The Ultimate Fighter returns this week on FX. Lost in all of the excitement is the impact that this show had on MMA 17 seasons ago. As much as UFC will try, they will never have another class and show as exciting as The Ultimate Fighter Season 1.
I watched back the entire season of the first The Ultimate Fighter show recently. I remember at the time being hooked on the show the first time I watched it. I felt the same way re-watching the season all over again. The season was filled with drama, tremendous fights, and a cast of characters that has never been quite as engaging as the cast from this season.
First of all, the format was entirely different on the show. The show featured weekly physical challenges ala Survivor. Unlike today where it was as simple as winning teams picks next fight, fight choices were determined by whoever won these challenges. In looking back, it is amazing that none of the guys got seriously hurt on these challenges.
I don’t know if there have been a better paid of coaches than Chuck Liddell and Randy Couture. The guys were true pros and both seemed to have the best interests of their fighters. This was at a time right before the two blew up and became mainstream stars. Randy Couture in particular was fantastic, especially during the Southworth-Bonnar fight when he told Bonnar exactly what Chuck would be advising Southworth.
Joe Rogan has called the cast, “The heart and soul of ultimate fighting.” The cast was truly a classic. From their personalities to the legacy they would build in UFC. It’s funny, because they were portrayed as young hungry inexperienced MMA stars. Yet, a lot of them had great pedigrees and probably would have wound up in UFC at some point. Guys like Chris Leben and Bobby Southworth had good careers going before the show. It really shouldn’t be a huge surprise in retrospect that a lot of them easily transitioned into the UFC.
The cast featured a ton of guys that would go on to main-event UFC Fight Nights and Pay-Per-Views. Forrest Griffin, Diego Sanchez, Chris Leben, Josh Koscheck, Mike Swick, Stephan Bonnar, Kenny Florian, and Nate Quarry. If you just became an MMA fan in the last few years, you wouldn’t believe that all of these UFC fighters came through a reality show. The amount of talent that UFC was able to amass from the show was just amazing.
The first season saw the coaches pick teams. It is funny watching this draft back in retrospect to see how wrong Chuck and Randy were. Out of that entire class named above, none of them were picked #1 overall. The #1 overall pick was Bobby Southworth on Team Liddell. Arguably the biggest star to come out of the show, Forrest Griffin wasn’t picked until close to the end of the draft. It just goes to show you that there is no way to measure a fighter’s heart.
Chris Leben was the star of the show early on. If you heard Leben interviewed today, you would never realize that this was the same kid. Leben was a loud mouthed, arrogant, cocky, drunk during most of the show. Leben went from peeing in one of the fighter’s beds in the first episode to crying in a sleeping bag with Nate Quarry. The guy was an emotional roller coaster and really made his mark.
The most memorable thing about the show was probably the rivalry between Leben and Josh Koshcheck. Things came to a head when Southworth called Leben a, “fatherless bastard” one night while partying. Leben broke down crying and wound up sleeping outside of the house. Koshcheck and Southworth proceeded to dump water on Leben while he was sleeping. Leben got up and in a crazed state wound up going through the house punching walls and windows.
Dana White immediately capitalized on this and made a fight between Leben and Koshcheck. In my opinion, Koshcheck seemed scared going into the fight. This was the kind of a fight that would have made money if it was put on pay-per-view. Koshcheck actually pulled off the upset and won. The fight turned out to be kind of boring with Koshcheck continually grounding Leben. Koshcheck was just too good of a wrestler for Leben to go the ground with. It still amazes me that UFC has never re-matched the two fighters.
For a guy that was in his mid-30s, Southworth probably came out as the biggest idiot of the show. The guy was completely immature both in and out of the octagon. He reminded me of the little kid that encourages the bully in those 1980s movies, but won’t do anything himself. After losing a decision to Stephan Bonnar, Southworth whined and complained. The fight was definitely close, but it was his fault for not finishing. Two minutes after the fight he threw his UFC career out the window when he told Dana White to leave his room. White was angry and well, we have not seen Southworth in UFC since.
Plenty has been written about the finale between Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar and how it impacted UFC and MMA. Diego Sanchez defeated Kenny Florian in the middleweight final. These are two guys that have fought for the UFC lightweight title while Josh Koscheck has challenged for the UFC welterweight title. The level of talent that came out of the show will never be repeated for so many different reasons.
Tonight’s show will kick off the most anticipated season since Ortiz and Shamrock were coaching. Jon Jones and Chael Sonnen have manufactured a rivalry that some are hoping will reach the boiling point like Evans and Rampage and Ortiz and Shamrock. As for the class, the UFC is already dropping hints of chaos in order to stir up interest in the show. No matter who emerges from this year’s class, I don’t expect any class to make the impact of the first season.
Seventeen seasons later and I still don’t think UFC has been able to recreate the magic of season one. There have been more talented fighters, but nobody has translated to television like the first class. Getting one star out of a reality show like this is a miracle for anybody like a UFC. Getting 8 future stars out of a TUF class is unheard of and an unequivocal success. That alone is the reason why no season of The Ultimate Fighter will ever capture the magic of season one.
The UFC made its return to the land of Pay Per View last night and although some fights left fans wanting a bit more, the other bouts were loaded with action that more than made up for it. If you were unable to see some of the undercard bouts, I highly suggest you try to do so by any means possible. Melvin Guillard versus Jamie Varner, while slightly slower than expected was an entertaining bout. As well the Featherweight tilt between Leonard Garcia and Max Holloway was a highly entertaining slugfest that went for a full fifteen minutes. Add in impressive TKO victories for Heavyweight Todd Duffee and Bantamweight Erik Perez and there is some top shelf violence for those of you that like it that way.
Moving on to the main card, some of the bouts didn’t quite live up to the hype. Others such as the co-main event between Lightweights Joe Lauzon and Jim Miller more than exceeded the hype, as those two men engaged in a bloody back and forth brawl that is a definite contender for Fight of the Year consideration. The Main Event was also solid as two of the best Heavyweights in the world collided in a much better effort than their first bout on UFC on FOX 1. Let’s take a look at the winners and losers from this card and take a look at what could be next for them.
Derek Brunson defeated Chris Leben via Unanimous Decision after Three Rounds
The boo-birds were out right away at the MGM Grand Garden Arena for this Middleweight fight that kicked off the PPV. Although Leben is often a fan-favorite due to his slugging style, his wrestling-based opponent Brunson wanted no part of it. Brunson crowded Leben throughout the contest using clinches and takedowns to control Leben and give him very little space to get his offense going. Leben himself offered little resistance, as after a year off due to suspension, he looked like a man who wasn’t used to being in the Octagon. He looked tired and slow, and his takedown defense was almost non-existent. He was never really in too much trouble, but he definitely wasn’t ever close to winning either. Unfortunately as commentator Joe Rogan stated, the unamused look on Chris Leben’s face after Brunson’s celebration after the fight might have been the most entertaining part of the bout.
What’s next for Brunson? This card was loaded with Middleweight talent, so one might think a winner from one of the Middleweight bouts up the card would make sense for Brunson, but I think that’s too large a step for him right now. Although he earned a victory, he didn’t look great doing it and it definitely wasn’t a breakout performance. With Strikeforce officially closing its doors, I think the best fight for him would be to welcome one of his former promotion-mates to the UFC. Tim Kennedy is facing Trevor Smith at the final Strikeforce event and the winner of that bout makes some sense.
What’s next for Leben? He’s got problems, everyone knows that, but he’s always going to have a spot in the UFC because of his style. Alan Belcher got knocked off by Yushin Okami later in the card, and would prefer an opponent who would keep the fight standing. Leben fits that bill and would likely produce an entertaining rebound fight for one of the two. Belcher is almost the perfect opponent for him right now.
Yushin Okami defeated Alan Belcher via Unanimous Decision after Three Rounds
In the pre-fight hype videos Alan Belcher claimed that Yushin Okami couldn’t beat him if he kept the fight standing. Apparently he convinced everyone, including Okami, of that fact. Okami did what he usually does, a solid one-two jab combination right into takedown attempts and top control. Belcher had a few bright spots, as he snagged a couple of submission attempts, but none were ever close and they all ended with him in the unenviable position of being beneath Okami. In the end the Japanese fighter cruised to a Unanimous Decision.
What’s next for Okami? He’s turning into the Middleweight version of Jon Fitch. He’s good enough to beat almost anyone in the division, but he’s going to get absolutely slaughtered against the champion. Add to that he’s got a somewhat boring wrestling based approach to fighting and it’s hard to keep giving him meaningful fights where he’s likely going to knock off top contenders or up-and-comers with little fanfare. Still he moves up the ladder and a bout against other main card victor Costa Philippou might make sense. The other potential bout is one against Hector Lombard who recently scored an impressive stoppage against Rousimar Palhares.
What’s next for Belcher? Belcher’s hot streak got seriously derailed and he’s going to need to prove he can handle a wrestler like Okami before he ever gets a shot at a serious top contender at Middleweight. Still, he’s going to need a rebound fight and like I said, previous main card loser Chris Leben is the perfect foil for him. Someone who is willing to stand and trade with him and who is weak on the ground if things go bad. If the UFC wants to rebuild Belcher, he’ll get Leben next.
