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Bobby Lashley In Talks To Fight Fedor Emelianenko

January 24, 2012 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts, WWE | Pro Wrestling

Bobby LashleyI have been critical at times at Bobby Lashley’s choice of opponent but his next one offers no room for criticism. Lashley is reportedly in talks to fight Fedor Emelianenko on an M-1 Global event. This would undoubtedly be the biggest test for the former WWE star gone MMA fighter yet.

Fighters Only Magazine broke the news with quotes from Lashley. According to the article, M-1 are currently in talks with several potential opponents for Fedor’s next fight. However, it is the name of the former WrestleMania star that has people talking.

Lashley left the WWE and entered the MMA business a few years back. Since making his fight debut in 2008, Lashley has gone 8-1. While the record may seem impressive, Lashley has been criticiszed for taking easy opponents (on paper anyway) and not evolving his fight game. Lashley is coming off a first round submission over Karl Knothe which wrangled him Shark Fights heavyweight championship.

Lashley is no fool and is fully aware of the leap he will be taking from fighting Knothe to Fedor. Lashley thinks his amateur wrestling background and skills give him the edge over the Last Emperor.

“I think that my wrestling would trump some of the things that he has. I know he’s a great fighter, but if I fought him then of course I’m going to try and wrestle him down… If it was Dave [Bautista], I’m standing and banging with him. I’ve been doing a lot of boxing.

Lashley also understands that the time is now to start testing himself against better opponents and squash any criticism that speculates Lashley isn’t taking his MMA career seriously.

“I wanna fight the best, so if I have an opportunity to fight Fedor, let’s do it. If I have an opportunity to fight anyone right now let’s just damn do it.

Lashley would certainly not be an easy mark for Fedor. Fedor would be coming into the fight on his first two-win fight strike since 2009. Fedor made easy work of Satoshi Ishii via KO back on New Year’s Eve. However, his previous win over Jeff Monson was what I would describe as alarming. Fedor dominated Monson for 3 full rounds but could not put him away, thus going to a decision. The old Fedor would have clocked Monson but the older Fedor looks like he may have lost some of that finishing power.

I look at Lashley as a younger, faster, stronger, inexperienced Monson. Lashley could take this thing if he can ground and pound Fedor in the first round. Unfortunately Lashley’s biggest issue here would be his conditioning. Lashley is a fast starter but is often exhausted by the end of the fight. Someone like Fedor is smart enough to know this and could pick him apart if the fight went past the first round. However, surviving an early-fight onslaught by Lashley may be easier said than done at this stageof the game for Fedor.

Lashley and his team are in the initial stages of talks. He will be a huge underdog going into the fight if it happens but he may just be one of those underdogs worth putitng a couple of bucks on if I were a betting man….which I am not.

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The Camel Clutch Blog MMA 2011 Year In Review

December 29, 2011 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

It is that time of the year again, time for the MMA Year End Awards. 2011 was certainly an interesting year in and out of the octagon for the UFC and MMA. A promotional acquisition and the emergence of a young prodigy are arguably the two biggest headlines of the year.

MMA Fighter of the Year

Eric Gargiulo – Jon Jones: This was probably the easiest award to pick here and maybe any other year. I can’t remember an MMA fighter with as strong a year as Jon Jones. Four fights, a championship win, and two successful title defenses thrust Jones to the top of the list.

Hardcore MMA fans were well aware of Jones and his vicious elbows before he stepped into the octagon at UFC 128 and dismantled Shogun Rua. The potential was never in question, yet some wondered if the UFC were taking things too slowly with Bones. How would Bones do with ramped up competition? The answer is simple, he is even better than anyone thought.

Fighting four times in one year in the UFC is an accomplishment in itself. Handily winning three fights against the elite of the division is something else altogether. In a matter of eight months Jones has dominant wins over Shogun Rua, Rampage Jackson, and Lyoto Machida. Sure champions fight more than once a year in the UFC, but rarely is their competition as good as Jones’.

Jones finishes the year with a highlight finish over Machida. Entering 2012 he is looking at potential fights with Rashad Evans and most likely Dan Henderson. At this point I can’t imagine anyone picking against him. The end game here has to be Anderson Silva. Whether Silva takes the fight or not is another story. Without the Silva fight in 2012, at this current pace he could clean out the division by next year’s end.

He may not be your favorite, but I don’t think anyone would have a hard time with giving this guy his props for a phenomenal MMA year.

Honorable Mentions: Nick Diaz, Dan Henderson, and Junior Dos Santos.

Brett Clendaniel of WrestleChat.net- Jon “Bones” Jones: If you would have told Jon Jones at the beginning of the year that his opponents in 2011 would be Ryan “Darth” Bader, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, and Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida, he probably would have settled for going 2-2 and getting a bit of experience under his belt. It was these 4 fighters, Jon Jones, and Rashad Evans that made up the Top 6 in the most stacked, competitive division that the UFC has to offer. Instead of backing down from the task at hand and wilting from the pressure, Jones rattled off four incredible victories that has many MMA pundits calling it the greatest single year for a fighter in MMA history. Not only were they four victories, but they were all dominating, decisive stoppages that earned Jones the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship. He entered 2011 as a young, promising, up-and-comer who had the potential to be great one day. Instead, he proved to be a fighter who very well may dominate his weight class like Anderson Silva and Georges St-Pierre have. The only fighters that could potentially cause a problem for Jones are Rashad Evans (who he was set to fight twice over the course of the year), Phil Davis (whose tall, lanky frame and A+ wrestling ability could prove to be a threat), and Dan Henderson (who has never been stopped and can KO anybody). Those three fighters are almost definitely on the agenda for Bones in 2012. If Bones gets through those three, you might as well give him the 2012 Fighter of the Year Award as well.

Honorable Mention: Dan Henderson, Nick Diaz, Ben Henderson, and Junior dos Santos

Jay Perrone – Jon Jones: I will get right to the point: Jon Jones. It’s true that fighters like The Hendersons (Ben and Dan), Frankie Edgar and Donald Cerrone all had great 2011’s, but Jones was on another level. From LHW contender to champ to defending the belt twice within one calendar year, Jones finished all four of his opponents, three of whom were former champs (ok, Shogun actually WAS the champ, so he is now a former champ…again). Barring any injuries, I anticipate another dominant year for Jones in 2012.

Lee McGregor of Source4MMA.com Fighter of the Year: Jon “Bones” Jones: In my opinion, no one had a better year than Jones in 2011. What criteria would one use for judging a fighter of the year? Let’s see…. Wins? Jones had four of them, all over consensus Top 15 Fighters. Losses? Jones had none. Stoppages? All four of Bones’ wins came via stoppage (3 Submissions and 1 TKO.) Titles? Jones defeated Mauricio “Shogun” Rua in dominant fashion to win the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship, then defended it twice. Most UFC Champions don’t fight more than twice in a year, Bones did it four times and dominated every fight that he was in.

MMA Fight of the Year

Eric G – Dominick Cruz vs. Urijah Faber, July 2, 2011 (UFC 132): Dominick Cruz vs. Urijah Faber will go down as one of the great main-event fights in UFC history. These two guys fought at a frenetic pace for 25 minutes, never slowing down for five full rounds of action. I think that at the end of the day this fight came down to a few takedowns in favor of Cruz.

These guys barely left their feet nor slowed down throughout the entire fight. I can’t remember seeing a five round fight with this much excitement in a long time or maybe even ever. Cruz went for takedowns but Faber popped right back up. Faber regularly connected on Cruz coming out of the clinch which I thought may have been a difference maker here. Both men were rocked a few times, yet I never got the impression that either man was close to being knocked out or tapped at any point of the fight.

In addition to delivering a classic, Cruz and Faber had a world of pressure on their shoulders and they delivered. As the first bantamweight fight to headline a UFC pay per view, anything less than a great fight would have set the entire division back. The UFC took a big risk here putting the smaller guys in the spotlight and it paid off. I think what Cruz and Faber did at UFC 132 has been understated. UFC fans now get just as excited to see the smaller guys fight in the top spot as they do the big boys.

Honorable Mentions: Dan Henderson vs. Mauricio Shogun Rua (UFC 139), Nick Diaz vs. Paul Daley (Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Daley), Eddie Alvarez vs. Michael Chandler (Bellator 58), Nick Diaz vs. BJ Penn (UFC 137), Clay Guida vs. Ben Henderson (UFC on Fox), Frankie Edgar vs. Gray Maynard (UFC 125), Mark Hominick vs. Jose Aldo (UFC 129)

Jay P – Chandler vs. Alvarez Bellator 58 & Shogun Rua vs. Dan Henderson UFC 139 (tie): Unlike Jones, who I truly believe is damned near impossible to argue against for Fighter of the Year (yes, I concede this is all subjective), there were two fights in 2011 that stood out. Michael Chandler versus Eddie Alvarez for the Bellator LW strap was a four round contest of awesome with fantastic back and forth boxing, several near finishes and an ending that saw Chandler get the upset win by rear naked choke. As great it was, however, Dan Henderson’s decision over Shogun at UFC 139 (which happened to occur several hours later on November 19, 2011) was nothing short of cinematic and, in my eyes, takes the honor for Fight Of The Year. Sure, the technical proficiency was not on par with the Chandler/Alvarez fight, but that is like saying Rocky vs. Ivan Drago in Rocky IV was less epic in the later rounds since it essentially became a street fight (yes, I know it was a movie, folks, but you see my point). Henderson landed some bombs in rounds one through three that would have put most men out. Shogun, bloodied, broken and bruised, pulls a Frankie Edgar-esque rabbit of his very short trunks and not only endures, but taps into his reserve gas tank and puts a two-round beating on Henderson to go the distance. It was the kind of war that goes down as one of the most memorable fights of all time and will be talked about for years to come.

