UFC Challengers Odds Of Beating Champions By Division

June 12, 2013 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

Although there isn’t really much of a formula these days for deciding who gets title shots in the UFC, the promotion is in a somewhat strange place where there is a clear-cut number one contender in almost every division. With many of these matches prepared to go down in the coming months, let’s take a look at the challengers who have the best chance of upsetting the respective champions in their division.

Women’s Bantamweight Championship – Challenger: Miesha Tate vs. Champion: Ronda Rousey

Upset Odds: +500

Despite the fact that everyone is laughing at the excuse that Tate won the first two rounds of her fight against Cat Zingano as reason enough to have her getting a title shot, it remains true. It’s probably also true that she’ll be a tougher test for champion Rousey come fight time. In the end, that’s likely going to mean very little as neither one stands a great chance. Tate has been in the cage with Rousey before, so she knows what to expect, unfortunately she knew what to expect the first time but still got arm barred for her troubles. At the end of the day, I think Rousey needs to stop trying to arm bar people at every opportunity. As we saw against Liz Carmouche, the ladies are figuring out how to escape and take advantage of it. Rousey needs to do the same and start throwing some new wrinkles at her opponents, expect it to start against Tate. Takedowns and top control en-route to a punishing stoppage in the second round, then we can all congratulate Tate on being the first woman to make it to the second round.

Flyweight Championship – Challenger: John Moraga vs. Champion: Demetrious Johnson

Upset Odds: +450

Moraga has been openly campaigning in the media and calling the champion “boring.” This isn’t really a bad strategy for him, since getting in the champ’s head is never a bad idea. Unfortunately, I don’t think he’s going to get a fighter as well coached as Demetrious Johnson riled up too much. Moraga is a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler and is a highly capable grappler, his striking is decent and he’s fast. The champion? He was a standout wrestler in high school, although he never translated that to NCAA success, however his striking is excellent and his hand and foot speed is second to none in the Flyweight division. Add to the fact Moraga has never competed in a five round fight before and Johnson excels in them and it’s going to be a long night for Moraga. Johnson is somewhat deserving of his reputation as a points fighter, but he moves in and out so quickly it’s hard to fault him for the strategy. I expect his output to actual increase as the fight goes on and as Moraga begins to fade late, I expect Johnson to really poor on the offense. Still, this one is probably headed for judge’s scorecards either way.

Interim Bantamweight Championship – Challenger: Eddie Wineland vs. Interim Champion: Renan Barao

Upset Odds: +450

Despite Wineland having a height advantage heading into this fight, he actually doesn’t have a reach advantage as both men possess a 70-inch reach. Wineland got this opportunity more as being the only one available who hadn’t faced Barao yet and is on a winning streak. The most important fights on Wineland’s ledger are his two recent losses to Urijah Faber and Joseph Benavidez. In both of those fights Wineland enjoyed some initial success in the striking department, but he was quickly figured out by the two of them. Against Urijah Faber, Barao was completely dominant. Wineland has proven somewhat susceptible to leg kicks in past bouts and in that fight Barao blasted Faber with kicks. I expect a similar game plan against Wineland. Hobbled and stiff, I expect that Wineland’s offense slows down and Barao starts picking up the pace. Barao wins with an impressive flurry somewhere around round four or so.

Featherweight Championship – Challenger: Anthony Pettis vs. Champion: Jose Aldo

Upset Odds: EVEN

This bout actually has a line on it already and Pettis is currently slated as a +130 underdog. However, I think this bout is close to a true pick ‘em. Against Frankie Edgar, Jose Aldo began to tire and slow down as the fight went on and some people felt that Edgar may have done enough to win that fight. I’d consider Pettis a very competent striker, even more well rounded than Edgar. Pettis also has underrated grappling skills and has fought and excelled in five round bouts in the past. In addition, this will be the first time that the champion Aldo has faced a fighter who may be quicker and more accurate than anyone he has faced before. I actually like Pettis in this fight. He’s aggressive, he won’t be intimidated, he’ll likely have a size advantage and he’s shown an ability to control opponents on the mat before. It’s still a close and dangerous fight for both guys. But I’ll take Pettis via decision.

