UFC On FOX 7 Results and Wrap Up

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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UFC On FOX 7 Predictions and Analysis

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

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

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

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

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

Quick Pick: Yoel Romero via TKO in Round Two

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

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

Quick Pick: Anthony Njokuani via Unanimous Decision

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

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

Quick Pick: TJ Dillashaw via Submission in Round Two

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

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

Quick Pick: Tim Means via Unanimous Decision

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

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

Quick Pick: Joseph Benavidez via TKO in Round One

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

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

Quick Pick: Myles Jury via Unanimous Decision

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

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

Quick Pick: Lorenz Larkin via Unanimous Decision

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

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

Quick Pick: Chad Mendes via TKO in Round Two

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Georges St-Pierre: The Way of the Fight Book

Anderson Silva: Like Water

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UFC 2013 Spring/Summer Events Preview

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

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


Event: UFC on Fox 7: Henderson vs. Melendez

Date: April 20, 2013

Venue: HP Pavilion in San Jose, California

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


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

Event: UFC 159: Jones vs. Sonnen

Date: April 27, 2013

Venue: Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey

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


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


Event: UFC on FX 8: Belfort vs. Rockhold

Date: May 18, 2013

Venue: Arena Jaragua in Jaragua do Sul, Brazil

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


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

Event: UFC 160: Velasquez vs. Bigfoot 2

Date: May 25, 2013

Venue: MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada

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


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


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

Date: June 8, 2013

Venue: Paulo Sarasate Arena in Fortaleza, Brazil

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


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

Event: UFC 161: Barao vs. Wineland

Date: June 15, 2013

Venue: MTS Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

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


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


Event: UFC 162: Silva vs. Weidman

Date: July 6, 2013

Venue: MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada

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


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

Event: UFC on Fox 8

Date: July 27, 2013

Venue: Key Arena in Seattle Washington

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

Event: UFC 163: Aldo vs. Pettis

Date: August 3, 2013

Venue: HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Georges St-Pierre: The Way of the Fight Book

Anderson Silva: Like Water

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List Of Strikeforce Fighters To UFC Roster

January 16, 2013 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts, Videos

The Strikeforce going out of business sale is underway with numerous fighters migrating over to the UFC. The UFC has officially announced the first list of fighters jumping over with one interesting name missing from the list.

The UFC made the official announcement on Fuel TV this week. There aren’t a whole lot of surprises on the list but there is one somewhat of a surprise off of the list. The list according to UFC so far includes…

Daniel Cormier (11-0)

Light Heavyweight:
Gegard Mousasi (33-3-2)
Gian Villante (10-3)

Roger Gracie (6-1)
Tim Kennedy (15-4)
Lorenz Larkin (13-0)
Luke Rockhold (10-1)
Ronaldo Souza (17-3)

Roger Bowling (11-3)
Jason High (16-3)
Nate Marquardt (32-11-2)
Tarec Saffiedine (14-3)
Bobby Voelker (24-8)

Ryan Couture (6-1)
Pat Healy (29-16)
Kurt Holobaugh (8-1)
Adriano Martins (24-6)
Gilbert Melendez (21-2)
K.J. Noons (11-6)
Josh Thomson (19-5)

Most MMA fans, at least the ones the follow the sport on the Internet already know about some of the bigger names signed. High profile fighters like Daniel Cormier and Gilbert Melendez already have fights booked on UFC shows. Robbie Lawler isn’t on the list although he is booked for an upcoming UFC event. But the absence of one name in particular is making waves in the MMA world of social media and that is Josh Barnett.

The former UFC heavyweight champion is not on the list and as of now it is fair to assume that his future is in limbo. UFC president Dana White has talked highly of Barnett and indicated soft interest at times in recent years. Barnett is probably the biggest “name” on Strikeforce not in the immediate transition plans.

