UFC 159: Jones Vs. Sonnen Results and Wrap Up

April 29, 2013 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

The fight has come and gone, and at the end of the day it appears as though the Light Heavyweight title fight between Chael Sonnen and Jon Jones was indeed the mismatch that so many people thought it would be. The rest of the card was a mixed bag, including some highly entertaining bouts, some thoroughly lackluster bouts and a few controversial stoppages mixed with borderline terrible officiating in some cases. Let’s take a look back at the card that was UFC 159 and see what’s next for the main card fighters involved.

Lightweight Bout: Pat Healy defeated Jim Miller via Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 4:02 of Round Three

The opening round of this bout went almost exactly as most people (including the bookies) expected it to. Miller dominated much of the action both standing and on the ground, in fact he came close to stopping the fight at one point. Then in the second round, the tide began to turn. Healy continued to grind against Miller, not abandoning his wrestling for a second, using takedowns and top control to steal back a round and make it even heading into the third. In the final round, Healy continued to keep up the pressure while Miller began to fade slightly. Healy took advantage on the ground of a Miller mistake and was able to sink in a Rear Naked Choke and coax a tap with less than a minute remaining in the fight.

What’s next for Healy? He knocked off a top-ranked contender and the Strikeforce Lightweights are proving that they are every bit as talented as their UFC counterparts. There are a couple of big Lightweight contest coming up most notably Evan Dunham taking on Rafael dos Anjos, the winner of that fight would be a logical match up. As would recent Strikeforce import Josh Thomson who recently knocked off top Lightweight Nate Diaz.

What’s next for Miller? He’s doing nothing to shake his status as Lightweight gatekeeper. He’s a tough, well-rounded fighter but he struggled against Healy who seemed to dwarf him come fight time. This has some people speculating that a drop to Featherweight could be in Miller’s future. For now, we’ll assume he’s staying at Lightweight. He should take a fair step down in competition now that he’s lost 2 of his last 3. Brazilian Thiago Tavares could be a good match up for Miller when he’s done his suspension, or possibly former TUF winner Tony Ferguson.

Light Heavyweight Bout: Phil Davis defeated Vinny Magalhaes via Unanimous Decision after Three Rounds

Phil Davis continued to win in mostly unimpressive fashion this weekend. Despite the trash talk leading up to this fight, Davis never let it bother him and never showed a lot of emotion during the fight. In some ways, that has to be considered a good sign, but in other ways, one really wonders why Davis was so uninspired to go after a finish. Despite dominating the first two rounds and well on his way in the third, Davis never looked to get overly aggressive or search out a finish, instead he was content to cruise the final minutes of the fight and lock up a decision. While it is another win for Davis, many fans are left complaining about Davis and his fights, which isn’t going to earn him a shot against Jon Jones any faster.

What’s next for Davis? Even though he didn’t show us any killer instinct or finishing ability, he still showed that he’s a dominant wrestler who can absolutely smother anyone underneath him. He has one career loss and that was to top contender Rashad Evans, so Davis should be working his way back to the top of the Light Heavyweight pecking order. Ryan Bader is a wrestling standout with big power and has a top ten ranking, he’s the fighter that probably makes the most sense for Davis right now.

What’s next for Magalhaes? Back to the unaired preliminary card is my guess. He did his best to sell and hype this fight on social media by engaging in a war of words with Davis, but he wasn’t able to do much inside the octagon where it counts. If Ilir Latifi is getting another fight in the UFC for doing them a solid in Sweden, match him against Magalhaes and get rid of the loser. Put that fight in Europe or Brazil and it seems like a fine fit to me.

Heavyweight Bout: Roy Nelson defeated Cheick Kongo via KO (Punch) at 2:03 of Round One

Cheick Kongo had a massive reach advantage heading into this fight and that was what some people believed would be the difference. Instead, Nelson did what he does best. Relied on his iron chin to close the distance and crowd Kongo up on the inside. He landed a couple of big right hands on a referee break from against the cage and Kongo was down for the count.

What’s next for Nelson? He’s fought a lot of the top names in the Heavyweight division and seems to be quite good at separating the upper-tier fighters from the lower-level fighters. At the post-fight press conference Dana said he’d like to match Nelson up with Strikeforce import Daniel Cormier should he stay at Heavyweight. That fight makes a whole lot of sense. The other potential fighter for Nelson is Travis Browne.

What’s next for Kongo? Kongo showed low fight IQ and despite his past as a professional kick boxer he often chooses to wrestle instead of striking, which makes for sometimes boring fights. I think the UFC could match him up with Stefan Struve. They’re both European, so a spot on the next International show makes sense and the match up will prove which one of them deserves to stay in the UFC and which the UFC could part with.

Middleweight Bout: Michael Bisping defeated Alan Belcher via Unanimous Technical Decision at 4:29 of Round Three

This bout was marred by a bit of an ugly ending as an accidental eye-poke from Bisping cut open Belcher’s eye lid and caused a stream of blood to come from the eye in the third round. Since it was ruled an accidental foul the bout went to the scorecards and Bisping won a Technical decision. With all of the trash talking these two men did leading up to their fight, many thought that they would come out guns blazing, but instead the opposite was true as neither man wanted to make a mistake in the opening minutes which led to an action light striking battle in the first round. In the second, Bisping became more aggressive and the Brit was landing in combinations. Belcher returned fire on several occasions, but often missed as Bisping did an excellent job of getting his shots off before shuffling away from the counter punches of Belcher. The third round featured more of the same, for the four minutes that it lasted as Bisping continued to land better combinations and get the better of Belcher in the striking.

What’s next for Bisping? Well, he’s still a top contender at Middleweight and seems incredibly popular with the fans, (who either despise him or really love him.) The UFC would love to have him work his way to a title shot, but he always seems to falter on the way. If the UFC wants to get him to a Middleweight title shot, they need to give him a couple of match ups that benefit him while gaining name recognition on his resume. The winner of the upcoming bout between Mark Munoz and Tim Boetsch would be a good candidate. Some fans are calling for a bout against Yushin Okami, but I think that’s a bad match up for Bisping and one the UFC will likely avoid, despite it making a lot of sense.

What’s next for Belcher? With his history of eye injuries (he was nearly blinded by a detached retina from an eye poke in a previous bout) one has to hope that this injury won’t be too damaging to his career. Still he proved that he’s at best a mid-tier fighter that can’t hang with the top fighters of the Middleweight division. Still he has exciting fights when they pair him against strikers so possible match ups include Nick Ring or Brian Stann.

Light Heavyweight Championship Bout: Jon Jones defeated Chael Sonnen via TKO (Elbows and Punches) at 4:33 of Round One

Jon Jones shocked several fans when he went right after Chael Sonnen. Many people predicted that he would use his huge reach and kick boxing ability to fight at a distance and pick Sonnen apart from relative safety. Nonsense said coach Greg Jackson and Jon Jones who likely surprised Sonnen when he rushed him from the opening bell. He clinched with Sonnen and battled in close quarters for most part of the opening round. It was close for the first minute or so, but Jones used his size and strength advantage and began to overpower Sonnen. From there he got a takedown and swarmed with ground and pound. Delivering some big elbows that opened a cut on Sonnen’s face and then following it up with more punches and elbows until the referee stopped the fight. Although some people felt the stoppage was a bit premature it was unlikely that Sonnen would survive another 30 seconds and despite looking initially upset with the referee, when interviewed by Joe Rogan, Chael said that he had no problem with the stoppage. After the fight it was revealed that Jones had suffered a nasty toe injury, a likely dislocation at some point and needed doctor’s assistance as he completed his post-fight interview with Rogan.

What’s next for Jones? Likely some time off after that toe injury. It’s hard to pin point where the injury occurred, but it’s scary to think that if he didn’t finish Sonnen in the first, he likely would have lost the belt in between rounds, since no referee would let him fight with that gruesome toe. So people who hated the match to begin with, must certainly be happy that they’re not getting a rematch with Sonnen as champion right away. After the fight Jones called for Alexander Gustafsson which makes sense since the Swede is at the top of the division. Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva is apparently also a possible contender as is former Light Heavyweight Champion Lyoto Machida.

What’s next for Sonnen? He seemed to tease retirement after the bout, but didn’t say much. If he does decide to hang it up, no one can blame him. He’s made a ton of money in his last few fights and surely has a job as a commentator on Fox for the foreseeable future. But if he does decide to fight and stay at Light Heavyweight, he should fight anyone who is Brazilian. Especially Wanderlei Silva or Lyoto Machida.

Georges St-Pierre: The Way of the Fight Book

Anderson Silva: Like Water

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UFC 159: Jones Vs. Sonnen Predictions and Analysis

April 26, 2013 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

It’s been an exciting couple of weeks with loads of free fights for fans to sink their teeth into. But all of those free shows come with the knowledge that eventually it’s back to the land of Pay Per View where the UFC saves the really big marquee matches. Things are no different this week as the UFC returns to the PPV airwaves with UFC 159 from the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. After spending a season coaching opposite one another on the latest season of The Ultimate Fighter, supposed rivals, but sometimes frenemies Chael Sonnen and Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones will battle for the title in the main event.