Lightweight Championship – Challenger: TJ Grant vs. Champion: Benson Henderson

Upset Odds: +250

Grant doesn’t seem to possess any amazing skills or freak athleticism, but he has completely run through the Lightweight division since making the drop. Add to that, no one has really looked at all impressive against him and you have to at least consider the chance that he upsets Benson Henderson in this fight. Henderson is a talented wrestler who employs strong game plans in his fights, however it’s going to be hard to game plan against a fighter who hasn’t looked weak in any of his Lightweight fights. At Welterweight Grant was dominated by smothering wrestlers like Johny Hendricks and Dong Hyun Kim.  Despite his stellar wrestling credentials, Henderson isn’t likely going to be able to smother him like those Welterweights, he simply doesn’t have the size to do it. Still Henderson is probably the more technical striker, although Grant hits like a truck, but Henderson’s speed is excellent and he’s going to be very tough to hit. I honestly don’t have a prediction yet, but I’m leaning towards the champion.

Welterweight Championship – Challenger: Johny Hendricks vs. Champion: Georges St. Pierre

Upset Odds: +225

Knockout power, that’s probably the one reason that most people think that this fight is so close. Hendricks has knocked out a high number of the Welterweight contenders and many people think that he’s going to be able to do that to GSP. Still St. Pierre is one of the most dominant champions of all time in the UFC and is a master tactician who will certainly have a plan to avoid the big power punches of Hendricks. It’s also important to note that Hendricks himself is an accomplished wrestler, who GSP may have a hard time wrangling to the ground. The other thing going for the champion is that in his most recent bout against Carlos Condit is that Hendricks faded in the third round and looked incredibly hittable, if he fades like that against GSP it’s going to be tough for him to win. I usually root against GSP, as I might be the one Canadian guy who isn’t a fan of the champion, so I’ll definitely be doing so again. But I’m not so sure Hendricks has it in him to take this one.

Middleweight Championship – Challenger: Chris Weidman vs. Champion: Anderson Silva

Upset Odds: +200

I think this might be one of the closest title fights of the summer. Anderson Silva has looked like an unbeatable champion for most of his UFC career, save for the couple of bouts against Chael Sonnen. The good news for Weidman, is that he’s a highly capable wrestler and grappler who is capable of pulling off a similar game plan. Anderson is capable from his back and has pulled off a number of submissions from his guard, but Weidman is much more submission savvy than Chael Sonnen and won’t be easily caught in a triangle. Anderson Silva is still one of the best technical strikers in the world bar none, and with every round starting on the feet, the onus will be on Weidman to drag the champion to the mat at least once a round. If he can avoid the punishing clinch game of Silva, he has a shot, but he’s still facing Anderson Silva and you can’t consider him to be an underdog.

Light Heavyweight Championship – Challenger: Alexander Gustafsson vs. Champion: Jon Jones

Upset Odds: +400

This bout isn’t yet confirmed, but the young and talented Swede is looking like the most likely challenger to Jon Jones’ title. Gustafsson has only one loss in the UFC and in his entire career and it came against Phil Davis, who himself is a highly talented wrestler. Gustafsson is a talented striker, one of the best in the division, but one of his greatest strengths is his height and reach, which he uses to excellent effect. Against champion Jones, he will actually be at a significant reach disadvantage, likely for the first time in his career. Against a striker as talented and as unorthodox as Jones is, I could see this being a problem for Gustafsson. One of his other strengths has been his improving wrestling and grappling skills, which he has been working on since switching his training to Alliance MMA with Phil Davis and company. However, against a dominant wrestler like Jones, his improvements aren’t likely to be enough to win the ground battle. It could be an exciting bout, but I think another dominant win for the champion is in store.

Heavyweight Championship – Challenger: Junior dos Santos vs. Champion: Cain Velasquez

Upset Odds: +175

Out of all of the Heavyweights in the world, Junior dos Santos probably has the best chance of dethroning Cain Velasquez, in fact he’s done it once already. However, in the rematch he was soundly beaten by Cain and was dominated over five full rounds. I am of the belief that the second fight is more closely linked to both fighters full potential than their first encounter and I envision the rubber match going in similar fashion to the second. Cain’s wrestling is top notch and he’s one of the most athletic fighters in the Heavyweight division, with the ability to physically control and impose his will on many fighters who are significantly larger than him. His striking has also made vast improvements, to the point where he is definitely one of the top strikers in the division as well. Dos Santos still holds the edge in a pure kick boxing bout, but the threat of takedowns and clinch games, swings the advantage back to Cain. The one lingering issue is that Cain’s chin hasn’t looked overly impressive throughout his career and he’s been rocked in some of his past fights, dos Santos is a big time heavy hitter, who can knock out even the toughest of fighters, as he recently proved against Mark Hunt. So you always have to consider dos Santos live in the fight if he’s standing, I just don’t think Velasquez will give him much room to operate. I think he crowds and controls dos Santos en-route to another dominant performance.