The biggest reason for this is probably money. Barnett reportedly made $250,000 just for showing up to fight Nandor Guelmino on the final Strikeforce event, taking home $12,000 for the win. Barnett would certainly have to come down off of his show price to make a deal happen. So before you get ready to annihilate Dana White for holding a grudge, Barnett’s financial demands may actually be the deal killer here.

Some presumed that Barnett would head to Bellator if he couldn’t snag a UFC deal. With his pro wrestling background, Barnett would be the perfect co-promotional fighter for Bellator and TNA Wrestling. Unfortunately it would appear that Bellator has no interest in Barnett at his current asking price.

Regardless of whether Barnett joins his former colleagues or not, it is an impressive list. The added roster gives the UFC the deepest talent roster in the history of the company. The middleweight in particular immediately boosts the division right up there with the lightweights in regards to talent and competition.

UFC: Ultimate Fight Collection 2012

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

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UFC vs. Strikeforce Fights Headline UFC On FOX 7

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And I don’t have any problem with that.

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

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10 Most Anticipated UFC 2013 Fights

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rory MacDonald defeated BJ Penn via Unanimous Decision after Round 3

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

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

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

Alexander Gustafsson defeated Mauricio Rua via Unanimous Decision after Round 3

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

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

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

Benson Henderson defeated Nate Diaz via Unanimous Decision after Round 5

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

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

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

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

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Ronda Rousey To UFC, Strikeforce MMA Closing

November 09, 2012 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

You knew it was coming! Strikeforce MMA is closing shop. The promotion’s January event will be the last. Fighters will begin to migrate over to the UFC starting with a brand new UFC champion.

TMZ was the first to break the news (amazing with hundreds of MMA reporters on the payroll that TMZ breaks the story) on Thursday that Zuffa and Showtime will be ending their relationship which will result in the end of Strikeforce. The first casualty of this is Ronda Rousey who didn’t even need to wait to find a new job. Rousey will be entering the UFC as the new UFC 135 pound women’s champion.

Dave Meltzer provided a detailed report on his podcast. According to Meltzer the move was seen as inevitable once Steven Espinoza took over as Showtime’s VP sports programming. Espinoza is a boxing guy and Meltzer speculates that rather than replace Strikeforce with a new MMA company, Espinoza could use the freed up money for boxing.

The writing has been on the wall for over a year, so much so that many in the MMA world were shocked when Showtime renewed their deal with Zuffa last year. Things really came to a head when Showtime cancelled a second consecutive event leaving many in the MMA world speculating when, not if the deal with Strikeforce would end.

The January 12 event is already shaping up to be one of the most stacked Strikeforce events in recent memory. Daniel Cormier is scheduled to fight on the show although no opponent has been named. Gilbert Melendez is scheduled to defend the Strikeforce lightweight title against Pat Healy. Luke Rockhold will defend his title against Lorenz Larkin, while Nate Marquardt and Tarec Saffiedine will fight for the vacated middleweight title.

Skeptics are pondering whether a mysterious illness or injury to the top fighters would pull them off the show, thus saving them for an upcoming UFC event. According to Meltzer’s report most of these fighters are desperate for a pay day and will likely show up to fight. It wouldn’t shock me to see Cormier not fight and be saved for a UFC event but I would expect everyone else to show up.

Strikeforce marks yet another promotional acquisition by the UFC’s parent company which ended with the company closing for good. Previous purchases of Pride FC and WEC ended the same, although WEC had a nice run after the acquisition. For all of the praise that the UFC gets for business, these have to go down as some of the worst business decisions in company history. The fact that they haven’t been able to keep any of these companies afloat is certainly a mark on the Fertittas and Dana White’s legacies.

So what’s next post-Strikeforce? I’d guess that all of the champions move over to the UFC. I think the window has closed on any real interest in Strikeforce vs. UFC fights which is a real shame. Those could have been some big events last year. A few notable names like Josh Barnett, Frank Shamrock, and Nate Marquardt are former UFC stars that all ended their relationships with the UFC on bad terms. My hunch is that Marquardt comes back, Shamrock does not, and Barnett makes a surprise return. Dana recently revealed how he tried to sign Fedor and Brock Lesnar. He needs star depth in the heavyweight division. I think he makes a play at least for Barnett, regardless of the past.