Lee M – MMA Fight of the Year: Dan Henderson vs. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua – UFC 139: I went back and forth a lot between this bout and the Bellator Lightweight Championship bout between Eddie Alvarez and Michael Chandler. In the end what sealed the deal for me was that this fight went all five rounds and each round was a war jam packed with excitement. Where most fights usually have a lull in the action or a slow round this fight didn’t. These two warriors threw everything at one another and didn’t slow down and the fifth round is one of the most memorable in history. Knowing he needed a finish to taste victory, Shogun threw everything including the kitchen sink at Henderson, but Hendo was able to hang in there. Add in the fact that these were two storied veterans of the MMA game who were meeting for the first time in their respective careers, it was a very special fight. Throw in the post-fight photo at the hospital… win. http://cdn0.sbnation.com/entry_photo_images/2319846/shogun-hendo-injured_large.jpg

Brett C – Dan Henderson vs. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua (UFC 139): Going in to UFC 139, many people (myself included) really doubted the quality of the card as a whole. Henderson was in his first fight back in the UFC since 2009 and fresh off his stunning knockout of Fedor Emelianenko. Rua was coming off a pretty quick, easy victory over Forrest Griffin at UFC: Rio. Both of these PRIDE legends were on a roll heading into their matchup. It ended up being a fight that has already been heralded as one of the best fights in the history of mixed-martial arts. Even UFC honcho Dana White was comparing this fight to that of Forrest Griffin vs Stephan Bonner in the first season of The Ultimate Fighter. It was a brutal battle that saw both men out of breath and drenched in blood. Either fighter was thought to be “on-the-ropes” a few times over the course of the fight. I can recall four times off the top of my head where I thought this fight was over. Nonetheless, both of these warriors continued to battle back and just refused to quit. In the end, it was Dan Henderson who was awarded the decision. What’s next for either guy is anyone’s guess. Henderson is considered to be in the mix at both 185 and 205, but I think the big money for the UFC is an immediate rematch between Henderson and Rua.

Honorable Mention: Michael Chadler vs Eddie Alvarez (Bellator 58), Frankie Edgar vs Gray Maynard II (UFC 125), Nick Diaz vs Paul Daley(Strikeforce: Diaz vs Daley), Ben Henderson vs Clay Guida (UFC on Fox 1), Diego Sanchez vs Martin Kampmann (UFC on Versus 3), Cheick Kongo vs Pat Berry (UFC on Versus 3), and Jose Aldo vs Mark Hominick (UFC 129)

MMA Upset of the Year

Eric G – Tito Ortiz submits Ryan Bader at UFC 132: I had a real hard time with this award, real hard time. I went back and forth between this fight and Antonio Silva’s win over Fedor Emelianenko for quite a while. However, when I went back to look at the betting odds going into the fight, Tito was a bigger underdog than Silva so I went with Tito.

Now as much as I like Ortiz, I think there is a serious question that needs to be asked. Did Tito really pull off the upset or was Bader overrated? I tend to lean towards Bader being overrated and overhyped, however if you judge by the betting odds Ortiz pulled off the bigger upset.

I don’t want to minimize Ortiz’s win here. He had more pressure on him than in years. He was told flat out that a loss would send him out of the UFC. Ortiz had not won a fight against anyone not named Ken Shamrock since 2006. That is five years! Now he is going in there with a kid reputed to be faster, stronger, and comparable on the ground with him and he pulls off the choke in 1:56 of the first round? On top of that, Ortiz hadn’t finished a fight with a submission since cranking Yuki Kondo at UFC 29 eleven years prior. This win was huge.

Honorable Mentions: Antonio Silva defeats Fedor Emelianenko in the Strikeforce Grand Prix Opening Round, Dan Henderson defeats Fedor Emelianenko (Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Henderson), Charlie Brenneman defeats Rick Story (UFC Live 4), Joe Lauzon defeats Melvin Guillard (UFC 136), Clay Guida defeats Anthony Pettis (TUF 13 Finale), Dan Henderson defeats Rafael Cavalcante (Strikeforce: Fejiao vs. Henderson), Rick Story vs. Thiago Alves (UFC 130), Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira defeats Brendan Schaub (UFC 134)

Lee M – MMA Upset of the Year: I’m going to go with Michael Chandler over Eddie Alvarez in Bellator for the Lightweight title. There were a couple of big upsets in 2011 Ortiz over Bader, Brenneman over Story and Joe Lauzon over Melvin Guillard all come to mind, but I’ve got to give props to Chandler. He may not have been the biggest betting underdog out of that list, but no one expected him to shed his prospect status and un-seat Alvarez as the Lightweight Champion of Bellator. You’ve got to consider the stakes of this fight and give Chandler a bit of a boost because of the championship status of the bout.

Brett C – Tito Ortiz defeats Ryan Bader at UFC 132: Tito Ortiz entered his match with Ryan Bader as a 5-to-1 underdog and was admittedly on the chopping block after five straight matches without a victory. In fact, Ortiz’s most recent win had come in 2006 against Ken Shamrock. A loss against Bader would have definitely been the end of his UFC (and, probably, MMA) career. With his back against the wall, “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” got the break he was looking for. At little over a 1:30 into Round 1, Ortiz caught Bader with a right hand that sent him crashing to the mat. Ortiz quickly jumped on him with a flurry of punches before sinking in a guillotine choke which caused Bader to tap at just under two minutes in the first round. It was a stunning victory over a rising prospect for a guy that many had thought was done. This victory was enough to give Ortiz two more fights after it in 2011.

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Honorable Mention: Charlie Brenneman vs. Rick Story (UFC on Versus 4), Antonio “Big Foot” Silva over Fedor Emelianenko (Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Silva), Daniel Cormier vs. Antonio “Big Foot Silva (Strikeforce: Grand Prix), Chan Sung Jung vs. Mark Hominick (UFC 140), Jake Ellenburger vs. Jake Shields (UFC Fight Night: Shields vs. Ellenberger)

MMA Story of the Year

Eric G – Zuffa, LLC purchases Strikeforce: It doesn’t get much bigger than this does it? The UFC for the second time in several years bought their only real competition. While I wouldn’t call Strikeforce competition at the time, they certainly had the most potential to give the UFC some headaches. That all ended this past March when news broke that the parent company of the UFC was now in possession of its rival.

A bigger part of this story may be the slow dismantling of the company since Zuffa took it over in March. Since the acquisition, Strikeforce has lost three of its champions to the UFC. Strikeforce’s two biggest draws in Nick Diaz and Fedor are gone. While rumors of a new television deal to keep Strikeforce on Showtime are running wild, nothing has been confirmed. Additionally, many of the key staff including the fight maker has been replaced.

“Business as usual”, according to Dana White.

Honorable Mentions: Nick Diaz returning to the UFC, Randy Couture retiring, the emergence of Jon Jones, the rash of injuries and match changes in the UFC, five-round non-title UFC main-events, Miguel Torres firing, The UFC-Fox network deal, Brazil TUF, Chael Sonnen’s return, the UFC canceling Diaz vs. GSP UFC 137 over Diaz not showing up for a press conference, GSP’s injury, the signing of Brock Lesnar vs. Alistair Overeem, Bellator moving to Spike TV, Fedor Emelianenko not fighting for a major United States promotion

Jay P – Zuffa LLC purchases Strikeforce & UFC on Fox (tie): Standing tall above the many news-worthy MMA stories this year were the UFC’s two huge announcements: its purchase of Strikeforce back in March and their network debut on Fox in November with Velasquez/dos Santos for the HW belt. While it was certainly not the first time an MMA promotion had been aired on broadcast TV (see: Elite XC hastily crossing the network finish line first a few years back on CBS), the Strikeforce deal gets the silver medal and here’s why: market share. Strikeforce, in my eyes, was never going to be bigger than the UFC, simply because the Zuffa machine was so far out ahead of the competition with superior talent (the few exceptions are now slowly trickling over to the Mother Ship), production value and marketing. While the actual HW title fight only lasted sixty-four seconds, the November 12th Fox card kicked off a multi-year deal across several properties including FX, FUEL, Fox Deportes and various regionally-specific Fox Sports Nets. While it is very weird to hear Joe Buck plugging UFC fights during Sunday football, the exposure to a noticeably larger cable/satellite/telco subscriber base and the media coverage that comes along with it could be unparalleled. For years the promotion was waiting for ‘the right deal’ and now, Dana & Co. have it.

Lee M – MMA Story of the Year: For me, it’s the UFC signing up with Fox. This is a landmark television deal for the UFC as the biggest MMA promotion in the world makes it’s debut on Network Television. It’s an absolutely huge deal and one that is going to benefit the sport of MMA for years to come. Their debut event went off with a couple of hitches, mainly Junior dos Santos making the fight last for only 2 minutes, but their second offering looks to be an extremely intriguing night of fights. Add in all of the UFC related programming on Fox Sports Net, Fuel TV and FX including UFC All Access, The Ultimate Fighter and Ultimate Fight Night events, this has to be the biggest story to come out of 2011.

Brett C – UFC Purchases Strikeforce: On March 13, 2011, one of the biggest MMA stories in years happened when Zuffa, Inc. (the parent company of UFC) purchased its main competitor, Strikeforce. It came at a time when Strikeforce was really starting to get their name out there as a formidable number two company. Big names such as Fedor Emelianenko, Nick Diaz, Dan Henderson, Alistair Overeem and Jake Shields called Strikeforce home and their performances had fans clamoring for dream fights that they thought weren’t possible. Instead, Zuffa jumped in, bought the competition (a la WWE/WCW), and the rest is history. Fedor is back in Russia fighting cans, while Diaz, Henderson, Overeem and Shields now call the UFC home. Pretty soon the entire Strikeforce Heavyweight division (unless it just seems that way) will call the UFC home. Don’t be shocked of Gilbert Melendez, “King” Mo Lawal, Gegard Mousassi, and Luke Rockhold follow suit before too long.
Honorable Mention: The Rise of Jon “Bones” Jones, UFC Merges with WEC (January 2011), UFC Announces Five Round Non-Title Fights, UFC on Fox Debut, and The Injury Bug Ravages UFC Main Eventers

MMA Knockout of the Year

Eric G – Cheick Kongo knocks out Pat Barry (UFC Live: Kongo vs. Barry): 2011 saw some fantastic knockouts but none was more exciting than Cheick Kongo seemingly coming back from the dead to knockout Pat Barry in spectacular fashion live on Versus. It wasn’t so much the knockout but how and when it came about that still has people talking about this punch.

This was an unbelievable fight that only lasted a little over two minutes. The heavyweight collision saw Pat Barry rock Cheick Kongo early and nearly finish the fight. Barry dropped Kongo and swarmed in with an onslaught of punches. Kongo somehow managed to get up but was dropped again. Kongo then out of nowhere nails Barry (who had his arms down) with a punch and an uppercut and knows Barry out cold for the win at 2:39 of the first round. The visual of this action must be seen to be believed.