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UFC 2013 Spring/Summer Events Preview

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

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


Event: UFC on Fox 7: Henderson vs. Melendez

Date: April 20, 2013

Venue: HP Pavilion in San Jose, California

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


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

Event: UFC 159: Jones vs. Sonnen

Date: April 27, 2013

Venue: Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey

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


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


Event: UFC on FX 8: Belfort vs. Rockhold

Date: May 18, 2013

Venue: Arena Jaragua in Jaragua do Sul, Brazil

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


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

Event: UFC 160: Velasquez vs. Bigfoot 2

Date: May 25, 2013

Venue: MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada

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


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


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

Date: June 8, 2013

Venue: Paulo Sarasate Arena in Fortaleza, Brazil

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


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

Event: UFC 161: Barao vs. Wineland

Date: June 15, 2013

Venue: MTS Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

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


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


Event: UFC 162: Silva vs. Weidman

Date: July 6, 2013

Venue: MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada

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


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

Event: UFC on Fox 8

Date: July 27, 2013

Venue: Key Arena in Seattle Washington

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

Event: UFC 163: Aldo vs. Pettis

Date: August 3, 2013

Venue: HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Georges St-Pierre: The Way of the Fight Book

Anderson Silva: Like Water

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Jose Aldo Says No To Farce UFC Title Fight

February 25, 2013 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

Jose Aldo has become my new favorite UFC fighter. After months of ridiculous UFC championship fights Aldo has become the first fighter to put an end to this farce and Dana White is not a happy man.

Somewhere over the last year the UFC began sacrificing credibility for entertainment in regards to their championship fights. At one time the only way a fighter could earn a title fight in the UFC is by becoming the number one contender. In 2013 all it takes is a tweet and a text and anyone can get a title shot. Finally one champion has had enough.

UFC president Dana White revealed over the weekend that featherweight champion Jose Aldo is refusing to defend his title against Anthony Pettis. Pettis mind you who hasn’t fought in the division, was granted a title fight after he sent Dana White a text after Aldo’s last fight asking for a title fight. Somehow Pettis immediately became the top contender in the eyes of the UFC, but not in the eyes of the champion.

Jose Aldo came out and said, ‘There’s no way in hell I’m fighting Pettis,’White said following Saturday’s UFC 157 post-event press conference. “He’s absolutely refusing to fight Pettis – doesn’t think he deserves the shot.

I say bravo Jose Aldo! It is about time one of these UFC champions stood up like champions and said no to these showtime fights in favor of credible title fights. Anderson Silva, Georges St-Pierre, Jon Jones, Ben Henderson, and even Aldo have sacrificed credibility for business over the last several months, leaving rightful top contenders in the dust. Finally Aldo has had enough.

Fighters coming off of losses or guys who haven’t even fought in the division are getting more title fights in the UFC than ever before. I certainly understand that the UFC is a business and the number one contender isn’t always going to get the title shot. However, these showtime title fights have become an epidemic where credible title fights are becoming the minority and not the norm.

How many more times are guys like Dan Henderson, Pettis (at lightweight), Ricardo Lamas, Johny Hendricks going to take backseats to fighters who have jumped ahead of them due to anything but their record? The window of a number one contender is short and can close at anytime, as Hendo just found out at UFC 157. Yet these top contenders are expected to keep fighting and fighting for what? These undeserving title fights have gotten completely ridiculous!

Ironically Aldo is coming off a fight where he just fought a guy who had not fought in his division, Frankie Edgar. The difference there is that Edgar was stepping in for an injured fighter as a replacement. It wasn’t right but I have no problem with guys getting undeserving title fights as last minute replacements. The show must go on. But this is a much different situation and I agree with Aldo 100%.