Costa Philippou defeated Tim Boetsch via TKO (Punches) at 2:11 of the Third Round
This wasn’t a breakout performance for Philippou that many people thought it might be. In fact, this was a truly bizarre fight. Boetsch controlled the opening round, throwing wild, looping punches that were scoring against the usually competent striking defenses of Philippou. In between rounds Boetsch complained to his corner of a broken hand and in the second, an accidental head butt opened a massive gash on his forehead and an eye poke only increased his vision problems. In the third round, he was reduced to pulling guard, but didn’t have an answer for Philippou’s ground and pound, as the referee stepped in to save Boetsch in the third round after he seemed to be looking for a way out.
What’s next for Philippou? Considering the bizarre circumstances of his win, his slow start, and the less than impressive fight from him overall, I wouldn’t complain about a possible rematch between these two. However, with Boetsch’s broken hand, he’s going to need time off. Philippou should still receive a step up in competition and needs to prove he can handle a talented wrestler, which is why I think a bout against other main card victor Yushin Okami makes a lot of sense. If they choose to go another route, former Strikeforce Middleweight Champion Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza, should be making the leap to the UFC soon enough. If he wins his bout at the final Strikeforce show against Ed Herman, I think Souza is another good fight for Philippou.
What’s next for Boetsch? Hand surgery, I guess. In all honesty, this is kind of a crappy result for Boetsch, since he took some unfortunate illegal shots to derail his game plan, which was definitely working in the first round. Still, he was undefeated in the Middleweight division until last night, so I doubt they give up hope on him yet. He’s not going to drop severely down the rankings with the circumstances surrounding the loss, so he’s in kind of a weird spot matchmaking wise. I really don’t know what they do with him here, I guess he’s going to take a step down. Karlos Vemola was supposed to fight Leben on the card, but pulled out due to injury maybe him. That or throw him against Belcher or Leben, although I think Leben is too far a step down, and I think those two should fight each other. Other than that maybe Jake Shields if he stays at Middleweight.
Jim Miller defeated Joe Lauzon via Unanimous Decision after Three Rounds
This one earned Fight of the Night honors and it definitely deserved it. These two guys engaged in a bloody brawl that was back and forth and had action until the final bell. Miller looked the best I’ve ever seen him and his recent loss to Nate Diaz seems to have lit a fire inside him. He may be a permanent gatekeeper in the ultra-packed Lightweight division, but he’s a tough one. His conditioning was top notch for this bout and his dirty boxing looked better than ever, as he used a tight clinch to deliver some big punches and short elbows in the first round that caused the giant gash that caused Lauzon to lose a ton of blood. To his credit Lauzon proved how tough he was in this bout, even with blood pouring out of that massive cut, he refused to let the doctor stop it and he kept coming until the final bell, sinking in a late leg lock that nearly stole the fight and in fact stole him the round on a couple of scorecards.
What’s next for Miller? He’s had fourteen fights in the UFC and he’s won most of them. His only three losses have come to the current Lightweight Champion and two of the last three Number One Contenders in Nate Diaz and Gray Maynard. He’s a true grinder and his improving striking is only going to make him an even tougher challenge for most guys. I think Rafael dos Anjos has been impressive lately and deserves a step up in competition, as the Lightweight Gatekeeper, that puts him right in Miller’s wheelhouse.
What’s next for Lauzon? He proved he’s as tough as they come and dangerous any time he’s still in the fight. He’s always going to struggle against powerful wrestlers and the elite fighters of the Lightweight division, but he’s a highly entertaining fighter with decent striking and dangerous submissions. Sounds like another top Lightweight that recently lost a title fight. Indeed a bout between Lauzon and fellow TUF 5 alumnus Nate Diaz could be an action packed affair. Give the two of them a headlining slot on an FX or Fuel TV card and give them five rounds to go bananas, fireworks are sure to follow whether that fight takes place on the feet, on the ground or anywhere in the building.
Cain Velasquez defeated Junior dos Santos to win the UFC Heavyweight Championship via Unanimous Decision after Five Rounds
For those that wrote off former champion Velasquez after his poor performance in their first bout, they were treated to a significant wake up call. Velasquez came out guns blazing against Dos Santos and immediately brought the fight to the Brazilian Champion. Although many expected Cain to be somewhat laid back like he was in their first bout, he caught everyone, including Dos Santos off-guard when he came right after him in the first round. That first round told the story of what would end up being a very one-sided contest. Cain scored an early takedown and Dos Santos was able to slip through and get back to his feet, but it didn’t slow Velasquez down. He continued forward, pressing him against the cage. Partway through the round he landed a big right hand that dropped Dos Santos for the first time in his UFC career and ended the round battering him with ground and pound. Dos Santos was clearly gassed after the first round and spent several of the next rounds trying to recover, while Velasquez continued to push the pace. Although he eventually slowed himself, he was still able to outwork Dos Santos both in the grappling department and somewhat surprisingly in the striking department en-route to a clean sweep of the scorecards, winning with scores of 50-45, 50-44 and 50-43.
What’s next for Velasquez? The Heavyweight division has a whole lot of top fighters, but they are in a weird position, where they don’t have any clear cut favorites to become the number one contender. Alistair Overeem is expected to get the first crack at Velasquez, but he’s going to need to get by Antonio Silva first, and that’s no guarantee considering what we’ve seen in the past from fighters returning from year-long suspensions. The other option is Fabricio Werdum should he emerge victorious against Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, but that fight isn’t taking place until after the filming and airing of TUF: Brazil 2. The leading candidate was Daniel Cormier who recently won the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix and is heading to the UFC, but Velasquez and Cormier are teammates and have already said they wouldn’t fight each other. No matter what happens, Overeem or Werdum or someone else entirely, Velasquez could be facing a bit of a layoff while the division sorts itself out.
What’s next for Dos Santos? He’s going to need to get a win or two before he gets another crack at the title. Granted if things shake out the right way, he may only need one impressive victory like Velasquez did, but the list of contenders is long and growing in the Heavyweight division. The best two possible matches I can think of for Dos Santos are the loser of the upcoming Mark Hunt and Stefan Struve fight at the UFC’s next London event, (provided it’s Hunt, since a rematch with Struve is probably not necessary for Dos Santos.) The other option is the loser of the upcoming Alistair Overeem and Antonio Silva bout, since either one of those two would be an intriguing bout, especially with the bad blood between Dos Santos and Overeem.
Full UFC 155 results & winners…
Cain Velasquez defeated Junior Dos Santos via unanimous decision to regain the UFC heavyweight title
Jim Miller defeated Joe Lauzon via unanimous decision
Costa Philippoud efeated Tim Boetsch via third-round TKO
Yushin Okami defeated Alan Belcher via unanimous decision
Derek Brunson defeated Chris Leben via unanimous decision
Eddie Wineland defeated Brad Pickett via split decision
Erik Perez defeated Byron Bloodworth via first-round TKO
Jamie Varner defeated Melvin Guillard via split decision
Myles Jury defeated Michael Johnson via unanimous decision
Todd Duffeed efeated Phil De Fries via first-round TKO
Max Holloway defeated Leonard Garcia via split decision
John Moraga defeated Chris Cariaso via submission
Cain Velasquez is an animal! Velasquez mauled Junior Dos Santos in their UFC 155 rematch proving to the MMA world that his 64 second loss to the JDS was a fluke. Velasquez won a unanimous decision to regain the UFC heavyweight title in one of the most one-sided UFC title wins in years.
Dos Santos could not stop the shot. Velasquez dominated the former champion on their feet and taking him to the ground. Velasquez had his way with Dos Santos at UFC 155, absorbing very little to punishment at all from the champion. UFC commentator Jor Rogan proclaimed at one point that he had not seen such a dominant performance by a challenger over a champion since Anderson Silva defeated Rich Franklin for the middleweight title several years ago.
Velasquez opened up looking to strike and takedown the former champion. Dos Santos did a good job early on of avoiding any serious damage until Velasquez connected with a right hand. Dos Santos was never the same after eating the shot. Velasquez swarmed in and tried to end the fight in the first round to no avail yet the tone was set by the challenger.
The rest of the fight saw Velasquez have his way with Dos Santos. Velasquez practically took Dos Santos down at will. Junior had very little offense throughout the fight and looked tired and beaten when he came out for the second round. Velasquez never stopped and was relentless in his attacks. I’ll give Dos Santos credit as he hung around for five rounds, longer than I thought he would. Dos Santos did connect on a nice uppercut as the third round. Unfortunately Dos Santos had nothing left and couldn’t follow up.
Velasquez nailed a body shot followed by an uppercut in the fourth round that staggered Dos Santos. Somehow or another Junior held on. Junior again put something together towards the end of the fourth round but couldn’t follow up. Velasquez’s cardiovascular conditioning throughout the fight was just unbelievable.
Seeing Junior standing at the start of round five after being brutalized throughout by Cain was real impressive. Junior stopped Cain from getting a takedown and wound up hitting a nice left to Cain’s body. Junior seemed to recover well by this point. Dos Santos hit a right hand and kept Cain’s takedowns at bay. Velasquez finally got the takedown at about 2:30. Cain smothered him with ground and pound. Junior got back up. Junior connected in a clinch. Velasquez hit a head kick with about :30 seconds to go. Junior looked like he had been brutalized while Cain looked like he wasn’t even scratched as the fifth and final round closed. Velasquez was shortly named new UFC champion by unanimous decision.
