus, he was robbed of the title in their last fight! I am not a big Edgar fan but I’ll call a spade when I see it and Edgar deserves a rematch no matter what was promised to Nate Diaz. I don’t understand why you would sacrifice one of the most dominant lightweights in history for one money fight. I don’t get it.

Sure they could move Edgar back to the division after the Aldo series should he lose, but what is the point? You are taking one of the most dominant fighters in the division away for an extended period of time. Could Edgar stick around and help build the featherweight division? I guess so but here is a dirty little secret nobody in Zuffa would ever admit. Nobody wants to watch the featherweights! They are fun for a fight here and there but they aren’t draws. Casual MMA fans want to watch big guys slug it out or go to the ground, not little guys bounce around for five rounds. If that was the case Jose Aldo would be the biggest draw in the UFC!

Edgar was told that he must win one fight before getting a title shot. That sounds legitimate doesn’t it? One fight makes a top contender? In one breath Dana White is telling Chael Sonnen he needs more than one win to get a title shot yet in the other he says it is okay for Frankie Edgar. Maybe I am putting too much stock into the titles but I have a real hard time with the credibility of a title fight when the challenger is getting the shot off of one win. Edgar needed three to get to BJ Penn and in my opinion that is the way all title paths should be.

There is also the whole issue of weight cutting. Weight cutting is a part of fighting but it is a very dangerous game. Edgar is a fighter known for the fact that he doesn’t cut weight for his fights. Now you have pressured the guy into a situation where he needs to cut weight and then rehydrate by fight time. I won’t even get into the fact that you have a real unfair situation to Aldo in that case, but such is life in the UFC and their phony divisions.

I know Edgar isn’t a big draw but I am disappointed we won’t be getting Henderson-Edgar III, Edgar vs. Diaz, Edgar-Maynard IV, Edgar-Pettis, Edgar-Guida, Edgar-Lauzon, or Edgar-Miller in the foreseeable future. As a fight fan I think this may be one of the most short-sighted moves I have seen from Zuffa in a long time.

I guess I’ll get excited for Frankie Edgar vs. Chad Mendes instead.

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UFC Announces Stacked UFC On FOX 5 Lineup

August 15, 2012 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

The UFC is going all out for its next UFC on Fox broadcast! The event televised on the Fox network will feature a UFC championship fight, the return of a legend, and two up and coming stars all on December 8 for free!

I can’t believe that a UFC on FOX broadcast will get any more stacked than what the UFC has put together for the UFC on FOX 5. While not one match will touch the impact of a UFC world heavyweight title fight, as a card this is the best of the five broadcasts. Quite frankly this free lineup is better than more than half of the events that the UFC charged $60 to watch this year on pay per view. The fights were made official in a recent article published in USA Today.

The main-event will feature the next UFC lightweight championship fight. Benson Henderson will defend the championship against number one contender Nate Diaz in the headliner. I am a little surprised at the quick turnaround time for Henderson, given that most champions only fight twice a year. While it is not as sexy as a heavyweight title fight, this fight has the potential to make a last minute run at Fight of the Year.

Alexander Gustafsson will make his national broadcast debut (I’m not counting Fuel in that mix) in an effort to pump up the future light heavyweight contender on network television. Gustfafsson will have a tough road to the top as he will match up against former UFC on Fox headliner Mauricio Shogun Rua in the co-main event. Both fighters are coming off of wins and it wouldn’t surprise me to see the winner declared the number one contender by Dana White.

Finally, Former UFC champion and future Hall of Fame fighter BJ Penn will return to action after a lengthy layoff. Penn will fight up and coming star welterweight Rory MacDonald on the broadcast. The fight was recently moved after MacDonald suffered a serious cut in training. This will be Penn’s first fight since losing to Nick Diaz last October.

This is a brilliant lineup by the UFC and Fox. For starters, you are bringing back the last two winners of your Fox main-events. It gives the series some continuity and pays off the investment a casual MMA fan may make by seeing these guys more than once. Additionally, you are introducing Gustafsson and MacDonald on the biggest stage possible. Both are future stars and potential contenders and there is no better way to set the plate for their eventual title fight debuts than by offering them up for free on Fox television.

Now keep in mind that we are talking about this card in August. Given the track record of UFC events, it would not shock me at all to see one if not two of these fights fall off the card due to injury. Luckily the show is so stacked that the UFC could easily move any of these fights around to support the missing matchup. Word is that the UFC will also be adding a fourth fight to the live broadcast in the near future.