Dana White is talking a big game right now. According to Ariel Helwani, White is already making threats against Aldo.

Dana said Aldo will fight Pettis or he’s not going to like the way this turns out. He’s absolutely refusing right now.

What can Dana do? Strip him of the title for not fighting a guy who hasn’t fought in the division? White’s threats are laughable. I have read reports that indicate Aldo would fight Pettis, just not for the title. This is not a case of someone that is scared. This is a case of a guy that wants to be tested and truly fight the best. I say kudos to Jose Aldo.

It’s a shame more UFC champions don’t feel the same way.

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UFC 156: Edgar Vs. Aldo Results and Wrap Up

February 04, 2013 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

Another weekend has come and gone, and with it, another UFC event is now in the books. The UFC returned to the Pay Per View airwaves this weekend with their traditional Superbowl weekend card. By all accounts, this one was quite the success. Despite some fairly lackluster fights, the opening Flyweight tilt and the Featherweight Championship Main Event provided some great action and early estimates have place the number of Pay Per Views over the 400,000 buys marker, which should definitely be considered a success for the UFC.

There were many stories heading into this bout and a number of fighters who could make big steps towards their title aspirations with victories on Saturday night. Unfortunately for them, most of them fell short as it was a night where many of the underdogs reigned supreme. Admittedly my predictions were pretty far off on this card, and my wallet took a bit of a pounding as well from some misplaced bets, but hey, not very many people could have accurately predicted this evening of upsets. Let’s take a look at the main card fighters and predict what might be next for them, now that title shots have evaporated for most of them and see what’s next for those underdogs who threw wrenches into the UFC’s plans.

Flyweight Bout: Joseph Benavidez defeated Ian McCall via Unanimous Decision after 3 Rounds

The Flyweights continued to deliver entertainment, kicking off the main card broadcast with a fun back and forth battle between two of the division’s best. In the first round Benavidez used an aggressive striking approach featuring a heavy dosage of leg kicks to win the round. McCall stormed back in the second, landing a big takedown after a right hand and delivering some big shots on the mat. In the third and final round, Benavidez made the fight his. Again using a sprawl and brawl style featuring a lot of kicks, Benavidez outworked McCall in a close final round to lock up the Unanimous Decision victory.

What’s next for Benavidez? He hinted that he might like one more fight before getting a rematch against Johnson, but he’s the clear number one contender in the division. It’s likely he takes a title shot, but if the champion Demetrious Johnson chooses to take a bit of time off then it will leave Benavidez open for another match. The problem is he’ll likely knock off another top contender which puts the UFC in a difficult spot. I predict a match against the champion, but if not top contender John Moraga makes sense.
What’s next for McCall? Originally brought into the UFC as the top Flyweight in the world, he’s lost two straight fights and is winless in his last three. Luckily it’s against the UFC’s best in the division and they’ve been very close, so he’s still a top talent. A bout against either Chris Cariaso or Ulysses Gomez would make sense to help get McCall on the right legs in the UFC.

Welterweight Bout: Demian Maia defeated Jon Fitch via Unanimous Decision after 3 Rounds

Jon Fitch got Fitch’ed. That’s the easiest way to sum up how this fight went down. Long known for his grinding style and his willingness to blanket opponents, Fitch got a taste of his own medicine. Maia refused to do any striking and rushed Fitch at the opening bell and never relented. He took Fitch down and spent the majority of all three rounds testing Fitch’s submission defense with a plethora of submission attempts and dominant positions. Although he never managed to lock in a submission for the win, it was his most impressive performance to date and he looks like a force to be reckoned with at the Welterweight class.

What’s next for Maia? He’s now 3-0 in the UFC and has dominated some of the division’s best wrestlers on the ground. He looks big and strong at his new weight class and is definitely deserving of a top contender. The winner of the upcoming bout between Rory MacDonald and Carlos Condit makes a lot of sense for Maia.

What’s next for Fitch? He’s still a tough fighter and one of the best in the UFC’s Welterweight class. He shouldn’t take too far of a step down, but he has dropped a bit in the Welterweight standings. Bouts against Martin Kampmann or Nate Marquardt probably make the most sense for Fitch right now.