Honorable Mentions: Anderson Silva KOs Vitor Belfort (UFC 126), Lyoto Machida KOs Randy Couture (UFC 129), Dan Henderson KOs Fedor Emelianenko (Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Henderson), Nick Diaz KOs Paul Daley (Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Daley), Chris Leben KOs Wanderlei Silva (UFC 132), Junior Dos Santos KOs Cain Velasquez, Sam Stout KOs Yves Edwards UFC 131, John Makdessi KOs Kyle Watson (UFC 129), Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira KOs Brendan Schaub (UFC 134)

Jay P – Anderson Silva KOs Vitor Belfort UFC 126: How do you define “Knock Out Of the Year”? Do you base it on how hard the recipient gets rocked? The technique? The situation? These are all the things that were running through my head when trying to determine KOTY honors. I originally was going to go with Cheick Kongo’s hail mary KO of Pat Barry at UFC on Versus back in June simply for the “victory from the jaws of defeat” factor. Then I started thinking about Pat Barry’s tendency to make stupid mistakes in his recent fights and wondered if it was more of his running chin first into Kongo than anything else. Instead, yes, I am going with the consensus number one KOTY: Anderson Silva’s “That. Just. Happened” front kick KO of Vitor Belfort. It was beautiful. Silva took a front kick, one that in my novice-level martial arts experience use simply to create some distance when I am getting my butt whipped in the gym, and snapped it like a jab out of hell to put Belfort down before a few follow up shots sealed it. In related news, between that and Machida’s crane kick of Randy Couture, Steven Segal narrowly edges out Greg Jackson as Coach of the Year (just kidding).

Lee M – MMA Knockout of the Year: I have to give this one to Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida for his knock out of Randy Couture at UFC 129. Sure Anderson Silva did it first with the knockout of Vitor Belfort. But I think that Machida’s was just a bit flashier. Throw in the head feint to start it all off and the leaping front kick, magic. You also have to consider a slight bonus point for Machida since that knockout sent Couture straight into retirement, in very highlight reel fashion.

Brett C – Cheick Kongo KO’s Pat Berry at UFC on Versus 4: As opposed to explaining it, I think it’s better that you see this knockout for yourself. There’s a reason that this fight is the Knockout of the Year and an Honorable Mention for Fight of the Year. Take the threeminutes and enjoy! http://youtu.be/JzKEOYO_8TE

Honorable Mention: Anderson Silva vs Vitor Belfort (UFC 126), Lyoto Machida vs. Randy Couture (UFC 129), Chan Sung Jung vs. Mark Hominick (UFC 140), Sam Stout vs. Eves Edwards (UFC 131), and Stefan Struve vs. Travis Browne (UFC 130)

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Lee McGregor is the editor in chief & owner of www.source4mma.com.

Brett Clendaniel is the owner and managing editor of http://www.WrestleChat.net.

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Fedor Emelianenko’s Next Fight Set For November 12

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

Fedor Emelianenko may fight Kevin randlemanAfter weeks of speculation, Jeff Monson will be Fedor Emelianenko’s upcoming opponent. Fedor vs. Monson will take place November 12 in Russia. If November 12 sounds familiar that is because the first UFC on Fox will “coincidentally” be taking place on the same date.

Monson broke the news via his Twitter account and announced the fight.

Nov 12th vs Fedor in Russia M-1 confirmed” – @JeffMonson

Nothing has been officially announced from M1 Global as far as exact location or broadcast information. M1 Global’s Vadim Finkelstein has said in the past that the fight would take place in Russia. My hunch is that the fight will air live on the Internet. I can’t imagine anyone else airing the fight live with so much going on in the combat sports world that night.

The date is a rather curious choice for such a big event. Not only does the UFC on Fox Junior Dos Santos vs. Cain Velasquez fight take place on November 12, but so does Manny Pacquiao’s next boxing fight. If M1 were hoping that nobody would watch Fedor’s next fight, well they couldn’t have picked a better day.

Most assumed that Fedor’s next fight would air on Showtime. However, Showtime will be broadcasting Manny Pacquiao’s fight on pay per view. I couldn’t imagine Showtime airing a live Fedor fight on free television the same time as one of its biggest pay per view events of the year. That tells me something happened between M1 and Showtime and either the relationship is over or not what we expected.

Monson isn’t exactly Dan Henderson or even Kevin Randleman but it could have been worse. Quite frankly I have no problem with Fedor taking an opponent like Monson coming off of three losses. It makes sense. I just don’t want to hear M1 start bragging about Fedor being the best heavyweight in the world if he wins and yes, I said if.

Monson isn’t exactly what I’d call dangerous. Yet, I wouldn’t call him a pushover. He is 40 years old and has a 54 fight record. Monson’s most recent fight was a loss to Daniel Cormier in Strikeforce. However, Monson ran off eight straight wins before the Cormier fight. Not that any of those guys were top fighters, but they were eight wins nonetheless. This isn’t as big of a “give me” for Fedor as I would have expected.

I also think it is fair to point out the potential problems Monson could have with getting a visa to fight in Russia. Monson is a known anarchist and does have a criminal record. If someone wants to make waves (and it isn’t as if M1 hasn’t made their enemies), they could make it very tough for Monson to get into Russia. I hope this was given consideration in making the fight.

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M1 Global Scrubbing The Bottom Fedor Emelianenko’s Next fight

August 15, 2011 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

Fedor Emelianenko may fight Kevin randlemanFedor Emelianenko told MMA reporters after his recent loss to Dan Henderson that it would be God’s will whether he fought again or not. Well God must have a sense of humor because he will fight again and the list of potential opponents borders between ridiculous to pathetic.

I am a big Fedor Emelianenko fan going back to the Rings days. That said, if M1 Globa’s mission is to turn to completely obliterate what little respect Fedor has left in the world of MMA, well they certainly have the plan in motion to do it. Just days after Strikeforce said they would no longer book Fedor, M1 announced that they will book Fedor’s next fight and if you thought Brett Rogers was a set up for Fedor when he entered Strikeforce, well then you haven’t seen anything yet.

Fedor’s management company M1 Global is hard at work finding an opponent for the Last Emperor. M1 president Vadim Finkelstein recently spoke to a Russian website and discussed a number of potential opponents for Fedor. To say the list of Fedor’s potential opponents is unimpressive would probably be the MMA understatement of the year.

Topping the list is Kevin Randleman. Yes that Kevin Randleman. The same Kevin Randleman that Fedor demolished back in 2004 in Pride. The same Kevin Randleman that has lost eight of his last ten fights. Yes, M1 will spare no expense in testing their golden boy in his upcoming fight. Unlike Dan Henderson, Randleman is 40 and looks every bit of it in competition. Oh God, you are quite the funny spirit aren’t you?

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Travis Wiuff is another potential opponent for Fedor. Who? Yeah that is what I thought as well. I did a little research on Wiuff and the 33 year old fighter has a record of 63-14. Wiuff is what you would call a journeyman fighter or what those in the world of MMA call a Bobby Lashley opponent. Quite honestly Wiuff is probably the toughest opponent on the short list, but the appeal of this fight would be the same as watching a Fedor sambo match.

Mike Whitehead completes the short list of Fedor’s future opponents. Whitehead was at one time on a 13 fight winning streak, but that ended three years ago. Whitehead has gone a respectable 4-2 in his last fights. He has fought quite a few name fighters, yet has come out on the short end of the stick in most cases. He has power but he hardly has the knockout power to give Fedor a run for the money if they stood for a couple of rounds.

I don’t have a problem with a fighter looking to rebound with an easier opponent but this is ridiculous. For a management company that boasts about how great their fighter is, they are doing him no favors with this embarrassing list of opponents. Kimbo Slice took tougher fights!

I love Fedor, I really do but it is time to stop giving him a free pass here. For the last few years all we have heard about are the dumb Russians mismanaging Fedor. Fedor’s defenders continually tell us that the only reason Fedor isn’t fighting in the UFC or tougher competition is because of M1. Well hey, at some point Fedor has to be a man and be accountable of his actions, managed or not.

Fedor still has time to cling on to that legacy and walk away from this charade. Unfortunately the second he steps through the ropes to fight one of these tomato cans, his legacy will be tarnished beyond repair forever.

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Alistair Overeem Says Choosing UFC Led To Strikeforce Cut

August 06, 2011 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts, Videos

The situation between Strikeforce and Alistair Overeem keeps getting weirder. Overeem told Inside MMA that his desire to go to the UFC & Zuffa wanting to keep him in Strikeforce to build the brand led to a contract impasse, which resulted in his release.

Overeem appeared on HD Net’s Inside MMA broadcast via satellite and gave his first interview following his Strikeforce release last week. For those who missed it, Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem was cut last week from parent company Zuffa. Overeem had one fight on his contract but could not fight due to injuries until October. After some harsh words in the press beween both parties, Zuffa exercised their right to cut Overeem with one fight left on his contract.

The first sign of discontent between Overeem and Zuffa came when Overeem told Ariel Helwani that he felt Strikeforce was trying to bully him into fighting in September. Overeem told Helwani that due to injuries, the short turnaround time wouldn’t properly allow him to train. Overeem expanded on that during the interview.

Before the cut there was some communication about the date (his next fight). I was promised personally by Scott (Coker) that the second round of the Strikeforce GP was going to be held in October. Well that all changed. I heard about two and a half weeks ago that they wanted to change the date to September 10. The reasons are known, I think because in October there were already some UFC events scheduled so they didn’t want to compete against their own show. So they rescheduled to September 10.

Well, my thing was that I had an injury. Injuries from the Werdum fight. They prevented me from training. I communicated to the management, my management, that the agreed date was October. They said, “No they changed it to September 10.” Well I said I wasn’t going to be ready on September 10 because I have these small injuries which prevent me from training now. But I’ll be good to go in about two weeks.

Basically then there were some threats from the Strikeforce side. “If you’re not going to compete on September 10 we’re going to cut you from the tournament. My first reaction was, “I’m not going to be fit to fight September 10 so then you’re going to have to continue the tournament without me.

We all knew that and while it seemed a little odd that Strikeforce would delay the tournament four months to get Josh Barnett a commission-friendly booking and not wait a month for Overeem, it was what it was. Injuries in tournaments happen and there weren’t many people who expected an injury-free Grand Prix. Yet I don’t think anybody expected what happened next.

The communication harshened a little bit. Like, if you don’t compete in the tournament you are going to be cut from Strikeforce entirely. That was really like a threat. I was, “Well then go ahead and cut me,” and well they went along and cut me.