The co-main event of the evening is a Middleweight slugfest between two fighters who really don’t like each other. There have been a number of proposed car and tattoo bets between Alan Belcher and Michael Bisping, as well as several hilarious videos on YouTube leading up to this fight. In Heavyweight action Roy Nelson battles Cheick Kongo. A Light Heavyweight fight between wrestling standout Phil Davis and grappling specialist Vinny Magalhaes is on the main card. Opening the main card is a Lightweight tilt between top Strikeforce Lightweight contender Pat Healy and one of the top UFC Lightweights over the past two years Jim Miller.

Preliminary Card (Facebook): Featherweight Bout: Steven Siler vs. Kurt Holobaugh

“Super” Steven Siler is a 26-year-old fighter from Anaheim, California. He is a former The Ultimate Fighter cast member from the final season on Spike TV. He trains with the Pit Elevated Team in Orem, Utah. Siler holds a career record of 21-10. Kurt Holobaugh is a 26-year-old fighter from Independence, Louisiana. He is an import from Strikeforce who will be making his UFC debut. He trains with the Gracie Barra Northshore Gym in Louisiana and holds a professional MMA record of 9-1.

Quick Pick: Kurt Holobaugh via Unanimous Decision

Preliminary Card (Facebook): Welterweight Bout: Nick Catone vs. James Head

Nick “The Jersey Devil” Catone is a 31-year-old fighter from Brick Township, New Jersey. He is a former Middleweight fighter, who has recently made the drop to 170 pounds. Catone is a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler for Rutgers University. He trains at his own gym, the Nick Catone MMA Academy in New Jersey. His professional record stands at 9-4. James Head is a 29-year-old fighter from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Head is a grappler who trains at Lovaito’s School of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in Oklahoma City. He holds a professional MMA record of 9-3.

Quick Pick: James Head via Unanimous Decision

Preliminary Card (Facebook): Featherweight Bout: Leonard Garcia vs. Cody McKenzie

Leonard “Bad Boy” Garcia is a 33-year-old fighter from Plainview, Texas. Best known for being a wild brawler with a strong chin, he has become a fan favorite for his style, more so than his Win-Loss record. He trains with Greg Jackson’s camp in Albuquerque, New Mexico and holds a pro MMA record of 15-10. Cody “The AK Kid” McKenzie is a 25-year-old fighter from Cordova, Alaska. He is a former cast member of the twelfth season of The Ultimate Fighter. Best known for his string of wins with his ‘McKenzietine’ Choke, he trains at the Glendale Fighting Club in Spokane, Washington. He holds a professional record of 13-3.

Quick Pick: Leonard Garcia via TKO in Round Three
Preliminary Card (FX): Bantamweight Bout: Bryan Caraway vs. Johnny Bedford

Bryan “Kid Lightning” Caraway is a 28-year-old fighter from Yakima, Washington. He was a cast member on the final season of The Ultimate Fighter to air on Spike TV but has also fought for a number of MMA promotions including Strikeforce, Elite XC and the WEC. He is a member of the Team Alpha Male Gym in Sacramento, California holding a professional record of 17-6. “Brutal” Johnny Bedford is a 30-year-old fighter from Woodville, Ohio. Bedford was a cast member of the same season of The Ultimate Fighter as his opponent Caraway. He trains with the Fitness Fight Factory Gym in Fort Worth Texas and is a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler. He holds a pro record of 19-9-1.

Quick Pick: Bryan Caraway via Submission in Round Three
Preliminary Card (FX): Women’s Bantamweight Bout: Sara McMann vs. Sheila Gaff

Sara McMann is a 32-year-old fighter from Takoma Park, Maryland. She is a former Olympic Wrestler and was the first American woman to win a Silver medal in Olympic Wrestling. McMann trains at the Revolution MMA Gym in Gaffney, South Carolina. McMann holds a perfect professional MMA record of 6-0. Sheila “The German Tank” Gaff is a 23-year-old fighter from Eschwege, Germany. She trains with the Energy Gym Fight Team in her hometown. This fight will be Gaff’s UFC debut but will also be her first fight in the USA. She holds a professional record of 10-4-1.

Quick Pick: Sara McMann via Unanimous Decision

Preliminary Card (FX): Light Heavyweight Bout: Gian Villante vs. Ovince St. Preux

Gian Villante is a 27-year-old fighter from Wantagh, New York. Villante is a former NCAA football player and was once considered a top defensive prospect before leaving football to pursue MMA. Villante trains at the Bellmore Kickboxing Academy in Bellmore, New York but also spends time at Long Island MMA. He holds a professional record of 10-3. Ovince St. Preux is a 30-year-old fighter from Miami, Florida who is of Haitian descent. St. Preux was also a standout football player at the University of Tennessee but made the switch to MMA after failing to make the NFL. He trains with the Knoxville MMA Gym in Knoxville, Tennessee. He holds a professional record of 12-5.

Quick Pick: Gian Villante via Unanimous Decision

Preliminary Card (FX): Lightweight Bout: Rustam Khabilov vs. Yancy Medeiros

Rustam “Tiger” Khabilov is a 26-year-old Russian fighter from Makhachkala, Russia. Khabilov is a former Combat Sambo world champion and is an International Master of Sports in Sambo. Before making his UFC debut in his last fight he made the switch to Greg Jackson’s MMA in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He holds record of 15-1, with the lone loss coming in the form of a controversial split decision. Yancy “Frisson” Medeiros is a 25-year-old fighter from Wai’Anae, Hawaii. He is a former state champion wrestler from Hawaii who will be making his UFC debut. Medeiros is a member of the Team Hakuilua Gym and has a perfect professional record currently standing at 9-0.

Quick Pick: Rustam Khabilov via Submission in Round Three

Main Card (Pay Per View): Lightweight Bout: Jim Miller vs. Pat Healy

Jim Miller is a 29-year-old fighter from Sparta Township, New Jersey. He is the younger brother of UFC Welterweight fighter, Dan Miller. Miller is one of the most talented grinders in the Lightweight division, with decent striking skills and a smothering top control game. Miller trains at the AMA Fight Club under head trainer Mike Constantino. Miller is a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler from Virginia Tech and he also holds a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Miller is quite possibly the very definition of Lightweight gatekeeper as every fighter that has ever defeated him has gone on to challenge for or hold the UFC Lightweight title. Miller’s professional record is 22-4, and he’s coming off of a Fight of the Year victory over Joe Lauzon at UFC 155 in December.

Pat “Bam Bam” Healy is a 29-year-old fighter from Salem, Oregon. Healy was one of the top Lightweight contenders in Strikeforce and will be making his return to the UFC after a 7 year absence in this bout. Before joining Strikeforce, he was the MFC Welterweight Champion, one of the top MMA titles in Canada. Healy trains with the Sports Lab in St. Louis, Missouri. Healy will be returning to the UFC on the strength of a six-fight winning streak in Strikeforce, leading up to a Lightweight title shot that he was never able to cash in on. Healy fights a very similar style to that of Miller, so it will be interesting to see how his wrestling and close range striking match up against a similarly talented grinder. Healy holds a professional MMA record of 29-16.

Analysis and Prediction: Healy had a successful run in Strikeforce, but that’s not gaining him any favors from the UFC. To put it bluntly this is a pretty bad stylistic match up for Healy. Both of these guys fight similar styles, but Miller is a bit better at everything. He’s a more accomplished amateur wrestler, his striking is more technical and solid than that of Healy and he’s got a BJJ black belt and is more adept at finding submissions and sweeps from bad positions or during scrambles. Healy is tough as hell and Miller isn’t exactly known as a finisher, but I expect this one could be somewhat one-sided. Miller busts up Healy on the feet across three rounds, sprinkled with some late takedowns and top control to seal a decision victory. Jim Miller via Unanimous Decision

Main Card (Pay Per View): Light Heavyweight Bout: Phil Davis vs. Vinny Magalhaes

Phil “Mr. Wonderful” Davis is a 28-year-old fighter from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Davis is a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler from Penn State University where he won an NCAA title in 2008. Davis trains as a member of Alliance MMA in San Diego, California. Davis has an excellent top control and is a tall and lanky fighter, although he is still developing his striking from a distance. He has however added a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu under Lloyd Irvin and has shown a strong awareness of potential submission opportunities during his fights. Davis holds a nearly perfect professional record of 10-1 with 1 No Contest, and the lone loss coming against Rashad Evans in a title eliminator bout.

Vinny “Pezao” Magalhaes is a 28-year-old fighter from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Magalhaes was a cast member and the runner up on the eighth season of The Ultimate Fighter. Magalhaes started his career in the UFC poorly and was subsequently released, which allowed him to reset his career and he has experienced a resurgence by winning the M-1 Global Light Heavyweight Championship. Magalhaes is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt and one of the top Light Heavyweight grapplers in MMA. He is a member of the Xtreme Couture Gym in Las Vegas and also works as a BKJJ coach with Team Quest. Magalhaes has competed in and medalled in a number of major grappling and Jiu Jitsu competitions including the Abu Dhabi Combat Club and World Jiu Jitsu Championships. His professional MMA record is 10-5 with 1 No Contest.