Heavyweight Bout: Antonio Silva defeated Alistair Overeem via Knockout (Punches) at 0:25 of Round 3

Alistair Overeem knew he was better than his opponent heading into their bout on Saturday night and for the first two rounds he proved it. In the third however, he got a little bit too cocky. After dominating rounds 1 and 2 with strong striking and a few well-timed takedowns, Overeem looked well on his way to coasting to victory in the third. Instead he got cocky, put his hands down and stuck his chin out for a big time power puncher who made him pay. Silva tested Overeem’s somewhat shaky chin and had him out on his feet delivering some heavy leather in the best knockout of the year so far. Overeem was expected to get a title shot with a win, but Silva ruined those plans.

What’s next for Silva? Despite Overeem being expected to get a title shot with a victory, it’s unlikely that Silva gets that chance instead. He looked pretty bad in the opening two rounds and the memory of Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez pummeling and bloodying Silva into oblivion is still fresh in most fans’ minds. It’s more likely he gets a top fighter next but not the champion. A bout with Josh Barnett would make sense if Barnett does indeed sign with the UFC. If not I would say the winner of the bout between Mark Hunt and Stefan Struve at the upcoming UFC on Fuel TV event.

What’s next for Overeem? The UFC missed out on the money match in having Overeem fight for the title. Fortunately for them all is not nearly lost. Junior dos Santos needs a fight and the bad blood between he and Overeem has been well documented in the social media realm. The UFC needs to go ahead and let these two headline a free card as their trash talk would definitely bring viewers and leapfrog the winner right back into title contention.

Light Heavyweight Bout: Antonio Rogerio Nogueira defeated Rashad Evans via Unanimous Decision after 3 Rounds

I hate to rag on fights, but this one was an absolute snoozer. The first round was difficult to score because so little happened. Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg were struggling to find anything of note to talk about on commentary during the fight because so little happened.  It’s hard to point to any significant moments in the fight as highlights, because frankly there weren’t any. Rashad had a lot to gain by winning this fight, as he was all but guaranteed a shot at Anderson Silva, apparently he didn’t want it very badly since his game plan made it seem like he was doing all he could to not get locked in a cage with the Middleweight Champion. In the end Nogueira took the last two rounds to win a Unanimous Decision.

What’s next for Nogueira? Glover Teixeira has spent some time training with the Nogueira brothers in the past, so it’s hard to say if they would be willing to fight one another. But he is definitely the fighter that makes the most sense. He’s the most high profile and would do the most benefit for each fighter’s career. It’s really the only option I can think of for Lil Nog, because otherwise I would consider the top fight the winner between the upcoming bout of Ryan Jimmo and James Te Huna. So I think Teixeira is really the only way to go.

What’s next for Evans? UFC President Dana White called Evans out after the show in a brutally honest way, saying it was the worst performance he’d ever seen from Evans and saying he had lost the hunger to be competitive. While his performance did suck, and his game plan was even worse than his performance, Evans should still be a tough fight for anyone at Light Heavyweight if he gets his swagger back. Many moons ago he was scheduled to face Mauricio Rua for the Light Heavyweight title before an injury opened the door for the ascension of Jon Jones to Light Heavyweight supremacy. That bout between Shogun and Suga makes sense now, with both men coming off of losses to high-profile opponents.

Featherweight Championship Bout: Jose Aldo defeated Frankie Edgar via Unanimous Decision after 5 Rounds

Poor Frankie Edgar, the guy just can’t catch a break, as he lost yet another close and some would say controversial decision. Aldo came out firing as he usually does and used his speed advantage to pepper Edgar with power punches and chop away at him with leg kicks. Aldo did some damage to Edgar’s face and opened up a cut in his nose that continued to bleed for the rest of the bout. Aldo clearly won the first two rounds. The third is where things get dicey. With Aldo beginning to tire, Edgar began to pour it on. Continuing his high octane style he moved in and out with precision striking and ate some counters from the champion for his trouble. The fourth was Edgar’s best round as he landed a big slam and some ground and pound against the champion. The fifth again seemed like another round for Edgar as he continued to push the pace against his tiring opponent. In the end the judges sided with the champion and made it a clean sweep for the Brazilians on the main card.