I just don’t see any real appeal in cross promotional fights right now. Luke Rockhold vs. Anderson Silva is an interesting fight because it presents a new challenger to Silva, but it isn’t anything that will excite casual fans. Melendez vs. Ben Henderson would be fun but it is unlikely he’d fight Nate Diaz, which begs to question whether Melendez changes divisions if Diaz wins the title. Marquardt/ Saffiedine vs. Georges St-Pierre or Carlos Condit isn’t thrilling anyone either. I think they really missed the boat last year by immediately signing  Dan Henderson vs. Jon Jones, Frankie Edgar vs. Gilbert Melendez, Nick Diaz vs. Georges St-Pierre, and Alistair Overeem vs. Cain Velasquez in champion vs. champion fights. Ironically three of those fights

Meltzer also speculated that they could promote Rousey as soon as the UFC on FOX 6 show in January. He speculated that they could shoot Rousey vs. Cyborg to the main-event which would be a great way to promote the brand new women’s division in the UFC. He also pondered the idea of both coaching The Ultimate Fighter. I love that idea. The biggest problem with finding fighters for TUF these days is that anyone decent is fighting somewhere else. It would be easy to find a cast of hungry female fighters who brought the same kind of win or nothing passion to the show that the early season contestants brought. It is certainly an interesting idea.

It is a sad day if you ask me as a former Strikeforce fan. Strikeforce certainly had its hits and misses but I always found their cards (pre-Zuffa) fun and entertaining. Some have pointed to the Fedor Emelianenko contract as the nail in the Strikeforce coffin. Up until that deal the company was reportedly profitable. Once Fedor was signed the pressure was on to move to pay per view and up the game and neither happened, thus forcing a sale to UFC parent company Zuffa LLC in 2011.

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Strikeforce World Grand Prix Tournament Final: Barnett Vs. Cormier Predictions & Analysis

May 19, 2012 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

The other promotion owned by Zuffa (Strikeforce) brings an end to the event that was supposed to be a landmark for the company. When Scott Coker and company decided to roll out the Heavyweight World Grand Prix the idea, was great on paper. Featuring the eight best Heavyweights in the world that resided outside the UFC, it was supposed to be a tournament that would bring Strikeforce to another level, one where they could finally compete with the UFC.

Here we are nearly 20 months later and the Grand Prix is finally coming to a close. The overwhelming favorites at the beginning of the Grand Prix; Fedor Emelianenko – eliminated in the opening round and off to greener pastures in Russia, Alistair Overeem – one time UFC contender, now serving a 9-month suspension for a failed blood test, Antonio Silva or Fabricio Werdum – both preparing to make their UFC debuts within the next month or so.

Strikeforce now belongs to Zuffa, the parent company of the UFC. So instead of bringing them to the same level as the UFC, they ended up being purchased by the UFC. Many people have complained that the UFC has stripped Strikeforce of its parts and has left it to die, (which is hard to argue, since they literally eliminated the Heavyweight division.) But, Strikeforce still soldiers on, with several big names, perhaps the biggest of which Gilbert Melendez who fights in the night’s co-main event. Strikeforce is hoping to have their Heavyweight Grand Prix go out with a bang, hoping a strong finish makes everyone forget just how brutal the rest of it has been.