Analysis and Prediction: Magalhaes asked for this fight by calling out Davis, so he must see something that he can take advantage of. With that said, if there is one thing we’ve learned in the modern era of mixed martial arts, it’s that the wrestler usually beats the Jiu Jitsu guy. I think that trend continues here. Neither man is an extremely talented striker, in fact they’re probably both subpar for their division, but Davis should be able to control the action on the ground. He’ll usually be the one on top, since his wrestling should be strong enough to fend off any of the Brazilian’s takedowns. If he’s smart, he should be avoiding the ground at all costs, since that’s the one area where Magalhaes can capitalize on his mistake. He should use a strong jab and work from range to bust Magalhaes up on the feet over three rounds. Phil Davis via TKO in Round Three

Main Card (Pay Per View): Heavyweight Bout: Roy Nelson vs. Cheick Kongo

Roy “Big Country” Nelson is a 36-year-old fighter from Las Vegas, Nevada. Nelson was a contestant on the tenth season of The Ultimate Fighter that featured only Heavyweights and was the eventual winner of the show. Nelson is also notable as being the final International Fight League Heavyweight Champion. Nelson holds a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, training under Renzo Gracie. Nelson trains with the Country Club Gym in Las Vegas. In addition to his strong grappling credentials Nelson is also known for his iron chin, his ability to absorb punishment, big time knockout power and one of the least impressive physiques in MMA. Nelson holds a professional record of 18-7, including 16 wins via stoppage.

Cheick Kongo is a 37-year-old fighter from Paris, France. Kongo is a member of the Wolfslair MMA Academy in England. Kongo is a former professional Savate Kick boxer and has also competed in Muay Thai in the past, all before making the switch to MMA. In addition to his technical stand up skills, Kongo has recently been improving his grappling skills. His takedowns and top control are much improved, so much so that he often resorts to taking his opponents down and using ground and pound to control them on the mat, rather than risk brawls on the feet. Kongo holds a professional record of 18-7 with 2 Draws.

Analysis and Prediction: Despite being a professional kick boxer in the past, Kongo has been blitzed by a number of strikers in the Heavyweight division. This is probably the reason for the improvement in his wrestling skills. Still, Nelson is a very talented grappler and is not easily taken down. Nelson is also relentlessly moving forward, even when he’s taking a beating, because of his iron chin. Kongo doesn’t do well against heavy handed strikers who crowd him up if he can’t take them down. Kongo should be using a lot of kicks and a strong jab to keep Nelson at bay, but I think Nelson will simply walk right through those shots and land a big overhand right of his own. Kongo’s chin can’t handle the fire power than Nelson has in his hands, and I expect a knockout for Big Country. Roy Nelson via KO in Round Two

Main Card (Pay Per View): Middleweight Bout: Michael Bisping vs. Alan Belcher

Michael “The Count” Bisping is a 34-year-old fighter from Manchester, England although he was originally born on a British military base in Cyprus. Bisping was a cast member and the eventual winner of the Light Heavyweight portion of The Ultimate Fighter 3. Bisping is also a former Cage Rage Light Heavyweight Champion, one of the top titles in the UK. Bisping is a member of the HB Ultimate Training Center in Manchester, England. Bisping is a solid technical boxer with strong takedown defense. Bisping has solid footwork, which he usually uses to his advantage (the lone exception being his knockout loss to Dan Henderson where he continuously circled into the overhand right.) Although not known as a knockout artist, Bisping has respectable power having won 14 bouts via KO or TKO during his career. He holds a professional record of 23-5.

Alan “The Talent” Belcher is a 28-year-old fighter from Jonesboro, Arkansas. Belcher is a tough, well-rounded fighter who holds black belts in a number of martial arts disciplines, including Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Tae Kwan Do and Judo. Belcher is a member of the Roufusport Gym in Biloxi, Mississippi training under famed kick boxer and MMA coach Duke Roufus. Belcher is a talented Muay Thai kick boxer with underrated grappling abilities. Belcher is going to be facing one of the best technical strikers that he’s ever faced so using leg kicks and body kicks to establish range is going to be extremely important for him in this bout. One of Belcher’s biggest weaknesses is his Fight IQ, which often leads to mistakes, especially in his last bout against Yushin Okami where he constantly put himself into bad positions, searching for a Guillotine Choke that was never really there. Belcher holds a professional record of 18-7.

Analysis and Prediction: Belcher has the ability to hang with Bisping, but he’s going to need to fight a perfect fight for him to win, and given his low Fight IQ and propensity to brawl, I just don’t think he has it in him. He’d be best off trying to emulate Vitor Belfort’s win over Bisping, but I doubt he’ll go that route. I expect Belcher to get out-boxed in the pocket, but he might be able to score effectively with kicks from the outside. Bisping’s wrestling is also somewhat underrated and I expect he might shoot for a takedown if things get hairy on the feet, or simply to steal a close round. The ability to steal those close rounds might be important, as this one is headed for the scorecards I think. Michael Bisping via Unanimous Decision

Main Card (Pay Per View): UFC Light Heavyweight Championship Bout: Jon Jones vs. Chael Sonnen

Jon “Bones” Jones is a 25-year-old fighter from Rochester, New York. He is the reigning and defending UFC Light Heavyweight Champion and is one of the most dominant fighters of all time. At 6’4” and with an 84.5 inch reach, he is one of the most physically and athletically gifted fighters in the UFC. Jones is a member of Greg Jackson’s camp in Albuquerque, New Mexico and is definitely Coach Jackson and Coach Winkeljohn’s prized pupil. Jones is the youngest fighter to ever win and to ever defend a UFC title. Jones is a former JUCO national champion wrestler from Iowa Central Community College and uses his wrestling well during his bouts. Jones also holds the distinction of being the first fighter to be marketed globally by major clothing brand Nike. Jones holds a nearly perfect pro record of 16-1, with the lone loss coming via DQ for illegal elbows in a fight that he was well on his way to winning anyways.

Chael “The American Gangster” Sonnen is a 36-year-old fighter from Milwaukie, Oregon. Sonnen is a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler from the University of Oregon where he earned All-American honors. Sonnen has also served as an Alternate to the US Olympic Greco-Roman Wrestling team. Sonnen is one of the UFC’s most controversial fighters but is also one of the best at promoting fights, which is likely why he earned this bout, despite coming off of two losses at the Middleweight division to champion Anderson Silva. Sonnen knows what he is good at and isn’t ashamed to use his wrestling to smother opponents, it’s definitely his best asset. His willingness to blanket fighters nearly earned him a win over Anderson Silva in their first contest. Sonnen holds a professional record of 27-12-1.

Analysis and Prediction: Despite the number of complaints and criticisms this fight has endured, it could prove to be an entertaining and intriguing bout. Or it could also turn out to be the complete mismatch that everyone expects it to be. Sonnen really has only one chance to win this and it’s to smother Jon Jones for five rounds or at least three of five rounds and survive the other two. This is going to be tough for him for a number of reasons. Jones is a huge fighter, very lanky, very hard to get close to and is very athletic, I’m sure Jones is drilling takedown defense. The other issue is, Jones is a fairly capable grappler and Sonnen’s weakness is definitely submission defense.

For Jones the path to victory seems relatively simple. Pick Sonnen apart from the outside, use that ridiculously long reach to smash him up with jabs and leg kicks. Basically, avoid being taken down by Sonnen at all costs. Jackson is a smart coach and he’ll have Jones well prepared to fend off takedowns. I expect to see a measured pace from the champion, looking to time a big counter shot or knee as Sonnen rushes in for a takedown. The other possibility I could see is forcing a clinch with Sonnen and trying to earn a takedown himself. From there he should easily be able to ground and pound his way either to a stoppage or at least enough to create an opportunity to latch onto a submission.

We’ll probably be able to tell if this fight will be exciting or lopsided within the first minute. If Sonnen comes out and spams takedowns relentlessly he’s got a shot. If he tries to box, or goes for some spinning back fist like he did against Anderson he’s going to get pummeled. In fact, he might even get beat up anyways. I just hope that he makes it exciting either way and calls out Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez next, because hey why not take another title shot? Jon Jones via Submission in Round Two

Georges St-Pierre: The Way of the Fight Book

Anderson Silva: Like Water

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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

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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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Nate Diaz Shines At UFC On FOX 3

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

Nate DiazThere are those special moments when a star is born and for Nate Diaz, his star was born on Saturday night in front of a national audience. A dominant performance by Diaz topped the most exciting UFC on FOX broadcast of the three specials.

Nate Diaz vs. Jim Miller headlined a four-fight UFC on FOX 4 prime time special that saw three finishes and one exciting three-round welterweight eliminator that went to the judges. But it was Diaz’s win in my opinion that was the most impressive as he tapped out Miller in front of his home town audience.

Diaz and Miller fought in what turned out to be a top contender’s fight. Miller came into the fight 2-1 against Diaz’s 3-0 winning streak. Yet even with the better winning streak in his last three fights, Diaz was a light underdog going into the fight. Diaz came into the fight on most sports books as a +190 dog to Miller’s -250 as the favorite. Needless to say if you bet on Diaz you made yourself quite a few bucks on Saturday night.