What’s next for the UFC world champion? In my opinion I think Cain is the most well rounded UFC heavyweight champion in history. He should have a dominant reign as champion barring an injury. He could face either Alistair Overeem or Fabricio Werdum if either man wins their next fight. Overeem would be the favorite but Dana White mentioned that Werdum would be a top contender if he wins his next fight against Big Nog.
I’d love to see a third fight between JDS and Velasquez. I think this rivalry has the potential to be one of the greatest trilogies of all time. It wouldn’t shock me to see fight number three in the fall or winter of 2013.
Look for a full recap and analysis of UFC 155 here on the Camel Clutch Blog shortly by Lee McGregor.
Full UFC 155 results & winners…
Cain Velasquez defeated Junior Dos Santos via unanimous decision to regain the UFC heavyweight title
Jim Miller defeated Joe Lauzon via unanimous decision
Costa Philippoud efeated Tim Boetsch via third-round TKO
Yushin Okami defeated Alan Belcher via unanimous decision
Derek Brunson defeated Chris Leben via unanimous decision
Eddie Wineland defeated Brad Pickett via split decision
Erik Perez defeated Byron Bloodworth via first-round TKO
Jamie Varner defeated Melvin Guillard via split decision
Myles Jury defeated Michael Johnson via unanimous decision
Todd Duffeed efeated Phil De Fries via first-round TKO
Max Holloway defeated Leonard Garcia via split decision
John Moraga defeated Chris Cariaso via submission
The UFC returns to the land of Pay Per View this weekend with their traditional New Year’s Eve card. Despite not technically taking place on New Year’s Eve, the UFC has more than made up for it by packing this card with talent and intriguing match-ups from top to bottom. Headlining the card is a rematch that everyone has been clamoring for since their first meeting as the headliner for the UFC’s first event on the Fox Network as UFC Heavyweight Champion Junior dos Santos battles the man he defeated for the title Cain Velasquez.
The co-main event of the evening features a Lightweight tilt that will move the winner significantly up the ladder in terms of placement in what is arguably the UFC’s deepest division as Joe Lauzon battles Jim Miller. Three Middleweight bouts are on the docket for the rest of the main card and many of them feature top ranked contenders. First up are Middleweight brawlers Tim Boetsch taking on Constantinos Philippou. The next Middleweight contest features former number one contender Yushin Okami taking on emerging contender Alan Belcher. The opening contest of the Pay Per View Main Card features fan and Dana White favourite Chris Leben taking on Strikeforce import Derek Brunson.
Preliminary Card (Facebook): Flyweight Bout: Chris Cariaso vs. John Moraga
Chris “Kamikaze” Cariaso is a 31-year-old fighter from Oakland, California. He is a member of the Fight and Fitness Gym in San Francisco, California. Cariaso holds a career record of 14-3 and recently won his UFC Flyweight debut at UFC on Fuel TV 4. John Moraga is a 28-year-old former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler from Phoenix, Arizona. He is a member of the MMA Lab in Arizona where he trains with UFC Lightweight Champion Benson Henderson. He holds a career record of 12-1.
Quick Pick: John Moraga via Unanimous Decision
Preliminary Card (Facebook): Featherweight Bout: Leonard Garcia vs. Max Holloway
Leonard “Bad Boy” Garcia is a 33-year-old fighter from Plainview, Texas. He is a member of Greg Jackson’s Team training in New Mexico. The brawler and fan favourite holds a career record of 15-9, but has never been knocked out and hasn’t been in a boring fight throughout the course of his career. Max “Blessed” Holloway is a 21-year-old fighter from Waanae, Hawaii and is the youngest fighter on the UFC roster. He is a member of the Gracie Technics Gym in his hometown and holds a career record of 6-1.
Quick Pick: Max Holloway via Unanimous Decision
Preliminary Card (Facebook): Heavyweight Bout: Phil De Fries vs. Todd Duffee
Phil De Fries is a 26-year-old fighter from Sunderland, England. The massive Brit is a talented grappler who now trains in the USA with the Alliance MMA Gym in Chula Vista, California. He holds a career record of 9-1 with 1 No Contest. Todd Duffee is a 27-year-old fighter from Evansville, Indiana. Duffee is a member of the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, California and those striking skills have earned him the record for the fastest Knockout in UFC history at 7 seconds. He holds a career record of 7-2.
Quick Pick: Todd Duffee via KO in Round One
Preliminary Card (FX): Lightweight Bout: Michael Johnson vs. Myles Jury
Michael “The Menace” Johnson is a 26-year-old fighter from St. Louis, Missouri. He is a member of the Blackzillians training in Boca Raton, Florida. The former TUF cast member holds a career record of 12-6, but is currently on a three fight winning streak. Myles “The Fury” Jury is a 24-year-old fighter from Hazel Park, Michigan. He is a member of the Alliance MMA Gym in San Diego, California. He holds a perfect professional record of 10-0.
Quick Pick: Michael Johnson via Unanimous Decision
Preliminary Card (FX): Lightweight Bout: Melvin Guillard vs. Jamie Varner
Melvin “The Young Assassin” Guillard is a 29-year-old fighter from New Orleans, Louisiana. He is a member of the Blackzillians training out of the Jaco Hybrid Training Center in Boca Raton, Florida. He holds a career record of 30-11-2 with 1 No Contest. Jamie “The Worm” Varner is a 28-year-old fighter from Phoenix, Arizona. He is a former WEC Lightweight Champion who trains out of the AMA Fight Club in New Jersey. He holds a career record of 20-7-1 with 2 No Contests. This bout was supposed to take place two weeks ago at The Ultimate Fighter finale, but a last minute illness to Varner forced the bout to be postponed.
Quick Pick: Melvin Guillard via TKO in Round Three
Preliminary Card (FX): Bantamweight Bout: Erik Perez vs. Byron Bloodworth
Erik “Goyito” Perez is a 23-year-old fighter from Monterrey, Mexico. He now resides in the USA and trains with Greg Jackson’s camp in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He holds a career record of 12-4, but is 2-0 in the UFC with two stoppage victories. Byron Bloodworth is a 29-year-old fighter from Lynchburg, Virginia. Bloodworth is a member of the Iron Clutch Fitness Gym in Atlanta, Georgia. He holds a professional record of 6-2.
Quick Pick: Erik Perez via Submission in Round One
Preliminary Card (FX): Bantamweight Bout: Eddie Wineland vs. Brad Pickett
Eddie Wineland is a 28-year-old fighter from Houston, Texas. Wineland was the inaugural WEC Bantamweight Champion. He trains out of the Duneland Vale Tudo Gym in Portage, Indiana. Wineland holds a career record of 19-8-1 with 16 Stoppage victories. Brad “One Punch” Pickett is a 34-year-old fighter from London, England. A former Cage Rage Featherweight Champion he now trains stateside with the American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Florida. Pickett holds a career record of 22-6.
Quick Pick: Brad Pickett via TKO in Round Two
Main Card (Pay Per View): Middleweight Bout: Chris Leben vs. Derek Brunson
Chris “The Crippler” Leben is a 32-year-old fighter from Portland, Oregon. Leben is a fan favourite known for his iron chin and his brawling style, but lately he’s also become known as a troubled fighter who will be returning from a one-year-suspension. He was a cast member on the first season of The Ultimate Fighter and has been in the UFC ever since. He is a member of the Icon Fitness MMA Gym in Oahu, Hawaii. The brawler holds a career record of 22-8.
Derek “Wrecking Ball” Brunson is a 28-year-old fighter from Wilmington, North Carolina. He is a former NCAA Division 2 All-American Wrestler from the University of North Carolina. He is a member of Greg Jackson’s camp in New Mexico. Brunson has power in his hands, but his technical striking skills are still developing. He does his best work on the mat, when he can control his opponents by using his top shelf wrestling skills. After starting his career undefeated at 9-0, he has suffered two straight defeats in 2012 to move his record to 9-2.
Analysis and Prediction: To me I think this one comes down a lot to how Leben responds to being off for a year. Brunson has shown some promise in his fights, but he still remains a pretty raw and unproven talent against top shelf competition. Besides Jacare Souza, Leben will be by far his stiffest competition and he’s taking the fight on late notice. Leben is a more complete striker and he’s probably been drilling takedown defense since his loss to Mark Munoz. Really I have a hard time imagining Brunson winning this fight, unless Leben looks like a shell of his former self. Chris Leben via TKO in Round Two
Main Card (Pay Per View): Middleweight Bout: Yushin Okami vs. Alan Belcher
Yushin “Thunder” Okami is a 31-year-old fighter from Kanagawa, Japan. A former UFC Middleweight Title Challenger, Okami is one of the top Middleweight fighters in the UFC. Okami is a talented grinder, who does his best work using a ground based, wrestling and top control oriented game plan. He holds a black belt in Judo, which he uses well to earn trips and takedowns when standing. Okami is a member of Team Quest, training with Chael Sonnen in Portland, Oregon. He actually holds a career victory over Belcher already, having defeated Belcher in his UFC debut. Okami holds a professional record of 27-7.
