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Top 20 MMA Fights Of 2012

January 07, 2013 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

2012 was a mixed year for Mixed Martial Arts on the biggest stages. There were some major highs and some serious lows. Let’s start with the highs which included the emergence of several big name MMA promotions including One FC in Asia and the World Series of Fighting in the USA. Other highs included the addition of Women’s MMA to the UFC as the women will finally get their chance to shine on the world’s biggest stage for fighting, and they owe a lot of that to the work of all-female fight promotion Invicta FC. Georges St. Pierre, the UFC’s king of Pay Per View made his long awaited return from injury in a classic bout against Carlos Condit, the addition of the UFC’s Flyweight division has yet to put out a boring fight and the UFC’s deal with Fox continues to prove a strong move for both the UFC and the Fox networks.

Unfortunately for all the highs this year brought, they may have been more than equally brought down by the lows of 2012. The injury bug ran rampant across the UFC causing a number of bouts being scrapped, switched at the last minute or delayed, moving forward this is going to be a serious hurdle for the UFC and the MMA world and they need to figure out a way to get a handle on it. Other lows included the complete cancellation of UFC 151, something that no fans of the world’s biggest fight promotion could have ever saw coming. Perhaps the biggest low of 2012 has to go to Zuffa’s poor handling of the Strikeforce brand leading to its slow death, which is set to occur early in 2013.

Still with all of the highs and all of the lows and all of the cancelled and late-notice replacement fights in the middle, 2012 was still a highly entertaining year for fight fans. We were treated to more UFC events than ever before, many of them for free on Fox, FX or Fuel TV. The emergence of Bellator and ONE FC as viable alternatives to the UFC putting on exciting cards throughout the year has also added a new avenue for fight fans to get their daily dose of violence. Moving forward anyone can see it’s a great time to be a fight fan. During the slow start to the MMA season in 2013, (the UFC doesn’t have an event until January 19th and Bellator doesn’t kick off their season on Spike TV until January 17th,) there is ample time for you to check out some fights that you may have missed in 2012. For those of you looking to sate your fight fix, here are the top 20 Mixed Martial Arts bouts of 2012.

20. Lightweight Bout: Eduard Folayang vs. Felipe Enomoto at ONE Fighting Championship: Pride of a Nation. August 31, 2012 at Smart Araneta Coliseum – Manila, Philippines

The Fight: These two men engaged in what was basically a kickboxing bout for a full three rounds. Both men threw with bad intentions throughout the fight, stringing together excellent punching combinations as well as a few flashy kicks and knee strikes. The most entertaining moment of the bout came late in the second round when Folayang dropped his opponent with a huge right hand and followed it up with nasty ground and pound, but couldn’t quite seal the deal. The only thing that really stopped this fight was the lack of a finishing effort from either fighter in the third round, Folayang was content to coast to a victory and Enomoto should have been trying harder for a comeback finish.

The Finish: After three rounds all three judges scored the contest 30-27 for Folayang earning him a clean sweep of the scorecards.

19. Lightweight Bout: Edson Barboza vs. Terry Etim at UFC 142: Aldo vs. Mendes. January 14, 2012 at HSBC Arena – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

The Fight: Etim has always been known for being in exciting fights, and this bout in Brazil was no exception. Etim pushed forward in the opening round, but Barboza was one step ahead of him the whole way. Shrugging off takedown attempts and landing a lot of damaging leg kicks. The pace slowed slightly in the second round, but remained an entertaining slugfest that continued to take place largely on the feet. Heading into the third round, many people felt that each fighter had a round each and the third would likely decide the fight. Early in the second round Etim continued looking for a takedown but was shocked when Barboza threw a Spinning Heel Kick that landed flush on the jaw and Etim was out cold.

The Finish: Barboza won the fight via Knockout from the spinning heel kick at 2:02 of Round Three. It also earned him Knockout of the Night honors.

18. Lightweight Bout: Joe Lauzon vs. Jim Miller at UFC 155: Dos Santos vs. Velasquez. December 29, 2012 at MGM Grand Garden Arena – Las Vegas, Nevada

The Fight: This bout was entertaining from the opening seconds as both men surged out of their corners and met in the middle of the cage. A very dominant first round for Miller ensued as his striking looked sharper than ever. He used a variety of punches and short elbows to open a nasty gash on Lauzon’s forehead and it looked like this one might be over early. In the second round it was more of the same, the cut on Lauzon’s face opened almost immediately but that didn’t slow him down as he was taken down and nearly mounted. Lauzon would quickly reverse the position and spent the end of the second round punching from the top and looking for a leg lock submission. The third and final round was just as intense as the rest of the fight as the two men went right back to it as soon as the round started. Lauzon pushed forward through a battered and bloody face searching for a way to steal the fight. Miller landed the better punches throughout the round, but Lauzon was constantly moving forward. A late submission attempt almost landed for Lauzon, but in the end it wasn’t quite enough.

The Finish: After three rounds Jim Miller took home a Unanimous decision, winning with three straight scores of 29-28.

17. Flyweight Bout: Louis Gaudinot vs. John Lineker at UFC on Fox 3: Diaz vs. Miller. May 5, 2012 at IZOD Center – East Rutherford, New Jersey

The Fight: So far ever since the UFC has introduced the Flyweight class to the world, it has provided nothing but exciting bouts. While there may be nothing like the big Heavyweight hitters for the casual fan, many MMA fans can’t get enough of the 125-pound class. This bout was no exception. Within about thirty seconds this bout looked more like rock-em-sock-em robots than a professional MMA bout. The first round was filled with wild punches and reckless striking exchanges, back and forth ground action and a couple of near submissions. The second just picks up right where the first left off, in the second Lineker went fishing for a takedown and got trapped in a guillotine for his trouble. He tried to fight it off, but it was no use and he went to sleep before he tapped out.

The Finish: With only seconds left in the second round, Lineker shot for a takedown and Gaudinot was able to lock up a guillotine choke. He refused to let up and eventually choked the Brazilian out cold earning himself a technical submission with only six seconds to go in the second round.

16. Featherweight Championship Bout: Joe Warren vs. Pat Curran at Bellator 60. March 9, 2012 at The Venue at Horseshoe Casino – Hammond, Indiana

The Fight: Warren has always done his best work as a wrestler, after a couple of lopsided losses because of him being reckless on the feet, he was looking to wrestle his way to a victory in this fight. Early on he pressured Curran constantly, trying to earn a takedown, but Curran did an excellent job of keeping himself upright, and landing punches during these exchanges. In the second round Warren managed to actually get the bout to the ground. Although he didn’t have much success, he did manage to open up a small cut on Curran’s face. In the third round Warren was again looking for a way to work the fight to the mat. Curran continued to defend well and landed a beautifully timed knee that rocked Warren. Curran pressured the champion to the fence and poured on an onslaught of punches that Warren absorbed without going over. Despite him being clearly out on his feet, the referee gave him way too long to recover.

The Finish: After the big knee in the third round, Curran simply butchered Warren against the cage. He threw everything he had at Warren and it still wasn’t enough to drop Warren, whose chin is absolutely insane. Despite not going down though, it was clear that Warren was out on his feet and was basically defenseless as the referee allowed him to take way too many shots. Despite the impressive third round TKO victory at 1:25 for Curran, this one was marred by the terrible officiating.

15. Lightweight Bout: Evan Dunham vs. TJ Grant at UFC 152: Jones vs. Belfort. September 22, 2012 at Air Canada Centre – Toronto, Ontario, Canada

The Fight: Evan Dunham has long been known for being in exciting scraps, in fact his bout against Nik Lentz came in around number 22 or so when I was re-watching fights compiling this list. TJ Grant is a bit more known as a grinder, but these two put on a great fight for the fans in Toronto. The first round saw Dunham try to work his striking from the outside, while Grant was constantly pushing forward and trying to work in close. The second round saw both guys simply swinging for the fences. Dunham went for some kicks and Grant landed a massive knee that absolutely tore Dunham’s face open. Despite the blood pouring from the open wound on his face, Dunham continued to push the pace near the end of the round swinging wild punches and looking for a couple of late head kicks. In the third, with blood covering his face and likely needing a finish to win, Dunham set to work at doing just that. Flying knees, head kicks, haymaker punches, takedowns, ground and pound he threw it all at Grant, but the Canadian was able to make it to the final bell.

The Finish: After three rounds many people thought that Grant would have it in the bag, but with takedowns in each of the rounds, some people believed Dunham might have done enough to steal a decision. When the scores were read it provided some strange results 29-28, 29-28 and 30-27 all for Grant, who took a Unanimous Decision.

14. Women’s Bantamweight Bout:  at Strikeforce: Rousey vs. Kaufman. August 18, 2012 at Valley View Casino Center – San Diego, California

The Fight: These two women were the final preliminary caMiesha Tate vs. Julie Kedzierd bout and it certainly seemed like it pissed them off. Kedzie was an up-and-comer in the division and Tate had just lost her title to Ronda Rousey and was looking to get back on track. In the first round, despite being a substantial betting underdog Kedzie absolutely brought the fight to Tate. Coach Greg Jackson laid out a sprawl and brawl game plan for Kedzie and she followed it to perfection, even landing a big head kick that almost had Tate out cold near the end of the first. The second round was nearly the exact opposite of the first. Early on Tate scored a takedown and from there spent nearly the entire round trying to land submission after submission. She came close with a rear naked choke, then a triangle, then a guillotine, then full back mount with ground and pound. In the third round Kedzie opened up with some great low kicks, before landing a head kick to Tate’s face that dropped her once again. As she pounded away looking for a finish, Tate managed to snag an arm and look for submission, after a failed attempt, she transitioned to an armbar and in a bout of irony won with the move that ended her title reign.

The Finish: After getting dropped by a headkick early in the third round it looked like the upset was ready to happen, but Tate toughed it out and managed to compose herself enough to grab a submission. After losing the triangle, she did an excellent job to secure the armbar and force the tapout from her opponent at 3:28 of the final round.

13. Heavyweight Grand Prix Championship Bout: Daniel Cormier vs. Josh Barnett at Strikeforce: Barnett vs. Cormier. May 19, 2012 at HP Pavilion – San Jose, California

The Fight: This bout was an entertaining story as Cormier; a late replacement and tournament alternate battled grizzled veteran Josh Barnett in the finals of the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix. This was the fight to prove if the unbeaten Cormier was the real deal or not. He proved to everyone not only is he the real deal, but he is a serious top contender in the Heavyweight division. This fight lasted all five rounds, so I’m not going to go into detail about the whole bout. Cormier showed off a significantly improved striking game as he outworked the veteran Barnett on the feet over the course of the entire 25-minutes. Cormier’s NCAA Wrestling background also came into the spotlight as he had little trouble landing several takedowns over the course of the fight and controlling the usually crafty Barnett on the ground rather easily.

The Finish: Although Barnett survived to the final bell, he was never really in control of the fight and never had a quality shot of winning. One judge gave him a round, but the other two saw it as a clean sweep as Daniel Cormier won the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix Championship via scores of 50-45, 50-45 and 49-46.