Preliminary Card (Showtime Extreme): Lightweight Bout: James Terry vs. Bobby Green

James “Intensity” Terry is an American fighter from San Jose, California. A former collegiate wrestler, he began training kickboxing with his coach Cung Le in 2005. He is a member of Cung Le’s gym and holds a pro record of 11-4. Bobby “King” Green is an American fighter from Inland Empire, California. Green may best be known for his appearance on the MTV reality show Bully Beatdown. He is a member of the Pinnacle Jiu Jitsu team in Fontana, California and has a pro MMA record of 17-5. James Terry via Unanimous Decision

Preliminary Card (Showtime Extreme): Welterweight Bout: Quinn Mulhern vs. Yuri Villefort

Quinn “Campamocha” Mulhern is an American fighter from Santa Cruz, California. At 6’3” with extremely long limbs, Mulhern is an extremely dangerous Brazilian Jiu Jitsu fighter with 11 submission wins on his resume. Mulhern holds an MMA record of 17-2. Yuri Villefort is a Brazilian fighter, who is an undefeated prospect. Villefort trains with the Blackzillians at Imperial Athletics and is the younger brother of former UFC fighter Danillo Villefort. Villefort has a career record of 6-0. Yuri Villefort via TKO in Round Three

Preliminary Card (Showtime Extreme): Light Heavyweight Bout: Gian Villante vs. Derrick Mehmen

Gian Villante is a 26-year-old from Wantagh, New York. Villante trains out of the Long Island MMA Academy in Bellmore, New York. Villante before beginning his fighting career was a top prospect for the NFL at the position of Linebacker. He holds a professional record of 9-3. Derrick “Caveman” Mehmen is an American fighter who trains with the American Top Team. Mehmen is mostly a brawler with heavy hands who owns most of his career victories by KO or TKO. Mehmen holds a career record of 12-4. Gian Villante via TKO in Round Two

Preliminary Card (Showtime Extreme): Light Heavyweight Bout: Virgil Zwicker vs. Carlos Augusto Filho

Virgil “Rezdog” Zwicker is an American fighter from San Diego, California. He is a former Heavyweight fighter who is making his Light Heavyweight debut. Zwicker is most notable for his troubled childhood and past, where he has been incarcerated in the prison system several times, but seems to have righted the ship with the help of MMA. Zwicker holds a career record of 10-2. Carlos Augusto “Guto Inocente” Filho is a Brazilian fighter. He is a member of the Blackzillians training out of Imperial Athletics in Florida. Filho is an undefeated, highly touted prospect with a record of 5-0. Carlos Augusto Filho via TKO in Round One

Preliminary Card (Showtime Extreme): Lightweight Bout: Gesias Cavalcante vs. Isaac Vallie-Flagg

Gesias “JZ” Cavalcante is a Brazilian fighter and formerly one of the top Lightweight prospects outside of the UFC. Despite his recent struggles, he remains a tough challenge for anyone at Lightweight, as he possesses a strong combination of power punching, solid boxing and strong Brazilian Jiu Jitsu skills. The Imperial Athletics representative has a career record of 16-4-1 with 2 No Contests. Isaac Vallie-Flagg is an American fighter who is a member of Greg Jackson’s camp in New Mexico. He is a former Welterweight fighter who is dropping to Lightweight for the first time. He has gone undefeated in his last ten bouts and holds a career record of 12-3-1. Gesias Cavalcante via Unanimous Decision

Main Card (Showtime): Welterweight Bout: Nah-Shon Burrell vs. Chris Spang

Nah-Shon “The Rock-n-Rolla” Burrell is an American fighter from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He is a 22-year-old member of the Fight Firm Gym in his hometown. Burrell is a strong striker who can fight well at range or from in close, although he has struggled throughout his career on the ground. Burrell is more of a straight boxer than a kick boxer, who prefers to use his jab to set up the majority of his offensive combinations. Burrell holds a career record of 8-1.

Chris “The Kiss” Spang is a Swedish fighter from Vaxjo, Sweden. He is the younger brother of Andreas Spang who happens to be fighting the night before for Bellator’s Middleweight Tournament crown. Since beginning his MMA career, Spang has transplanted himself to Las Vegas, Nevada where he trains at the J-Sect/One-Kick MMA Gym. He is a former professional boxer who has adapted kicks well to his MMA game, but has somewhat struggled on the ground. Spang holds a career record of 4-1.