Alan “The Talent” Belcher is a 28-year-old from Jonesboro, Arkansas. Recently after an eye injury caused a yearlong layoff and almost cost him his career, he has reeled off four straight stoppage victories and has emerged as a rising contender in the Middleweight division. Belcher is a talented striker who holds a black belt in Tae Kwan Do and a black belt in Duke Roufus Kickboxing. Belcher is also an underrated grappler who holds a brown belt in Judo and a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Belcher is a member of the Roufusport Gym in Biloxi, Mississippi training under famed kick boxer Duke Roufus. He holds a career record of 18-6.
Analysis and Prediction: Belcher is a talented striker and his grappling game is definitely significantly underrated by a lot of people, but this isn’t a great match up for him. Okami is massive for Middleweight and he’s strong and perfectly content to wrestle his way to victories. In his last bout Okami was thoroughly dominating Tim Boetsch on the ground until a third round miracle comeback. Belcher is talented and dangerous on the feet, but I really don’t think Okami is going to give him time to get comfortable there. I expect a steady stream of one-twos and takedowns from Okami as he wrestles his way to a decision victory. Yushin Okami via Unanimous Decision
Main Card (Pay Per View): Middleweight Bout: Tim Boetsch vs. Constantinos Philippou
Tim “The Barbarian” Boetsch is a 31-year-old fighter from Lincolnville, Maine. He is a former NCAA Wrestler from Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania and often uses his wrestling skills to grind against his opponents on the mat. Boetsch is also a talented striker with big power, who owns a black belt in Jeet Kune Do. The former Light Heavyweight fighter has enjoyed a string of success since dropping to the UFC’s Middleweight division as he is currently on a four fight winning streak, including victories over Nick Ring, Kendall Grove, Yushin Okami and Hector Lombard. Boetsch is a member of the AMC Pankration Gym in Maine. He holds a career record of 16-4.
Constantinos “Costa” Philippou is a 33-year-old fighter who was born in Limassol, Cyprus. He now resides and trains in New York City, New York where he is a member of the Serra-Longo Fight Team. Philippou is a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, but does his best work in the striking department. He is a talented and powerful striker who is technically sound and can throw bombs with the best of the Middleweight division. Currently riding a four fight-winning streak, Philippou holds a pro record of 11-2 with 1 No Contest.
Analysis and Prediction: Philippou has come a long way since his UFC debut where he was outworked on the mat by Nick Catone, but the game plan to defeat him likely remains the same. Boetsch has had a successful run since making the drop to Middleweight and he’s simply massive for the weight class. His style has remained the same as he remains a true grinder. He does his best work in close, using clinches to utilize dirty boxing and score trips and takedowns from there where he can work his top control game and ground and pound. Philippou needs to keep this fight at a distance if he wants to be successful, but I don’t think his footwork can keep him at range long enough to win this fight. Despite some success for Philippou I think Boetsch moves his way up the ladder another rung. Tim Boetsch via Unanimous Decision
Main Card (Pay Per View): Lightweight Bout: Joe Lauzon vs. Jim Miller
Joe “J-Lau” Lauzon is a 28-year-old fighter from East Bridgewater, Massachusetts. Lauzon is best known for his highly entertaining style of fighting, as he’s taken home 11 post-fight bonuses during his UFC career. Lauzon’s striking is decent and fundamentally sound, although at times he uses a bit too much boxing and not enough kicks to be wholly effective. Still, he does his best work on the mat, as the purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is excellent at creating submission opportunities during sweeps on the mat. The former Ultimate Fighter cast member is the head trainer of his own gym Lauzon MMA in Massachusetts and holds a career record of 22-7.
Jim Miller is a 29-year-old fighter from Sparta Township, New Jersey. Miller is taking this fight as a late replacement for Gray Maynard. Miller is one half of the Miller Brothers, as his older brother Dan also competes in the UFC as a Welterweight. Miller is a member of the AMA Fight Club in New Jersey, where he is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Miller is an aggressive fighter who is constantly moving forward against his opponents. His striking is fairly rudimentary, but he has decent power and a strong one-two which transitions well into takedown shots that he blends well. On the mat, Miller is a talented grappler who is dangerous anytime that there is a scramble on the mat. He holds a career record of 21-4.
Analysis and Prediction: Both of these guys are aggressive and love to fight balls to the wall. Both are also decent strikers that do their best work on the mat, so it will be an interesting styles clash to say the least. Lauzon has to be one of the best first round fighters in the UFC, as he absolutely storms out of the gates constantly searching for a finish, if he’s smart he’s been watching Nate Diaz’s one sided beat down of Miller over and over to glean some tips from it. That loss may also be important to Miller, since it will be his first fight since and how he responds to that loss will say a lot about how this fight goes down. Miller has the skills to grind out a decision using his wrestling to control and dominate Lauzon on the mat, but Lauzon is very dangerous at any time. As it is I think Miller uses takedowns and top control to wear out Lauzon and eventually comes away with a decision victory, sealing the deal in the third round. Jim Miller via Unanimous Decision
Main Card (Pay Per View): Heavyweight Championship Bout: Junior Dos Santos vs. Cain Velasquez
Junior “Cigano” Dos Santos is a 28-year-old Brazilian fighter from Santa Catarina, Brazil. He is the reigning and defending UFC Heavyweight Champion, a belt that he won from his challenger Cain Velasquez. Dos Santos is one of the most talented and hardest hitting strikers in the Heavyweight division, owning 11Knockouts in 15 career victories. Dos Santos also has excellent grappling skills, holding a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu under famed fighter Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. Dos Santos is a member of the Black House Gym, training with Team Nogueira in Bahia, Brazil. Dos Santos is a dangerous fighter, who already holds a career victory via first round knockout against Velasquez. He holds a professional record of 15-1 and hasn’t lost since November of 2007.
Cain Velasquez is a Mexican-American fighter from Salinas, California. The 30-year-old is a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler from Arizona State University. Velasquez is a member of the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, California and is a former UFC Heavyweight Champion. Velasquez holds a brown belt in Guerilla Jiu Jitsu, which is a form of submission grappling more suited to modern MMA. Despite his previous loss to Dos Santos, many people have claimed that he took the bout with a significant knee injury since it was the UFC’s debut on Fox, and really shouldn’t have been fighting in the first place. Still, he remains a dangerous fighter wherever the bout takes place, as his striking has been rapidly improving and he’s a nightmare for anyone to handle on the mat. In his last bout he absolutely demolished Antonio Silva on the ground and left him a bloody mess, before finally earning a TKO in the first round. Velasquez holds a career record of 10-1, with his only loss coming against Dos Santos.
Analysis and Prediction: For many people the biggest question heading in to this contest is ‘Can Cain earn a takedown against Dos Santos?’ A man who has proven to be nearly impossible to takedown in the UFC, in fact he’s only been taken down once in his entire UFC career and it lasted for only seconds. For me, I think a more important question to consider is how is Dos Santos going to be able to handle himself if he does in fact end up underneath of Velasquez.
Cain has one of the most aggressive and nasty top games in the Heavyweight division. He throws ground and pound with bad intentions and his elbows can absolutely end your night as they cause significant damage. Cain is also a better striker than he showed in the first bout and to be honest, I think the injuries to both fighters are significant enough that the results of the first contest are barely even useful in a true fight analysis. Dos Santos’ trainers claim that he has one of the best ground games in the Heavyweight division, but even that isn’t going to be enough to contain Cain Velasquez, if he manages to score a takedown.
Dos Santos is surely going to be focusing on keeping this bout upright. Despite his claims that he’s ready to submit someone in the UFC, I’m not convinced he’s going to be pulling guard against a wrestler as talented as Velasquez. So for him, he’ll need to use footwork and an effective sprawl and brawl style to keep the bout standing and look for the big knockout shot. He’s shown that he can knock out almost anyone, if he hits them cleanly. Unfortunately I don’t think Velasquez will be nearly as slow or hittable as he was in their last encounter.
I don’t think Dos Santos can keep Velasquez at bay, and I think his advantage on the ground is far more significant that Dos Santos’ edge on the feet. That alone, combined with the fact that we’re going to see a significantly better and strong Velasquez make me think it’s going to be time for the challenger to reclaim his belt. I think he stops Dos Santos with strikes in the third round. Cain Velasquez via TKO in Round Three
Anderson Silva is not the first guy to let an opponent get in his head and make fun promises of broken bones and backyard beatings. Here is a look back at 10 UFC rivalries that featured the same kind of fun threats, mockery, and intensity we heard from Silva and Sonnen.
Most UFC fighters try and play the political game of saying all the right complimentary things about their opponents leading up to fights. Why give your opponent added incentive to train and work harder preparing for the fight? However, there are some fighters that don’t care and are quite frank in their hatred and disgust in regards to their opponent. These bitter rivalries have turned general mundane UFC pre-fight promotional pressers into must-read and must-see material. In other words, they are a lot of fun to follow!
I thought it would be fun to go back and take a look at the most hated rivalries in UFC history. It is no surprise that most of these rivalries set records and did big business yet most failed to deliver up to the hype set promised with threats of murder and broken bones. Win or lose at the end of the day most of these fighters left the octagon rich men thanks to their opponent’s willingness (or unwillingness) to bring a little WWE hype into the world of MMA.
Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen – This one has been well documented leading up to their second fight at UFC 148. It all started with Chael’s relentless verbal attacks on Anderson, his family, his heritage, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Silva answered back by tapping Sonnen out in the fifth round of a classic fight. Chael however has denied that tap and has continued verbally assaulting Silva for the last two years. Silva lost his cool and responded for the first time recently by promising to break several of Chael’s bones as well as making a recent staredown very uncomfortable. I doubt that reality show Chael joked about after their first fight is on the horizon anytime soon.
Brock Lesnar vs. Frank Mir – When one guy dreams of actually killing his opponent, it is personal. Mir made his wishes public and was immediately reprimanded by the UFC. Lesnar on the other hand broke a door and became obsessed with beating Mir after his first loss to the former UFC champ. How big was this rivalry? It remains the biggest drawing fight in UFC history. Trilogy anyone?
Rampage Jackson vs. Rashad Evans – Unfortunately this one had a lot of hype and very little substance when it came to fight time. These two former TUF coaches developed an intense rivalry on the program that produced one of the biggest money fights in UFC history. Even after decisively losing to Evans, Jackson refused Evans’ help in training for Jon Jones. Quite frankly, he could have used it.
Nick Diaz vs. Georges St-Pierre – This is the only rivalry on the list that hasn’t resulted in a fight. I am still somewhat unclear as to why GSP and Diaz hate each other as much as they proclaim to. Yet GSP personally lobbied Dana White for a fight in which White responded that he had never seen a side of St-Pierre before this. What is fascinating to me is how much Diaz has already gotten in Georges’ head and they haven’t even fought. Diaz has impacted GSP almost identical to the same way Sonnen impacted Silva. GSP promises to take this fight to a dark place and after listening to him talk about it I have a feeling that this is going to be one ugly (in the positive sense) fight.
Josh Koscheck vs. Chris Leben – This was one of the most bitter rivalries in UFC history yet didn’t draw a dime for the company when it came to the fight. Both fighters developed an intense bitterness towards one another in The Ultimate Fighter 1 house. Tensions boiled over after Bobby Southworth and Koscheck infamously poured water over a sleeping Leben. Leben and Koscheck fought in a TUF fight that saw Leben dominated. To this day it amazes me as to why the UFC has never been able to bring this rivalry to pay per view.
Jon Jones vs. Rashad Evans – This is one of the newest rivalries in the UFC and one of the most real. How do you know it is real? Even after a decisive win, both fighters have yet to fully put their differences aside in a show of sportsmanship. Evans exposed a side of Jones that later was confirmed when Jones was arrested for DUI. This got personal when Jones accepted a fight with Evans after Evans claimed the two made a pact to never fight. Bones may have dominated the octagon battle but he has certainly lost the war of words.
Ken Shamrock vs. Tito Ortiz – Some would call this one of the greatest rivalries in UFC history. Looking back I think a lot of this came from two smart fighters who knew how to use their mouths to drum up business. The backstory here is that Ortiz disrespected one of Ken’s Lion’s Den fighters although I think Ken threw a lot of WWE into the hype machine here. It is also quite fascinating looking back that these guys fought three times, yet all three were dominated by Ortiz. How often do you see two guys rematched three times after one guy dominated both fights? It rarely happens but the UFC is glad it did because their third fight televised on Spike TV set ratings records and increased awareness about the UFC more than any other up to that point.
Tito Ortiz vs. Chuck Liddell – This rivalry resembled the Jones vs. Evans rivalry in that you had two former training partners who became opponents. The only difference here is that one fighter appeared to run scared of the other for as long as he could before suffering the inevitable beating. Liddell dominated Ortiz for the most part in two fights and was on his way to doing it for a third time before Ortiz backed out. Years later these two guys still don’t like each other as Chuck has said on many occasions that he would jump out of retirement for one more chance at punching Tito in the face.
Dana White vs. Tito Ortiz – Ortiz is three for three here and has a knack for upsetting his fellow UFC fighters and his boss. White used to manage Ortiz as a boxer and somewhere along the way these two had a messy fallout. Most of it came when Ortiz refused to fight Liddell yet even after the fight took place it remained personal. At one point Dana even booked himself in a boxing fight against Ortiz which never took place. It would appear that the former friends have put their differences aside although I always get the idea that the fuse is very short in setting this one off once again.
Michael Bisping vs. Jorge Rivera - This is a rivalry that generally flies under the radar due to the lack of importance of the fight. Rivera and his team posted several videos prior to the fight mocking Bisping for quite frankly, many of the same reasons most MMA fans mock the Count. Michael wasn’t amused and was particularly angry about something Rivera and his camp said about his wife. Bisping defeated Rivera, although not without controversy after “accidentally” kneeing Rivera while he was down. What wasn’t accidental was the huge spit Bisping tossed towards Rivera’s camp after the fight was over.
UFC president Dana White is angry…or so he says. White is telling everyone and their grandmother on Twitter that he is mad at Overeem for lying to him after getting popped for a high T/E count. Yet a historical precedence shows that White’s tough words mean absolutely nothing.
We all know the story by now. Alistair Overeem tested a high T/E count last month and is now suspended for nine months. Overeem’s suspension pulled him out of the UFC 146 main-event, thus causing a nightmare of last minute planning for White and the UFC. White says he is upset, but the UFC’s history in regards to punishing fighters who fail PED tests tell a much different story.
White went off on Overeem when he was asked about the recent turn of events on the Jim Rome show. “I’m not a fan at all. You’re not going to hear me today on your radio show defending Alistar Overeem, believe me,” White expressed. “Before he went in there [with the commission], he sat down at a lunch with me and my partner, looked us in the face and said, ‘I’m the most tested athlete in all of sports. They can test me whenever they want to.’ Well, he flew in for the press conference, they tested him and now he’s on a nine-month suspension.”
“I know he lied to me. I don’t like it. You sit down and you have these guys that you do business with, ‘Say, listen. Be honest with me. What’s going on here? Let’s figure out how we can work together and how we can do business together,’ and they still sit in front of you and lie to your face. I don’t know, not the type of guys I want to do business with.”
If you didn’t know any better you are probably applauding Dana White for his tough stance against PED users, specifically Overeem. However what White tells Jim Rome and how he conducts UFC business are two completely different things. A look at White’s history of dealing with fighters who fail PED tests show a guy that has zero interest in policing MMA and 100% interest in making money.
Sean Sherk tested positive for Nandrolone (a steroid) after a successful UFC lightweight championship defense. One would assume by reading White’s statements that he would be extremely tough on a fighter who represents the UFC as a world champion and fails a PED test right? Wrong. Yes, White did strip Sherk of the title but gave him a shot at the championship in his first fight back off of suspension!
Chael Sonnen tested for elevated levels of testosterone (higher than Overeem mind you) following his UFC 117 fight with Anderson Silva. Sonnen proceeded to make a mockery of the suspension by making ridiculous statements to the press and in commission hearings. Sonnen came very close to winning the UFC middleweight championship and ending the UFC undefeated streak of Silva. Imagine the magnitude if he won the belt, ended Silva’s streak, and then it was found out he fought on high levels of testosterone? How has Chael been punished? Chael was brought back before he renewed his license and has been given high profile fights ever since. Chael is three months away from fighting Silva again in what could be the biggest fight in UFC history. Let’s not even bring up Sonnen’s part in a mortgage fraud scheme in which he plead guilty to.
Nate Marquardt was a repeat offender when it came to positive PED tests. Marquardt was fired by the UFC last summer after having high levels of testosterone according to Pennsylvania (where he was fighting). Marquardt has since been hired by Strikeforce, ironically owned by Zuffa, LLC which is also the UFC’s parent company. Marquardt is tentatively scheduled to fight for the Strikeforce welterweight championship in his first fight. Yes, another offender rewarded potentially rewarded with a title shot on his return fight.
Thiago Silva was suspended last year after it was discovered that the urine he submitted for a drug test was not “human!” Silva admitted using a synthetic urine sample to mask injections of unspecified steroids 45 and 30 days out from his previous UFC fight. Not only was Silva not cut, but he was rewarded with a main-event on a live UFC television special for his first fight off suspension.
Chris Leben is currently serving a one-year suspension for testing positive for prescription painkillers oxycodone and oxymorphone following a loss on UFC 138. Leben is a repeat offender as he tested positive for a steroid following a loss at UFC 89. As of today, Leben is gainfully employed by the UFC.
The point here is that unless you are an undercard fighter like Vinicius Quieroz the UFC has no interest in punishing fighters outside of their suspensions. Dana White can cry all day long about Overeem lying to him but so did Chael Sonnen, Chris Leben, Sean Sherk, Nate Marquardt, and Thiago Silva and none of those fighters faced any repercussions from the UFC outside of their license suspensions.
Is Dana really that upset Overeem lied to him? Maybe, but if you are expecting the UFC to make an example out of him you may as well forget it. So let’s drop the shenanigans and just announce that Overeem will fight for the championship in a main-event as soon as he is off of suspension and end the circus.
The UFC is the most powerful promotion in MMA. Yet even with all of that power, they have let several big money fights slip through the cracks. Here are 10 fights that would have drawn money that for one reason or another the UFC failed to make.
This was a tougher list to make than I anticipated. A part of me wants to look strictly at money and what would draw the most dollars at the time of the fight while another part of me looks for the best matchups that never materialized. While they are usually the same for casual MMA fans, hardcore MMA fans may think differently.