12. Featherweight Bout: Eddie Yagin vs. Mark Hominick at UFC 145: Jones vs. Evans. April 21, 2012 at Philips Arena – Atlanta, Georgia

The Fight: This one was supposed to be a tune-up fight for Hominick. A way to get the Canadian former title contender back in the win column. Apparently no one told Yagin that as he came to scrap it out. Hominick was definitely the more talented and technical striker, but Yagin did his best to not allow Hominick to get comfortable. He stayed aggressive throughout the entire first round, constantly pressing and constantly throwing punches, a slip from Hominick lead to some nasty ground and pound from Yagin that left Dominick’s face a mess. As the second started Yagin again tried to prevent Hominick from getting comfortable. As the Canadian’s eye continued to swell shut, Yagin continued to pound away at that side of his face. Despite Yagin controlling the opening four minutes or so of the round, Hominick came alive near the end of the second and was firing big punches and working the body well. At the end of the second both men’s faces were bloodied and battered. The third round was by far the best for the Canadian but he couldn’t earn a stoppage despite doing significant damage to his opponents face. In the end, some good natured ribbing ended the fight as Hominick ended with some push ups in the Octagon while Yagin responded by doing some sit ups of his own.

The Finish: After a bloody and fun three rounds it came down to the judges. The scores read 29-28 Yagin, 29-28 Hominick and 29-28 for the winner by Split Decision Eddie Yagin.

11. Lightweight Bout: Donald Cerrone vs. Melvin Guillard at UFC 150: Henderson vs. Edgar II. August 11, 2012 at Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado

The Fight: One minute and sixteen seconds, that’s how long this fight lasted. That 76-seconds was non-stop action as these two went right for it from the opening bell. After throwing a head kick with bad intentions that missed, Cerrone ate a huge left hand and was rocked early. Guillard swarmed with a flying knee and follow up punches, somehow Cerrone survived. Cerrone again went for a high kicked and although it was mostly deflected, it managed to wobble Guillard slightly. Cerrone smelled blood in the water and attacked with a huge right hand that floored Guillard, knocking him completely out.

The Finish: After the glancing high kick Cerrone could see that Guillard was hurt. He threw a big right hand that landed right on the button and put Guillard out for good. The Knockout of the Night victory came at 1:16 of Round One.

10. Welterweight Bout: Jon Fitch vs. Erick Silva at UFC 153: Silva vs. Bonnar. October 13, 2012 at HSBC Arena – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

The Fight: Jon Fitch has never really been known for being an exciting fighter, more of a boring wrestling-based grinder who uses takedowns to defeat his opponents. His opponent for this bout Erick Silva was a top up-and-comer from Brazil, who was known for a string of first round stoppages. Many people thought this one had snoozer written all over it, the others were hoping for a quick knockout for the young Brazilian, everyone was wrong. Fitch didn’t stray too far from his wrestling based offense, but instead of being content to control his opponents with light ground and pound, Fitch looked like a man possessed. He threw huge ground and pound and was constantly creating submission opportunities in the first round, a significant change from his usually conservative style. The second was by far the best round for the Brazilian as he scored early with some strikes before landing a takedown of his own. Silva managed to grab the back mount midway through the round but was unable to fully sink in the choke. In the third, Fitch’s gas tank took over. Silva is a quick finisher, not known for his gas tank when the fight goes late, Fitch has been there plenty of times and he took over in the final round.

The Finish: This fight did make it to the judge’s cards, but it was not a typical lay-and-pray outing from Jon Fitch. After the scores were read, Fitch had taken home a Unanimous Decision with scores of 30-27, 29-28 and 29-28. After the bout Fitch admitted that he knew he had to become more of a showman and a more exciting fighter if he wanted another chance at the Welterweight belt.

9. Light Heavyweight Bout: Mauricio Rua vs. Brandon Vera at UFC on Fox 4: Shogun vs. Vera. August 4, 2012 at Staples Center – Los Angeles, California

The Fight: This was another fight that was supposed to be a blow out for one of the fighters. Everyone expected Shogun to simply obliterate Vera en-route towards a possible rematch against Jon Jones. Vera was apparently out of the loop on that. The first round was as one-sided as most expected it to be. Shogun earned a quick takedown and threw elbows early. Vera later pulled guard and was close with a guillotine, but Shogun finished the round pounding away at Vera. In the second round, Rua really started to slow down. A big punch early hurt Vera, but he managed to battle through it and even landed a big shot of his own that rocked Shogun. Despite being out landed on the feet, Vera was sticking with Shogun through most of the round and even managed to score a late takedown to possibly steal the round. By the third round, both fighters were exhausted and the round was light on significant action. In the fourth round, there was finally the big punch that the crowd was looking for. Rua pushed Vera against the fence and began landing a few shots, the final one sending Vera to the canvas. Rua was relentless on the ground and despite being given all kinds of time to recover by the referee, he was finally forced to wave it off.

The Finish: With both fighters so exhausted heading into the fourth round, it looked like this one might be destined for the scorecards. However, against the fence Shogun landed some big clean shots, finally sending Vera to the ground. Despite the exhaustion Rua gutted it out on the mat and continually blasted Vera with ground and pound, finally earning a TKO victory at the 4:09 minute mark of the fourth round.

8. Welterweight Championship Bout: Georges St. Pierre vs. Carlos Condit at UFC 154: Condit vs. St. Pierre. November 17, 2012 at Bell Centre – Montreal, Quebec, Canada

The Fight: This was a fight that many fans were waiting for. UFC Welterweight Champion was returning to the cage after more than a year off due to a significant knee injury and follow-up surgery to take on Interim Welterweight Champion Carlos Condit. A lot of people questioned how GSP would look after such a long time off and if ring rust would play a factor in the contest. After watching the first round, it certainly didn’t appear that way. GSP did what GSP does, some light striking to set up a takedown and top control. Despite that, Condit was very active from his back and landed some decent punches and elbows from the bottom. GSP however landed an excellent elbow that opened up a nasty gash on Condit’s forehead that was coated with blood instantly. The second round featured more of the same, but in the third, things began to change. Condit found more success in the stand up game. His unorthodox combos began to confuse the champion and Condit was able to land a massive headkick that sent the Canadian Champion sprawling to the mat, clearly rocked. Condit pounced on GSP and smashed away with great punches and elbows, but GSP managed to hang on. He even scored a late takedown to try and steal back the round. The fourth and fifth rounds were nearly mirror images of one another, with GSP setting up takedowns and controlling Condit from the top. To his credit though, Condit never gave up fighting from the bottom, constantly throwing elbows, punches and looking for possible submissions.

The Finish: After the full 25 minutes, this one went to the scorecards. Georges St. Pierre defended his title via Unanimous Decision, taking the contest by scores of 49-46, 50-45 and 50-45.

7. Welterweight Championship Bout: Nate Marquardt vs. Tyron Woodley at Strikeforce: Rockhold vs. Kennedy. July 14, 2012 at Rose Garden – Portland, Oregon

The Fight: Once one of the best Middleweights in the UFC, Marquardt looked excellent as he made the cut to 170-pounds for his Strikeforce career. Taking on undefeated Tyron Woodley for the vacant Welterweight Championship, he was looking to secure himself a home in Strikeforce. Woodley was a talented wrestler who was undefeated, but was criticized for a couple of less than entertaining fights. This bout was exactly what both men needed. They were at each other looking for a finish from the opening bell. The first round saw Woodley stagger Marquardt, only to see Marquardt return the favor a minute later and nearly sink in a guillotine choke. The second saw both men continue to move forward aggressively, alternating turns as the aggressor. The third round was the best for Woodley as he was able to drop Marquardt with a short punch. Woodley followed up with some big offense that seemed to tire him, as his pace slowed significantly near the end of the round. The fourth round was where these two warriors finally found a finish.

The Finish: Other than Edson Barboza’s wheel kick knockout, this one for me is the knockout of the year as it was a thing of absolute beauty and brutality all rolled into one. Battling against the fence, Marquardt landed two short elbow strikes, a left hook and then an absolutely massive uppercut that put Woodley out cold. The official knockout victory came at 1:39 of Round Four.

6. Welterweight Bout: Jake Ellenberger vs. Diego Sanchez at UFC on Fuel TV 1: Sanchez vs. Ellenberger. February 15, 2012 at Omaha Civic Auditorium – Omaha, Nebraska

The Fight: This was a promising fight from the get-go as Ellenberger is always willing to bang and Diego Sanchez isn’t known for boring, slow-paced fights. Although the bout started somewhat slow, it didn’t take too long for them to get going. After about 90 seconds these two went toe to toe, banging it out. The close round ended with a couple of big punches that rocked Sanchez, sealing it for Ellenberger. Ellenberger continued to batter Sanchez on the feet in the second round, landing a steady stream of counter punches, while avoiding most of the big punches from his opponent. Near the end of the round Ellenberger landed a big takedown and finished the round with some ground and pound from the top. Knowing he would likely need a finish in the third round to steal this bout, Sanchez charged out and went after it from the first second of the round.

The Finish: Sanchez couldn’t find the finish he needed to steal the fight, so this one went to the judge’s scorecards. In scores that surprised no one in the audience, Ellenberger took home a Unanimous decision. The scores were29-28 for Ellenberger across the board.

 5. Lightweight Championship Bout: Frankie Edgar vs. Benson Henderson at UFC 144: Edgar vs. Henderson. February 26, 2012 at Saitama Super Arena – Saitama, Japan

The Fight: The first bout between these two Lightweights was one of the best fights of the year. This bout went the full 25-minutes and it was nearly non-stop action across the whole time. I won’t go into full round by round details here, because this is one fight you have to see to believe. The striking was very even throughout the entire fight and the action was non-stop on the ground as well. The best strike of the bout by far came in the second round when Henderson landed a huge up kick that flattened Edgar and bloodied his nose. The rest of the bout was filled with rollicking back and forth action that took mostly on the feet, but with some interesting grappling moments thrown in there. After 25 minutes this one headed for the judge’s scorecards.

The Finish: This was one of the most highly controversial judging decisions of the year, probably followed up only by the second bout between these two. Both men felt they had done enough to win the bout, and even members of the media who were scoring the bouts for websites like Sherdog and MMAJunkie, were split on who had won this bout. In the end it was a Unanimous decision for new champion Benson Henderson, who took it by scores of 49-46, 49-46 and 48-47.

4. Women’s Bantamweight Championship Bout: Ronda Rousey vs. Miesha Tate at Strikeforce: Tate vs. Rousey. March 3, 2012 at Nationwide Arena – Columbus, Ohio

The Fight: Last year it was Nick Diaz vs. Paul Daley for the Welterweight title, this year it’s Ronda Rousey taking on Miesha Tate for the Women’s Bantamweight title that has the honor of the best one-round fight of the year. Wild striking exchanges, trip takedowns, stellar grappling and a gruesome submission were all involved in this entertaining bout. At the end of the day Ronda Rousey became the champion and started her rise as a media darling.

The Finish: After a highly entertaining four minutes of action Rousey began to unleash a wild assault of ground and pound. She then seized an opportunity to sink in her patented armbar submission and torqued it with everything she had. It took her elbow popping before Tate would finally submit, but at the 4:27 mark of the first round that’s what happened.

3. Flyweight Tournament Bout: Demetrious Johnson vs. Ian McCall at UFC on FX 2: Alves vs. Kampmann. March 3, 2012 at Allphones Arena – Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

The Fight: This was the first bout in the UFC’s Flyweight tournament to crown the first ever UFC Flyweight Champion. It turned out to be an excellent bout with plenty of action everywhere the fight took place. Despite there being a lot of exciting striking in this contest, I think the most exciting action took place on the mat. Sweeps, scrambles, submission attempts and ground and pound were all in heavy supply for this one. As the second round ended the fight still was incredibly close, but Johnson was beginning to look tired while ‘Uncle Creepy’ looked fresh and ready to go. It certainly seemed that way as the third round started as McCall came out firing off kicks. With less than a minute to go, McCall landed a beautiful takedown and absolutely unloaded with everything he had working for a finish.