Diaz dominated the fight with a beautiful mix of standup and ground. Miller opened early with a leg kick that I thought would set the tone of the fight. The fighters then went into a few clinches, one of which saw Diaz nail Miller with a knee and elbow on the inside. Diaz rocked Miller early with a left and tried to finish him but Miller survived an onslaught to move to the second round.

The second round saw Nate take a page out of brother’s book and start mocking Miller’s ineffective standup game. I don’t know if he got in Miller’s head or what but Miller came out of nowhere with a flying knee during the taunting. Diaz then picked Miller apart before sinking in a beautiful guillotine choke to win the fight. Nate also became the first fighter to stop Jim Miller in Miller’s MMA career.

In a surprising move UFC president Dana White said that Nate earned himself a UFC title shot against the Ben Henderson vs. Frankie Edgar UFC 150 winner. I say surprising because it was expected that Anthony Pettis would get that fight. Dana White said at the post fight presser that Diaz was offered to sit and wait for the UFC 150 winner or fight again (presumably against Pettis) and Nate chose to wait. I can’t help but think that seeing his brother blow his championship fight against Carlos Condit had a lot to do with influencing Nate Diaz’s decision. I can’t say I blame him as there have been many fighters who blew guaranteed title shots by taking unnecessary fights. This would presumably keep Diaz on the sidelines for at least six-seven months.

I may be making more out of this than some but I think this was a big coming out party for Nate. I have read some MMA columnists remark lately that Nate is only getting high profile fights due to his brother’s notoriety. Well any talk of Nate riding off of Nick’s coattails should be put to rest forever after the impressive performance Nate delivered in the clutch.

I am all aboard the Nate Diaz train. Diaz’s return to lightweight has so far proven to be a very smart move for the BJJ practitioner. While Nate is a lot less controversial than his brother Nick, the Diaz name will always make Nate a polarizing fighter. Dana White knows this, Joe Silva knows this, and the Fertittas know this which is why Nate has shot ahead of Pettis to the front of the line.

Diaz now has to be talked about with the elite of The Ultimate Fighter alumni. Most cite Rashad Evans and Forrest Griffin when they talk about the successful TUF alumni and winners. If Diaz wins the lightweight championship I think he moves ahead of Forrest and could overtake Rashad as the most successful alumni ever if he can put together a successful string of title defenses. In my opinion, Diaz’s accomplishments since TUF have been highly underrated when evaluating past TUF fighters and winners.

With Nick’s suspension all up in the air and tangled up in legal issues, by the time he gets back to fighting he and Nate could wind up challenging for titles on the same show. That would certainly be something to see.

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UFC On FOX 3 Predictions & Preview

May 04, 2012 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

UFC On Fox 3 predictionsGood day CCB readers hopefully you’re all still reading this despite my awful prognostication skills at UFC 145. I’ll admit that many of those bouts didn’t go nearly as expected and some serious hype trains were derailed, but hey that’s the breaks in the sport where “anything can happen.” The UFC continues its onward march into the busy summer schedule with a free offering on network television this weekend. The UFC presents UFC on FOX 3 live from the IZOD Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey this Saturday night.

The UFC on FOX shows have been a bit of a mixed bag so far for fight fans. The first offering, which the UFC openly admitted was a bit of a trial run, was widely criticized by fans. Despite offering a Heavyweight Title fight for free, the bout lasted less than one round and many felt it was a bit anti-climactic. In their second attempt at network television they decided to load up on big names and bouts with serious title implications. The result was three relatively slow-paced fights that all went to decision. Whether or not you agree with the excitement on their past offerings, one thing we should all agree on is that they likely have the formula right for this show.

The main event features a potential Number One Contender’s bout for the UFC’s Lightweight Championship as Nate Diaz battles Jim Miller. Other bouts on the Fox-televised main card include a sure-fire Heavyweight slugfest between Pat Barry and Lavar Johnson that is highly unlikely to make it to the judge’s scorecards. As well as a Welterweight bout with huge title implications as Josh Koscheck looks to avenge Jon Fitch’s loss to the surging contender Johnny Hendricks. Finally a Middleweight bout between two finishers opens the card as Rousimar Palhares takes on Alan Belcher.

Preliminary Card (Facebook): Bantamweight Bout: Roland Delorme vs. Nick Denis

Roland “Stunning” Delorme is a Canadian fighter from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. He was a competitor on the Mayhem Miller vs. Bisping season of The Ultimate Fighter. Delorme fights out of the Winnipeg Academy of Mixed Martial Arts. Delorme is a well-rounded fighter with all of his career victories coming by stoppage. At the Ultimate Fighter Finale he scored a third round submission which showed off just how smooth his ground skills are, as he quickly dropped his opponent with a punch, hopped on his back and locked up the hold. Delorme holds a career record of 7-1.

Nick “The Ninja of Love” Denis is a Canadian fighter from North Bay, Ontario. Denis has since transplanted himself to Montreal, Quebec, Canada where he is a member of the Tristar Gym. Denis is a purple belt in BJJ and a black belt in Kyokushin karate. Denis has looked impressive since making the drop to 135 pounds and is 2-0. He looked very impressive in his UFC debut where he flattened Joseph Sandoval with standing elbow strikes that knocked him out cold. Denis remains an elite striker, but his grappling skills have looked somewhat lackluster in his previous bouts. Still he owns a career record of 11-2, with all of his wins coming via stoppage.

Analysis and Prediction: Denis has shown a glaring weakness against capable wresters and grapplers in the past. He’s not awful on the ground, but he is significantly stronger in a striking battle. Delorme looked decent on the ground in his UFC debut, but he doesn’t have the striking to set it up against someone as capable as Denis. Expect another highlight reel of violence from the Ninja of Love as he earns a TKO in the second. Nick Denis via TKO in Round Two.

Preliminary Card (Facebook): Middleweight Bout: Mike Massenzio vs. Karlos Vemola

Mike “The Master of Disaster” Massenzio is an American fighter from Teaneck, New Jersey. Massenzio was a standout wrestler in high school, where he was a two-time high school state champion. In 2004 Massenzio was a National Wrestling Champion at the Junior College Level. He is a member of the Team Ironhorse MMA Gym in Patterson, New Jersey. Massenzio is a stellar grappler who has won numerous tournaments and awards in grappling tournaments and although he has struggled to make his high school wrestling pedigree translate well to MMA, he does have decent takedowns and is quite capable on the mat. His striking is fairly basic and is probably the weakest aspect of his overall game. Massenzio has a career record of 13-6.

Karlos “The Terminator” Vemola is a fighter from Olomous, Czech Republic. He is an extremely strong and compact fighter who is a former 6-time Czech Republic National Wrestling Champion. Vemola is now a member of the London Shootfighters Gym in London, England. This will be Vemola’s first bout at Middleweight and because of his muscular build it might be tough for him to make the weight. Provided he makes the weight without issue he definitely has the skills to defeat Massenzio in this bout. He owns some of the nastiest ground and pound out there and has the strength and ability to drag the fight to the ground and being underneath the hulking Czech is not where anyone wants to be. Vemola has a career record of 8-2.

Analysis and Prediction: Massenzio is a capable grappler and he can definitely win this bout by controlling Vemola on the ground. Unfortunately for him that means that he’s going to need to get close to Vemola, which doesn’t end well for very many people. Vemola is making the cut to Middleweight for the first time, so I have a hard time trusting a guy who has shown cardio issues in the past making a cut down another weight class. If Massenzio is able to survive the opening salvo, this is an upset waiting to happen. Mike Massenzio via Submission in Round Three.

Preliminary Card (FUEL TV): Featherweight Bout: Dennis Bermudez vs. Pablo Garza

Dennis “The Menace” Bermudez is an American fighter from Saugerties, New York. He was a contestant on the Bisping vs. Mayhem Miller season of The Ultimate Fighter where he lost at the finale to the winner Diego Brandao. Bermudez is a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler who is now a part of the Long Island MMA Gym. Bermudez uses his wrestling well in his bouts, often searching out takedowns and using ground and pound to grind out his opponents. After opening his career with a 7-0 mark, he has lost his last three bouts, but they have all been against big name opponents, bringing his current pro record to 7-3.

Pablo “The Scarecrow” Garza is a fighter from North Dakota who like a number of fighters already mentioned is a former cast member of The Ultimate Fighter reality television series. Garza is a strong grappler with a number of his career wins coming by way of submission. He owns a purple belt in BJJ and at 6’1” is one of the lengthier fighters competing in the UFC’s Featherweight division. His stand up isn’t excellent, but he is becoming better at fighting to his height and has been improving his ability to dictate the range and pace of his bouts. Still grappling is his strong point, but he may find it difficult to get this bout to the ground against a wrestler as strong as Bermudez. Garza’s professional MMA record is 11-2.

Analysis and Prediction: Garza has a couple of extremely impressive highlight reel finishes that I think causes people to believe that he is better than he really is. At 6’1” he’s lanky and lengthy for a Featherweight but his striking is nothing to write home about and short of his flying triangle, his grappling hasn’t looked great either. Bermudez was faring well against Diego Brandao before his aggression got the better of him. His wrestling skills allow him to dictate the placement of this fight and that allows him the ability to control Garza for a unanimous decision. Dennis Bermudez via Unanimous Decision.