I think that the UFC gets a little too cute at times when it comes to their money fights. Several times the company has passed on obvious money fights for a number of reasons. Generally the greed gets the best of them and they try and hold the fight off to create even more interest. Unfortunately that generally bites the UFC in the butt more often than not.
Here are ten fights that I think the UFC should have pulled off for millions of dollars, yet failed to do so. Some aren’t their fault, such as failing to sign the most polarizing heavyweight fighter in MMA history to guys just being hurt at the wrong time. Regardless, these are ten fights that the UFC failed to make that could have made them millions.
Frank Mir vs. Brock Lesnar III - Quite frankly this fight was the catalyst for this list. I watched Brock’s promo the other night on WWE RAW and was reminded about how great his UFC 100 Countdown promos were leading up to the Mir fight. It was one-sided domination, but these two guys could have easily talked the UFC audience into a rematch. UFC 100 drew the biggest buyrate in UFC history and a lot of that had to do with this fight. According to numerous reports, the plan was to go with Mir vs. Lesnar for the JDS-Lesnar The Ultimate Fighter season but it never materialized. As fun as it was to see Overeem vs. Lesnar, I think the UFC cost themselves millions by passing on this fight before Brock retired.
Josh Koscheck vs. Chris Leben - I don’t know if the UFC would have drawn millions of dollars from this fight, but you can’t tell me it wouldn’t have been huge. Fans watched a real grudge play out on national television during the inaugural season of The Ultimate Fighter. Koscheck won a one-sided fight on the show but both fighters have gone on to become superstars since those early days in the UFC gym. Hardcore MMA fans don’t forget and I think with the right Countdown special, a replay of their old segments on TUF 1, that this fight could have been huge. According to one report I read, the fight was on the table but Koscheck turned it down.
Georges St-Pierre vs. Nick Diaz - The UFC has nobody to blame but themselves for not cashing in on this obvious choice. The UFC got cute last year when Diaz skipped a couple of press conferences and pulled the fight. It was a big gamble because if Diaz beat Penn, the fight would be bigger and vice versa if Diaz lost. Now you could tell me that GSP was hurt and would have pulled out anyway, but who knows? Fate could have played out differently but we will never know and at this rate, this fight looks further away from happening than it ever did before.
Frank Shamrock vs. Chuck Liddell - Frank Shamrock retired as the undefeated UFC light heavyweight champion in 1999. The Iceman entered the division shortly thereafter and become the dominant force in all of MMA once he hit his stride a few years later. The personal issues between Dana White and Frank are well known, but imagine how huge this fight could have been if Shamrock came back to take this fight? I think this would have shattered records for the time period and could have helped move MMA closer to the mainstream. Unfortunately personal issues got in the way of what could have been the biggest fight up to that point in MMA history.
Anderson Silva vs. Lyoto Machida - In 2009 Joe Rogan proclaimed the UFC light heavyweight division the “Machida era” after he knocked out Rashad Evans to win the UFC championship. Anderson Silva was already regarded as one of the greatest, if not the best pound for pound fighter in the world. Silva was already doubling in the light heavyweight division and the fight seemed like a natural. In retrospect, it probably would have been a one-sided win by Silva but you never would have known that then. This was a case where the UFC needed to strike while the iron was hot because the flame on that iron went out pretty quickly thereafter.
Brock Lesnar vs. Fedor Emelienanko - This is a tough one to pin on the UFC because according to all reports, they went hard at Fedor. I remember the buzz at the time of negotiations being that Lesnar vs. Fedor was already penciled in on an upcoming UFC show. Unfortunately for fight fans, Fedor wound up signing with Strikeforce for less money (some would say to avoid the fight). Should Dana White have given in and allowed M1 to co-promote? Maybe, maybe not, but the decision not to do so cost the UFC arguably the biggest money fight in MMA history. Think Mayweather vs. Pacquiao and you got Lesnar vs. Fedor in 2009.
Randy Couture vs. Anderson Silva - I can’t remember ever seeing anyone write about this one so let me be the first. I have certainly been critical of Couture and his place in MMA history but I won’t deny that the guy could draw money. I was just watching his UFC heavyweight title win over Tim Sylvia on Fuel TV the other night and thought, “Wow imagine the hype if he ever moved down to middleweight to challenge Silva or meet Silva at light heavyweight?” I am certain that it would have been a massacre but the intrigue seeing Couture try and pull of the impossible is a Rocky-like storyline that could have set records.
Rampage Jackson vs. King Mo - Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that this fight would bring in the kind of money Brock-Fedor or Machida-Silva would, but this is a fight that had legs a couple of years ago. A video went viral in the MMA world of Jackson and Mo having words and all of the sudden a feud was born. Of course Mo was in Strikeforce at the time but once Zuffa bought Strikeforce, the fight could have been made. I’ll be honest and tell you that I never had the interest in seeing this one that some did, but I think that these two could have talked themselves into some big money if the UFC made the fight. Unfortunately for all, I think that time has passed.
Wanderlei Silva vs. Chael Sonnen - If the UFC was pro wrestling, this would have been Sonnen’s first fight following his loss to Anderson Silva. The fight was a natural with all of the trash talking that Sonnen did on Brazil and Brazilian fighters. Silva was and remains one of the most popular fighters in the UFC. A video also went viral in the MMA world of Sonnen and Silva in a car together with Silva just ripping Chael apart right to his face. While I do think that Chael would have destroyed Wanderlei, the hype leading up to the fight could have been some of the best in recent memory.
Roy Nelson vs. Brock Lesnar - This odd freak show of a fight could have wound up making the UFC a whole lot of money. Both fighters wanted the fight after Brock’s UFC title to Cain Velasquez but for some reason (most likely Lesnar’s injuries), the fight never happened. It is a shame that Brock is retired because this fight would have been a lot of fun to watch and talk about. Whether the UFC didn’t strike while the iron was hot or Brock was just never healthy at the right time, this was a money fight right in their backyard that they failed to pull off.
Well CamelClutchBlog fans the UFC is back this weekend for a card that even they aren’t pretending to care about. That’s right folks just because the President of the company doesn’t care about this card, doesn’t mean that you don’t have to. But hey, if you choose not to care, no one can really blame you, just make sure you watch the UFC on Fox next weekend.
All kidding aside, the UFC has really ignored this card and with the lack of star power a lot of people seem to be ignoring it as well, at least while they’re not mocking it. However, it’s a free card chock full of potentially exciting fights, with a fair number of decent betting opportunities. So hey, if you’re awake, load up the old Facebook page and check the Prelims, or wait until later to watch the Main card on tape delay on SPIKE. But before you do either, let’s check out some of the bets that you should be making. As always, all lines are the current best available market lines from BestFightOdds (www.bestfightodds.com)
Preliminary Card (Facebook): Bantamweight Bout: Chris Cariaso (-200) vs. Vaughan Lee (+196)
Chris “Kamikaze” Cariaso is a 30-year-old fighter from San Francisco, California. He is a Muay Thai kick boxer who prefers to strike with his opponents. He is a member of the Fight and Fitness gym from Southern California. He stands only 5’3″ tall with a 64.5″ reach, but he fights well standing for a man of his size. He is coming into this fight off of a closely contested Split Decision loss to the highly touted Michael McDonald. Cariaso holds a career MMA record of 11-3.
Vaughan Lee is a fairly unknown fighter, that I admittedly don’t know a whole lot about. On his UFC.com profile page, Lee is credited with holding the record of the most submissions in one fight at the TUF 14 tryouts…. still not exactly sure what that means though. Lee hails from Birmingham, England fighting out of the Ultimate Training Centre. Lee holds a career record of 11-6-1 and has proven to be a finisher in his career so far, winning ten of eleven fights via TKO or Submission.
Analysis and Prediction: I don’t know enough about Lee and haven’t been able to find enough tape of him on the internet to make a well-educated assumption about him. However, there are a few things we can say. English fighters aren’t overly well-known for their grappling or wrestling abilities, (no matter how hard Paul Sass tries.) The other thing we know, is that in a standing kickboxing match Cariaso is very scrappy and very tough, so we can assume that standing Cariaso will have the advantage. And without knowing that Lee can do anything about that, I’m willing to back the favorite in this fight. But I’m not betting it. Chris Cariaso via TKO in Round Three
Preliminary Card (Facebook): Welterweight Bout: Chris Cope (+227) vs. Che Mills (-250)
Chris “C-Murder” Cope is a fighter from the Arena MMA Gym in San Diego, California. He is probably best known to fans as a cast member of the last season of The Ultimate Fighter. Cope earned a solid reputation on the California regional fight circuit, before making his UFC debut on the heels of his stint on TUF. Cope is a solid striker with a competent and well-paced striking style, that resembles him stalking forward continuously, usually behind a pawing jab. Cope has shown strong takedown defense in his fights, both on the show and in the UFC octagon. Cope holds a career MMA record of 5-1.
Che “The Urban Monkey” Mills is an English fighter from Gloucester and is one of the UK’s most promising prospects. He is the former Cage Rage British Welterweight champion and holds a number of victories over notable fighters like Marius Zaromskis. He was auditioned for the UK vs. USA edition of The Ultimate Fighter, however he was eliminated by the show’s eventual winner James Wilks in an elimination match before the start of the show. Mills is an experienced fighter with a strong background in Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Mills holds a career MMA record of 13-4-1.