The Finish: This one was also marred in controversy. Despite being one of the best fights of the year, it was not immune to a little bit of suspect judging. After three rounds, this bout went to the judges. The scores were 29-28 Johnson, 29-28 Johnson and a 28-28 Draw. Afterwards at the post fight conference it was announced that a mathematical error lead to the scores being announced improperly. The actual scores should have been 29-28 Johnson, 28-28 Draw and 28-28 Draw for an outcome of a Majority Draw. Instead of sudden death overtime, these two men would face off again later in the year.

2. Lightweight Bout: Joe Lauzon vs. Jamie Varner at UFC on Fox 4: Shogun vs. Vera. August 4, 2012 at Staples Center – Los Angeles, California

The Fight: If you were going to show someone who is new to MMA what this whole UFC thing is all about, this is absolutely the fight you should have them watch. Late notice replacement Jamie Varner and the always exciting Joe Lauzon came to absolutely throw down in this Lightweight war. Both of these guys threw all kinds of exciting strikes and it started with the opening round. The first round was contested entirely on the feet, as Lauzon and Varner threw low kicks, high kicks, flying knees, elbows and punches at each other. The second round started the same way that the first ended, with punches winging through the air. The second round featured some slick grappling as both men scored takedowns, only to watch the other reverse the position and hunt for a submission of their own. In the third round Varner looked noticeably tired but came out swinging for the fences anyways. The finishing flurry itself was a thing of beauty, as this fight won a very deserved Fight of the Night award.

The Finish: This submission finish was truly a sight to behold. With Varner in trouble and tiring quickly, he shot for a takedown and landed it successfully. Lauzon pulled off an excellent sweep from the bottom to reverse the position and get Varner’s back. As Lauzon was searching for a rear naked choke, Varner managed to switch it back over. Lauzon took the opening to throw his legs up and snatch Varner in a triangle choke. Varner did his best, but Lauzon landed a few elbows from the bottom, clamped the hold in tighter and Varner had no choice but to tap at the 2:44 mark of round three.

1. Featherweight Bout: Chan Sung Jung vs. Dustin Poirier at UFC on Fuel TV 3: Korean Zombie vs. Poirier. May 15, 2012 at Patriot Center in Fairfax, Virgina

The Fight: And that brings us to the best fight of the year in my opinion. If Lauzon-Varner at number two is what you should show people to introduce them to MMA, this is the fight you should show them to make them love MMA. I’m not even going to talk about this fight at all, except to say that it’s in my top ten fights of all time and that’s saying a lot. Wild punching exchanges, exciting ground work, excellent submission offense and a couple of near misses all along the way. Watch this fight.

The Finish: A minute into the fourth round and it seemed like the tide might be turning in the bout. But after the Korean Zombie landed a flying knee, Poirier shot for the takedown immediately. Dangerous move against the crafty Korean who snatched up a D’Arce Choke from the headlock position and cinched it in tight for the victory.

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UFC 155 Dos Santos Vs. Velasquez Results and Wrap Up

December 30, 2012 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

The UFC made its return to the land of Pay Per View last night and although some fights left fans wanting a bit more, the other bouts were loaded with action that more than made up for it. If you were unable to see some of the undercard bouts, I highly suggest you try to do so by any means possible. Melvin Guillard versus Jamie Varner, while slightly slower than expected was an entertaining bout. As well the Featherweight tilt between Leonard Garcia and Max Holloway was a highly entertaining slugfest that went for a full fifteen minutes. Add in impressive TKO victories for Heavyweight Todd Duffee and Bantamweight Erik Perez and there is some top shelf violence for those of you that like it that way.

Moving on to the main card, some of the bouts didn’t quite live up to the hype. Others such as the co-main event between Lightweights Joe Lauzon and Jim Miller more than exceeded the hype, as those two men engaged in a bloody back and forth brawl that is a definite contender for Fight of the Year consideration. The Main Event was also solid as two of the best Heavyweights in the world collided in a much better effort than their first bout on UFC on FOX 1. Let’s take a look at the winners and losers from this card and take a look at what could be next for them.

Derek Brunson defeated Chris Leben via Unanimous Decision after Three Rounds

The boo-birds were out right away at the MGM Grand Garden Arena for this Middleweight fight that kicked off the PPV. Although Leben is often a fan-favorite due to his slugging style, his wrestling-based opponent Brunson wanted no part of it. Brunson crowded Leben throughout the contest using clinches and takedowns to control Leben and give him very little space to get his offense going. Leben himself offered little resistance, as after a year off due to suspension, he looked like a man who wasn’t used to being in the Octagon. He looked tired and slow, and his takedown defense was almost non-existent. He was never really in too much trouble, but he definitely wasn’t ever close to winning either. Unfortunately as commentator Joe Rogan stated, the unamused look on Chris Leben’s face after Brunson’s celebration after the fight might have been the most entertaining part of the bout.

What’s next for Brunson? This card was loaded with Middleweight talent, so one might think a winner from one of the Middleweight bouts up the card would make sense for Brunson, but I think that’s too large a step for him right now. Although he earned a victory, he didn’t look great doing it and it definitely wasn’t a breakout performance. With Strikeforce officially closing its doors, I think the best fight for him would be to welcome one of his former promotion-mates to the UFC. Tim Kennedy is facing Trevor Smith at the final Strikeforce event and the winner of that bout makes some sense.

What’s next for Leben? He’s got problems, everyone knows that, but he’s always going to have a spot in the UFC because of his style. Alan Belcher got knocked off by Yushin Okami later in the card, and would prefer an opponent who would keep the fight standing. Leben fits that bill and would likely produce an entertaining rebound fight for one of the two. Belcher is almost the perfect opponent for him right now.

Yushin Okami defeated Alan Belcher via Unanimous Decision after Three Rounds

In the pre-fight hype videos Alan Belcher claimed that Yushin Okami couldn’t beat him if he kept the fight standing. Apparently he convinced everyone, including Okami, of that fact. Okami did what he usually does, a solid one-two jab combination right into takedown attempts and top control. Belcher had a few bright spots, as he snagged a couple of submission attempts, but none were ever close and they all ended with him in the unenviable position of being beneath Okami. In the end the Japanese fighter cruised to a Unanimous Decision.

What’s next for Okami? He’s turning into the Middleweight version of Jon Fitch. He’s good enough to beat almost anyone in the division, but he’s going to get absolutely slaughtered against the champion. Add to that he’s got a somewhat boring wrestling based approach to fighting and it’s hard to keep giving him meaningful fights where he’s likely going to knock off top contenders or up-and-comers with little fanfare. Still he moves up the ladder and a bout against other main card victor Costa Philippou might make sense. The other potential bout is one against Hector Lombard who recently scored an impressive stoppage against Rousimar Palhares.

What’s next for Belcher? Belcher’s hot streak got seriously derailed and he’s going to need to prove he can handle a wrestler like Okami before he ever gets a shot at a serious top contender at Middleweight. Still, he’s going to need a rebound fight and like I said, previous main card loser Chris Leben is the perfect foil for him. Someone who is willing to stand and trade with him and who is weak on the ground if things go bad. If the UFC wants to rebuild Belcher, he’ll get Leben next.

Costa Philippou defeated Tim Boetsch via TKO (Punches) at 2:11 of the Third Round

This wasn’t a breakout performance for Philippou that many people thought it might be. In fact, this was a truly bizarre fight. Boetsch controlled the opening round, throwing wild, looping punches that were scoring against the usually competent striking defenses of Philippou. In between rounds Boetsch complained to his corner of a broken hand and in the second, an accidental head butt opened a massive gash on his forehead and an eye poke only increased his vision problems. In the third round, he was reduced to pulling guard, but didn’t have an answer for Philippou’s ground and pound, as the referee stepped in to save Boetsch in the third round after he seemed to be looking for a way out.

What’s next for Philippou? Considering the bizarre circumstances of his win, his slow start, and the less than impressive fight from him overall, I wouldn’t complain about a possible rematch between these two. However, with Boetsch’s broken hand, he’s going to need time off. Philippou should still receive a step up in competition and needs to prove he can handle a talented wrestler, which is why I think a bout against other main card victor Yushin Okami makes a lot of sense. If they choose to go another route, former Strikeforce Middleweight Champion Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza, should be making the leap to the UFC soon enough. If he wins his bout at the final Strikeforce show against Ed Herman, I think Souza is another good fight for Philippou.

What’s next for Boetsch? Hand surgery, I guess. In all honesty, this is kind of a crappy result for Boetsch, since he took some unfortunate illegal shots to derail his game plan, which was definitely working in the first round. Still, he was undefeated in the Middleweight division until last night, so I doubt they give up hope on him yet. He’s not going to drop severely down the rankings with the circumstances surrounding the loss, so he’s in kind of a weird spot matchmaking wise. I really don’t know what they do with him here, I guess he’s going to take a step down. Karlos Vemola was supposed to fight Leben on the card, but pulled out due to injury maybe him. That or throw him against Belcher or Leben, although I think Leben is too far a step down, and I think those two should fight each other. Other than that maybe Jake Shields if he stays at Middleweight.

Jim Miller defeated Joe Lauzon via Unanimous Decision after Three Rounds

This one earned Fight of the Night honors and it definitely deserved it. These two guys engaged in a bloody brawl that was back and forth and had action until the final bell. Miller looked the best I’ve ever seen him and his recent loss to Nate Diaz seems to have lit a fire inside him. He may be a permanent gatekeeper in the ultra-packed Lightweight division, but he’s a tough one. His conditioning was top notch for this bout and his dirty boxing looked better than ever, as he used a tight clinch to deliver some big punches and short elbows in the first round that caused the giant gash that caused Lauzon to lose a ton of blood. To his credit Lauzon proved how tough he was in this bout, even with blood pouring out of that massive cut, he refused to let the doctor stop it and he kept coming until the final bell, sinking in a late leg lock that nearly stole the fight and in fact stole him the round on a couple of scorecards.

What’s next for Miller? He’s had fourteen fights in the UFC and he’s won most of them. His only three losses have come to the current Lightweight Champion and two of the last three Number One Contenders in Nate Diaz and Gray Maynard. He’s a true grinder and his improving striking is only going to make him an even tougher challenge for most guys. I think Rafael dos Anjos has been impressive lately and deserves a step up in competition, as the Lightweight Gatekeeper, that puts him right in Miller’s wheelhouse.

What’s next for Lauzon? He proved he’s as tough as they come and dangerous any time he’s still in the fight. He’s always going to struggle against powerful wrestlers and the elite fighters of the Lightweight division, but he’s a highly entertaining fighter with decent striking and dangerous submissions. Sounds like another top Lightweight that recently lost a title fight. Indeed a bout between Lauzon and fellow TUF 5 alumnus Nate Diaz could be an action packed affair. Give the two of them a headlining slot on an FX or Fuel TV card and give them five rounds to go bananas, fireworks are sure to follow whether that fight takes place on the feet, on the ground or anywhere in the building.

Cain Velasquez defeated Junior dos Santos to win the UFC Heavyweight Championship via Unanimous Decision after Five Rounds

For those that wrote off former champion Velasquez after his poor performance in their first bout, they were treated to a significant wake up call. Velasquez came out guns blazing against Dos Santos and immediately brought the fight to the Brazilian Champion. Although many expected Cain to be somewhat laid back like he was in their first bout, he caught everyone, including Dos Santos off-guard when he came right after him in the first round. That first round told the story of what would end up being a very one-sided contest. Cain scored an early takedown and Dos Santos was able to slip through and get back to his feet, but it didn’t slow Velasquez down. He continued forward, pressing him against the cage. Partway through the round he landed a big right hand that dropped Dos Santos for the first time in his UFC career and ended the round battering him with ground and pound. Dos Santos was clearly gassed after the first round and spent several of the next rounds trying to recover, while Velasquez continued to push the pace. Although he eventually slowed himself, he was still able to outwork Dos Santos both in the grappling department and somewhat surprisingly in the striking department en-route to a clean sweep of the scorecards, winning with scores of 50-45, 50-44 and 50-43.