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Silva, Sonnen & Summer – The UFC Schedule through Fall 2012

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

Ok, I did it. A while back, I wrote a similar piece and prefaced it by stating that fighters would probably get hurt along the way. Well, we got through Jones vs Evans, which I was thankful for since the piece was posted not-too-long before the event itself. Then the voodoo-training Gods just unmercifully struck down numerous fighters (and as a result, entire cards) with injuries. While I doubt Dana and Joe Silva get paid overtime, something tells me they’d be living off a steady diet of Five Hour Energy and takeout over the past few months if they did (I wouldn’t worry about their wallets though, folks. Something tells me they’ll be just fine). With arguably the biggest fight of the year set for tomorrow night, here is a follow up to that ill-fated March piece with an updated schedule.

UFC 148: Silva vs. Sonnen II

This one?  THIS ONE is easily one of the most anticipated rematches in UFC history.  You’ve probably seen the first fight (and if not, damn you and all that you stand for) by now: Sonnen outworked, outwrestled and, gasp, out struck Silva for over four rounds back in August 2010 at UFC 117 until Silva’s triangle-armbar in the final frame produced one of the greatest comebacks of all-time.  Sure, Sonnen’s suspension prolonged the second act a little longer than many had hoped, but the silver lining is that in the interim, fans have forgiven Silva for the Cote-Leites-Maia trilogy of flops since he’s returned to full-on “Matrix” mode and dissected Vitor Belfort and Yushin Okami.  Now that Sonnen has had time to trash everything that Silva stands for including his abilities, family, country and training partners, Silva unleashed an uncharacteristic string of threats to “break his face and every one of the teeth in his mouth.”  The greatest fighter on the planet is capable of making great fighters seem amateur when he’s calm and stoic.  Can you imagine what he might do when he’s focused but incredibly pissed off?

UFC 149: Faber vs. Barao

Oh, 149.  You’ve been changed more times than an infant with a stomach bug.  Over the past two months, the main event lineup has been changed half a dozen times until finally the card was set with Faber vs. Barao as the headliner for the UFC Interim Bantamweight Title (champ Dominick Cruz is currently recovering from injury).  Faber would love to walk into the rubber match with Cruz in a “unification” situation (ok, we all know the interim titles are more marketing ploys than anything, but let’s just go with it) and Barao has been undefeated under the Zuffa banner in both UFC & WEC so this should be an exciting fight.  Plus, with a post-Bellator Hector Lombard and Canadian stud Ryan Jimmo both making debuts, this may not set PPV numbers on fire, but will definitely give the fans in Calgary a solid showing.  With that, I issue an open challenge to anyone fighting on this card to walk out to Bret Hart’s theme music.

UFC 150: Henderson vs. Edgar 2

Frankie Edgar seems to be the king of lightweight title rematches.  After losing the belt to Bendo at UFC 144 back in February, it seems as though the MMA community and UFC brass wanted him to move down to 145 to face Jose Aldo for the Featherweight crown for what seems to be the most entertaining title fight at 145 right now.  Instead, Edgar campaigned his way to a rematch at 155 in what I’m sure will be the last LW title rematch for a while with contenders like Nate Diaz and Anthony Pettis waiting in the wings (ok, no one come back and say “But Pettis and Bendo would be a rematch from the WEC LW title fight!” Different time, different place, different organization technically).  Both men are capable of putting on “Fight of the Night” performances every time they step into the Octagon (their last scrap was a “FOTN” winner and they’ve collected 9 such honors total between their two UFC careers so far).  I am a betting man and I’d definitely put them as the front-runner to earn the bonus again.

UFC 151: Jones vs. Henderson

Back-to-back PPVs headlined by a Henderson.  I figured I’d just draw everyone’s attention to that fun fact before we move forward.  In one corner we have the champ, Jon Jones, who is quickly becoming the greatest LHW of all time, having defeated four former champs in a row over the span of a year.  In the other, you have Henderson, a former champ in his own right, who’s won five in a row with four by TKO/KO and the fifth being what many consider to be one of the greatest fights in the history of the sport – a UD victory over Shogun Rua at UFC 139.  Despite his age, Hendo has never been finished due to strikes and always has that “H-bomb” right hand loaded and ready to go.  If that impeccable chin holds up and he can somehow get inside Jones’ gangly reach, he might have true puncher’s chance.  We’ll find out in September.