Analysis and Prediction: I actually like the underdog in this fight for a small play. Mills should be the favorite in this one as he’s likely the more well-rounded of the two. However, Cope has shown significant improvement since his time on the show and has great takedown defense and competent striking skills. Mills is a highly hyped prospect and some of his status in the betting line is being bloated because of that. At 6’1″ Cope will have a slight height and reach advantage and I think he can use that to his advantage to grind out an ugly decision victory. Chris Cope via Unanimous Decision
Preliminary Card (Facebook): Heavyweight Bout: Rob Broughton (+138) vs. Philip De Fries (-140)
Rob “The Bear” Broughton is an English Heavyweight fighter from St. Helens, England. At 6’2″ and 260 pounds he is a large Heavyweight fighter from the Wolfslair MMA Academy. Broughton is a former Cage Rage British Heavyweight Champion. Broughton has notable backgrounds in boxing, freestyle wrestling and Submission grappling. He took this fight on short notice, returning after a horrible showing against Travis Browne at UFC 135, he must be concerned about job security if he loses another fight in less-than-impressive fashion. Broughton holds a career MMA record of 15-6-1.
Philip De Fries is one of the more hyped Heavyweight fighters from the UK, fighting out of Sunderland, England. As a member of The Dungeon MMA gym in Sunderland and is well known for his exceptional ground and Submission skills. De Fries is a Purple Belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu under his coach Rodrigo Cabral. At 6’4″ De Fries will enjoy a slight size advantage, however, he will likely be looking to get this fight to the ground as soon as possible. De Fries has a career MMA record of 7-0-1.
Analysis and Prediction: I like the favorite in this fight. De Fries is a solid fighter with strong grappling credentials and an undefeated record. He is making his UFC debut, which may be cause for concern for some, but doing it in his home country, should alleviate some of the usual Octagon jitters. Broughton showed me nothing impressive in his last fight, blame it on the altitude or blame it on whatever, but he looked awful at UFC 135. Unless his cardio has vastly improved in a month or two, he’s going to get taken down and submitted rather quickly. Philip De Fries via Submission in Round One
Preliminary Card (Facebook): Featherweight Bout: Michihiro Omigawa (-213) vs. Jason Young (+210)
Let me preface this by saying that this could easily be a contender for Fight of the Night, but this could also end up being a snoozer. Michihiro Omigawa is a 35-year-old Japanese fighter from the dojo of Hidehiko Yoshida. Omigawa is a strong boxer with a 3rd degree black belt in Judo. Omigawa entered the UFC on a hot streak, but has hit a bit of a rough patch in the UFC, first losing a decision #2 Featherweight Chad Mendes. In his last fight he lost a Unanimous Decision to Darren Elkins, despite outboxing Elkins throughout the fight, one which many pundits thought that he won. However, Omigawa has also won a number of decisions that people thought he had lost, so karma is a bitch… as they say. Omigawa holds a career record of 12-10-1.
Jason “Shotgun” Young is a Muay Thai fighter from Lewisham, England. He is a strong striker with a 73-inch reach which is fairly significant for a Featherweight fighter. Young is a member of the Team Titan Gym where he trains with notable fighters like Brad Pickett and Paul Daley. Young has shown a bit of a weakness when it comes to grappling, as three of his four career losses have come via Submission. However, Young remains a strong striker with good technique and decent power in both his hands and his feet.
Analysis and Prediction: Young is being touted as the underdog pick of the night and it’s hard to argue. In his last fight, he stood and banged with up and coming prospect Dustin Poirier and fared well, before eventually losing a close Unanimous Decision. Omigawa has decent boxing but standing, he might be slightly overmatched. However, Young has a clear weakness on the ground and Omigawa is a talented grappler and Judo black belt. The line is fairly well set and I’ll probably be avoiding it from a betting stand point, but if you put a gun to my head and made me pick, I’d take Omigawa. Michihiro Omigawa via Submission in Round Three
Preliminary Card (Facebook): Welterweight Bout: John Maguire (+118) vs. Justin Edwards (-127)
John “The One” Maguire is a former Cage Rage British Welterweight Champion. He is also a former BAMMA fighter. Maguire is a self-proclaimed “pink belt in Gypsy Jiu Jitsu (don’t worry, nobody else knows what the hell that means anyways.) However, he has finished twelve of his sixteen victories, with nine coming by way of Submission, so he might be a decent grappler at the very least. Maguire is also entering this bout on the strength of five straight victories. He holds a career record of 16-3.
Justin “Fast Eddy” Edwards is a fighter from Mansfield, Ohio who is best known for his stint on the latest season of The Ultimate Fighter. He is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu fighter, who also has some experience in Sanshou Kickboxing. Edwards is a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu under his coach at JG MMA in Bellefontaine, Ohio. Edwards has relatively raw and unpolished stand up skills, usually moving forward behind winging haymakers, throwing caution to the wind. Despite losing his UFC debut, he followed up with a strong showing against super prospect Jorge Lopez and won the fight via Unanimous Decision. Edwards has a career record of 7-1.
Analysis and Prediction: Edwards has been here before, that’s my number one reason for picking him in this one. The ground game is likely a wash, with both guys being decent at BJJ. So this one is going to come down to striking and wrestling. This is where being American lends an advantage to Edwards, as he will likely have the better wrestling. With their two BJJ skills likely cancelling one another out, the advantage will likely go to the one on top. And if Edwards has the more polished wrestling that will likely be him. Don’t expect fireworks, but I expect a win from the American. Justin Edwards via Unanimous Decision
Main Card (SPIKE TV): Light Heavyweight Bout: Cyrille Diabate (-351) vs. Anthony Perosh (+309)
Cyrille “The Snake” Diabate is a French fighter and former professional kick boxer. He is a veteran of a number of big time fighting promotions, including PRIDE, ShoXC, DEEP and Cage Rage. At 6’6″ tall he is one of the taller fighters in the UFC’s Light Heavyweight division and is also one of the best strikers in the division. Diabate also has a decent grappling game, using his long and slender frame and lanky limbs to snatch submissions during scrambles. Diabate holds a career record of 17-7-1.
Anthony “The Hippo” Perosh has one of the most unfitting nicknames in MMA today. He is a second degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and is one of Australia’s best fighters. However at 39-years old he is probably a bit past his best days in the fighting game. He is one of the trainers and head instructors at the Sinosic Perosh Martial Arts gym in Sydney, Australia. Perosh owns a career record of 11-6, with 8 wins via Submission.
Analysis and Prediction: I have no interest in betting this fight and the line is fairly well set. Perosh is a fairly unspectacular striker and Diabate is a very dynamic kick boxer, so the standing advantage goes to the Frenchman. Perosh is the better grappler, but Diabate is no slouch on the ground. Also, Diabate has a strong clinch game due to his Muay Thai background, so getting him to the ground won’t be a picnic for the Australian. I expect Diabate to dominate this fight standing working his way to a second round TKO. Cyrille Diabate via TKO in Round Two
Main Card (SPIKE TV): Lightweight Bout: Terry Etim (-600) vs. Eddie Faaloloto (+530)
I don’t even want to waste time going to far in depth into this one. But you’re not wasting time at work, avoiding real work to check out this blog for nothing, so I will, albeit quickly. Eddie “Falo” Faaloloto is an American fighter from Honolulu, Hawaii. He is a brown belt in Kajukembo (a hybrid martial art including Western boxing, Judo and grappling.) He holds a 2-2 professional record but has lost both of his UFC fights so far. Terry Etim is a British fighter from Liverpool, England. He is a member of Team Kaobon and RFT Fighting in the UK. Etim is a Muay Thai and Luta Livre fighter with a lot of UFC experience. Etim holds a career record of 14-3.
Analysis and Prediction: Ring rust is the only reason to doubt Etim in this one. He has been off for nearly a year nursing injuries. Etim has struggled against strong wrestlers in the past, but he doesn’t really have to worry about that here. If you’ve read my posts before, you know that I love big underdogs, but I just don’t see any upside to a bet here. It’s likely Etim uses his range to exploit the American standing, before dragging the fight to the mat and locking in a Rear Naked Choke after an extended period of ground and pound. Terry Etim via Submission in Round One
Main Card (SPIKE TV): Welterweight Bout: Thiago Alves (-336) vs. Papy Abedi (+301)
Thiago “The Pitbull” Alves is one of the most muscular fighters on the UFC roster. One warning before we even get into his history, do not put any stock in Alves missing weight for this fight. He missed only by one pound, and made it without incident half an hour later after stepping into the sauna for fifteen minutes and taking a pee. With that said let’s get into the analysis. Alves is a Brazilian fighter from Fortaleza, Brazil. He is a Muay Thai fighter who now fights out of the American Top Team in Coconut Creek Florida. Alves is a strong striker with knockout power in both hands. Alves also has an underrated ground game, as he possesses a brown belt in BJJ, although he rarely uses it, preferring instead to stand and trade with opponents. He is a strong, durable fighter, although he has struggled against the wrestling based fighters that populate the UFC’s Welterweight division. Alves has a career MMA record of 18-8.
Papy “Makambo” Abedi is a Swedish fighter who was born in Zaire. The native African is making his UFC debut, who happens to give his opponent Alves a run for his money in the most muscular MMA fighter category. He is a black belt in Judo and a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Abedi also has decent wrestling skills and big power in both of his hands. Abedi is a highly touted European prospect who has proven to be a wrecking machine in his MMA career so far. He holds an undefeated professional record of 8-0, with 7 wins via stoppage (5 TKOs, 2 Submissions.)