Preliminary Card (FUEL TV): Lightweight Bout: Danny Castillo vs. John Cholish

Danny “Last Call” Castillo is an American fighter who is a member of Urijah Faber’s Team Alpha Male Gym in California. However, due to the live filming of the The Ultimate Fighter and Castillo’s role as an assistant coach to Team Faber he has spent most of his time training for this bout in Las Vegas at the UFC Training Center. Castillo is a former NAIA All American Wrestler. Castillo is a grinding wrestler who uses takedowns to constantly pressure his opponents. His striking is fairly mediocre, but he uses it well to close the distance against his opponents. Castillo has a career record of 13-4.

John Cholish is an American fighter from Hackettstown, New Jersey. The 28-year-old is a grappler who is currently training in New York City, New York at Renzo Gracie Jiu Jitsu. Cholish is well known for his work outside of the cage as well as inside it. He is a Cornell University Graduate who holds a full time job on Wall Street. Cholish is an excellent submissions grappler with a knack for finishing fights, with 3 TKOs and 4 Submissions on his resume. Cholish lost his pro debut, but hasn’t tasted defeat since and has a career record of 8-1.

Analysis and Prediction: These two are extremely evenly matched, which is very accurately reflected in the current betting line for this bout. Castillo holds an edge in power punches, while Cholish is the more accurate striker. Castillo is a smothering wrestler, but Cholish has an impressive submission game. Flip a coin for this one, I’ll take Cholish by the slimmest of margins. John Cholish via Unanimous Decision

Preliminary Card (FUEL TV): Flyweight Bout: Louis Gaudinot vs. John Lineker

Louis “Goodnight” Gaudinot is a 27-year-old fighter from Yonkers, New York. He is a veteran of the New Jersey based Ring of Combat promotion and is the promotion’s former Flyweight Champion. He made his UFC debut by entering the Ultimate Fighter as a Bantamweight. A member of the Team Tiger Schulmann Gym in Hoboken, New Jersey Gaudinot is a competent grappler who began his martial arts training at the age of six. After struggling with the size of the larger Bantamweights in the UFC he is making the drop to his more natural weight of 125 pounds. His grappling and submission game is his bread and butter, as Gaudinot will look for takedowns to work his dominant top game on his opponent. Gaudinot owns a career record of 5-2.

John “Mao-de-Pedra” Lineker is a 22-year-old Brazilian fighter who is one of the top young prospects in the world at the Flyweight division. He is a former Jungle Fights Bantamweight Champion. Lineker is a member of the EMPORIUM Gym in Brazil. Lineker is a brawling fighter who isn’t afraid to charge head first into a fight. He is currently riding a 13-fight winning streak and hasn’t lost since December of 2009. This will be Lineker’s first fight at Flyweight as well as his first fight outside of Brazil and his UFC debut, a whole lot of factors that may affect him come fight time. Still he remains a thoroughly entertaining fighter who loves to swing for the fences and has the power to knock out fighters significantly larger than himself. Lineker has a professional MMA record of 19-5.

Analysis and Prediction: Gaudinot looked pretty awful against Johnny Bedford and took one of the worst beatings in TUF Finale history. A drop to Flyweight is what Gaudinot hopes will bring brighter fortunes, unfortunately he’s drawn a tough test for this one. Lineker has made a career fighting larger fighters and has been more successful than Guadinot. Lineker is extremely aggressive and poses a well-rounded skill set which makes him a handful for anyone to deal with. It’s his UFC debut and his first bout outside Brazil, so there’s always the chance he duds out for this one, but if he’s on his came, he should be able to pound out a second round stoppage. John Lineker via TKO in Round Two.

Preliminary Card (FUEL TV): Welterweight Bout: John Hathaway vs. Pascal Krauss

John “The Hitman” Hathaway is a 24-year-old fighter from Brighton, England. He was dubbed as one of the next big things after smothering victories over Rick Story and Diego Sanchez, however Mike Pyle and Kris McCray have done work to derail that hype train. Hathaway is a former Rugby player who transitioned to MMA in 2006. Hathaway has strong wrestling, especially since he is from England, a nation who is often criticized for it’s lack of credible wrestlers. Hathaway is a member of the London Shootfighters Gym in London, England but also spends time in the US with American Top Team and Eddie Bravo’s 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu Gym. Hathaway has a career record of 15-1.

Pascal “Panzer” Krauss is a German fighter from Breisach, West Germany. Krauss began boxing in Germany at the age of 14 and was a top ranked amateur boxer in the country. He was a German Jr. Boxing Champion and ranked second at the German Boxing Championships. In addition to his strong striking abilities Krauss is a talented grappler, who currently holds a blue belt in BJJ. Krauss has traveled the world to hone his skills travelling to Brazil, California, New York and Japan to train. He is now a member of the Roufusport Gym in Milwaukee, Wisconsin where he trains under kickboxing legend Duke Roufus. Krauss is undefeated as a professional with a 10-0 record including 9 victories via stoppage.

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Analysis and Prediction: If this bout was happening a year ago I would be calling for an upset special, as I’ve been very impressed by Krauss’ skills. However, he hasn’t fought in over a year due to injuries and that long of a layoff is sure to hurt anyone. Still, if he’s managed to overcome the layoff, he has the tools to upset Hathaway here. Krauss has strong kickboxing skills and an impressive ground game, Hathaway is a smothering wrestler without much else to offer. Don’t expect fireworks for this one. John Hathaway via Unanimous Decision.

Preliminary Card (FUEL TV): Flyweight Bout: John Dodson vs. Tim Elliott

John “The Magician” Dodson is a 27-year-old fighter from Albuquerque, New Mexico. He was the winner of the Bisping vs. Miller season of The Ultimate Fighter, a season where he competed 10 pounds above his natural weight class. Dodson is a member of Jackson’s MMA in Albuquerque and has a strong camp around him. Dodson showed incredible skills during his time on The Ultimate Fighter scoring a couple of Knockouts on his way to the live finale where he fought tournament favorite TJ Dillashaw. Dodson absolutely dominated Dillashaw and scored a TKO victory in the first round. Dodson claims that he has never been taken down in a fight, and given his amazing strength and athletic ability, it may be close to true. Dodson owns a career record of 12-5.

Tim Elliott is a 25-year-old fighter from Kansas City, Missouri. He is one of the USA’s top prospects at 125 pounds who is currently on an 8-fight winning streak. Elliott was a state wrestling champion in high school, before moving on to wrestle at the University of Central Oklahoma. Elliott is a member of the Grindhouse MMA Gym in Kansas City where he has been working on developing his stand up to complement his strong wrestling. From the videos I have seen however, his striking still looks fairly rudimentary and sloppy, and he often relies solely on his ground skills. Elliott is taking this bout on short notice, after Dodson’s original opponent was injured. Elliott has a career record of 8-2-1.

Analysis and Prediction: You have to give Elliott props for stepping up on late notice and he’s been on a hell of a run lately, but he’s running into a brick wall here, almost literally. Elliott relies mostly on his wrestling skills to earn takedowns and work his top control. Dodson is an amazing athlete, he packs a lot of power in his punches and he has impressive footwork to keep his opponents outside of range. Elliott’s striking skills don’t stack up and he’ll struggle to close the distance against Dodson. From there, he’s going to get desperate and if he gets desperate, he’s going to get hurt. John Dodson via KO in Round Two.

Preliminary Card (FUEL TV): Lightweight Bout: Tony Ferguson vs. Michael Johnson

Tony “El Cucuy” Ferguson is a 28-year-old fighter from Muskegon, Michigan. Ferguson a career Lightweight moved up to Welterweight to compete on the Lesnar vs. Dos Santos season of The Ultimate Fighter. Ferguson mowed through the Ultimate Fighter house stopping all of his opponents en-route to the live finale where he earned a KO victory in the first round. Since his time on the show, he has dropped to the Lightweight division and has put on two impressive performances thus far. Ferguson has slick boxing with excellent hand speed and footwork, Ferguson also has big power in both of his hands as evidenced in his bout with Aaron Riley where he broke his opponent’s jaw, forcing a stoppage in between rounds. Ferguson is also a former NCAA Division II wrestler, and uses that background mostly to keep his bouts standing, but can also use it to earn takedowns and keep his opponents off-balance. Ferguson owns a career record of 13-2.

Michael “The Menace” Johnson is a 25-year-old fighter from St. Louis, Missouri. Johnson was a competitor on the GSP vs. Koscheck season of The Ultimate Fighter. Johnson was the runner up that season, losing at the finale to Jonathan Brookins, in a bout where he dominated the first round, but subsequently gassed out and faded before losing rounds two and three. Johnson is now a member of the “Blackzillians” training out of Imperial Athletics in Boca Raton, Florida. Johnson has decent if somewhat basic boxing skills with decent hand and foot speed, along with a solid wrestling top game, but he’ll need to put it all together well to take out Ferguson. Johnson owns a career record of 7-5.