LOOKING AHEAD

The rumor floating around that dos Santos vs. Velasquez 2 for the heavyweight championship was going to be the main event at 152 in Toronto, but Dana White recently said that’s not the case.  BJ Penn will, however, “un-retire” (I prefer to think of it as a long layoff since I personally didn’t think he was done for good) against Canada’s own Rory Macdonald on that card.  You never know which BJ Penn is going to show up, but I do know Macdonald is game wherever he is so I’d imagine he’ll want to give the hometown crowd a show and continue his ascent up the welterweight depth chart toward a title shot.

Speaking of Canada, UFC 154, tentatively slated for November 17, is supposed to mark the return of Canada’s golden boy George St-Pierre in a title unification bout against the only man to beat Rory Macdonald, current interim champ Carlos Condit.  GSP’s injury has both unlocked a somewhat stagnant division and yet also left it in flux since we all know he is the rightful champ.  Add to that card a #1 contender’s fight between 2012’s magic man Martin Kampmann and Johnny Hendricks and we should go into 2013 with a definitive champ and challenger for the spring.

…or heck, more injuries could happen and these could all change.  At the rate we’re going this year, I sincerely hope everyone stays healthy (*throws voodoo doll into burning fire*).

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UFC 150: Henderson Vs. Edgar II Card Coming Together

May 17, 2012 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

A few months ago there was a thought that UFC 150 could become the gigantic event that UFC 100 was back in 2009. That will not be the case. However, the card is shaping up nicely with some intriguing fights and a main-event that can’t come soon enough for this writer.

Frankie Edgar will get his rematch with Benson Henderson for the UFC lightweight championship in the UFC 150 headliner August 11 in Denver. The rematch follows Henderson’s five-round destruction at UFC 144 which saw Henderson dominate a five-round fight that won him the championship. There was a lot of talk following the fight about whether Edgar would get a rematch or move down a weight class yet after a change of mind from the UFC head honcho, the UFC will be doing the right thing in my opinion by giving Edgar the immediate rematch.

As one-sided as Henderson’s dominance was in Japan I am probably more excited about this match coming up than any other after Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen 2. I don’t think Henderson is that much better and I do expect Edgar to bring a competitive fight to Denver. I think all of the talk about Edgar being too light for the class was ridiculous. I look forward to Edgar bringing a new strategy which should make for an absolutely electric atmosphere in Denver.

Jake Shields makes his UFC debut at middleweight in the semi-main event and will take on The Ultimate Fighter 3 alum Ed Herman. I really like this fight for Shields’ debut although I think pushing Ed Herman to the semi-main event is about as ridiculous as telling people Frankie Edgar is too small to be a lightweight after a 14-1-1 record in the division. This is a fight set up for Shields to win with the long range goal here of finding Anderson Silva (or Chael) a new face at challenger in a division marred with parity. Shields should do well at middleweight in the UFC. I’d expect him to showcase his best here after a lackluster win over Yoshihiro Akiyama back at UFC 144.

Yushin Okami takes on Luiz Cane and Dennis Hallman goes up against Thiago Tavares to round out the pay per view portion of UFC 150. Both fights have nice potential in my opinion to be fast and exciting. I really am intrigued with the Hallman-Tavares fight. I am not a big Hallman fan so the thought of Tavares finishing him is something appealing to me.

UFC 144 with Edgar vs. Henderson on top did a nice buyrate of 375,000 buys. That is an impressive number after several disappointing buys with Frankie Edgar on top. I am inclined to think that a great deal of that 375,000 would be interested in a rematch. Unfortunately for the UFC the reality here is that this is a one-match card built on a guy that has a poor history of drawing buys. Did UFC 144 establish that MMA fans are starting to see Frankie Edgar as a draw? We will certainly find out on August 11.

UFC 144: Henderson vs. Edgar II confirmed fights and card…
Ben Henderson (16-2) vs. Frankie Edgar (14-2-1)
Ed Herman (20-7) vs. Jake Shields (27-6-1)
Dennis Hallman (51-14-2, 1 NC) vs. Thiago Tavares (17-4-1)
Luiz Cane (12-4, 1 NC) vs. Yushin Okami (26-7)

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