What’s next for Velasquez? The Heavyweight division has a whole lot of top fighters, but they are in a weird position, where they don’t have any clear cut favorites to become the number one contender. Alistair Overeem is expected to get the first crack at Velasquez, but he’s going to need to get by Antonio Silva first, and that’s no guarantee considering what we’ve seen in the past from fighters returning from year-long suspensions. The other option is Fabricio Werdum should he emerge victorious against Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, but that fight isn’t taking place until after the filming and airing of TUF: Brazil 2. The leading candidate was Daniel Cormier who recently won the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix and is heading to the UFC, but Velasquez and Cormier are teammates and have already said they wouldn’t fight each other. No matter what happens, Overeem or Werdum or someone else entirely, Velasquez could be facing a bit of a layoff while the division sorts itself out.

What’s next for Dos Santos? He’s going to need to get a win or two before he gets another crack at the title. Granted if things shake out the right way, he may only need one impressive victory like Velasquez did, but the list of contenders is long and growing in the Heavyweight division. The best two possible matches I can think of for Dos Santos are the loser of the upcoming Mark Hunt and Stefan Struve fight at the UFC’s next London event, (provided it’s Hunt, since a rematch with Struve is probably not necessary for Dos Santos.) The other option is the loser of the upcoming Alistair Overeem and Antonio Silva bout, since either one of those two would be an intriguing bout, especially with the bad blood between Dos Santos and Overeem.

Full UFC 155 results & winners…
Cain Velasquez defeated Junior Dos Santos via unanimous decision to regain the UFC heavyweight title
Jim Miller defeated Joe Lauzon via unanimous decision
Costa Philippoud efeated Tim Boetsch via third-round TKO
Yushin Okami defeated Alan Belcher via unanimous decision
Derek Brunson defeated Chris Leben via unanimous decision
Eddie Wineland defeated Brad Pickett via split decision
Erik Perez defeated Byron Bloodworth via first-round TKO
Jamie Varner defeated Melvin Guillard via split decision
Myles Jury defeated Michael Johnson via unanimous decision
Todd Duffeed efeated Phil De Fries via first-round TKO
Max Holloway defeated Leonard Garcia via split decision
John Moraga defeated Chris Cariaso via submission

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

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UFC 155 Results: Cain Velasquez Regains UFC Title

December 30, 2012 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

Cain Velasquez is an animal! Velasquez mauled Junior Dos Santos in their UFC 155 rematch proving to the MMA world that his 64 second loss to the JDS was a fluke. Velasquez won a unanimous decision to regain the UFC heavyweight title in one of the most one-sided UFC title wins in years.

Dos Santos could not stop the shot. Velasquez dominated the former champion on their feet and taking him to the ground. Velasquez had his way with Dos Santos at UFC 155, absorbing very little to punishment at all from the champion. UFC commentator Jor Rogan proclaimed at one point that he had not seen such a dominant performance by a challenger over a champion since Anderson Silva defeated Rich Franklin for the middleweight title several years ago.

Velasquez opened up looking to strike and takedown the former champion. Dos Santos did a good job early on of avoiding any serious damage until Velasquez connected with a right hand. Dos Santos was never the same after eating the shot. Velasquez swarmed in and tried to end the fight in the first round to no avail yet the tone was set by the challenger.

The rest of the fight saw Velasquez have his way with Dos Santos. Velasquez practically took Dos Santos down at will. Junior had very little offense throughout the fight and looked tired and beaten when he came out for the second round. Velasquez never stopped and was relentless in his attacks. I’ll give Dos Santos credit as he hung around for five rounds, longer than I thought he would. Dos Santos did connect on a nice uppercut as the third round. Unfortunately Dos Santos had nothing left and couldn’t follow up.

Velasquez nailed a body shot followed by an uppercut in the fourth round that staggered Dos Santos. Somehow or another Junior held on. Junior again put something together towards the end of the fourth round but couldn’t follow up. Velasquez’s cardiovascular conditioning throughout the fight was just unbelievable.

Seeing Junior standing at the start of round five after being brutalized throughout by Cain was real impressive. Junior stopped Cain from getting a takedown and wound up hitting a nice left to Cain’s body. Junior seemed to recover well by this point. Dos Santos hit a right hand and kept Cain’s takedowns at bay. Velasquez finally got the takedown at about 2:30. Cain smothered him with ground and pound. Junior got back up. Junior connected in a clinch. Velasquez hit a head kick with about :30 seconds to go. Junior looked like he had been brutalized while Cain looked like he wasn’t even scratched as the fifth and final round closed. Velasquez was shortly named new UFC champion by unanimous decision.

What’s next for the UFC world champion? In my opinion I think Cain is the most well rounded UFC heavyweight champion in history. He should have a dominant reign as champion barring an injury. He could face either Alistair Overeem or Fabricio Werdum if either man wins their next fight. Overeem would be the favorite but Dana White mentioned that Werdum would be a top contender if he wins his next fight against Big Nog.

I’d love to see a third fight between JDS and Velasquez. I think this rivalry has the potential to be one of the greatest trilogies of all time. It wouldn’t shock me to see fight number three in the fall or winter of 2013.

Look for a full recap and analysis of UFC 155 here on the Camel Clutch Blog shortly by Lee McGregor.

Full UFC 155 results & winners…
Cain Velasquez defeated Junior Dos Santos via unanimous decision to regain the UFC heavyweight title
Jim Miller defeated Joe Lauzon via unanimous decision
Costa Philippoud efeated Tim Boetsch via third-round TKO
Yushin Okami defeated Alan Belcher via unanimous decision
Derek Brunson defeated Chris Leben via unanimous decision
Eddie Wineland defeated Brad Pickett via split decision
Erik Perez defeated Byron Bloodworth via first-round TKO
Jamie Varner defeated Melvin Guillard via split decision
Myles Jury defeated Michael Johnson via unanimous decision
Todd Duffeed efeated Phil De Fries via first-round TKO
Max Holloway defeated Leonard Garcia via split decision
John Moraga defeated Chris Cariaso via submission

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

Anderson Spider Silva (Em Portugues do Brasil

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UFC 155 Dos Santos Vs. Velasquez 2 Predictions & Analysis

December 29, 2012 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

The UFC returns to the land of Pay Per View this weekend with their traditional New Year’s Eve card. Despite not technically taking place on New Year’s Eve, the UFC has more than made up for it by packing this card with talent and intriguing match-ups from top to bottom. Headlining the card is a rematch that everyone has been clamoring for since their first meeting as the headliner for the UFC’s first event on the Fox Network as UFC Heavyweight Champion Junior dos Santos battles the man he defeated for the title Cain Velasquez.

The co-main event of the evening features a Lightweight tilt that will move the winner significantly up the ladder in terms of placement in what is arguably the UFC’s deepest division as Joe Lauzon battles Jim Miller. Three Middleweight bouts are on the docket for the rest of the main card and many of them feature top ranked contenders. First up are Middleweight brawlers Tim Boetsch taking on Constantinos Philippou. The next Middleweight contest features former number one contender Yushin Okami taking on emerging contender Alan Belcher. The opening contest of the Pay Per View Main Card features fan and Dana White favourite Chris Leben taking on Strikeforce import Derek Brunson.

Preliminary Card (Facebook): Flyweight Bout: Chris Cariaso vs. John Moraga

Chris “Kamikaze” Cariaso is a 31-year-old fighter from Oakland, California. He is a member of the Fight and Fitness Gym in San Francisco, California. Cariaso holds a career record of 14-3 and recently won his UFC Flyweight debut at UFC on Fuel TV 4. John Moraga is a 28-year-old former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler from Phoenix, Arizona. He is a member of the MMA Lab in Arizona where he trains with UFC Lightweight Champion Benson Henderson. He holds a career record of 12-1.

Quick Pick: John Moraga via Unanimous Decision

Preliminary Card (Facebook): Featherweight Bout: Leonard Garcia vs. Max Holloway

Leonard “Bad Boy” Garcia is a 33-year-old fighter from Plainview, Texas. He is a member of Greg Jackson’s Team training in New Mexico. The brawler and fan favourite holds a career record of 15-9, but has never been knocked out and hasn’t been in a boring fight throughout the course of his career. Max “Blessed” Holloway is a 21-year-old fighter from Waanae, Hawaii and is the youngest fighter on the UFC roster. He is a member of the Gracie Technics Gym in his hometown and holds a career record of 6-1.

Quick Pick: Max Holloway via Unanimous Decision

Preliminary Card (Facebook): Heavyweight Bout: Phil De Fries vs. Todd Duffee

Phil De Fries is a 26-year-old fighter from Sunderland, England. The massive Brit is a talented grappler who now trains in the USA with the Alliance MMA Gym in Chula Vista, California. He holds a career record of 9-1 with 1 No Contest. Todd Duffee is a 27-year-old fighter from Evansville, Indiana. Duffee is a member of the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, California and those striking skills have earned him the record for the fastest Knockout in UFC history at 7 seconds. He holds a career record of 7-2.

Quick Pick: Todd Duffee via KO in Round One

Preliminary Card (FX): Lightweight Bout: Michael Johnson vs. Myles Jury

Michael “The Menace” Johnson is a 26-year-old fighter from St. Louis, Missouri. He is a member of the Blackzillians training in Boca Raton, Florida. The former TUF cast member holds a career record of 12-6, but is currently on a three fight winning streak. Myles “The Fury” Jury is a 24-year-old fighter from Hazel Park, Michigan. He is a member of the Alliance MMA Gym in San Diego, California. He holds a perfect professional record of 10-0.

Quick Pick: Michael Johnson via Unanimous Decision

Preliminary Card (FX): Lightweight Bout: Melvin Guillard vs. Jamie Varner

Melvin “The Young Assassin” Guillard is a 29-year-old fighter from New Orleans, Louisiana. He is a member of the Blackzillians training out of the Jaco Hybrid Training Center in Boca Raton, Florida. He holds a career record of 30-11-2 with 1 No Contest. Jamie “The Worm” Varner is a 28-year-old fighter from Phoenix, Arizona. He is a former WEC Lightweight Champion who trains out of the AMA Fight Club in New Jersey. He holds a career record of 20-7-1 with 2 No Contests. This bout was supposed to take place two weeks ago at The Ultimate Fighter finale, but a last minute illness to Varner forced the bout to be postponed.

Quick Pick: Melvin Guillard via TKO in Round Three

Preliminary Card (FX): Bantamweight Bout: Erik Perez vs. Byron Bloodworth

Erik “Goyito” Perez is a 23-year-old fighter from Monterrey, Mexico. He now resides in the USA and trains with Greg Jackson’s camp in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He holds a career record of 12-4, but is 2-0 in the UFC with two stoppage victories. Byron Bloodworth is a 29-year-old fighter from Lynchburg, Virginia. Bloodworth is a member of the Iron Clutch Fitness Gym in Atlanta, Georgia. He holds a professional record of 6-2.