What’s next for Aldo? I actually scored the contest for Aldo 48-47, but I thought the third round was razor close and don’t hate people who scored it for Edgar. In fact I think Edgar 48-47 is a much better score than 49-46 Aldo, which two judges managed to find. Aldo’s next fight could prove to be interesting. Ricardo Lamas should be the number one contender in the Featherweight division, so that fight makes sense. But at the post fight media scrum Dana White unveiled some interesting news that Anthony “Showtime” Pettis the Lightweight division’s number one contender expressed some interest in dropping to Featherweight to fight Aldo. That fight is highly intriguing and something I’d rather see than Aldo-Lamas at this point.

What’s next for Edgar? Edgar has to be one of the unluckiest fighters in the world, but his style just doesn’t impress the judges. He’s a bit of a slow starter and his face just gets banged up a bit too easily. I think that’s where a lot of his problems lie, as after the fight he’s landed more punches, but has done less damage while his face looks like he’s been beaten with a bat. What’s next for Edgar depends on whether he’ll stay at Featherweight or go back to Lightweight. I think it’s most likely he stays at Featherweight, since he was actually smaller than Aldo. But it is imperative that he gets a win in his next fight. There’s not a lot of options with a former champion who has lost four fights in a row, even if he could have won three of them. Without stepping too far down the rankings potential bouts against Diego Nunes or Hatsu Hioki would make sense. The other option would be the loser of the upcoming bout between Dustin Poirier and Cub Swanson, or even Erik Koch.

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UFC 156 Edgar Vs. Aldo Predictions and Analysis

February 01, 2013 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

After a couple of weekends of free violence on the Fox family of channels, the UFC is returning to it’s bread and butter game of making you pay for the privilege of watching two dudes beat the hell out of each other inside a cage. Stacked UFC events on the weekend of the Superbowl are nothing strange for the world’s largest MMA promotion, so it’s no surprise to see another stacked event this weekend.

In the main event of the evening former UFC Lightweight Champion Frankie Edgar is finally making the drop to a more natural weight class of Featherweight to take on reigning kingpin Jose Aldo. Light Heavyweight action is featured in the co-main event as ‘Suga’ Rashad Evans takes on Antonio Rogerio Nogueira. Heavyweight wrecking machine Alistair Overeem returns from a 9-month drug suspension to take on Antonio ‘Bigfoot’ Silva. Other main card bouts feature Welterweight stars Jon Fitch and Demian Maia colliding in a bout that will shoot the winner up the Welterweight rankings and a Flyweight scrap between Ian McCall and Joseph Benavidez that is likely going to be as action packed as last weekend’s Flyweight title fight on Fox.

Preliminary Card (Facebook): Bantamweight Bout: Edwin Figueroa vs. Francisco Rivera

Edwin “El Feroz” Figueroa is a 28-year-old American fighter from McKinney, Texas. He is a member of the Mohler MMA Gym in his hometown. He holds a professional record of 9-1. Francisco “Cisco” Rivera is a 31-year-old fighter from Whittier, California. He is a member of the United Mixed Martial Arts Gym in Buena Park, California. He holds a career record of 8-2 with 1 No Contest.

Quick Pick: Francisco Rivera via TKO in Round 2

Preliminary Card (Facebook): Bantamweight Bout: Chico Camus vs. Dustin Kimura

Chico “King” Camus is a 28-year-old fighter from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Camus is a member of the Roufusport Gym in Milwaukee training with the likes of Anthony Pettis and Erik Koch. He holds a career record of 12-3. Dustin “Diamond” Kimura is a 23-year-old fighter from Honolulu, Hawaii. Kimura is a member of the Gracie Technics Gym in Hawaii. He holds a perfect professional record of 9-0.

Quick Pick: Chico Kamus via Unanimous Decision

Preliminary Card (FX): Lightweight Bout: Yves Edwards vs. Isaac Vallie-Flagg

Yves “Thugjitsu Master” Edwards is a 36-year-old fighter from Nassau, Bahamas. Edwards is an MMA veteran with over 60 career bouts for a number of major MMA promotions such as Pride, WEC, Bellator and Elite XC. Edwards is a member of the American Top Team in Texas and holds a professional MMA record of 42-18-1. Isaac Vallie-Flagg is a 34-year-old American fighter from Santa Fe, New Mexico. He is a member of Greg Jackson’s camp in New Mexico who is making his UFC debut after a 2-0 stint in Strikeforce. His professional record currently stands at 13-3.