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Analysis and Prediction: Burrell is a talented boxer who struggles on the ground, but his opponent is unlikely to force him there since Spang too would prefer to stand and trade. Burrell is also the more experienced of the two. With both fighters at such a young age 22 and 24, the amount they can improve from fight to fight is astounding, so each may show us something we haven’t seen from them before. But as it is, I think Burrell has a better and more complete MMA game and he should be able to outwork Spang en-route to a decision win. Nah-Shon Burrell via Unanimous Decision

Main Card (Showtime): Light Heavyweight Bout: Rafael Cavalcante vs. Mike Kyle

Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante is a Brazilian fighter from Sao Paulo, Brazil. A former Heavyweight fighter, Cavalcante is a member of the Black House and is a training partner of Anderson Silva, Lyoto Machida and the Nogueira brothers. He is a former Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion who is best known for his Muay Thai skills. He is an aggressive striker with explosive power, who is a constant threat to any opponent as all of his career victories have come from stoppages due to strikes. He owns a pro record of 11-3.

Mike “MAK” Kyle is an American fighter from Boise, Idaho. He has spent most of his career bouncing back and forth between the Heavyweight and Light Heavyweight divisions, but has had considerably more success at Light Heavyweight, especially under the Strikeforce banner where he is undefeated as a Light Heavyweight. Kyle is mostly a striker who trains at the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, California. Kyle actually holds a previous career victory over Cavalcante, when the Brazilian made his Strikeforce debut. He holds a career record of 19-8-1 with 1 No Contest.

Analysis and Prediction: Despite his previous loss to Kyle, Cavalcante should have the edge in this bout. In fact he was winning their first meeting, before gassing out and being tagged with big shots. That’s been a constant problem for Cavalcante who also slowed considerable against Dan Henderson before being knocked unconscious. However, provided he enters the bout in good shape, he should be able to outwork Kyle on the feet and considerably out work him on the ground en-route to a TKO in Round Three. But beware, if he begins to slow or gets sloppy Mike Kyle has the kind of one-punch power that can end his night quickly. Still I favor the Brazilian. Rafael Cavalcante via TKO in Round Three

Main Card (Showtime): Lightweight Championship Bout: Gilbert Melendez vs. Josh Thomson

Gilbert “El Nino” Melendez is the reigning and defending Strikeforce Lightweight Champion. The 30-year-old from Santa Ana, California is a member of the Cesar Gracie Fight Team where he trains regularly with Jake Shields and the Diaz brothers. As acknowledged most recently by Nate Diaz after his UFC on Fox win, many consider Melendez to be the top 155-pound fighter in the world. Melendez is a wrestler and grappler who uses an excellent top game and ground and pound to wear out his opponents. He also has strong boxing skills, although he prefers to outwork his opponents on the ground. He holds a career record of 20-2, but has avenged both of his career defeats.

Josh “The Punk” Thomson is a 33-year-old fighter from San Jose, California. Thomson is a very well-rounded fighter with strong wrestling skills, solid wrestling and black belt level Brazilian Jiu Jitsu skills. Thomson actually holds a career victory over Melendez from their title fight in 2008. In that bout Thomson was able to out-strike Melendez on the feet and use excellent takedown defense to prevent the bout from hitting the floor. (He has since however lost a rematch to Melendez, making this the trilogy fight for these two.) Thomson is an extremely tough and durable fighter, who has been stopped only once in his career and that was all the way back in 2004. Thomson has also been bothered by a number of injuries over the past couple of years including broken ribs, a broken leg and a broken hand. Thomson owns a career record of 19-4 with 1 No Contest.

Analysis and Prediction: Thomson was able to find success in their first bout by focusing on two things. He outworked Melendez on the feet, throwing more punches, landing more punches and keeping the champion off balance. He also managed to win every scramble and used excellent sprawl and brawl to batter Melendez every time he shot in for a takedown. Since that bout, everything has changed. Melendez is a significantly better striker since that bout, and in the rematch actually out struck Thomson decisively. Melendez now throws better combinations and controls the distance much better than he has before, it’s also notable that he looks much more comfortable boxing than he has in the past.