Analysis and Prediction: Well surprise, I like the underdog in this fight. Alves should be the favorite, but I don’t think he should be quite as big a favorite as he currently is on the betting lines. Alves is a former title challenger, facing a guy making his UFC debut, but Abedi does have the skills to pull off the upset. One major flaw in Abedi’s striking game is his tendency to stand straight up and keep his chin out while retreating, he will need to have corrected that, or it won’t be long before Alves exploits that fact and makes us all sorry that we bet on him. However, Alves isn’t the world’s greatest fighter off of his back and with Abedi’s Judo skills and nasty ground and pound, he could easily earn a stoppage victory if he can get this fight to the ground. Getting 3 to 1, let’s roll the dice and go for it. Papy Abedi via TKO in Round Two
Main Card (SPIKE TV): Bantamweight Bout: Brad Pickett (+131) vs. Renan Barao (-130)
Brad “One Punch” Pickett is an English fighter who is the former Cage Rage British Featherweight Champion. Pickett is a strong boxer with big power in his hands. Pickett also holds decent credentials in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu which has earned him a number of Submission victories. Although an English born fighter, Pickett now trains stateside for MMA and is a member of the American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Florida. Pickett has a career record of 21-4, including wins over notables like Demetrious Johnson and Ivan Menjivar. He is making his UFC debut in this fight after a fairly long layoff due to injuries.
Renan Barao is a Brazilian fighter who is riding the longest active winning streak in the UFC with 26 straight victories. The 24-year-old fighter has not lost since his UFC debut back in 2005. Barao is a member of the famous Nova Uniao gym in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He is a black belt in BJJ and also has a wealth of experience in Muay Thai kickboxing. Barao has an impressive record and is riding a hot streak, but Pickett will be one of his toughest opponents to date. Barao has earned an impressive 18 stoppage victories in his career, including twelve submissions. He has a career record of 26-1-1.
Analysis and Prediction: I’m really torn in this fight and I’m not too sure which way to lean. Pickett provides a significant step up in competition for Barao and will likely have the better wrestling and a strong game plan for this fight. However, Barao is a fairly talented grappler who will have a world of confidence heading into this fight. Pickett has strong boxing and is very quick and agile, however after nearly a year off, one has to wonder if ring rust might play a factor, as well as how he’ll deal with fighting in front of a home crowd once again. I’m just going to watch this fight for interest, as it’s likely going to be a good one. If your book allows you to bet on what fight will win Fight of the Night honors, you might want to consider a small play on this fight, just for shits and giggles. As for a prediction, I’ll flip a coin. Brad Pickett via Split Decision.
Main Event (SPIKE TV): Middleweight Bout: Chris Leben (+246) vs. Mark Munoz (-250)
Chris “The Crippler” Leben is one of the longest tenured UFC fighters still competing today. The 31-year-old from Portland, Oregon is a member of the ICON Fitness and MMA team in Oahu, Hawaii. He is a boxer and BJJ fighter, who prefers to turn his fights into slug-fests and brawls instead of proper MMA fights. If Leben has shown anything in his MMA career it’s his willingness to brawl and his ability to take a punch, as he has proven extremely durable and tough to finish. However, he has shown cardio issues in the past and since this is the UFC’s first 5-Round Main Event, one has to wonder if that fact might come into play during this fight. Leben has a career MMA record of 22-7.
Mark “The Filipino Wrecking Machine” Munoz is an American fighter from Lake Forest, California. Munoz is a strong wrestler with a background as a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler from Oklahoma State University. Munoz has shown rapidly improving striking skills as he continues to evolve as a fighter. Also, since beginning his MMA training Munoz has obtained a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. One notable tidbit of Munoz’s training is his recent switch to the Black House Gym with the Nogueira brothers, Anderson Silva and Lyoto Machida. Although he was brought in as the wrestling coach for the gym, it’s hard to believe that he’s not receiving some pointers to improve his striking as well as his overall MMA game. Munoz has a career record of 11-2.
Analysis and Prediction: Leben has struggled with strong wrestlers and grapplers in the past. Leben has strong takedown defense, but has still struggled against elite level wrestlers, which Munoz definitely qualifies as. Munoz on the other hand has shown improving stand up skills, but was slightly rocked by Demian Maia in his last fight and Maia is by no means an elite-level striker. But, it’s hard not to lean towards Munoz in this fight.
As his striking game continues to improve Munoz’s wrestling will also improve. In the past he shot for takedowns from far away, looking for low percentage takedowns, instead of setting up his shots. Now he is able to use a decent jab, followed by a strong right hand and change levels to shoot for a takedown from closer, which will continue to increase his takedown percentage. Munoz has been rocked by power punchers in the past and that’s right up Leben’s alley, but Munoz has all the tools to win this fight.
The odds are stacked in Munoz’s favor. Leben can definitely end the fight with one punch if Munoz gets sloppy or gets overly aggressive in the stand up game. However, the likely path of this fight sees Munoz earning a takedown and unleashing some ground and pound, before searching for a Submission opening. You also have to consider that with Leben’s past issues with cardio, that the longer this fight goes, the more it swings in Munoz’s favor. All in all, Leben is a live underdog, but I think Munoz is the pick here. The line has been bet to a fair line, so I don’t really feel like betting it. But Munoz should be able to earn a stoppage in the third round. Mark Munoz via TKO in Round Three.
As part of its new deal with the Fox network, the UFC announced it would broadcast four specials on Fox as part of the new deal. Unfortunately, what they left out is that the first special will look more like a UFC prelims special than a landmark broadcast.
This odd piece of news floated out to the media after the UFC and Fox press conference. According to numerous reports, the first live UFC special will be live on November 12, a week before UFC 140. Yet the most interesting aspect of this is that the special will only be 60 minutes and feature just two live fights.
On paper the UFC and Fox deal looks like a win-win for everyone. However, I think even the biggest UFC fan would have to question the commitment from Fox if all the UFC is getting is one hour and two fights. It is almost as if Fox said, “Welcome aboard, but make sure to park in the lot across the street from headquarters.”
The UFC will only get one first impression. That is why this first Fox special is arguably the most important UFC event in company history. But what can the UFC be expected to showcase with only one hour, and two fights for an hour on a Saturday night? Saturday night is not a big television night in general and now you’ll have the UFC trying to compete with a Notre Dame game in prime time as well as several other NCAA games on the various ESPN networks (including LSU). Manny Pacquiao will also be boxing later that night. Is this really a showcase or an invitation to fail?
In other words, this is just a glorified Spike prelims special on Fox. How many classic prelim specials do you remember on Spike? Other than the WEC pay per view prelims, I don’t remember many classics. That is because the odds are stacked against the UFC on a two-fight card to showcase UFC at its best. At minimum, the UFC needed a four if not a five fight special to make this thing work. I can’t imagine anyone at Zuffa is happy about this deal.
The odds are certainly stacked against the UFC. Sure, the UFC can get lucky and hit on two fights that deliver. But in a sport where nothing is given, how often does that happen? On a five fight UFC pay per view, how many of those fights deliver as promised? Probably two, three fights may blow the fans away on a good night, and it is almost rare for a home run in all five, although it does happen. Unless Vince McMahon is booking this thing, the UFC will be rolling the dice that both fights will deliver, and those are odds that I wouldn’t want on my first Fox special.
You also have the issue of the five-round fight. The UFC told the world several weeks ago that all main-events will go five rounds starting at UFC 137. So now you are talking about a show where at least one fight will be five rounds. Most guys who fight for five rounds generally start out at a slower pace, conserving their energy for the “championship rounds.” Unless the UFC completely balks at this new rule change, the company will be faced with delivering a slow, deliberate fight in their Fox debut rather than an action-packed three rounder. Of course that isn’t always the rule as Chael Sonnen vs. Anderson Silva and Dominick Cruz vs. Urijah Faber have shown, but it is generally the norm.
So let’s talk fights. The UFC and Fox both said that the live specials will have star power. That’s all fine and good but who is available? I have heard rumblings of Chael Sonnen vs. Anderson Silva if Sonnen wins, but Sonnen would likely not be available. Not to mention, I don’t think you want the media diving into Sonnen’s baggage for your debut. Chris Leben vs. Mark Munoz would make a ton of sense and they could move that from UFC 138. The champions would all be unavailable unless some stuff is moved around. Brock Lesnar won’t be ready. I’d say that Anderson Silva is probably your best bet, but there wouldn’t be anyone available worthy of a title shot unless Brian Stann beats Chael and takes the fight right away. Brian Bowles vs. Urijah Faber could move, but is that worthy of such an important slot? If Jon Jones wins, maybe he throws the UFC a bone for backing out of UFC 133 and comes back fast for a title fight with Rashad Evans? A Lyoto Machida vs. Shogun Rua rematch if Rua wins in Brazil is another possibility, but I just don’t know. I’d say Leben vs. Munoz is the way to go unless I am missing an obious matchup.
All I know is that for such a big event, there sure seems to be a lot of questions going into it. The two fight, one hour broadcast is a big disappointment and not what most expected when we were told about what the UFC’s presence on Fox would be.