Look, MMA in the United States today is Zuffa’s world and we are just living in it. However, I think there is a serious problem when you threaten to fire an injured fighter for not fighting. Additionally, he was promised (his side of the story) that he wouldn’t have to fight again until October and he was fine with that. It gets better.

I had to gather evidence and I had to know if the injury was really that bad where I couldn’t compete September 10. So I went up to the doctor and my rib was still hurting a little bit. He felt my rib, he sent me to the hospital to make a scan, a picture, x-ray (video is shown of the x-ray), and there it appeared my rib was broken. It was broken in a bad way, bad fracture. A normal rib fracture is like 4-6 weeks but this was in a certain area which would cost me another month to rehabilitate. That to me was definite proof that I couldn’t compete September 10 and it was not just a mind thing, “I’m not ready, I don’t feel good.” I had scientific, medical evidence to back that claim.

The strange thing is that Strikeforce, they cut me, as they threatened to do, they did it. But they didn’t ask me for any medical evidence. They were, I don’t know what they were thinking. Maybe they were thinking I was bluffing or something, I don’t know.

Overeem also says in the interview that Scott Coker knew he was injured going into the fight, and was promised the extra time off to heal. I believe his story and it once again shows the terrible mismanagement going on in Strikeforce right now. Coker is titled the CEO of the company but is in reality a figurehead with very little stroke. While he may very well have promised this to Overeem, his word means nothing at this point and the fighters need to go straight to Zuffa from here on out for answers.

Here is where the stories take a much different turn between Overeem and Strikeforce. According to a report by Dave Meltzer in his latest Wrestling Observer, Overeem’s management team Golden Glory relayed the message to Zuffa much differently.

Those in Zuffa when talking about how the negotiations were going down, said the injury talk was disingenuous because they were making demands and were agreeable of him to fight if the demands were met.

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Bas asks Overeem about this and Overeem disputes that story entirely.

Definitely not. The basic thing was that there was no negotiation except for the date. That was the only communication going.

Meltzer also goes on to report that a big issue in this was Overeem’s management team Golden Glory. Overeem had one fight left on his Strikeforce deal and had been in negotiations with Zuffa. According to Meltzer, Zuffa and Golden Glory were at an impasse because Golden Glory prefers to get paid from the promoter and then pay their fighters. Zuffa reportedly refuses to do business that way. In addition to cutting Overeem, StrikeZuffa cut three other Golden Glory fighters.

One of the fighters cut was former champion Marloes Coenen. Coenen immediately took to Twitter and tweeted a pictureof her check for her fight last weekend with Meisha Tate, which was paid to Coenen, not Golden Glory. So what the heck is exactly going on here?

Overeem breaks the case wide open later in the interview. Overeem discusses his negotiations for a new contract and let’s just say the Strikeforce champion’s take on the situation is much different than the one Dana White told reporters this week.

Strikeforce found out I only had one fight left on my contract. So they were like, “Hey wait a minute. If Alistair wins this fight (against Silva), he’ll be in the finals without a contract.” Which for us would be the golden situation because then you’re in the final of a tournament without a contract. There were some contract negotiations for an extension in Strikeforce. Basically what happened was that there were a lot of terms in there which we could not live with. One, was exclusively to fight for Strikeforce or basically I had to let K1 go. I had to let DREAM go. Even the possibility of fighting for the UFC. I am always a guy looking up, looking further, and yeah, the UFC is where the top guys are. That’s my ultimate goal, to become the UFC champion. Basically they wanted to keep me in Strikeforce.

Overeem says it is the competition in the UFC that interests him, not Strikeforce.

There are two people ranked currently above me and they are both in the UFC. So, of course I want to go to the UFC. I want to fight the top competition, these guys are there, but it’s not up to me. It’s up to, does the UFC want me? I’m willing to go to wherever the top guys are.

From what I understand, they wanted to keep me in Strikeforce to build the Strikeforce brand. For me, I want to go to where the top guys are and that is the UFC.

That is a whole new twist on this story if you ask me. At the end of the day this comes down to Zuffa wanting to keep Overeem in Strikeforce according to the former Strikeforce champion and not this whole issue of Golden Glory management. What is even stranger is just yesterday UFC president Dana White said he’d love to have Overeem in the UFC under one condition.

I would love to have Alistair Overeem in the heavyweight division,” White told The MMA Show. “If we can come to a deal and we can make this happen and we can pay Alistair Overeem his check when he fights and he can pay Golden Glory, then absolutely we can do a deal.

Wait a second, which is it? Overeem said that he wanted to go to the UFC yet Zuffa wanted to keep him on Strikeforce to build the brand while White is saying he’d love to have him in the UFC, under different management. Who is telling the truth here?

It is entirely conceivable that Golden Glory has withheld information from their client and did make demands, some of which he is unaware of, that prevented a deal from getting done. It is also entirely conceivable that Zuffa had a temper tantrum unable to get their way with Golden Glory and is doing everything they can to box them out of the MMA in the United States. My hunch is that the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

Say what you will about Overeem and he certainly has his critics, but he would be a huge boost to the heavyweight division in the UFC. I could see why they would want to keep him in Strikeforce with everyone leaving, but he has more than paid his dues there. If the guy doesn’t want to fight in Strikeforce, make the UFC deal and get him into the octagon. Unlike the M1-Zuffa relationship, this doesn’t seem like it has hit the point of no return just yet.

Finally, I think Scott Coker has avoided a lot of embarrassment thanks to the Zuffa sale. The idea that Coker would book Fedor Emelianenko and Alistair Overeem in the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix with only two fights left on their deals is just mind boggling to me. How does any major MMA promoter do that in today’s MMA climate?

Check out the entire interview below from this Friday’s Inside MMA.

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Fedor Emelianenko Cut From Strikeforce

August 04, 2011 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

The Fedor Emelianenko Strikeforce era is officially over. UFC president Dana White informed the media on Thursday that Zuffa has cut Fedor from Strikeforce and isn’t interested in negotiating a new deal with M1 Global.

I guess God’s will is not for Fedor not to fight in Strikeforce anymore. The news came in the middle of a UFC 133 press conference. Fedor essentially became a free agent on Sunday morning after losing his third fight in a row. According to MMA reporter Ariel Helwani, Fedor’s contract expired with the Henderson fight.

… And for the record, Fedor had one fight left on his SF/Showtime deal. Hope that clears that up.

I am starting to feel really bad for Scott Coker. Coker seems like a really nice guy, but Zuffa is doing everything it can to cut the guy’s legs out from under him. Coker told the media Saturday night that Strikeforce wanted Fedor back. Less than a week later his boss tells the media differently. Coker just can’t catch a break these days.

I know that Fedor lost three in a row, but this move essentially kills Strikeforce. With all due respect to the rest of the fighters in the company, it’s over. In a matter of a few months Zuffa has gotten rid of all of the top draws in the company. Nick Diaz, Fedor, Alistair Overeem, and Dan Henderson are done with the company. Zuffa has managed the Strikeforce championships worse than Strikeforce did before the merger which almost seems impossible. In a matter of a few months Strikeforce is now left with two vacant titles (three is you take into consideration that Henderson is not technically under contract), one big draw, and a complete mess on the bottom.

It didn’t have to be this way. The Nick Diaz situation was a difficult one because he really had the company by the neck. However, the Golden Glory situation did not have to happen. They had Alistair Overeem under contract and didn’t need to cut him. The Fedor situation is rough one. I can see arguments on both sides. However, just giving up without even a negotiation just sounds utterly ridiculous to me.

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I can’t say I completely blame Zuffa. The co-promotional deal that M1 and Strikeforce had would never work in a renegotiation. But I wonder if this lack of interest in Fedor is more personal than business and if it is personal, it is very unfair to Showtime and the other fighters in Strikeforce. Yes he lost three in a row, but he still would have been a ratings draw for the company. I wouldn’t have any problem at all with them telling him to walk under the current contract, but I can’t imagine there was much negotiating in five days.

So where does this leave Fedor? MMA in the United States is at a real turning point. There really aren’t any options as it stands today for someone like Fedor, yet you have a big demand in the United States to see him fight. Zuffa for better or worse can lock out a fighter or management team without worrying about competition. Compound the lack of competition with a dip in business this year and you have a situation that could reach a boiling point in the next one-two years for the UFC and the sport as a whole in this country.

M-1 Global is telling the media that Fedor is still under contract to Showtime. It is not inconceivable to think that Showtime would promote a big MMA show with Fedor under the M1 banner. I can’t imagine that anyone at Showtime is anything less than angry with the current Strikeforce situation. Showtime could partner up with M1 and maybe even Pro Elite and start promoting shows with Fedor on top. With Alistair Overeem available, I wouldn’t be shocked at all to see a Fedor vs. Overeem fight in the near future on Showtime. That is if what M-1 is saying is true.

The boys over at the Bloody Elbow blog made a great point about the poor timing of the announcement. With the UFC struggling to sell tickets to UFC 133 on Saturday night, they are drawing attention off of the show by making that announcement today. The only advantage to making that announcement today is whatever glee and personal satisfaction Dana White would get being the first to break the news as opposed to M1 presenting the story as if Fedor and M1 have no interest in negotiating. And if so, who cares? I can’t see any reason they couldn’t have waited until sometime next week to make the announcement.

Then again, there is nothing Zuffa is doing these days in regards to Strikeforce that surprises me anymore.

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The UFC Needs To Re-Sign Dan Henderson NOW!

August 01, 2011 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

As a free agent, a return to the UFC seems likely for Dan Henderson. Henderson would return with more fame, more storylines, and more box office appeal than he had during his last run with Zuffa. The UFC needs to sign Dan Henderson today and reap the rewards tomorrow!

It only took 4:13 Saturday night for the MMA community to begin opining about a return to the UFC for Dan Henderson. Henderson made it known (smartly so) in the weeks leading up to the fight with Fedor Emelianenko that this would be the last fight on his four-fight Strikeforce deal. That is why it shouldn’t surprise anyone that nobody is talking about Henderson’s future opponents in Strikeforce today, they are talking the UFC!

First off, let’s talk the realities of a UFC deal. Henderson left the UFC in late 2009. Why did Henderson opt for Strikeforce over the UFC? Money was a big issue as it always is. Dana White said at the time that Henderson was asking for too much money. Yet another big issue was Henderson’s promised UFC middleweight championship rematch with Anderson Silva. White pulled the match after announcing it which appeared to infuriate Henderson. So yes money was an issue here, but the Silva fight was a very big factor as well.