Quick Pick: Erik Perez via Submission in Round One

Preliminary Card (FX): Bantamweight Bout: Eddie Wineland vs. Brad Pickett

Eddie Wineland is a 28-year-old fighter from Houston, Texas. Wineland was the inaugural WEC Bantamweight Champion. He trains out of the Duneland Vale Tudo Gym in Portage, Indiana. Wineland holds a career record of 19-8-1 with 16 Stoppage victories. Brad “One Punch” Pickett is a 34-year-old fighter from London, England. A former Cage Rage Featherweight Champion he now trains stateside with the American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Florida. Pickett holds a career record of 22-6.

Quick Pick: Brad Pickett via TKO in Round Two

Main Card (Pay Per View): Middleweight Bout: Chris Leben vs. Derek Brunson

Chris “The Crippler” Leben is a 32-year-old fighter from Portland, Oregon. Leben is a fan favourite known for his iron chin and his brawling style, but lately he’s also become known as a troubled fighter who will be returning from a one-year-suspension. He was a cast member on the first season of The Ultimate Fighter and has been in the UFC ever since. He is a member of the Icon Fitness MMA Gym in Oahu, Hawaii. The brawler holds a career record of 22-8.

Derek “Wrecking Ball” Brunson is a 28-year-old fighter from Wilmington, North Carolina. He is a former NCAA Division 2 All-American Wrestler from the University of North Carolina. He is a member of Greg Jackson’s camp in New Mexico. Brunson has power in his hands, but his technical striking skills are still developing. He does his best work on the mat, when he can control his opponents by using his top shelf wrestling skills. After starting his career undefeated at 9-0, he has suffered two straight defeats in 2012 to move his record to 9-2.

Analysis and Prediction: To me I think this one comes down a lot to how Leben responds to being off for a year. Brunson has shown some promise in his fights, but he still remains a pretty raw and unproven talent against top shelf competition. Besides Jacare Souza, Leben will be by far his stiffest competition and he’s taking the fight on late notice. Leben is a more complete striker and he’s probably been drilling takedown defense since his loss to Mark Munoz. Really I have a hard time imagining Brunson winning this fight, unless Leben looks like a shell of his former self. Chris Leben via TKO in Round Two

Main Card (Pay Per View): Middleweight Bout: Yushin Okami vs. Alan Belcher

Yushin “Thunder” Okami is a 31-year-old fighter from Kanagawa, Japan. A former UFC Middleweight Title Challenger, Okami is one of the top Middleweight fighters in the UFC. Okami is a talented grinder, who does his best work using a ground based, wrestling and top control oriented game plan. He holds a black belt in Judo, which he uses well to earn trips and takedowns when standing. Okami is a member of Team Quest, training with Chael Sonnen in Portland, Oregon. He actually holds a career victory over Belcher already, having defeated Belcher in his UFC debut. Okami holds a professional record of 27-7.

Alan “The Talent” Belcher is a 28-year-old from Jonesboro, Arkansas. Recently after an eye injury caused a yearlong layoff and almost cost him his career, he has reeled off four straight stoppage victories and has emerged as a rising contender in the Middleweight division. Belcher is a talented striker who holds a black belt in Tae Kwan Do and a black belt in Duke Roufus Kickboxing. Belcher is also an underrated grappler who holds a brown belt in Judo and a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Belcher is a member of the Roufusport Gym in Biloxi, Mississippi training under famed kick boxer Duke Roufus. He holds a career record of 18-6.

Analysis and Prediction: Belcher is a talented striker and his grappling game is definitely significantly underrated by a lot of people, but this isn’t a great match up for him. Okami is massive for Middleweight and he’s strong and perfectly content to wrestle his way to victories. In his last bout Okami was thoroughly dominating Tim Boetsch on the ground until a third round miracle comeback. Belcher is talented and dangerous on the feet, but I really don’t think Okami is going to give him time to get comfortable there. I expect a steady stream of one-twos and takedowns from Okami as he wrestles his way to a decision victory. Yushin Okami via Unanimous Decision

Main Card (Pay Per View): Middleweight Bout: Tim Boetsch vs. Constantinos Philippou

Tim “The Barbarian” Boetsch is a 31-year-old fighter from Lincolnville, Maine. He is a former NCAA Wrestler from Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania and often uses his wrestling skills to grind against his opponents on the mat. Boetsch is also a talented striker with big power, who owns a black belt in Jeet Kune Do. The former Light Heavyweight fighter has enjoyed a string of success since dropping to the UFC’s Middleweight division as he is currently on a four fight winning streak, including victories over Nick Ring, Kendall Grove, Yushin Okami and Hector Lombard. Boetsch is a member of the AMC Pankration Gym in Maine. He holds a career record of 16-4.

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Constantinos “Costa” Philippou is a 33-year-old fighter who was born in Limassol, Cyprus. He now resides and trains in New York City, New York where he is a member of the Serra-Longo Fight Team. Philippou is a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, but does his best work in the striking department. He is a talented and powerful striker who is technically sound and can throw bombs with the best of the Middleweight division. Currently riding a four fight-winning streak, Philippou holds a pro record of 11-2 with 1 No Contest.

Analysis and Prediction: Philippou has come a long way since his UFC debut where he was outworked on the mat by Nick Catone, but the game plan to defeat him likely remains the same. Boetsch has had a successful run since making the drop to Middleweight and he’s simply massive for the weight class. His style has remained the same as he remains a true grinder. He does his best work in close, using clinches to utilize dirty boxing and score trips and takedowns from there where he can work his top control game and ground and pound. Philippou needs to keep this fight at a distance if he wants to be successful, but I don’t think his footwork can keep him at range long enough to win this fight. Despite some success for Philippou I think Boetsch moves his way up the ladder another rung. Tim Boetsch via Unanimous Decision

Main Card (Pay Per View): Lightweight Bout: Joe Lauzon vs. Jim Miller

Joe “J-Lau” Lauzon is a 28-year-old fighter from East Bridgewater, Massachusetts. Lauzon is best known for his highly entertaining style of fighting, as he’s taken home 11 post-fight bonuses during his UFC career. Lauzon’s striking is decent and fundamentally sound, although at times he uses a bit too much boxing and not enough kicks to be wholly effective. Still, he does his best work on the mat, as the purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is excellent at creating submission opportunities during sweeps on the mat. The former Ultimate Fighter cast member is the head trainer of his own gym Lauzon MMA in Massachusetts and holds a career record of 22-7.

Jim Miller is a 29-year-old fighter from Sparta Township, New Jersey. Miller is taking this fight as a late replacement for Gray Maynard. Miller is one half of the Miller Brothers, as his older brother Dan also competes in the UFC as a Welterweight. Miller is a member of the AMA Fight Club in New Jersey, where he is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Miller is an aggressive fighter who is constantly moving forward against his opponents. His striking is fairly rudimentary, but he has decent power and a strong one-two which transitions well into takedown shots that he blends well. On the mat, Miller is a talented grappler who is dangerous anytime that there is a scramble on the mat. He holds a career record of 21-4.

Analysis and Prediction: Both of these guys are aggressive and love to fight balls to the wall. Both are also decent strikers that do their best work on the mat, so it will be an interesting styles clash to say the least. Lauzon has to be one of the best first round fighters in the UFC, as he absolutely storms out of the gates constantly searching for a finish, if he’s smart he’s been watching Nate Diaz’s one sided beat down of Miller over and over to glean some tips from it. That loss may also be important to Miller, since it will be his first fight since and how he responds to that loss will say a lot about how this fight goes down. Miller has the skills to grind out a decision using his wrestling to control and dominate Lauzon on the mat, but Lauzon is very dangerous at any time. As it is I think Miller uses takedowns and top control to wear out Lauzon and eventually comes away with a decision victory, sealing the deal in the third round. Jim Miller via Unanimous Decision

Main Card (Pay Per View): Heavyweight Championship Bout: Junior Dos Santos vs. Cain Velasquez

Junior “Cigano” Dos Santos is a 28-year-old Brazilian fighter from Santa Catarina, Brazil. He is the reigning and defending UFC Heavyweight Champion, a belt that he won from his challenger Cain Velasquez. Dos Santos is one of the most talented and hardest hitting strikers in the Heavyweight division, owning 11Knockouts in 15 career victories. Dos Santos also has excellent grappling skills, holding a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu under famed fighter Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. Dos Santos is a member of the Black House Gym, training with Team Nogueira in Bahia, Brazil. Dos Santos is a dangerous fighter, who already holds a career victory via first round knockout against Velasquez. He holds a professional record of 15-1 and hasn’t lost since November of 2007.

Cain Velasquez is a Mexican-American fighter from Salinas, California. The 30-year-old is a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler from Arizona State University. Velasquez is a member of the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, California and is a former UFC Heavyweight Champion. Velasquez holds a brown belt in Guerilla Jiu Jitsu, which is a form of submission grappling more suited to modern MMA. Despite his previous loss to Dos Santos, many people have claimed that he took the bout with a significant knee injury since it was the UFC’s debut on Fox, and really shouldn’t have been fighting in the first place. Still, he remains a dangerous fighter wherever the bout takes place, as his striking has been rapidly improving and he’s a nightmare for anyone to handle on the mat. In his last bout he absolutely demolished Antonio Silva on the ground and left him a bloody mess, before finally earning a TKO in the first round. Velasquez holds a career record of 10-1, with his only loss coming against Dos Santos.

Analysis and Prediction: For many people the biggest question heading in to this contest is ‘Can Cain earn a takedown against Dos Santos?’ A man who has proven to be nearly impossible to takedown in the UFC, in fact he’s only been taken down once in his entire UFC career and it lasted for only seconds. For me, I think a more important question to consider is how is Dos Santos going to be able to handle himself if he does in fact end up underneath of Velasquez.

Cain has one of the most aggressive and nasty top games in the Heavyweight division. He throws ground and pound with bad intentions and his elbows can absolutely end your night as they cause significant damage. Cain is also a better striker than he showed in the first bout and to be honest, I think the injuries to both fighters are significant enough that the results of the first contest are barely even useful in a true fight analysis. Dos Santos’ trainers claim that he has one of the best ground games in the Heavyweight division, but even that isn’t going to be enough to contain Cain Velasquez, if he manages to score a takedown.

Dos Santos is surely going to be focusing on keeping this bout upright. Despite his claims that he’s ready to submit someone in the UFC, I’m not convinced he’s going to be pulling guard against a wrestler as talented as Velasquez. So for him, he’ll need to use footwork and an effective sprawl and brawl style to keep the bout standing and look for the big knockout shot. He’s shown that he can knock out almost anyone, if he hits them cleanly. Unfortunately I don’t think Velasquez will be nearly as slow or hittable as he was in their last encounter.

I don’t think Dos Santos can keep Velasquez at bay, and I think his advantage on the ground is far more significant that Dos Santos’ edge on the feet. That alone, combined with the fact that we’re going to see a significantly better and strong Velasquez make me think it’s going to be time for the challenger to reclaim his belt. I think he stops Dos Santos with strikes in the third round. Cain Velasquez via TKO in Round Three

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UFC The Ultimate Fighter 16 Finale Results and Wrap Up

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

On Saturday night the UFC brought the live finale of the American version of the latest season of The Ultimate Fighter to television once again on FX. Coach Roy Nelson battled late replacement fighter Matt Mitrione in the main event of the evening, while the co-main event featured the Welterweight finals of the reality show as Canada’s Mike Ricci took on Colton Smith. Let’s take a look at the main card fighters from both shows and see what’s next for each fighter.