Analysis and Prediction: I’ve never really been high on Johnson, I thought he was handed favorable matches during his time on The Ultimate Fighter. However, he proved me wrong in his bout against Shane Roller. Unfortunately for him, I don’t think he can do it again. Ferguson is tailor built to exploit fighters like Johnson. Ferguson has big power and the wrestling ability to keep this bout standing. Johnson’s stand up is improving and he may even have a slight speed advantage, but it’s not enough to penetrate the long range of Ferguson who’ll take a decision. Tony Ferguson via Unanimous Decision
Main Card (FOX): Heavyweight Bout: Pat Barry vs. Lavar Johnson

Pat “HD” Barry is a 32-year-old fighter from New Orleans, Louisiana. Barry is a former professional kick boxer who has since transitioned to MMA full time. Although he most recently trained at the DeathClutch MMA Gym, he is still trained in striking under Duke Roufus and does spend time occasionally at the Roufusport Gym in Wisconsin. Barry is mainly a striker and isn’t afraid to admit it, although he has claimed in interviews that his grappling is improving, we have yet to see any evidence of that actually take place in a fight. Still his kickboxing skills are very impressive as his compact frame allows him to throw kicks and punches with speed and power. One of his biggest disadvantages is his size, as at 5’11” he is often at a significant reach disadvantage against other strikers. Still Barry is a highly entertaining fighter who holds a 7-4 professional MMA record.

Lavar “Big” Johnson is just that, a big, bruising Heavyweight fighter from Madera, California. He is a member of the American Kickboxing Academy and like his opponent for this bout, would much rather stand and trade with his opponents than wage a ground war. His propensity to brawl as well as his impressive personal story have made him a crowd favorite. In 2009, Johnson was shot at his family home during a fourth of July BBQ, he battled through that to make his return to fighting full time. Johnson recently made his UFC debut stopping the granite-chinned Joey Beltran with strikes in the first round. Johnson holds a career record of 16-5 and holds an impressive distinction of never fighting to a decision in his career, win or lose, this guy comes to fight.

Analysis and Prediction: These two have an open gentleman’s agreement to keep this bout standing and I would say that is the exact reason that they are being tapped to kick off the broadcast. Johnson’s never been to a decision and I doubt that this is going to be the first time. Barry is the better technical striker, but no one can deny the power that Johnson has in his hands. Barry will need to utilize leg kicks against Johnson if he wants to be successful. Powerful kicks to the big man’s legs will certainly slow him down and throw off his footwork. At the end of the day, Barry is at a significant reach disadvantage, but it’s not something he’s not used to, as he’s the smaller fighter in every bout. If he fights wisely he can win via second round stoppage, if he gets cute or stupid, he’s going out. I’ll take the former, but wouldn’t be surprised to see the latter. Pat Barry via TKO in Round Two

Main Card (FOX): Middleweight Bout: Rousimar Palhares vs. Alan Belcher

Rousimar “Toquinho” Palhares is a 32-year-old fighter from Brazil. Palhares is known for his impressive Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and leg lock skills, as well as his somewhat oddball behavior during fights. Palhares is a short and extremely muscular fighter who can use that build to unleash powerful punches from inside the clinch. Palhares is a member of the Brazilian Top Team who holds a black belt in BJJ. Palhares is a strong grappler, with a smothering top game and vicious ground and pound who is able to set up his submissions simply by pounding away on his opponents and forcing them into mistakes. Palhares has been prone to mental mistakes in the past including complaining that Nate Marquardt was greased before getting knocked out cold, as well as a premature celebration in a bout against Dan Miller. Still Palhares is a very dangerous opponent who holds a career record of 14-3.

Alan “The Talent” Belcher is a 28-year-old fighter from Jonesboro, Arkansas. Belcher currently trains at his own gym in Biloxi Mississippi as well as the Roufusport Gym in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Belcher is a talented kick boxer who can fight well from a range, when he is able to dictate the pacing and spacing of the bout. Belcher is also a significantly underrated grappler who owns a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. However, due to the dangerous ground game of Palhares, it’s unlikely that a ground battle is what Belcher wants to engage in. Belcher will need to use solid footwork and leg kicks to keep the bout away from clinches where Palhares will be able to excel. Belcher recently made his successful return to the UFC after over a year away with a career threatening eye injury. Belcher owns a career record of 17-6.

Analysis and Prediction: This bout is going to tell us a lot about both fighters and their potential against the upper echelon of the Middleweight division. Belcher has all the tools at his disposal to win this bout, he needs to stay on the outside and use his superior speed and kick boxing abilities to keep Palhares away from him. He will need to be cautious about throwing too many kicks, because all it will take is for Palhares to catch one and then Belcher might be in a whole world of trouble on the ground against the leg lock specialist. What it comes down to for me is that while Belcher does have all of the tools to keep Palhares at bay, the smallest of slip-ups will open the door for Palhares. I expect the Brazilian to struggle through the first round, before finding his range in the second. He slips inside nails a few big punches to stun the Roufusport fighter and then drags him to the ground for the big submission finish. Rousimar Palhares via Submission in Round Two.

Main Card (FOX): Welterweight Bout: Josh Koscheck vs. Johnny Hendricks

Josh “Kos” Koscheck is an American fighter from Waynesburg, Pennsylvania who is one of the most hated fighters in the UFC. Koscheck was first introduced to fans on the first season of The Ultimate Fighter where he was known for his wrestling skills and trash talk. He has perfected his role as the Welterweight divisions resident heel, which has gained him prominence as well as a legion of haters. Koscheck is a former NCAA Division I Wrestler who uses his wrestling skills extensively in bouts. He has solid takedowns and a smothering top control game. Despite the fact that he was widely criticized as a lay-and-pray fighter at the beginning of his career, he has since added solid striking skills to his repertoire matched by big knockout power in both hands. Koscheck is a former member of the American Kickboxing Academy but has since left and joined the Dethrone Base Camp. Koscheck owns a career record of 17-5.

Johnny Hendricks is a 28-year-old fighter from Ada, Oklahoma. Like his opponent for this bout Hendricks is a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler while he was competing for Oklahoma State University. Hendricks is a member of the Team Takedown Gym fighting out of Dallas, Texas. Hendricks has also improved his striking skills, using tight boxing combinations and big power punches to throttle his opponents. Hendricks is coming off of a career-defining win, starching Jon Fitch in only 12 seconds to become the first man to ever stop Fitch in the UFC. Hendricks also has excellent dirty boxing skills and has been able to dominate several opponents in the clinch, utilizing nasty uppercuts from up close. Hendricks has tasted defeat only once in his professional career, he has a record of 12-1.

Analysis and Prediction: This is another ridiculously close bout, this time between two men with very similar styles. Both have excellent collegiate wrestling credentials, with Hendricks having a bit more success at the NCAA level, while Koscheck is probably better at using his wrestling in MMA. Hendricks is the quicker and more technical striking, but his defense has looked porous and Koscheck’s overhand right can put anyone in the division to sleep if he lands it cleanly. Both men have one recent common opponent, Mike Pierce who both defeated via Split Decisions, while that is a testament to how tough Pierce is for any fighter at Welterweight I thought Hendricks had more success against him striking and grinding. This one is going to come down to a few takedowns and a few late flurries to steal the rounds, I don’t think anyone is getting stopped, once again I’ll go back to my handy, dandy coin and take Koscheck. Josh Koscheck via Split Decision.

Main Card (FOX): Lightweight Bout: Nate Diaz vs. Jim Miller

Nate Diaz is a 27-year-old fighter from Stockton, California. He is the younger brother of former Strikeforce Welterweight Champion and current UFC Welterweight Nick Diaz. Nate is also successful for more than just being the younger brother of Nick, he was a cast member and the eventual winner of the fifth season of The Ultimate Fighter. Diaz is an extremely talented grappler with a dangerous submission game and a black belt in BJJ. Diaz is a member of the Cesar Gracie Jiu Jitsu Gym where he trains regularly with brother Nick, Jake Shields and Gilbert Melendez. In addition to his impressive grappling skills, Nate is an extremely capable boxer. Although he throws very few kicks, he is an expert at controlling the range of a fight by cutting off the cage and walking down his opponents. Diaz doesn’t throw any particular punch with big power, but instead relies simply on a volume punching style. Diaz throws a lot of leather and is extremely accurate and in his last bout against Donald Cerrone he set a number of records by landing 82% of the strikes he threw, as well as landing a record 238 significant strikes in a three round fight. Diaz has struggled against smothering wrestlers in the past, however, his jiu jitsu and judo skills make him a tough fighter to simply hold down, as he is very active from guard, constantly threatening with submission attempts and sweeps. Diaz holds a career record of 15-7.

Jim Miller is an American fighter from Sparta Township, New Jersey. Miller is a member of the AMA Fight Club out of New Jersey and will surely have the hometown advantage come fight night on Saturday. Miller is the epitome of a grinder. Miller constantly moves forward, plugging behind double leg takedowns and a gritty stand up style. One of Miller’s best assets is his strong gas tank and his ability to take a punch. In his last bout, he took a big punch from Guillard but was able to recover and takeover by dragging Guillard to the ground and outworking him en-route to a submission victory. Miller will need to fight intelligently against Diaz, he’ll need to avoid getting caught up in striking exchanges and focus simply on getting the bout to the mat. Miller owns an impressive grappling game of his own, but unlike Diaz who can threaten from the top and the bottom, Miller relies on being on top and smothering his opponents while searching out submission opportunities. Miller owns a career record of 21-3.