Of course from the UFC side, it was money. Dana White told the media when Henderson signed with Strikeforce that he pushed him into it. “For the money he wanted, he’s not worth it,” he said. “He’s not a big pay-per-view star, he’s not a big attraction, and he’s not going to sell out arenas. He wants way too much and he doesn’t bring anything to the table.

Does he bring anything to the table now?

What is different about this negotiation as opposed to the last? Henderson will likely be asking for big money, yet he is also now in his forties. He had a three-fight winning streak then, he has one now. However, I think the landscape is much different and it favors Henderson. The UFC is running thin on headliners and have been bit badly this year by the injury bug. Henderson is in a position to offer the UFC an immediate headliner in two, maybe even three divisions. That right there makes him a hot commodity.

Henderson has never been more popular. He is coming off a win over an MMA legend, overcoming odds as an underdog to win the fight. He is coming off three straight wins by either knock out or TKO. His personality, fight style, and story have made him an extremely popular fighter in the world of MMA. It wasn’t as if he didn’t have similar momentum after knocking out Michael Bisping at UFC 100. But knocking out Bisping and knockout out Fedor are two different stories entirely.

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The UFC could bring him in and immediately plug him into title matches against the UFC light heavyweight or middleweight champions. The Anderson Silva fight is more appealing from a storyline perspective, yet the Jon Jones fight would make the most sense. Either way the UFC can play up Henderson’s win over Fedor and proclaim him a “legend killer.” The Legend Killer vs. the Legend for the middleweight title, along with the underlying story of the scrapped Henderson vs. Silva rematch would make a great story in building up that fight.

On the other side, you have the Legend Killer vs. the Prodigy? I am not calling Jon Jones a legend, but the idea of seeing what he could do against the man that just knocked out Fedor is a heck of a story. Ironically, Henderson would walk back in holding the promotion’s light heavyweight championship that the UFC purchased.

Remember, Henderson returned to the UFC as Pride light heavyweight champion and fought Rampage Jackson in a battle of champions. It is actually quite remarkable if you think about the similarities in a proposed Jones fight compared to the last time he returned. Imagine how fun it would be to wind up with a Rampage vs. Hendo rematch under these circumstances four years later?

I think the UFC has a cash bonanza matching Henderson up against either champion. Unfortunately I think the odds are against him against either Silva or Jones, but he’d have an underdog story that would appeal to the mass MMA audience. Bringing him back and signing him to anything but a UFC championship match in his first fight back makes zero sense and is way too risky. Just ask Anthony Pettis how that worked out.

The other nice option with Henderson is that if he does wind up losing in his first UFC fight against either champion, Zuffa could send him back to Strikeforce to defend the light heavyweight championship. It is not the ideal situation, but let’s be honest about Strikeforce. The company is on life support. As it stands today, their welterweight, light heavyweight, and heavyweight championships are vacant. If Zuffa really does intend on keeping Strikeforce alive, here is a great way to do it.

Henderson has done what very few fighters who leave the UFC have done. Henderson has not only sustained his value, but he has greatly increased it. Most fighters who leave the UFC never return the same. For every Nick Diaz, you have three Tim Sylvias. Henderson has reinvented himself outside of the UFC. His only loss came against Jake Shields and while I won’t call it a robbery, I would argue that Henderson should have won that fight with a first round TKO. Regardless, he went on a three fight winning streak and looked better in every fight doing so.

It would be premature to blame the UFC if a deal doesn’t get done. Yet I can’t fathom any reason in the world they wouldn’t be interested in bringing back Dan Henderson. With more shows, no television deal, and plenty more injuries on the horizon, bringing back Henderson makes all of the sense in the world.

And if anyone deserves to go out in the UFC after his most recent string of fights, it is Dan Henderson.

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Strikeforce Wants Fedor Emelianenko Back

August 01, 2011 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

Only minutes after celebrating Dan Henderson’s victory over Fedor Emelianenko, the questions immediately centered around Emelianenko’s MMA future. Will Fedor retire or will he fight again? If it is up to Strikeforce, he will fight again.

The second contract between Fedor, M1 Global, and Strikeforce expired 4:12 into Round 1 Saturday night. Yet, Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker won’t let three straight losses stop him from re-signing Fedor to a new Strikeforce deal. Coker wants the “Last Emperor” back on Showtime.

As far as fighting in Strikeforce, I hope we have them both back“, Coker told MMAFighting.com.

Of course the negotiating leverage will be a lot different than the last couple of times that Fedor and his management team sat down with Scott Coker. Fedor signed an extension earlier this year which took him into the Heavyweight Grand Prix tournament. His payout was never disclosed (or at least I didn’t find it) for that fight, but Fedor did make a cool $1.5 million for 4:12 of work Saturday. He can kiss those numbers good bye.

There is also that minor change in ownership. Zuffa now owns Strikeforce and if their recent negotiations with Alistair Overeem’s management team are any indication of how this will go, M1-Global better check their egos at the door. M1 have been in a very advantageous position in past negotiations and have gotten additional promotional deals that no other management team has in Strikeforce. We all know how Dana White and Zuffa feel about co-promotion (specifically M1- Global), so the days of M1 walking into negotiations and bullying Strikeforce are over.

Strikeforce is on life support right now. Nick Diaz and Fedor are the company’s two biggest drawing cards and they are gone. Diaz is gone for good, and as of now the company has no Fedor. The new face of the company Dan Henderson is gone and probably heading into the UFC. Their heavyweight champion is gone. All that is left is Gilbert Melendez, Gina Carano, and Cris Cyborg Santos. Showtime sees the writing on the wall. I would not put it past Showtime to jump into negotiations and give Fedor a sweeter deal than anyone else coming off three losses would get from Strikeforce or the UFC.

But is it worth it? Okay, say you keep Fedor under contract. What do you do with him? Brett Rogers is gone. Alistair Overeem is gone. I don’t think anyone ever wants to see Fabricio Werdum fight again after the stunt he pulled against Overeem. Antonio Silva is an idea, but he could be tied up until mid-2012. Sam with Josh Barnett, who also has promotional limitations. Is it really worth it for Showtime and Strikeforce to pay Fedor seven figures to fight Chad Griggs and Valentijn Overeem?

I have heard some fans saying that the UFC should just pick him up and see what he has left. I don’t see that one happening now or ever. Fedor has been exposed and is well past his prime. He would be lucky to get past the mid-tier of UFC heavyweights like Cheick Kongo, Matt Mitrione, and Brendan Schaub. The Randy Couture fight would be intriguing but for all intensive purposes Couture is retired. Other than signing him to humiliate him, there is no sense in the UFC making a run at Fedor.

Fedor told Gus Johnson on the Showtime broadcast that it is up to “God’s will” whether he will fight again or not. He later told reporters that he would like to continue fighting. Here is the thing with Fedor. The stoppage against Henderson was questionable, fair but questionable. The stoppage against Silva was definitely questionable, yet understandable. The loss to Werdum was legitimate but arguably a fluke. Until he goes in there and gets destroyed like Couture, Ken Shamrock, or Chuck Liddell, I say let him fight again.

And the Fedor watch begins…again!

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Strikeforce: Fedor Vs. Henderson Results – Henderson Wins Via TKO

July 31, 2011 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

The most anticipated fight in Strikeforce history ended in a mere 4:12. Dan Henderson defeated Fedor Emelianenko in Round 1 via TKO handing Fedor his third straight loss and his first ever loss via TKO or KO.

The fight was everything you would have hoped for as an MMA fan. It was a wild slug fest from the opening bell with both fighters throwing caution to the wind and just letting their fists fly. The fighters took a brief break from striking as they clinched along the cage for about a minute. However, both guys picked up quickly where they left off and in a few seconds later the fight was stopped and Hendo’s hand was raised.

The exciting finish came at 4:12 into the first round. Fedor Emelianenko actually looked like he was seconds away from finishing Dan Henderson. Fedor caught the Strikeforce light heavyweight champion with a right hand that sent Henderson to the mat. Fedor swarmed in for the kill with an onslaught of punches. Henderson somehow managed to reverse his position and nailed Fedor with an uppercut from his knees that ends the fight and most likely the career of “The Last Emperor.”

Both fighters were interviewed after the fight. Henderson said his future is up in the air as this was the last fight on his Strikeforce contract. He said he’d like to defend the championship but as of now he is a free agent. Fedor on the other hand told Gus Johnson that it was an early stoppage and that he could have continued, which was met by an array of boos from the Chicago fans.

I won’t say the stoppage was early but it is certainly debatable. In my opinion, Fedor was in more trouble in spots against Brett Rogers and Antonio Silva, and neither of those fights were stopped at those points. I was a little surprised when the fight was stopped as it looked like Fedor was still with it. You could go either way on it, but it wasn’t as if Fedor was outright robbed of a fight here.

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Whether Fedor will continue to fight or not is just as up in the air after the fight as it was before the fight. Emelianenko told Gus that, “it is God’s will” as to whether he will fight again. It is really a tough call. He is now 0-3 in his last three and knocked out for the first time in his MMA career. Unfortunately I think Dana White will be playing the role of God here and my hunch here is that this is the last we see of him in Strikeforce. I can’t imagine Strikeforce or Showtime meeting his financial demands after suffering three straight losses.

Henderson becomes one of the hottest free agents in MMA since, well the last time he was a free agent. Henderson signed with Strikeforce over the UFC after the UFC refused to honor their agreement to give Henderson a UFC middleweight championship rematch with Anderson Silva. Some negative comments were said in the media by both sides, but it would appear from recent comments that Henderson and Dana White have buried the hatchet. I would be shocked if the UFC didn’t bring Henderson back, especially coming off a TKO win over Fedor.

In the semi-main event, Meisha Tate defeated Marloes Coenen in the fourth round to win the Strikeforce Women’s Bantamweight champion. This was not so much a great fight as it was a great finish. Coenen dominated Tate for four rounds when from out of nowhere, Tate grabbed an arm-triangle choke and tapped Coenen out. This was a fantastic come from behind win and the fans loved every second of it. I won’t go ahead and crown Meisha Tate the next Gina Carano, but another couple of wins like that and she may just be the new face of women’s MMA.