The Ultimate Fighter: Team Carwin vs. Team Nelson

Featherweight Bout: Dustin Poirier defeated Jonathan Brookins via Submission (D’arce Choke) in Round 1 – 4:15

This was a highly entertaining bout for the four minutes that it lasted. The two exchanged wild punches at the beginning and that might be a slight cause for concern for Poirier. However near the end of the round he dropped Brookins momentarily, and then stuffed a takedown and locked up the D’Arce Choke that eventually coaxed a tap out.

What’s next for Poirier? He reclaimed his place in the top ten in the Featherweight division after his loss to the Korean Zombie. He’ll need another top ten opponent and there is one that makes a lot of sense. Chad Mendes fought on the Australian show this weekend and absolutely plastered his late replacement opponent in the first round. A bout between these two is perfect.

What’s next for Brookins? He probably needs a slight step down in competition to get his feet back under him. He’s a talented grappler that showed improved striking before Poirier tagged him at the end of the first. I think a bout against Bart Palaszewski makes a lot of sense.

Heavyweight Bout: Pat Barry defeated Shane del Rosario via KO (Punches) in Round 2 – 0:26

Shane del Rosario controlled the tempo of the first round and actually came somewhat close to finishing the bout in the first. However, he got sloppy and tried for a choke without setting it up properly which allowed Barry to escape, showing an improved ground awareness. In the second del Rosario seemed to visibly slow and left himself open to the big right hand that ended the bout.

What’s next for Barry? He still has a lot of liabilities on the ground but he’s a great striker and every time he throws a leg or body kick it’s absolutely sickening to hear the thud. Todd Duffee and Phil de Fries have an upcoming bout later this month at UFC 155. The winner of that bout would be a good choice. Against Duffee it’s a striker vs. striker brawl, if its de Fries he’s going to have to show off how much his ground skills have actually improved.

What’s next for del Rosario? He hasn’t exactly looked like the world-beater and top prospect that he was billed as when he came over from Strikeforce. He’s probably closing in on his last chance in the UFC and there’s another fighter who is in a similar bout in Dave Herman. Once Herman is done his “marijuana rehab” this fight makes sense with the loser likely getting the axe.

Welterweight Bout: Colton Smith defeated Mike Ricci via Unanimous Decision to win The Ultimate Fighter

Despite Ricci being the more highly touted fighter heading into the show and being one of the early favorites, Smith apparently didn’t get the memo to lay down and die. He smothered Ricci for fourteen of the fifteen minutes and didn’t give him any room to get his offense off. In the last minute Ricci nearly scored the last minute submission upset, but it wasn’t meant to be and Smith took home a clear-cut decision victory.

What’s next for Smith? According to him he’s heading to 155 pounds, which is probably a better weight class for him, but it’s always tough heading into the shark tank that is the UFC’s Lightweight division. There’s no easy fights for him there and he’s only got a handful of professional fights under his bout. KJ Noons and Ryan Couture are fighting at what’s expected to be the final Strikeforce show ever, the winner of that bout would be a good test for Smith.

What’s next for Ricci? He has also indicated that he plans on making the drop to 155 pounds. Again this probably the best decision for him, but it’s going to be a tough place for him to fight. There are a number of smothering wrestlers at 155 and he’s going to have to prove that he can beat one of them if he wants to stay employed by the UFC. Danny Castillo and Paul Sass have an upcoming bout and both are known primarily as ground fighters. The loser of that match up is probably a good choice for Ricci’s next bout.

Heavyweight Bout: Roy Nelson defeated Matt Mitrione via TKO (Punches) in Round 1 – 2:58

Mitrione looked okay at the beginning of the bout, getting the better of some of the early exchanges. Nelson wasn’t going to be denied though as he put his iron chin to good use. Taking big punches and walking through them hardly sounds like a good strategy, but it works for Nelson. Halfway through the first he landed a couple of big counter punches right up the middle that floored Mitrione and follow up punches on the ground sealed the deal.

What’s next for Nelson? He said after the fight that since his fight with Carwin has been called off due to injury multiple times, he’s not interested in setting that up again. Still, there’s some bad blood there and the fight makes sense. If they go a different direction Cheick Kongo turned down the late notice bout against Nelson, who had some choice words to say about it. With a full training camp there’s no reason for Kongo to say no this time.

What’s next for Mitrione? Hard to say, since he looked okay but this makes two straight losses for Mitrione. Mike Russow and Shawn Jordan have an upcoming bout in January and the loser of that bout would make sense for Mitrione to get some standing back in the division.

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UFC The Ultimate Fighter 16 Finale Predictions and Preview

December 14, 2012 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

Fresh off an extremely successful night of fights last weekend on FOX, the UFC is bringing another action packed weekend of fights. After UFC on FX 6 on Friday night, live from the Gold Coast in Australia, the UFC brings another exciting event to the free television airwaves with The Ultimate Fighter Finale. The event airs on FX live from The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

A heavyweight clash headlines the event in what was originally scheduled to be a coach’s battle, an injury to Shane Carwin forced his withdrawal from the event and Matt Mitrione has stepped in to fight opposing coach Roy Nelson. The co-main event of the evening features the Welterweight finale of the show as Canadian Mike Ricci takes on Colton Smith. Other main card bouts include a Featherweight bout between Dustin Poirier and Jonathan Brookins, a Lightweight bout between Melvin Guillard and Jamie Varner as well as a Heavyweight tilt between Pat Barry and Shane del Rosario.

Preliminary Card (Facebook): Flyweight Bout: Jared Papazian vs. Tim Elliott

Jared “The Jackhammer” Papazian is a 24-year-old fighter from West Hills, California. Papazian is a member of the Gracie Barra Gym in Encino, California who will be making his Flyweight debut. He holds a career record of 14-8, with 1 No Contest. Tim Elliott is a 25-year-old fighter from Wichita, Kansas. Elliott is a member of the Grindhouse MMA Gym in Lee’s Summit, Missouri. He holds a career record of 8-3.

Quick Pick: Tim Elliott via Unanimous Decision

Preliminary Card (Facebook): Lightweight Bout: Mike Rio vs. John Cofer

Mike “The Wolverine” Rio is a 31-year-old fighter from Miami, Florida. A member of TUF: Live he is a member of the Zen Jiu Jitsu Gym in his hometown. The former NAIA Wrestler holds a career record of 8-1. John Cofer is a 28-year-old fighter from Athens, Georgia. A member of the Hardcore Gym in Athens, the former NCAA wrestler was also a cast member of The Ultimate Fighter: Live. Cofer holds a career record of 7-2.

Quick Pick: Mike Rio via TKO in Round Three

Preliminary Card (Facebook): Bantamweight Bout: Reuben Duran vs. Hugo Viana

Reuben “Hurricane” Duran is a 29-year-old fighter from Chula Vista, California. He is a member of the Pinnacle Jiu Jitsu and MMA Gym in Redlands, California. He holds a career record of 8-3-1. Hugo “Wolverine” Viana is a 30-year-old Brazilian fighter from Salvador, Bahia, Brazil. A cast member on the first season of The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil, he is a member of the Champion Fight Team in Brazil. He holds a perfect career record of 6-0.

Quick Pick: Hugo Viana via Unanimous Decision

Preliminary Card (Fuel TV): Welterweight Bout: TJ Waldburger vs. Nick Catone

TJ Waldburger is a 24-year-old fighter from Temple, Texas. He is a member of the Grappler’s Lair Fight Team in Belton, Texas. He holds a career record of 15-7. Nick “The Jersey Devil” Catone is a 31-year-old fighter from Brick Township, New Jersey. The former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler trains out of his own gym, the Nick Catone MMA Academy in New Jersey. He holds a career record of 9-3.

Quick Pick: TJ Waldburger via Submission in Round One

Preliminary Card (Fuel TV): Lightweight Bout: Vinc Pichel vs. Rustam Khabilov

Vinc “From Hell” Pichel is a 30-year-old American fighter from Simi Valley, California. Pichel was a cast member of The Ultimate Fighter: Live who trains at Big John McCarthy’s Ultimate Training Academy in California. He holds a perfect professional record of 7-0. Rustam Khabilov is a 26-year-old fighter from Makhachkala, Russia. He is a former Combat Sambo world champion who is a member of the Legion Sport Club Fight Team. Khabilov also splits his training time at Greg Jackson’s MMA Academy in New Mexico when he is in the USA. He holds a career record of 14-1.

Quick Pick: Rustam Khabilov via TKO in Round One

Preliminary Card (Fuel TV): Bantamweight Bout: Johnny Bedford vs. Marcos Vinicius

“Brutal” Johnny Bedford is a 29-year-old fighter from Woodville, Ohio. Like many of the fighters on this card he is a former cast member of The Ultimate Fighter, appearing on the fourteenth season of the show. He trains out of the Fitness Fight Factory in Fort Worth, Texas. He holds a career record of 18-9-1. Marcos “Vina” Vinicius is a 33-year-old fighter from Sao Jose dos Pinhais, Brazil. He was a competitor on the first season of The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil who trains at the Striker’s House Gym in Curitiba, Brazil. He holds a career record of 20-3-1.

Quick Pick: Johnny Bedford via Unanimous Decision

Preliminary Card (Fuel TV): Welterweight Bout: Mike Pyle vs. James Head

Mike “Quicksand” Pyle is a 37-year-old fighter from Dresden, Tennessee. A brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Pyle is a member of the Xtreme Couture Gym in Las Vegas, Nevada. He holds a career record of 23-8-1. James Head is a 28-year-old fighter from Highland, Illinois. A member of the Lovato Jiu Jitsu Gym in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma he holds a professional record of 9-2.

Quick Pick: James Head via TKO in Round Three

Main Card (FX): Featherweight Bout: Dustin Poirier vs. Jonathan Brookins

Dustin “The Diamond” Poirier is a 23-year-old fighter from Lafayette, Louisiana. He was one of the top prospects in the Featherweight division, but a loss to Chan Sung Jung has dropped his stock slightly. Poirier is a tough and well-rounded fighter who has decent technical striking, but is also very dangerous on the ground. Poirier is a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu who now trains with the American Top Team in Louisiana. He holds a career record of 12-2, including 10 stoppage victories.

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Jonathan Brookins is a 27-year-old fighter from Portland, Oregon. Brookins is best known as a cast member and the eventual winner of the twelfth season of The Ultimate Fighter. Brookins is a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu who trains out of the Gracie Barra Gym in Orlando, Florida. Despite winning the show at Lightweight, he is a natural Featherweight fighter, who is 1-1 inside the UFC since making the cut back to Featherweight. Brookins holds a career record of 13-5.

Analysis and Prediction: Poirier was formerly a top contender in the Featherweight division before Chan Sung Jung ran him over. Poirier is a talented boxer who is very active on the feet (even in his loss to Jung.) Poirier is also a talented grappler, despite only having a purple belt. Brookins’ striking isn’t great and he usually does his best work on the mat. Brookins is taller and is probably going to be the larger fighter on Saturday night. Poirier was unable to stop the takedowns against Jung and Brookins is a talented wrestler, but he’s likely been drilling takedown defense in preparation for this fight. Poirier is the better striker who will win most of the striking exchanges and if he’s worked on his sprawl well enough, he should be able to fend off most of Brookins’ takedowns. It’ll be close, but he’s probably got enough in the tank to take a decision. Dustin Poirier via Unanimous Decision

Main Card (FX): Lightweight Bout: Melvin Guillard vs. Jamie Varner

Melvin “The Young Assassin” Guillard is a 29-year-old fighter from New Orleans, Louisiana. Guillard was a competitor on the second season of The Ultimate Fighter. Since his time on the show Guillard has had mixed results inside the octagon, but his natural athleticism and striking power make him one of the toughest match ups in the UFC’s Lightweight division. A brown belt in Judo, he now trains with the Blackzillians at the Jaco Hybrid Training Center in Boca Raton, Florida. Guillard holds a career record of 30-11-2 with 1 No Contest.