Analysis and Prediction: This bout will quite simply come down to who can impose their will on the other fighter. Miller is a grinder, always pushing forward and always looking to pressure his opponents. He has one hell of a chin and has never been stopped in his entire career. He has an impressive and smothering top control game and while his takedowns aren’t always of the textbook variety, they usually get the job done. He’s got a stellar grappling game himself and is able to completely blanket fighters when he gets in top control. His game plan is going to rely a lot on getting Diaz to the ground, getting on top and working from there.

For Diaz, the game plan will be the exact opposite. He’s got excellent boxing and his pitter-patter volume punching style absolutely massacred Donald Cerrone in their last fight. It also appeared to overwhelm him, as instead of changing game plans, Cerrone just kept coming in to take the punches, I would expect Miller to avoid a similar game plan. Diaz is an excellent submission grappler with an extremely active guard, which dissuades a lot of fighters from trying to take him down, I don’t expect Miller will be one of those fighters, so Diaz had better have been working on his sprawl and brawl techniques. Although Miller’s stand up is decent, he’s not on Diaz’s level, and Diaz also has a stellar chin, so even for those times when Diaz takes a punch, you know he can take it and he’s going to be throwing four or five more back.

Miller must make this fight dirty. His best chance is to close the distance early and often. Diaz isn’t a power puncher so there isn’t the fear of a massive haymaker waiting for him for wading in too close, but Miller needs to do it quickly, or he’ll be eating a steady diet of leather from Diaz as he backs away. Miller is the exact type of fighter that Diaz has struggled with in the past, the grinding wrestler who can control him on the ground and not allow him to get into a rhythm on the feet. This fight is also five rounds, but neither man has shown a lot of cardio issues in the past, so I just expect two more rounds of action. I’m going to take Miller in this fight, I really like Diaz, but Miller is custom built to give him problems. Rory MacDonald completely manhandled Nate Diaz at Welterweight and while Miller doesn’t have the size and strength advantages over Diaz that MacDonald did at Welterweight, he should still be able to implement a similar game plan. Enough so that he can take three out of five rounds and take the decision. Jim Miller via Unanimous Decision.

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UFC 2011-12 Winter Events Preview

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

The UFC will be gearing up for one of its most exciting winter seasons in years. With three UFC championship matches and a heavyweight collision for the ages, the UFC is posed for one of its most exciting winters in company history.

The UFC have borrowed pro wrestling’s “card subject to change” a lot lately due to a collection of injuries which have taken a number of fights off the summer and fall schedule. The good news is that summer and fall losses are winter’s gain.

Keeping in mind recent history of match changes, here is a quick UFC 2011 winter events preview. Come back closer to fight day to read full previews of the cards. Today I take a look at the biggest fights of the summer and how they will impact future UFC matchups going forward.

Finally, as of this writing there are no matchups available past the UFC 143 show. Unfortunately I’ll have to end the winter preview there, whereas technically winter doesn’t end until March. To make up for it, I’ll start a little early since winter doesn’t officially begin until December 22.

The Ultimate Fighter 14 Finale, December 3, Las Vegas, NV

The final The Ultimate Fighter season on Spike TV comes to an end in a big way on December 3. Head coaches Michael Bisping and Jason Miller will headline the live telecast in a middleweight main-event. In addition to the battle of coaches, you will also get your usual TUF final and a few fights sprinkled in with this season’s cast members.

Personally, I could care less about Bisping or Mayhem. Neither of these guys are exciting fighters with unappealing personalities to boot. Bisping is the better fight in my opinion and I expect him to win a long, drawn out decision over the returning UFC fighter.

Last season’s TUF winner Tony Ferguson will also fight live on the broadcast. Ferguson will fight MMA veteran Yves Edwards in what is likely a semi-final or co-headliner spot. This should be a high paced fight with lots of stand up action. I am much more interested in this fight than the battle between the coaches.

UFC 140: Jones vs. Machida December 10 Toronto, Ontario
So long TUF 14 and welcome UFC 140. Talk about a card you can really sink your teeth into. The main-event features one of the most intriguing fights of the year between UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones and former champion Lyoto Machida. Machida steps in for an injured Rashad Evans as the challenger to champion. Some argue that Machida has the best chance of beating Jones in the division. Jones will arguably have his toughest task to date in what could go down as one of the most exciting fights of the year.

Former UFC champions Tito Ortiz and Frank Mir return to action underneath. Mir will rematch with Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira while Little Nog will fight Ortiz in a fight that was scheduled to take place months ago. Throw in fights featuring Rory MacDonald and Mark Hominick underneath and you have one of the most solid shows of the year on paper.

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The UFC 140: Jones vs. Machida scheduled fight card…
UFC Light Heavyweight Championship bout: Jon Jones vs. Lyoto Machida
Frank Mir vs. Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira
Tito Ortiz vs. Antônio Rogério Nogueira
Rory MacDonald vs. Brian Ebersole
Mark Hominick vs. Chan Sung Jung
Krzysztof Soszynski vs. Igor Pokrajac
John Makdessi vs. Dennis Hallman
Claude Patrick vs. Rich Attonito
Mark Bocek vs. Nik Lentz
Mitch Clarke vs. John Cholish

UFC 141: Lesnar vs. Overeem, December 30 Las Vegas, NV
This has the potential to be the biggest non-title heavyweight fight in UFC history. You have two bulldozers in Brock Lesnar and Alistair Overeem stepping inside the octagon in what some have labeled the ultimate heavyweight dream fight. If you are looking for heavy hitters and high intensity, this is certainly the fight for you.

UFC 141 won’t have nearly the same support underneath that UFC 140 or even the TUF 14 finale will have. Donald Cerrone vs. Nate Diaz co-headlines the event, which is pretty weak if you ask me. Jon Fitch also returns to action that night taking on Johny Hendricks in a fight that could go either way in terms of excitement. Other than that, this is a one-fight show. Fortunately for the UFC that one fight is certainly worth the price of an entire pay per view.

The UFC 141: Lesnar vs. Overeem scheduled fight card…
Brock Lesnar vs. Alistair Overeem
Donald Cerrone vs. Nate Diaz
Alexander Gustafsson vs. Vladimir Matyushenko
Jon Fitch vs. Johny Hendricks
Dong Hyun Kim vs. Sean Pierson
Jacob Volkmann vs. TJ Grant
Manvel Gamburyan vs. Diego Nunes
Junior Assunção vs. Ross Pearson

UFC 142: Aldo vs. Ebersol, January 14 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The UFC returns to Brazil after a successful summer show with a tentative event announced for January 14. We are a little far out to get any kind of a full card, but the main-event has already been leaked and it is certainly an interesting one.

Jose Aldo will defend the UFC featherweight championship in front of his hometown crowd against number one contender Chad Mendes. As of this writing, this is the headliner. However, I would be shocked not to see a stronger main-event added in the next couple of weeks. Coming off such a strong lineup the first time around, this would be a major disappointment if this were the main-event.

Brazilian MMA superstar Vitor Belfort will return home to fight the division debuting Anthony Johnson. This has potential for some real fireworks and you would have to think that Belfort would want to give his hometown fans a show to remember. While the title match will likely go on last, I would certainly put this fight above it as the ticket seller. In Brazil, Belfort is regarded as the biggest current superstar in MMA. Paying money to watch this show headlined by Belfort in Brazil may work, but they are going to have to make some additions if they expect fans in America to pay money to watch this event on pay per view.

The UFC 142 scheduled fight card…
Vitor Belfort vs. Anthony Johnson
Thiago Tavares vs. Sam Stout
Edson Barboza vs. Terry Etim
Fabio Maldonado vs. Stanislav Nedkov
Erick Silva vs. Siyar Bahadurzada
Rousimar Palhares vs. Mike Massenzio
Felipe Arantes vs. Antonio Carvalho

UFC On FX 1, January 20

As if the winter isn’t stacked already, the UFC will make its live debut on FX on January 20. The show features a dandy in the headline spot with Melvin Guillard vs. Jim Miller in a welterweight fight. Guillard is coming off a loss after being closer to the championship than ever, while Miller is coming off a decision loss to top contender Benson Henderson.

The UFC on FX 1 scheduled fight card…
Jim Miller vs. Melvin Guillard
Duane Ludwig vs. Josh Neer
Pat Barry vs. Christian Morecraft
Kamal Shalorus vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov
Reza Madadi vs. Rafaello Oliveira

UFC On Fox 2, January 28

The main-event will match up light heavyweights Rashad Evans and Phil Davis. Their previous fight was scrapped after Davis got hurt. This is a big fight and a huge gamble for Evans and the UFC, with a money fight against Jon Jones on the table. If the UFC was going for a fight that would last more than the debut headliner, well they certainly found it with Jones and Evans.

MMA’s biggest mouth Chael Sonnen will make his Fox debut as he takes on middleweight grappler Mark Munoz. The idea behind this one is that the winner will move at the top of the line to fight Anderson Silva for the championship. This should be a real exciting fight with two guys that have strong games both on the ground and on their feet.