Full Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Henderson results…
Dan Henderson defeated Fedor Emelianenko via TKO in Round 1
Miesha Tate def. Marloes Coenen to win the Strikeforce bantamweight championship in Round 4 via submission
Tim Kennedy defeated Robbie Lawler
Tyron Woodley defeated Paul Daley via unanimous decision
Tarec Saffiedine defeated Scott Smith via unanimous decision
Gesias Cavalcante defeated Bobby Green via split decision
Tyler Stinson defeated Eduardo Pamplona via KO in Round 1
Derek Brunson defeated Lumumba Sayers via submission in Round 1
Gabriel Salinas-Jones def. Bryan Humes via submission in Round 3

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Fedor Emelianenko Vs. Dan Henderson Preview & Prediction

July 30, 2011 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

Fans of the former Pride Fighting Championships will be in for a treat this Saturday night, as two MMA Pioneers and Legends collide for the first time. During the height of PRIDE’s popularity in the early 2000’s many fans were calling for this fight to happen, but it never came to fruition.

After Zuffa LLC purchased PRIDE in March of 2007, those dreams went up in smoke. Now, more than 4 years later, fans are finally getting the fight they had been asking for as American Dan “Hollywood” Henderson (‘Dangerous’ is a terrible nickname compared to Hollywood, so I don’t care what Jimmy Lennon Jr. calls him, he’s still Hollywood to me) takes on “The Last Emperor” Fedor Emelianenko.

Fedor Emelianenko is returning to the cage on the heels of back-to-back losses; really the first legitimate losses of his otherwise stellar MMA career. Emelianenko is at a bit of a career crossroads here, another loss would surely hurt his drawing power and his career legacy. A win will re-establish him as a proven commodity in the eyes of regular MMA fans and will return some of his reputation as the world’s number-one draw in MMA.

For Henderson it’s another fight. At age 40 Henderson is the reigning, but not defending Strikeforce Light Heavyweight champion and will be stepping up in weight (sort of) to take on Emelianenko. Henderson has stated in interviews that he feels he can still compete at the elite level, despite his age, and if there is one thing that Randy Couture has taught us, it’s that elite-level wrestlers can fight well into their 40’s with little physical depreciation.

The fight has a lot of potential for fireworks and is actually an intriguing contrast in styles. Fedor has long been known for his slightly unorthodox striking combinations but irrefutable power, while the overhand right of Henderson is one of the biggest game-changers in the sport. On the ground Fedor has shown himself to be surprisingly adept, using an active, attacking guard to keep his opponent’s on the defensive while always searching for scrambles. On the other hand Henderson is one of the best wrestlers in the Light Heavyweight division and has the ability to take down most opponents if he chooses.

There are a couple of big questions coming into this fight. First of all is what is the weight discrepancy going to be? Fedor usually weighs about 230 but is often quite soft in the middle, so I would expect the usual from him. However, Henderson is a Light Heavyweight moving up in weight, but has said that since the Heavyweight limit starts at 206, that’s his target.

Henderson should be used to fighting bigger guys from the early days in his career, but 30 pounds is a lot to give up against a guy who two fights ago was considered the best Heavyweight fighter in MMA. One of the other big question marks coming into the fight is Emelianenko’s motivation and mental game. No one except for Fedor knows how he is feeling physically and mentally. And unless you think that “it will be decided by God’s will,” means anything at all, he’s not letting the cat out of the bag. What will the Russian’s mindset be like after coming off a beating from Antonio Silva.

The bookmaker’s have had a betting line on this fight up for several weeks and I have been following it closely. As usual, I’m going to plug BestFightOdds.com as an absolute must for anyone serious about betting on Mixed Martial Arts. I am going to discuss the best possible lines that can be found on each fighter. Currently the line sees Emelianenko as a greater than 2-1 favorite. His current line sits at -220 at best. Meaning Fedor’s supporters will need to wager $220 to win $100. A line of -220 equates to the books giving the Russian a 68.75% chance of winning this fight. Conversely the American Henderson is +206 at best odds. Supporters of ‘Hendo’ will win $206 for every $100 wagered, this betting line equates to a 32.7% chance of winning the fight. Once again due to the nature of sports betting and the inherit house advantage for bookmakers, the percentages don’t add up to exactly 100%.

I’m a pretty big fan of Dan Henderson and admittedly not so much a fan of Emelianenko, but I’m going to do my best to ignore that bias and give you some in-depth, quality analysis of the fight and predictions.

Dan “Hollywood” Henderson

Dan Henderson is a 40-year-old fighter from Downey, California. He fights out of the Team Quest gym in Murietta, California. Henderson has fought across several weight classes throughout his career. He has fought as high as Heavyweight and as low as Middleweight (although he was Pride Welterweight Champion, the rules were that the Welterweight limit was 184 pounds.) Henderson has fought in many different MMA organizations from RINGS to PRIDE to the UFC and currently is the reigning Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion. Henderson is a former Olympic wrestler where he competed in 1992 and 1996 in Greco-Roman, although he never medaled. In fights Henderson has chosen to leave his wrestling on the back burner in his past few fights, and has instead continued to employ his plodding stand up style. However, whenever fighting against Henderson, anyone has to be worried about the constant threat of the takedown from Hendo.

Henderson has a career MMA record of 27-8. Of those 27 wins he owns 12 wins by Knockout or TKO, 2 by Submission and 13 by Decision. Of his 8 losses, 5 have come via Decision and 3 via Submission. Henderson’s record is a virtual who’s-who of MMA stars including bouts against Carlos Newton, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Wanderlei Silva, Ricardo Arona, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Quinton Jackson, Vitor Belfort and Anderson Silva. Although Henderson has a high number of Decision wins, his right-hand has been in demolition mode lately, with all three of his last victories coming by way of brutal KO.

Key Strengths: Excellent Greco-Roman skills and takedowns, Massive one-punch Knockout power in the right hand, Granite Chin, Big Fight Experience

Key Weaknesses: Often relies too much on the overhand right, Slow and Plodding stand up skills, Questionable Submission Defense

Last 3 Fights:

WIN over Rafael Cavalcante via KO (Punches) in Round 3 (0:50) at Strikeforce: Feijao vs. Henderson – March 5, 2011

WIN over Renato Sobral via KO (Punches) in Round 1 (1:53) at Strikeforce: Henderson vs. Babalu 2 – December 4, 2010

LOSS to Jake Shields via Unanimous Decision in 5 Rounds (5:00) at Strikeforce: Nashville – April 17, 2010

Path to Victory: The path to victory is an interesting question for Henderson. He’s definitely not going to submit Fedor, so that can go out the window right away. Antonio Silva was able to takedown and grind away on Fedor, before pounding him out, but Silva outweighed Fedor by nearly 60 pounds come fight night, so it won’t be the same for Henderson.

I think the best chance for Hendo to win the fight is to keep Fedor guessing. During the stand up exchanges, although he may take the worst of it at times, his chin is made of cement (Hendo’s never been Knocked out, despite fighting some huge hitters) and he should be able to withstand the punishment. Always be searching for that overhand right. If he is able to continually move forward, behind his pawing left jab and the threat of the big right hand, he’ll likely have Fedor retreating at times. Mix up some well-timed takedowns halfway through the rounds to earn points and Henderson can easily control the pacing of the fight.

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On the ground Henderson has been submitted before, but that was to both Nogueira brothers, each of whom Arm barred him. But being submitted by the Nogueira twins is not a sign of weakness, he was simply caught. It’s likely that on the ground Fedor is much more likely to scramble back to his feet than snatch a submission from the bottom, but nonetheless, Fedor has a very underrated ground game and an active guard, so Henderson will need to be careful not to get careless while Ground and Pounding from the top.

Fedor “The Last Emperor” Emelianenko

Fedor Emelianenko is a 34-year-old fighter from Stary Oskol, Russia. He is a certifiable legend in the sport of MMA and is widely considered the greatest MMA fighter of all time. For nearly a decade he was undefeated in over 20 fights. He is a member of the famed Red Devil Sports Club. Fedor is a master Sambo practitioner who also has strong Boxing and Judo skills. Like Henderson Fedor has fought in a plethora of MMA organizations including RINGS, PRIDE FC, Bodog Fight, M-1 Global, Affliction and Strikeforce.

He was a featured attraction in the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix, however an upset loss to Antonio Silva now has Fedor on the outside looking in of that tournament. Fedor has strong submission from his background in Sambo and Judo as well as strong but unorthodox Boxing skills. He often uses his stand up skills to overwhelm his opponents before moving the fight to the ground to look for a finish against stunned opposition.

Fedor has a career MMA Record of 31-3-1. He owns 8 career victories by form of Knockout or TKO, 16 via Submission and 7 from Decisions. Of his three losses one is from Knockout, one is from TKO via Cut (a questionable Doctor stoppage, which Fedor avenged in savage fashion years later) and a Submission. Most fans consider only two of those losses as legitimate. Unfortunately for Fedor those two losses were in his last two fights.

Key Strengths: Strong but Unorthodox Boxing Skills, Underrated ground and submission skills, Extremely tough to finish

Key Weaknesses: Has been dominated on the ground by larger fighters, Questionable motivation/mental state entering the fight

Last 3 Fights:

LOSS to Antonio Silva via TKO (Dr. Stoppage) in Round 2 (5:00) at Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Silva – February 12, 2011

LOSS to Fabricio Werdum via Submission (Triangle/Armbar) in Round 1 (1:09) at Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Werdum – June 26, 2010

WIN over Brett Rogers via TKO (Punches) in Round 2 (1:48) at Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Rogers – November 7, 2009

Path to Victory: For Fedor to win this fight he’s going to need to stay on the offensive. If he chooses to back up, he’ll have a tough time against Henderson. Fedor has solid counter punching skills and solid power, but against Henderson’s iron-chin I don’t know if that’s enough. Fedor is also going to want to stay away from Henderson. Henderson’s Greco-Roman skills make any clinch or a tie-up turn into a threat of a takedown and while Fedor’s submission skills are underrated, it’s unlikely that he will be able to snatch a submission from the bottom without first hurting Henderson.

It’s going to be about sprawl and brawl for Fedor. He needs to avoid the takedowns at all costs. Henderson isn’t as big as Silva, so he shouldn’t have to worry about being held down as easily as Silva was able to, but if anyone can hold Fedor down for three rounds, I would put Dan Henderson at the top of the list of people able to do it. Fedor should look to overwhelm Henderson standing. Fedor unquestionably has better all-around Boxing skills and Henderson relies a bit too much on that overhand right, so Fedor should try to exploit that, by circling away from the punch and jabbing away to keep the fight ranged. From a distance Fedor should be able to exploit Henderson’s slow footwork and weaker boxing skills and earn points on the scorecards.