Jamie “The Worm” Varner is a 28-year-old fight from Phoenix, Arizona. Varner is a former WEC Lightweight Champion who is coming off of a Fight of the Night performance against Joe Lauzon. Varner is a member of the AMA Fight Club training in Whippany, New Jersey. Varner is best known for his wrestling, often using his takedowns and ground and pound to control his victims on the mat. However, Varner has never been one to shy away from a brawl and often gets drawn into standup exchanges, even when it is to his detriment. He holds a career record of 20-7-1 with 2 No Contests.

Analysis and Prediction: By the match up the advantage here should go to Varner. Guillard has always struggled against talented wrestlers who can take him down and control him on the ground. Unfortunately Varner has never met a brawler he didn’t want to throw down with, and that’s going to put him right into Guillard’s wheelhouse. If Varner plays it smart, he uses constant pressure, takedowns and ground and pound to search for a submission opening and tap Guillard. The more likely outcome is he stands and brawls for two and a half rounds, before he gets blasted in the third and knocked out. Either way, he’ll probably stay employed if he does that and might even earn Fight of the Night honors, he still won’t win the fight though. Melvin Guillard via TKO in Round Three

Main Card (FX): Heavyweight Bout: Pat Barry vs. Shane del Rosario

Pat “HD” Barry is a 33-year-old fighter from New Orleans, Louisiana. Barry is a striker who is a former professional Sanshou and K-1 Kickboxer. As a pro kickboxer he compiled a record of 18-6-1. He is quite short and compact for a Heavyweight fighter, standing at only 5’11”. His compact frame often leaves him at a reach disadvantage, but also allows him to generate a lot of power in his strikes. Barry is a member of Team Death Clutch, training at The Academy in Alexandria, Minnesota. Barry holds a professional MMA record of 7-5.

Shane “No Limits” del Rosario is a 29-year-old fighter from Orange County, California. Like his opponent he is also a former professional kickboxer. He is a very talented and well-rounded fighter who recently made the jump from Strikeforce to the ranks of the UFC. Del Rosario is a member of the Team Oyama Gym in Irvine, California. He holds a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and until his last bout was undefeated as a pro fighter. He holds a career record of 11-1, with his only loss coming against Stipe Miocic at UFC 146.

Analysis and Prediction: Barry is probably the more powerful striker, and I think that’s probably his only advantage. Despite his past as a pro kickboxer, Barry is facing another former professional striker and given del Rosario’s reach advantage, he’s probably going to be able to exploit Barry on the feet. Add to that Barry’s ground defense basically resembles him trying to be a fish out of water and del Rosario is actually a talented grappler and this one has bad news written all over it for Barry. Shane del Rosario via Submission in Round Two

Main Card (FX): The Ultimate Fighter Welterweight Final Bout: Colton Smith vs. Mike Ricci

Colton Smith is a 25-year-old fighter from Manassas, Virginia. He is relatively new to the MMA game, in fact before entering the house he bad never fought a fighter who wasn’t making his professional debut. Smith is a former member of the US Armed Forces who now resides in Ft. Hood, Texas. Smith is a member of the Vanguard Fight Team who made his way to the live finale by decisioning all of his opponents inside the house. Smith holds a professional MMA record of 3-1.

Mike “The Martian” Ricci is a 26-year-old Canadian fighter from Montreal, Quebec. He is a member of the famed Tristar Gym in Montreal, Quebec. Ricci is an accomplished fighter who has fought much tougher competition than his TUF Finale opponents, including the likes of Jordan Mein, Pat Curran and current UFC fighter Daron Cruickshank. Ricci is a diverse striker, but is well-rounded. He took two unanimous decisions on his way to the semifinals of the show before scoring a highlight first round knockout in his semifinal fight. He holds a professional record of 7-2.

Analysis and Prediction: Smith is a feel good story from the show, but he’s probably going to be overmatched by Ricci in almost every way here. Smith is a grinder, who isn’t really great at anything, but isn’t awful in any particular area. Unfortunately for him, Ricci is better anywhere that the fight goes. Ricci has more big fight experience, he’s fought a better caliber of competition throughout his career and he’s from a better training camp outside of the show. Ricci wins this one in pretty dominant fashion. Mike Ricci via TKO in Round Two

Main Card (FX): Heavyweight Bout: Roy Nelson vs. Matt Mitrione

Roy “Big Country” Nelson is a 36-year-old fighter from Las Vegas, Nevada. Nelson is a veteran of the MMA game, with 24 career fights. He was a member of and the eventual winner of the tenth season of The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights. Nelson’s bout on that season against Kimbo Slice is currently the 2nd-most watched MMA fight in history. Nelson is a talented grappler with a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Nelson is a decent albeit sometimes sloppy striker who also has big power in his hands and an incredibly durable chin, having been knocked out only once in his professional career. Nelson is a former IFL Heavyweight Champion and has also fought for notable promotions like EliteXC and BODOG Fight. Nelson holds a career record of 17-7.

Matt “Meathead” Mitrione is a 34-year-old fighter from Springfield, Illinois. Mitrione is a former NFL player who played for the New York Giants and the Minnesota Vikings. Like his opponent for this bout, he was a cast member of The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights. Mitrione is currently training at the Jaco Hybrid Training Center Florida with the Blackzillians, while also spending time at Duke Roufus’ Roufusport Gym in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Mitrione has fought all of his career bouts in the UFC and was beginning to gain recognition as an up-and-comer in the Heavyweight division, but that was derailed by a lackluster decision loss to Cheick Kongo. He holds a career record of 5-1.

Analysis and Prediction: Mitrione was once considered a rising prospect in the UFC’s Heavyweight division. He looked thoroughly unimpressive in his bout against Kongo though. Nelson hasn’t looked overly impressive in some of his more recent bouts either, but he has faced much stiffer competition as of late and throughout the duration of his career.
Mitrione does his best work when he’s able to strike freely, but against Nelson that’s not going to happen. Nelson is going to continually crowd Mitrione, and force him to work from in close. Nelson is also excellent in the clinch as his dirty boxing packs a lot of power. On the show Mitrione was exploited for how poor his defensive wrestling is on his season of TUF and I’m sure Nelson is preparing for that. Nelson earns a takedown from the clinch in the first round and absolutely batters Mitrione for a stoppage victory.

Roy Nelson via TKO in Round One

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UFC On FOX 4 Shogun Vs. Vera Predictions & Analysis

August 03, 2012 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

The injury-bug has continued to plague the UFC this summer and after a fairly disappointing effort in Calgary, Alberta for UFC 149, the UFC is hoping to right the ship this weekend on network TV. The UFC rolls into the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California this weekend for their fourth offering on Fox.

Dana White and the hype machine have stoked the fires in an effort to try and gain casual fan interest in this card by promising that one of the Light Heavyweights in the Main and Co-Main Event will be one of the next men to challenge for the Light Heavyweight Championship. As Eric has discussed already in a couple of excellent blogs, the effort is almost laughable from a credibility point of view, but it’s a stroke of marketing genius that is surely going to get a few more eyeballs on the product come Saturday night.

The Main Event of the evening sees former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua looks to punch his ticket to another shot at the championship as he brings his high-octane style to the cage against former Heavyweight title hopeful Brandon “The Truth” Vera. The co-main event features two more Light Heavyweights looking to get into the title hunt as Ryan “Darth” Bader takes on Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida. Two more bouts fill out the main Fox Televised Card as Joe Lauzon battles Jamie Varner in Lightweight action and Mike Swick returns from an extended layoff to take on DaMarques Johnson in Welterweight action.

Preliminary Card (Fuel TV): Flyweight Bout: John Moraga vs. Ulysses Gomez

John Moraga is making his UFC debut in this bout. Moraga has only one defeat in his professional career and that was to recent Ultimate Fighter winner John Dodson. Moraga is a member of the MMA Lab and Arizona Combat Sports Gym in Phoenix, Arizona. He has a professional record of 10-1 with 6 stoppage victories. “Useless” Ulysses Gomez is a top Flyweight fighter who has cut his teeth in the Tachi Palace Fights organization and is a former TPF Flyweight and Bantamweight champion. Gomez is a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and has the majority of his wins via Submission. He is a member of Simpson Go’s Cobra Kai Gym in Las Vegas, Nevada and holds a professional record of 9-2.

Analysis and Prediction: Both of these fighters are submission experts and talented grapplers. The one knock against Moraga is that his competition is super soft. Gomez has fought some of the top names in the Flyweight division under the Tachi Palace promotion and although his results have been mixed, he’s at least been to the show. His big fight experience carries him through as he takes a submission victory late in the bout. Ulysses Gomez via Submission in Round Three

Preliminary Card (Fuel TV): Featherweight Bout: Manny Gamburyan vs. Michihiro Omigawa

Manvel “The Anvil” Gamburyan is an American-Armenian fighter from North Hollywood, California. He was a finalist as a Lightweight on the fifth season of The Ultimate Fighter. Gamburyan is a black belt in Judo and a black belt in Kyokushin karate. Gamburyan is a grinder, who does his best work on the mat, using takedowns and his Judo based top control to dominate his opponents on the mat. He isn’t the most talented striker, but he’s thrown some big power punches in the past and has shown an ability to knock opponents out. Gamburyan owns a career record of 11-7. Michihiro Omigawa is a Japanese fighter from the Hidehiko Yoshida dojo in Tokyo, Japan. Like his opponent he is a black belt in Judo. Omigawa has had success in a number of Japanese promotions including Shooto, Deep and Sengoku. Omigawa has a career record of 13-11-1.

Analysis and Prediction: Both men are top-level Judokas, so the likely scenario is that their Judo cancels one another out. With the grappling game being about even, the likely event is that the person who earns the takedown and ends up on top will win the battle on the mat. The person more likely to score takedowns is Gamburyan. Omigawa is undoubtedly the more technical striker, but he tends to get into brawls and he hasn’t shown stout takedown defense in the past. Gamburyan uses takedowns and top control to grind a decision out. Manny Gamburyan via Unanimous Decision

Preliminary Card (Fuel TV): Heavyweight Bout: Phil De Fries vs. Oli Thompson

Philip De Fries is a fighter from Sunderland, England. He is one of the better grapplers in the Heavyweight division who has the majority of his wins by Submission. De Fries has stopped six of his opponents in the first round and most of his wins are by Rear Naked Choke. De Fries has a career record of 8-1, with his only loss in the UFC to Stipe Miocic. Oli Thompson is another British fighter from East Sussex, England. Thompson is a former strongman competitor and fared well as a professional strongman. Thompson doesn’t have the greatest of striking skills and his grappling game is based more so on strength than on actual technique. Still he has translated that brute strength relatively well as he owns a career record of 9-3.

Analysis and Prediction: This fight is likely going to be a slow and sloppy affair, but with that said, someone has to win. Neither man is a talented striker, but Thompson hits harder. Both of these guys are pretty terrible wrestlers, but are talented with submissions. I think Thompson will be able to use his brute strength to overpower De Fries and work away from top control. I doubt he gets a submission, but he gets enough top control time to win the decision. Oli Thompson via Unanimous Decision

Preliminary Card (Fuel TV): Featherweight Bout: Josh Grispi vs. Rani Yahya

Josh “The Fluke” Grispi was formerly one of the top prospects in the Featherweight division, but his hype train has been seriously derailed in his last two fights. Grispi is only 23-years-old and has shown some serious flashes of brilliance in the past, it’s hard to make what’s going on with his last two bouts. Grispi is a member of the South Shore Sportfighting Gym in Rockland, Massachusetts. He holds a career record of 14-3. Rani Yahya is a 27-year-old Brazilian fighter from the Constrictor Fight Team in Brasilia, Brazil. Yahya is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and is one of the top grapplers in the Featherweight division. Despite starting his career with fairly limited striking skills, he has shown some significant improvements in his skills and although he still has some shortfalls. Yahya holds a career record of 16-7 with 14 wins via Submission.