Secondly Thomson’s timing and sprawl did not look nearly as good in the rematch with Melendez as Melendez was able to dump him to the ground a number of times and fended off almost all of Thomson’s takedown attempts himself. Both men have tremendous gas tanks, so it’s likely that this bout will be an intense Fight of the Night type of high-octane bout, but Thomson simply doesn’t have the same advantages that he used to have. I am one of the growing number of people who believe that Melendez is the top Lightweight fighter in the world and I think he puts on a showcase performance in this bout, eventually stopping the ultra tough Thomson in the latter rounds. Gilbert Melendez via TKO in Round Four

Main Card (Showtime): Heavyweight Grand Prix Final Bout: Josh Barnett vs. Daniel Cormier

Josh “The Warmaster/The Baby-Faced Assassin” Barnett is a 34-year-old fighter from Seattle, Washington. Barnett is an MMA veteran who has fought all over the world, for a number of notable MMA promotions including Pancrase, PRIDE, UFC, Affliction and Sengoku. Barnett is notable for his past endeavors in professional wrestling, mostly in Japan but is probably most notable for being a former UFC Heavyweight Champion by defeating Randy Couture via TKO (he was subsequently stripped of the title and ousted from the promotion for failing a drug test.) Barnett is a catch-wrestler who has complimented his ground game well based on his experience over the years. He is a crafty grappler with a number of unique submissions and the ability to smother fighters with pure strength alone. Barnett is also an extremely tough and durable fighter who has only been knocked out once in over 35 career bouts. Barnett holds a professional record of 31-5 with bouts against some of the legends of the sport including Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Mirko Cro Cop, Mark Hunt, Randy Couture and Pedro Rizzo.

Daniel “DC” Cormier is a 33-year-old fighter from Lafayette, Louisiana. He is a former NCAA Division 1 and Olympic Freestyle Wrestler. Standing only 5’11” and rarely weight north of 240-pounds, many people consider Cormier to be too small for Heavyweight, but he has proved doubters wrong consistently as he owns a perfect professional record. Now training out of the American Kickboxing Academy, he has improved his striking skills considerably to compliment his wrestling. He now throws excellent combinations with speed and power and has excellent footwork, which he can use to keep the bout at a comfortable range, or to switch levels and shoot for a takedown. His quickness on his feet also allows him to throw his larger and often slower opponents off of their games, as they don’t know if he is lunging in with punches or for a takedown attempt. When this tournament began, Cormier wasn’t even in the opening 8. But after winning a reserve bout by out-boxing and battering Jeff Monson for three rounds he was given a spot when Alistair Overeem left for the bright lights of the UFC. He made the most of his opportunity and put the rest of the tournament on notice when he blasted Antonio Silva and knocked him out cold with an uppercut in the first round. Cormier owns an undefeated professional record of 9-0.

Analysis and Prediction: Although only a year separates these two in age, over a decade and twenty fights separates them in experience. Barnett is an extremely intelligent fighter who always fights smart and always attacks his opponents’ weaknesses. For this bout, that’s likely going to be Cormier’s ground game. Although Cormier is a standout wrestler, most wrestlers are nearly useless on their backs when taken down. If Barnett can earn a takedown against Cormier, he has a wealth of experience and knowledge of catch-wrestling submission holds that he can likely find an opportunity to pull off a submission.

For Cormier his best chance is probably to turn this bout into a striking affair. Barnett is no Jiu Jitsu wizard, but he’s not completely adept off of his back. Add to that the fact that Barnett will likely enjoy a sizeable strength and weight advantage come fight night and it would be a risk for Cormier to try for low percentage takedown chances, lest he end up on the bottom against Barnett. Instead, he should look to strike with Barnett who is definitely not the second coming of Roy Jones Jr. Barnett will enjoy a significant reach advantage, but he doesn’t really use his jab well and rarely uses leg kicks to establish a range. Cormier is comfortable fighting at a reach disadvantage as he does it in almost every fight.