Fight Prediction: Well it’s time to finally make a pick on the fight and I’m admittedly torn. I’ll be cheering for Henderson to win, so I’ll get that out of the way first. Both fighters have a great chance to win this fight and the stylistic match up is surely to turn out as a true MMA Chess-match. The stand up battle should be won overall by Fedor, but Hendo’s right hand has been in destruction mode. With Fedor’s last few fights he’s been hit and tagged (he was nearly knocked out by Brett Rogers in the first round of their fight, before coming back to smash him in the second) so an interesting question mark will be can Fedor survive the vaunted Right Hand of Doom?

The battle for a takedown is interesting as Fedor has always proven tough to dominate on the mat. Henderson is unlikely to be submitted on the ground if he has Fedor underneath him, so can Fedor avoid that long enough to avoid getting Decisioned? Size-wise Fedor has never been the largest Heavyweight, but with Henderson stating that he plans to weight only 206 that shouldn’t be a concern for Fedor. Many fans have questioned Henderson’s decision here, but I think it’s probably best for Henderson. He usually doesn’t really cut weight to make 205, so I definitely don’t think he should be putting on weight just for this fight. He doesn’t move very quickly as it is, so the addition of another 20 pounds of weight won’t help that, and I don’t think it will improve his already stellar wrestling skills. Case in point, if Henderson is able to hold Fedor down for three rounds at 220 pounds, I don’t think it’s the weight, I think it’s his wresting abilities, meaning that those 20 pounds are just excess weight.

This is a huge fight for both guys with a lot on the line. For Fedor a loss here is likely the end of a storied career, and is certainly the end of his career as a Headliner. For Henderson a loss means very little. Losing to a Heavyweight and someone widely considered the best fighter of all time will do nothing to Henderson’s reputation or his status in the Light Heavyweight division. A lot of this fight is going to come down to the mental game. Fedor has never really shown me a visceral side in the cage, always seeming more robotic when destructing his opposition in the early 2000’s. So heading into this fight when Fedor says the fight and his future is in God’s Hands, does that mean he isn’t willing to take it into his own hands?

Whatever, I’ll admit it, I’m looking for reasons to bet on Henderson. And through some analysis as well as writing this up, I’ve found enough of them. Henderson has really nothing to lose and is probably going to fight like it. If Henderson keeps pushing forward he can be a tough fight for anyone, watch Henderson vs. Wanderlei Silva at Pride 33: Second Coming for an example.

Should Fedor be the favorite? Yes, absolutely. He’s bigger, has more technical boxing and has the ability to escape danger on the ground. Is Henderson a live underdog? Absolutely. The right hand is an absolute game-changer, which keeps Henderson alive in any fight as long as he’s still standing. He’s got the wrestling chops to earn takedowns against Fedor and although Fedor may be able to get back up, it should be enough to drag the fight on and earn points on the judge’s scorecards.

Overall I think this one is destined for a Decision. Like I said the stylistic match up is likely to prove a chess match, which will result in a very paced fight. Expect moments of fireworks but I don’t think there will be a full 15 minutes of action here. The fight is probably closer to 60%-40% or 65%-35% for Fedor so there’s a bit of value here on Henderson. Add in my fan-boyishness and there’s no way I can’t throw money away by taking a shot on Henderson.

My Pick: There will probably be some bumps along the way, but I’ll take Dan Henderson to win via close but ultimately Unanimous Decision. But don’t kid yourselves, I’m going to be cheering for the H-Bomb to land all night.

Lee McGregor is a fan of all combat sports including both Boxing and Mixed Martial Arts. When not catching fights or watching hockey, he can be found as an Author and Editor at his own website MyManCave.ca

Fedor: The Fighting System of the World’s Undisputed King of MMA Book

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

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Fedor’s Manager Thinks He’ll Retire If He Loses To Henderson

July 30, 2011 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

It is all or nothing for Fedor Emelianenko on July 30. One of the biggest MMA icons of the last decade will be fighting fellow icon Dan Henderson. According to Fedor’s manager, a third loss will likely mark the last fight for the Last Emperor.

Talk about pressure. Keep in mind that these comments are from Fedor’s management team and not from Fedor. I think it is fair to also point out that his manager says “thinks” rather than give a definitive statement. However, I think when your manager is saying what everyone is thinking, there is little chance of Fedor continuing to fight with a third loss in a row.

Fedor Emelianenko’s manager Vadim Finkelstein (made famous thanks to numerous Dana White rants) made a very bold prediction about his client to the Russian sports media.

“I think that if Fedor loses to Dan Henderson, he will retire from Mixed Martial Arts. And like I said many times before, it will be his decision and we (M-1 Global) have no influence of any kind on whatever he decides to do. It’s all up to him.But we hope for the best. Fedor is very motivated, and will be more than ready for this fight. He has a new goal, and is fully concentrated on reaching it.”

I think it is fair to point out Fedor’s contractual status with M-1 Global here. According to past reports, this would be Fedor’s final fight on his M-1 management contract. Now he may have renewed his deal, but I don’t recall hearing or seeing that anywhere. Obviously with a third loss to a row, specifically to a 40-year old light heavyweight, Fedor’s value to M-1 as negotiating leverage for television deals, promotions, etc would take a huge hit and may end the relationship whether Fedor continues to fight or not.

Fedor also talked to the Russian sports media about his two recent losses and the ramifications of a third loss coming out of this fight.

“Two mistakes in a row is not a coincidence. I didn’t want to make the third, so that’s why I considered retirement. But then, I discussed the situation with my trainers and my spiritual father. When I returned home, I was fully convinced that it’s not the right time to retire, but to continue fighting. Our life is full of crossroads, and we always have to make the right decisions. I have no regrets about staying in the sport, and will continue fighting.”

Fedor’s legacy continues to be one of the most polarizing topics in the MMA community. I named him MMA Fighter of the Decade here at the Camel Clutch Blog, recognizing the tough opponents he fought from 2000-2010 (well 2000-2007) and more importantly the number of fights he took per year during that time frame. Others will debate that Fedor rarely faced high level competition and was more of a myth than a reality.

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I don’t think anyone would argue that Fedor’s choice of opponents when Pride FC folded was certainly questionable. Yet, with a streak of 28 fights in a row without a loss, it is hard not to recognize him as the best heavyweight in MMA. I also think that it doesn’t take a genius to see that Fedor has lost a step in recent fights. I still think that the Fabricio Werdum fight was more a mental lapse or overconfidence than Fedor losing to the more skilled fighter, but the drubbing he took at the hands of Big Foot Silva was a beating that Fedor in his prime never would have had to endure.

Quite frankly I think it is pretty amazing that the guy is still fighting. At 34 years old, Fedor has fought 35 professional MMA fights, sometimes five in one year. Considering his intense training and the amount of punishment his body has absorbed over the last eleven years, I am surprised he is still fighting. Although to be fair, I think his $1.5 million salary for the Fedor vs. Henderson fight may temporarily relieve some of that pain.

“Dan Henderson is a very exciting fighter; he’s a strong wrestler and is very quick with taking the fight from stand-up, down to the ground. He starts in stand-up, but then he attacks like a tornado, often surprising his opponents by putting them on their back. Like I said, Henderson is an exciting fighter. But there were also fights where he had to sweat against a relatively weaker competition. It’s all about how you match-up up against your opponent. So yes, Dan Henderson had some fights where things didn’t go his way.”

Fedor is right about Henderson but you can say that about every fighter. I do think that Fedor is going to win this fight. I just think that Fedor is too big for Henderson to take down and smother on the ground. Henderson is going to be forced to stand and that is where Fedor is best. Although if Fedor’s reflexes have slowed down, Henderson could certainly pull off the win. I think it is also fair to point out that Henderson has never been knocked out.

Even with a win, Fedor is going to have some real tough choices to make. Does he take the money and sign a hybrid UFC/Strikeforce contract like Nick Diaz and finally give MMA fans the fights they have been waiting for or does he take this win over Dan Henderson and his 1.8 million and retire on his own terms?

Thanks to LowKick.com for the translations.

Fedor: The Fighting System of the World’s Undisputed King of MMA Book

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

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DAN HENDERSON CLINCH GEAR T-SHIRT

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Strikeforce: Fedor Vs. Henderson Card Preview & Predictions

July 30, 2011 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

Well we already know how I feel about this Saturday’s main event when Strikeforce presents Fedor vs. Henderson live from the Sears Centre Arena in Chicago, Illinois. Now that the bookmakers have finally gotten around to posting the betting lines for the rest of the night’s fights let’s take a look at the rest of the card and see if there are any betting opportunities. There are still several fights that do not have lines posted for them so I’ll pass up in-depth details and fight breakdowns for quick picks.

Strikeforce is bringing one of its most complete and talent-loaded cards in a long time and there are a number of intriguing bouts from top to bottom. So let’s get right into it. As always, I’ll go ahead and plug BestFightOdds (www.bestfightodds.com) I will be using the best available lines from this website for my predictions and analysis.

Preliminary Card Quick Pick Fights:

Heavyweight Bout: Bryan Humes vs. Gabriel Salinas-Jones – Bryan Humes by Unanimous Decision

Middleweight Bout: Derek Brunson vs. Lumumba Sayers – Derek Brunson via TKO Round 2

Women’s 135 Pound Bout: Alexis Davis vs. Julie Kedzie – Julie Kedzie via Unanimous Decision

Welterweight Bout: Eduardo Pamplona vs. Tyler Stinson – Eduardo Pamplona via Submission Round 2

Lightweight Bout: Gesias ‘JZ’ Cavalcante vs. Bobby Green – JZ Cavalcante via TKO in Round 2

Main Card Live on Showtime:

Welterweight Bout: Scott Smith (+245) vs. Tarec Saffiedine (-260)

Scott “Hands of Steel” Smith is one of the most exciting fighters in the sport right now. He is rarely in a boring fight, this is due to his penchant for standing and brawling, his ability to take extreme amounts of punishment and his amazing ability to comeback from the brink of defeat. Fighting out of Elk Grove, California Smith is a brawler with decent Muay Thai skills although he far too often resorts to simply brawling with his opponents. He owns a career record of 17-8-1 with 14 wins via KO. Smith is often overwhelmed by fighters with more technically proficient stand up skills than himself and is relatively weak on the ground. However, he does have extraordinary power in his hands and has a history of come from behind victories so if he’s not out cold, he’s still in the fight. Also of note is that this is Smith’s second fight at 170, which is a huge drop for someone who started their career at Heavyweight. He was KO’ed relatively quickly by Paul Daley in that fight, but the cut looked like it might have been difficult for him.