The scheduled UFC on Fox 2 fight card…
Rashad Evans vs. Phil Davis
Chael Sonnen vs. Mark Munoz
Michael Bisping vs. Demian Maia
Evan Dunham vs. Paul Sass
Michael Johnson vs. Cody McKenzie
Cub Swanson vs. George Roop
John-Olav Einemo vs. Mike Russow
Demetrious Johnson vs. Eddie Wineland

UFC 143: St-Pierre vs. Diaz February 4 Las Vegas, NV

The UFC will bring in the big guns on Super Bowl weekend with arguably the most anticipated UFC championship fight of the last twelve months. After a lot of match changes and game playing, the UFC will finally give the fans the fight they want on Super Bowl weekend as Georges St-Pierre defends the UFC welterweight championship against Nick Diaz.

I thought this fight had the potential to be the biggest drawing GSP headliner at UFC 137. Now, I think this fight may have the potential to be the biggest drawing fight in UFC history. The UFC took a big gamble by placing Diaz in a fight with BJ Penn but not only did it payoff, but the post fight action took this championship fight to a whole new level. Now we are talking grudge match and grudge matches are the biggest sellers for the UFC.

In addition to the fantastic Dream Fight on top, Carlos Condit will also fight on the event. Jake Ellenberger is Condit’s rumored opponent, although that is not official. Exciting lightweights Anthony Pettis and Joe Lauzon are also rumored to be fighting underneath, although that fight has not been confirmed as of this printing.

Editor’s Note: GSP pulled out of the fight after this blog was published. Condit vs. Diaz is the new main event.

The scheduled UFC 143: St-Pierre vs. Diaz card..
UFC Interim Welterweight Championship bout:  Carlos Condit vs. Nick Diaz
Erik Koch vs. Dustin Poirier
Alex Caceres vs. Edwin Figueroa
Jorge Lopez vs. Amir Sadollah
Rafael Natal vs. Michael Kuiper

UFC 144, February 28, Saitama, Japan

The UFC will make its long awaited return to Japan with a card that looks more like an Ultimate Fight Night special. There are rumors that this card will air live on FX, but those have not been confirmed. I sure hope it is airing for free somewhere, because there isn’t much worth paying for taking place on this day in Japan.

Benson Henderson will challenge Frankie Edgar for the UFC lightweight championship in the scheduled main-event. Both guys are coming off big wins and for hardcore MMA fans, this is a very enticing fight. It will be real interesting to see how Henderson handles Edgar’s unique fighting style, while it will be equally interesting to see how Edgar handles the power of Benson. I love this fight, but the reality is that it isn’t a fight that is going to sell many pay per view buys.

The card will feature Japanese UFC fighters Yushin Okami and Yoshihiro Akiyama. Former Pride FC star Rampage Jackson returns to Japan and will fight Ryan Bader. Call me crazy but I have the biggest hunch that this winds up as the main-event. Meanwhile Joe Lauzon vs. Anthony Pettis will go toe to toe on the undercard in a fight that has potential to be Fight of the Night.

The UFC 144 scheduled fight card…
UFC Lightweight Championship bout: Frankie Edgar vs. Ben Henderson
Quinton Jackson vs Ryan Bader
Cheick Kongo vs Mark Hunt
Yoshihiro Akiyama vs Jake Shields
Joe Lauzon vs Anthony Pettis
Steve Cantwell vs Riki Fukuda
Yushin Okami vs Tim Boetsch
Kid Yamamoto vs Vaughn Lee
Takeya Mizugaki vs Chris Cariaso
Takanori Gomi vs George Sotiropoulos
Tiequan Zhang vs Leonard Garcia
Hatsu Hioki vs Bart Palaszewski

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TUF 13 Finale Results – Ferguson Wins, Guida Upsets

June 05, 2011 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

The Ultimate Fighter 13 closed out one of its most disappointing seasons with a memorable finale. Tony Ferguson won the UFC contract with a fantastic performance over Ramsey Nijem. Yet it was Clay Guida’s upset over Anthony Pettis that had people talking.

Clay Guida has turned into something of a “Mr. Spike TV” for the UFC. Guida fought in his third live The Ultimate Fighter finale special but did something he hasn’t done in his previous two fights…won. Guida defeated Anthony Pettis by unanimous decision in one of his best technical showings to date.

Anthony Pettis was the last WEC lightweight champion before the UFC integrated the WEC into the company. Pettis was set to fight the winner of Frankie Edgar vs. Gray Maynard UFC 125 fight for the UFC lightweight title. Unfortunately nobody expected Edgar and Maynard to fight to a draw and the decision changed everything. An immediate rematch was signed which put Pettis back in play for a fight, a fight that he was supposed to win.

Guida just simply out-wrestled Pettis for three rounds at The Ultimate Fighter Season 13 finale. Guida timed Pettis’ kicks perfectly and took him down at will. Pettis spent most of the fight on his back, yet fought a hell of a fight. Pettis was constantly working for submissions throughout the fight which Guida kept slipping out of. Pettis caught Guida in a real bad way as the second round closed with Guida arguably saved by the bell. Pettis got Guida’s back in the third round for the first time in the fight and looked like he was going to pull off a spectacular come-from-behind win. However, Guida was able to slip out of it and stayed relatively out of harm’s way for the rest of the fight.

I think the amount of talent that Pettis has at 24 is just downright scary. The guy is lethal off of  his back and is one of the most crafty submission fighters in all of MMA. Yet I think Pettis’ youth and immaturity killed him in this fight. Remember, Pettis gained national fame with his kick off of the cage against Ben Henderson. It appeared to me that Pettis was more concerned with making Sportscenter again than defending Guida’s wrestling. Pettis would randomly attempt spectacular kicks throughout the fight only to be taken down by the Carpenter. I think tonight’s loss was a humbling experience for young Pettis and with a little bit of maturity, he could turn himself into a machine.

Pettis came into the fight as a -250 favorite while Guida came in at a +190 underdog. Make no mistake about it, this was a huge win for Guida and an absolute MMA upset.

Guida’s win continues to put the UFC lightweight division in total chaos. The good news for the UFC is that the lightweight division has never been this competitive. Clay Guida, Jim Miller, Pettis, and Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez freshen up one of the more stale divisions in the promotion. Unfortunately the division is at a standstill with injuries to Gray Maynard and the champion, Frankie Edgar. Until they can return and decide a winner, nobody is likely getting a title shot.

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A win over the number one contender would theoretically put Guida to the head of the pack right? Wrong. UFC president Dana White told reporters after the fight that Jim Miller is still ahead of Guida in the pecking order. With Edgar and Maynard potentially fighting at UFC 133 or UFC 134, I think a Guida vs. Miller fight makes a ton of sense. At the same time, there are a ton of rumblings that Gilbert Melendez will be the next fighter to sign a hybrid UFC/Strikeforce contract like Nick Diaz did, with intentions of shooting Melendez right to the front of the line over everyone. Needless to say the division has never been in more doubt or as exciting.

Tony “Where’s Your Kid” Ferguson knocked out Ramsey Nijem in Round 1 to win the 13th season of The Ultimate Fighter. Ferguson continued to train with Brock Lesnar’s camp coming into the fight. Ferguson looked good and exceptionally confident with his hands. Ferguson dominated the fight for the most part and knocked out Nijem with a fast left hook to end the fight at the 3:54 mark of Round 1.

Ferguson is going to be a real tough fighter to market. Ferguson tried after the fight to cut a sympathetic promo telling Joe Rogan how he wanted to be a role model for kids. However, Ferguson was painted as the villain of the season and arguably stepped over the line in the second to last episode of the season with a house fight. Fortunately for the UFC, TUF 13 didn’t draw the same audiences past shows did so maybe Ferguson will get more of a clean slate than past winners.

The early classes of The Ultimate Fighter produced some exceptional talent. Early winners like Rashad Evans, Forrest Griffin, and Matt Serra all won UFC championships. Unfortunately the well has dried up for the UFC with Strikeforce, Bellator, and numerous other MMA companies popping up taking fighters who would have probably wound up on the program, thus offering a smaller pool of quality talent to the competition. Since The Ultimate Fighter 4, no winner has gone on to have any kind of resounding success. Ryan Bader would probably be the best prospect at this point, but he was dominated in his last fight against Jon Jones.

Is Tony Ferguson going to turn it around? I doubt it but I never would have predicted that Rashad Evans would be a world champion either.

Full The Ultimate Fighter Finale 13 results…
Tony Ferguson defeated Ramsey Nijem via first-round TKO
Clay Guida defeated Anthony Pettis via unanimous decision
Ed Herman defeated Tim Credeur via first-round TKO
Kyle Kingsbury vs. Fabio Maldonado via unanimous decision
Chris Cope defeated Chuck O’Neil via unanimous decision
Jeremy Stephens defeated Danny Downes via unanimous decision
George Roop defeated Josh Grispi via third-round TKO
Shamar Bailey defeated Ryan McGillivray via unanimous decision
Clay Harvison defeated Justin Edwards via split decision
Scott Jorgensen defeated Ken Stone via first-round KO
Reuben Duran defeated Francisco Rivera via submission

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