Barnett isn’t Antonio Silva either, he knows his striking isn’t elite but won’t leave his chin hanging out there as a target. He is also more durable than Silva as he walked through a number of big punches from Sergei Kharitonov who is definitely a knockout artist, before dragging the Russian to the ground in their semi-final bout. This one likely comes down to who can control the pacing and the placement of the bout. Cormier is a legit prospect that has looked impressive so far, but Barnett is extremely tough and extremely crafty. I have a hard time seeing him unable to find an opening somewhere in this five round bout. Cormier makes it close, but he eventually leaves himself open to the submission skills of Barnett. Josh Barnett via Submission in Round Three

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Updated: Josh Koscheck Accepts UFC Fight Against BJ Penn

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

The greatest lightweight in UFC history may be gearing up for a return to the octagon. BJ Penn appears to ready to end his lengthy hiatus from the UFC. Josh Koscheck appears to be the lucky or unlucky fighter who will welcome back the Prodigy in the near future.

Former The Ultimate Fighter competitor Josh Koscheck broke the news first on his Twitter account. Koscheck sent out a tweet today indicating that a fight with he and Penn is on the horizon.

#UFC just offered me to fight BJ Penn…I said YES!!!!! Just waiting on him!!!!!! Let’s scrap bra?”

Now to be fair, the fight has yet to be confirmed or officially announced anywhere else. Is this Koscheck playing games with the MMA media and fans or is he really pumped to fight the former UFC lightweight champion? The MMA media is reporting this as the real deal so for the sake of argument, I’ll defer to them.

It should also be noted that Penn hasn’t officially accepted. According to one tweet by Front Row Brian (who is usually pretty damned accurate with his reports), Penn is not interested in the fight. I am a bit confused on this one. How can the UFC offer Koscheck a fight with someone who isn’t interested in the fight? This is a tough one because Brian seems to have a source close to Penn due to some of the tweets Brian has posted in the past about Penn wanting a rematch with Diaz badly, yet I can’t see how the UFC can offer a fight that isn’t available to one of its top fighters.

I’ll play devil’s advocate at this point as if the fight is on. I love this fight! I think it has the makings for a real fun battle. It is almost a perfect get-well fight for Penn who is coming off a loss to Nick Diaz that saw Penn lose a unanimous decision. Penn looked great early on but seemed winded and confused as the fight progressed against Diaz. A win would have likely earned Penn another crack at the UFC welterweight title. Penn announced his retirement immediately after the fight.

Right or wrong, nobody took Penn’s retirement seriously. Penn’s name has come up in potential fights over the last few months as if he was still a full time fighter. It was recently confirmed that Penn turned down a fight against current Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez because Penn had no interest in “downgrading” and fighting in Strikeforce.

I think Penn still has the potential to put together a small win streak and earn a championship shot. Stars like Penn appear to have a much easier time getting championship fights after a few wins as opposed to some fighters that are kept out of the mix after numerous wins. If GSP can put Diaz and Condit behind him, a third fight with Penn could be a real possibility. It is probably more of a possibility if GSP loses one of those fights. The UFC could match the two back up in a title eliminator situation.

Penn’s return brings to light a problem the UFC has had in creating new stars. While the UFC has created a handful of new stars the last few years, nobody has reached what I would call “superstar” status. Jon Jones is close but who else is even remotely close? The dirty little secret here is the UFC continuing to promote fighters past their prime to fans as if time is standing still. I am a Penn fan but I hope that the UFC isn’t enticing Penn to come back at the cost of his legacy.

Regardless I am pumped for the fight! I’ll take Penn in a decision.

Update: Koscheck now claims that the UFC asked him to stir it up on Twitter and there was no agreement in place to fight. “Me and B.J. have a good relationship. It’s business, and, you know what? I like to have big fights. I think that B.J. is the type of fighter that would be a big fight for me. The UFC asked to try and stir up something. You know, I do my job well, and I went on to my Twitter account, and just kinda said, ‘Hey, B.J. Let’s do this fight.”

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