Tarec Saffiedine is a Belgian fighter, who now trains with Team Quest in Temecula, California. At 5’9″ he will be at a slight size disadvantage to Smith who is a former Middleweight. However, Saffiedine is a significantly better fighter. His stand up skills are excellent as he has a black belt in Shihaishinkai Karate and excellent Muay Thai skills. He fights well from a range and is able to use his kicks as well as his hands effectively, which could come in useful against Smith who rarely uses kicks. Saffiedine also has readily improving BJJ and wrestling skills, which may come in handy should he find himself in trouble, as Smith is not a great fighter off of his back. Saffiedine has a career record of 10-3, and has never been finished in a fight. That bodes well for him, as Smith’s most likely path to victory is a Knockout.

Prediction: This is Saffiedine’s fight to lose. He possesses way too many weapons while Smith has only two. Saffiedine’s last fight he lost to Tyron Woodley, but in that fight he was simply outwrestled by a better wrestler, he won’t have to worry about Smith shooting for takedowns. Saffiedine moves too well and is far too fast for Smith. He’ll use leg kicks and a strong jab to keep distance and stay away from the power in Smith’s hands. From outside he should be able to completely dominate Smith en-route to a third round TKO.

Bets: At -260 Tarec Saffiedine is being given almost a 75% chance of winning the fight. That’s probably about right, as he has all of the tools to dominate a fairly one-dimensional fighter like Scott Smith. However, Smith has one punch KO power and Saffiedine has been tagged in fights in the past, I’m not laying that kind of chalk on Saffiedine, despite the fact that I think he has a clear path to victory. The line was lower on Saffiedine in the past week, but I think it has been bet to the right number, making it a no play for me.

Welterweight Bout: Paul Daley (+235) vs. Tyron Woodley (-250)

Paul “Semtex” Daley is returning to Strikeforce after a loss in what is probably Round of the Year so far in 2011 (it might have won Fight of the Year as well if it wasn’t for two guys named Faber and Cruz at UFC 132.) Daley is a 28-year-old fighter from London, England. Aptly named, he possesses strong boxing and Muay Thai skills with knockout power in both hands. He also possesses a 76-inch reach, which puts him at a reach advantage against most fighters in the Welterweight division. With a career record of 27-10-2 Daley owns an amazing 20 wins via Knockout. Daley however is abysmal on the ground and has been completely dominated on the ground by strong wrestlers. This is an area where Daley will surely be tested against Woodley who is a standout wrestling talent.

Tyron Woodley is a 29-year-old fighting out of Coconut Creek, Florida with American Top Team. In high school Woodley was a two-time state finalist in Wrestling. He finished his high school wrestling career an amazing 48-0 and winning a state title. Although 29 years old, Woodley is still an up and coming prospect who is still in college, but has taken time off to focus completely on his MMA Career. The former NCAA Division 1 wrestler obviously has amazing wrestling skills and great takedowns. He also has readily improving stand up skills. He is likely fighting for the chance to fight for the now vacant Strikeforce Welterweight Title.

Prediction: Who saw Josh Koscheck vs. Paul Daley at UFC 113? Expect much of the same here. Woodley has only struggled against fighters who are able to stuff his takedowns and force him to box. Unless Daley has greatly improved his takedown defense he’s going to be in for a long night. Woodley wasn’t able to do much in his last bout against Tarec Saffiedine, but Saffiedine is a far better BJJ artist than Daley. Woodley should be able to unleash some more ground and pound in this one and batter Daley in a fairly one-sided bout until he stops him in the second round.

Bets: This is another line that has been pounded by the betting public. Woodley started as a -230 favorite and has been bet up to a now almost 3-to-1 favorite on some books. Again this is a fight where I think the line has been bet too closely to the true line to represent a good bet. Woodley has all the tools to win this fight, but Daley is a veteran of the fight game, who can land a bomb to change the fight at any time. If Woodley is smart he’ll employ a game plan similar to Josh Koscheck’s and outwork Daley on the mat, if he tries to stand and trade punches though, he might be staring at the lights. No bet for me.

Middleweight Bout: Robbie Lawler (+220) vs. Tim Kennedy (-240)

“Ruthless” Robbie Lawler is an MMA veteran who has been around the sport for many years. Although only 29 years old he had his first fight 10 years ago in 2001. Since then he has racked up a career tally of 18-7-1. He is known for his heavy hands and willingness to brawl. He has extremely powerful striking skills, with an impressive 15 of 18 victories by form of KO or TKO. He is an extremely athletic and well-built fighter who often uses his wrestling and brute strength to keep the fight standing. However, Lawler has shown some glaring weaknesses off of his back as Strikeforce Middleweight Champion Ronaldo Souza was able to control Lawler on the ground for three rounds before finally submitting him.

Tim Kennedy is a 31-year-old fighter from San Luis Obispo, California (the birthplace of Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell.) Kennedy is also a former member of the United States Armed Forces. Kennedy owns a career MMA record of 13-3, with 5 wins via Knockout and 7 wins via Submission. He is a strong boxer, but also has excellent Brazilian Jiu Jitsu skills to use when the fight hits the mat. Kennedy is also coming back from a loss to Middleweight Champion Ronaldo Souza two fights ago, a fight he lost by close, but ultimately Unanimous Decision. Kennedy has also spent several weeks of his current training camp at the famed Jackson’s MMA Academy in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Predictions: This one has all the makings of a Fight of the Night kind of scrap. Kennedy has already said that he respects Lawler’s power, but fully intends on coming right after him. I believe his exact quote was “I don’t really like judges and I don’t really like boring fights,” so this one should be filled with excitement. Kennedy has the stand up skills to hang in there with Lawler, but will be playing with fire every time he does so. Instead, he should look to shoot for takedowns and grind away on Lawler. If Kennedy can earn takedowns against Lawler he’ll earn points, but won’t be out of the woods yet. Lawler is extremely good at using his hips and brute strength to get back to his feet. Kennedy also has to be careful because every time he gets close enough to Lawler to take him down, you risk the chance of ending up in a clinch. And with the strength of Lawler’s uppercuts, that is not somewhere that you want to be. Overall I think that this one is anybody’s game, but the match up favors Kennedy if he is able to fight smart and stay away from the big counters of Lawler. I think Kennedy is able to find a submission in the second round, likely some kind of choke set up by ground and pound.

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Bets: I currently don’t have a bet on this fight, but I may by the time fight night rolls around. Often money can come in after the weigh-ins, and I’m hoping the public continues to back Tim Kennedy. As I stated in my right up, I think Kennedy will likely win the fight, but as money continues to pour in on him, the line is getting better for Lawler. Robbie Lawler has definite holes in his game and on the mat Kennedy should basically run game on him, but Lawler has solid stand up and is extremely strong. If the fight ends up in a clinch at any time, Lawler can end the fight with some big punches. At +220 he’s being given about a 30% chance to win the fight, if his line starts creeping towards the +250 range, I may make a small play for value and hope for an upset. Like I said, Kennedy should be the favorite and can win a ground battle. But getting 2.5-to-1 on a live underdog is a bet I won’t be passing up. Currently no bet however.

Women’s Welterweight (135 Pounds) Championship Bout: Marloes Coenen (c) (-105) vs. Miesha Tate (+105)

Miesha “Takedown” Tate is a 24-year-old fighter from Tacoma, Washington. She is a wrestler and Jiu Jitsu fighter with improving stand up skills. According to Yahoo Sports rankings, she is the 5th ranked female pound-for-pound fighter. She has a career record of 11-2, with 3 wins via TKO, 4 via Submission and 4 via Decisions. In her two losses, she has been KO’ed once and Decisioned once. However that decision loss was to superior wrestler Sarah Kaufman and was out-wrestled for 9 minutes (the bout took place before women’s MMA switched to 3 five minute rounds, from 3 three minute rounds.) Since the loss to Kaufman she has won 5 straight fights, including winning the Strikeforce Women’s Welterweight Tournament. Throughout the tournament she used superior takedowns and ground work to outwork her opponents. Also, important to note is her recent switch to Team Alpha Male, with the other great wrestlers in that gym she has steadily improved her skill set.

Marloes “Rumina” Coenen is a 30-year-old fighter from Amsterdam, Netherlands. She is a member of the famed Golden Glory gym, which is also home to the Overeem brothers. Coenen is well versed in Muay Thai and Kickboxing, but has earned many of her wins with her great submission game. Coenen has a career record of 19-4 with 14 wins via Submission. In her last fight Coenen showed some true grit, as after being outworked on the ground in the first three rounds by late replacement Liz Carmouche she was able to snag an impressive Triangle submission in the fourth round. Coenen has proven extremely difficult to finish, so with her strong chin and vaunted submissions, she is always alive and always dangerous in any fight.

Predictions: I really think that Miesha Tate is going to go to the blue print that Liz Carmouche started. She showed that Coenen’s defensive wrestling isn’t great, partially because Coenen is so good off of her back, she doesn’t mind being there. Tate is going to have to very positionally aware as she grounds and pounds on Coenen, as the champion is very crafty at setting up submissions and is extremely calm under pressure. However, working with the guys at Team Alpha Male should have her well prepared. Expect her to look very similar to fighters from that gym like the UFC’s Chad Mendes, she will likely use her striking as a means to establish range before shooting for takedowns. It’s unlikely she’ll finish Coenen as the champion has been stopped only by elite level female fighters, but she should have the strength and positional awareness to be on top for all five rounds, while avoiding submissions from the champion. Miesha Tate by Unanimous Decision in this one.

Bets: This is likely going to be my only bet of the night. I think Tate should be a slight favorite in this fight, as most fights that feature a strong wrestler against a strong grappler seem to go the wrestlers way. Tate will likely earn points with her takedowns for being on top, and strong wrestlers are often able to neutralize the grappling talents of BJJ artists with strength and positional awareness. I think the guys at Team Alpha Male will have Tate well prepared for the crafty submissions of Coenen and she’ll be able to wrestle her way to a Unanimous Decision victory. It’s likely still going to be a bumpy ride and is still an extremely close fight, so it’s not going to be a huge bet. But 1 unit on Tate at the current line, or anything at + money is a good bet in my book.

Lee McGregor is a fan of all combat sports including both Boxing and Mixed Martial Arts. When not catching fights or watching hockey, he can be found as an Author and Editor at his own website MyManCave.ca

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