Analysis and Prediction: I have a really hard time figuring out what’s going on with Grispi. To be perfectly blunt, he’s sucked up his last two fights and his striking looked absolutely awful. In almost all of his bouts before that he’s looked impressive and technically sound. Yahya is definitely the more talented grappler and if this bout goes to the mat I think Yahya has the chops to submit him. Still I believe in Grispi and I think he rights the ship on Saturday night. He keeps the bout standing long enough to take a decision. Josh Grispi via Unanimous Decision

Preliminary Card (Fuel TV): Light Heavyweight Bout: Phil Davis vs. Wagner Prado

Phil “Mr. Wonderful” Davis is an American fighter from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Davis is a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler from Penn State University. He is a member of the Alliance MMA gym in Chula Vista, California. He has translated his wrestling skills well to the Octagon, although at times he struggles with mixing his strikes with takedowns to close the distance. Davis is a competent grappler but he is coming off of his first career loss in a bout where he was completely dominated in the striking game for five rounds by Rashad Evans. Still Davis is a top prospect and holds a career record of 9-1. Wagner “Caldeirao” Prado is a Brazilian fighter from Sao Paulo, Brazil. He is a late-replacement for Chad Griggs who was forced to withdraw from the bout due to injury. Prado is a member of the Team Nogueira Gym in Brazil and is a Muay Thai striker with seven stoppage victories. Prado is a physically massive fighter who throws his looping punches with bad intentions. Prado is undefeated as a professional with an 8-0 record.

Analysis and Prediction: There is a decent chance of an upset in this one, although not a great one. Prado hits incredibly hard and throws his punches with bad intentions. Davis is a pretty awful striker and struggled against Antonio Rogerio Nogueira in their bout, if he lets Prado hit him that much there’s a good chance he’s sunk. Davis is significantly better than anyone Prado has faced before and is the top grappler that has ever tried to take Prado down. If he scores one takedown, that will likely be enough to seal the fight, as I like Davis to transition for a submission, but his striking isn’t good and he struggles at closing the distance. Don’t be surprised to see Davis win, but there’s an upset brewing. Wagner Prado via KO in Round One

Preliminary Card (Fuel TV): Featherweight Bout: Cole Miller vs. Nam Phan

Cole “Magrino” Miller is an American fighter from Macon, Georgia. Miller is a member of the American Top Team fighting out of Boca Raton, Florida. At 6’1” Miller is one of the tallest and lankiest fighters in the Featherweight division. Those lanky limbs along with his grappling ability make Miller a tough submission threat for any fighter to deal with.  Miller holds a career record of 18-6.  Nam Phan is an American fighter from Westminster, California. He is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Karate and has recently switched his training camp to join the Team Alpha Male Gym in Sacramento. Phan is a talented striker with a fan-friendly style who isn’t one to shy away from a brawl, but he’ll be significantly overmatched in the grappling department against Miller. Phan holds a career record of 17-10.

Analysis and Prediction: Phan may be a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, but he is damned near useless at grappling from bottom position. In his last bout against Jimy Hettes he was absolutely worked on the mat and was just pummeled from top position. Although Hettes is a step above Miller in grappling ability, the American Top Team fighter still has excellent top control and nasty ground and pound. If Phan can’t control Miller on top of him, he’s going to be in for another beating. He wins the striking exchanges, but doesn’t hit hard enough to stop Miller, eventually Miller gets on top and brings the pain. Phan was able to survive under Hettes, so I doubt Miller is able to earn a finish, but it should be a fairly one-sided decision. Cole Miller via Unanimous Decision

Main Card (FOX): Welterweight Bout: Mike Swick vs. DaMarques Johnson

“Quick” Mike Swick is an American fighter from Houston, Texas. He is best known for his stint on the first season of The Ultimate Fighter. Swick is a well-rounded fighter who has decent striking, solid takedown defense and a nasty guillotine choke. He is a member of the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, California. Swick has been dealing with a number of ailments and injuries lately and this will actually be his first bout in over two years, his last bout coming at UFC 109 in February of 2010. Swick holds a career record of 14-4. DaMarques “Darkness” Johnson is an American fighter who is a former cast-member on the UK vs. USA season of The Ultimate Fighter. He is a member of the Elite Performance Gym in Sandy, Utah. Johnson is also a well-rounded fighter who has split his most recent bouts, going 3-3 in his last six. Johnson holds a career record of 16-10.

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Analysis and Prediction: The biggest concern for Swick is obviously how he is going to adjust to being back in the cage after over two years on the sidelines. However one thing to note is a big part of his layoff was a stomach disease, which has forced him into a much healthier diet, which should actually have a positive effect on his weight cut to 170 pounds. Johnson is almost a mirror image of Swick, although not quite as quick and not as technically sound. If Swick can get into a rhythm and doesn’t look completely ring-rusted he’ll take a lopsided decision. Mike Swick via Unanimous Decision

Main Card (FOX): Lightweight Bout: Joe Lauzon vs. Jamie Varner

Joe “J-Lau” Lauzon is an American fighter from East Bridgewater, Massachusetts. Lauzon is a member of the Reality Self Defense Gym in his hometown. Lauzon is a talented grappler with 17 career wins via Submission. Lauzon is a purple belt in BJJ who is best known for his stint on the fifth season of The Ultimate Fighter after his stunning upset of coach Jens Pulver before the show. Lauzon is an entertaining fighter who is known as a bit of a bonus hunter in the UFC owning seven Fight Night bonuses in his UFC career. Lauzon is best known for his grappling skills but he actually has decent striking and can throw knockout blows if given the opportunity. He holds a career record of 21-7. Jamie “C-4” Varner is an American fighter from Phoenix, Arizona. He is a member of the MMA Lab and Arizona Combat Sports Gym in Glendale, Arizona. Varner recently returned to the UFC after being cut and made a huge impact by defeating the formerly undefeated top prospect Edson Barboza by Knockout. Varner does his best work by grinding his opponents, using takedowns and top control to outwork his opponents. Varner’s striking is definitely not technically sound and he’s a bit too hittable, but he throws nasty power in his hands and his overhand right can put anyone to sleep, just like he showed against Barboza in his last bout. Varner holds a career record of 20-6-1.

Analysis and Prediction: Lauzon is well rounded but is a bit overhyped in my opinion. He is a very talented grappler, but doesn’t do his best work unless he is able to take his opponent down and work from top control. Against Varner he’ll struggle to get the fight to the mat, as Varner is the more talented wrestler and the physically stronger fighter. Striking wise Lauzon is more technically competent, but Varner has the big lights out power. Although Varner gets hit a bit too much, he was able to walk through some serious shots against Barboza before landing the big power shot. If he can weather Lauzon’s opening salvo Varner should be able to take over late in the fight. He lands a big power shot late in round two and throws his name into the race for Comeback Fighter of the Year. Jamie Varner via KO in Round Two

Main Card (FOX): Light Heavyweight Bout: Lyoto Machida vs. Ryan Bader

Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida is a Japanese-Brazilian fighter from Bahia, Brazil. Machida is a black belt in Shotokan Karate and a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Machida is a former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion from the Black House Gym in Brazil where he is a training partner of UFC Middleweight champion Anderson Silva and the Nogueira brothers. Machida is best known for his elusive, counter-striking style, which he uses to great effect. Machida is an expert at creating space and forcing his opponents into making mistakes and leaving themselves open to counters. Machida holds a career record of 17-3.

Ryan “Darth” Bader is an American fighter from the MMA Lab in Glendale, Arizona. Bader is best known as the winner of the eighth season of The Ultimate Fighter. Bader is a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler from Arizona State University. Bader relies mostly on his wrestling skills during his bouts as he looks to use takedowns and top control to outwork his opponents. Bader is also talented at using ground and pound to create openings, allowing himself opportunities to advance his position and pass the guard of his opponents, moving himself to more advantageous positions. Bader is coming off of a career win against Quinton Jackson at UFC 144 in Japan. In addition to his strong wrestling skills, Bader also packs a big punch with his big overhand right, although he is somewhat slow and predictable with the shot and opens himself up well for counters at times. Still he owns a career record of 14-2 and is a big win away from title contention.

Analysis and Prediction: Machida is one of the most difficult fighters to game plan for, simply because his style is very hard to emulate. Bader’s best chance lies on using a tight jab and takedowns to keep Machida fairly grounded. Machida is a black belt in BJJ, but he hasn’t shown any elite submission skills from his back and Bader is unlikely to be submitted in that fashion. Bader loves to throw his overhand right, but that is just asking for trouble as that will leave him wide open for Machida counters, which is basically his bread and butter. Bader will get flustered and eventually get reckless trying to chase down Machida. When this happens he leaves himself wide open for the counter kill shot, which Machida lands and stops the fight late in round three. Lyoto Machida via TKO in Round Three

Main Card (FOX): Light Heavyweight Bout: Mauricio Rua vs. Brandon Vera

Mauricio “Shogun” Rua is a Brazilian fighter from Curitiba, Brazil. He is a former member of top Brazilian Gym the Chute Boxe Academy, who now fights out of the Universidade da Luta (University of Fighting) out of his hometown. Rua is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and is also a former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion. Rua is best known for his highly aggressive style, which includes power punches and snapping leg kicks. Rua is constantly moving forward, constantly pressuring his opponents and is extremely talented at cutting off angles inside the Octagon, forcing his opponents into corners and taking advantage of the striking exchanges. Rua was the winner of the 2005 Pride Fighting Championships Middleweight Grand Prix. Rua is coming off of a Fight of the Year bout against Dan Henderson in the main event of UFC 139. He holds a career record of 20-6.

Brandon “The Truth” Vera was once thought to be the top title contender at Heavyweight and Light Heavyweight in the UFC. Those days are long gone, but Vera finds himself with the chance to leap right back into title contention with a big upset victory against Rua on Saturday night. Vera is a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu who is a member of the Alliance MMA Gym in San Diego, California. Vera is a well-rounded fighter with Muay Thai skills and Greco-Roman skills. Vera has looked impressive against lower-tier competition in the past, but the knock against him has been that he fades in the face of pressure. Facing an opponent like Shogun, he’s certain to encounter some pressure and violence. Vera holds a career record of 12-5-1.

Analysis and Prediction: Brandon Vera was once the pride of the UFC, expected to be a top contender at both 205 and 265 pounds. Those days are long gone and Vera has been less than impressive in recent years. Vera does some of his best work from the clinch, allowing him to employ both his Muay Thai and Greco Roman skills at the same time. Unfortunately for him Rua is absolutely nasty from the clinch and he has absolutely devastating knees, which will ruin anyone’s night. Vera has looked impressive in the past, but hasn’t in a long while. He was dropped by Eliot Marshall and was absolutely destroyed by Thiago Silva (Silva failing a drug test is the only reason he wasn’t cut from the UFC.) Shogun comes blitzing right out of the gate and storms Vera. Vera does his usual thing and folds up shop at the onslaught, earning Shogun an impressive stoppage victory in the first round and probably a shot at the Light Heavyweight Championship. Mauricio Rua via TKO in Round One


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