Quick Pick: Yves Edwards via Unanimous Decision

Preliminary Card (FX): Lightweight Bout: Jacob Volkmann vs. Bobby Green

Jacob “Christmas” Volkmann is a 32-year-old fighter from Fergus Falls, Minnesota. A former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler from the University of Minnesota, Volkmann trains at the Minnesota Martial Arts Academy in White Bear Lake, Minnesota. Volkmann holds a career record of 15-3. Bobby “King” Green is a 26-year-old fighter from Fontana, California. King is making his UFC debut after spending time in Strikeforce, he trains at the Pinnacle Jiu Jitsu Gym in his hometown of Fontana. He holds a career record of 19-5.

Quick Pick: Jacob Volkmann via Unanimous Decision

Preliminary Card (FX): Welterweight Bout: Tyron Woodley vs. Jay Hieron

Tyron “T-Wood” Woodley is a 30-year-old fighter from Ferguson, Missouri. A former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler who is making his UFC debut after a career built mostly in Strikeforce, Woodley trains with the American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Florida. Woodley holds a professional MMA record of 10-1. Jay “The Thoroughbred” Hieron is a 36-year-old from Freeport, New York. Hieron is a member of the Xtreme Couture Gym in Las Vegas, Nevada who will be competing in his 30th career bout. He holds a pro record of 23-6.

Quick Pick: Tyron Woodley via Unanimous Decision

Preliminary Card (FX): Lightweight Bout: Gleison Tibau vs. Evan Dunham

Gleison Tibau is a 29-year-old fighter from Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil. A black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Tibau now trains in the USA with the American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Florida. He holds a professional MMA record of 26-8. Evan Dunham is a 31-year-old fighter from Eugene, Oregon. He is a member of the Xtreme Couture Gym in Las Vegas, Nevada and also holds a black belt in BJJ. He has a professional record of 13-3.

Quick Pick: Evan Dunham via TKO in Round 3

Main Card (PPV): Flyweight Bout: Joseph Benavidez vs. Ian McCall

Joseph “JoeBen” Benavidez is a 28-year-old fighter from San Antonio, Texas. Benavidez was a high school state-wrestling champion in New Mexico, wrestling at 103 pounds. Benavidez is a member of the Team Alpha Male Gym in Sacramento, California where he trains with the likes of Chad Mendes and Urijah Faber. Benavidez is a former Bantamweight title contender and has since dropped to the Flyweight division, where he is 1-1, with the lone loss coming to current champion Demetrious Johnson. A quick and unorthodox striker with big power, Benavidez is one of the most dangerous fighters in the division. Benavidez holds a professional MMA record of 16-3, with his only losses coming to current UFC champions.

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Ian “Uncle Creepy” McCall is a 28-year-old fighter from Dana Point, California. He is a member of the Team Oyama Gym in his hometown. McCall is a former Tachi Palace Fights Flyweight Champion. McCall is a well-rounded and versatile fighter who is dangerous anywhere the fight goes. This will be his first fight since a pair of bouts with current Flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson. McCall has a professional MMA record of 11-3-1.

Analysis and Prediction: This is likely going to be a number one contender’s bout, despite both men recently losing to champion Demetrious Johnson. Benavidez is well-rounded, hits hard and has cardio for days. McCall is similarly well rounded and also has excellent cardio. This one is going to come down to positional dominance and work rate on the feet. In a bout like that, I favor Benavidez, although only slightly. I really like McCall and I definitely think he can win this one, but I slightly favor Benavidez. Joseph Benavidez via Split Decision

Main Card (PPV): Welterweight Bout: Jon Fitch vs. Demian Maia

Jon Fitch is a 34-year-old fighter from Fort Wayne, Indiana. He is one of the top Welterweight fighters in the world over the past few years. Fitch is a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler from Purdue University. Fitch is a member of the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, California. Fitch is one of the most talented grinders in the Welterweight division. His takedowns are sharp and his top control is excellent. Despite being known as a somewhat boring fighter, with a ‘lay and pray’ label attached to him, but his most recent bout with Erick Silva proved to be a highly entertaining affair. He holds a professional MMA record of 24-4-1 with 1 No Contest.

Demian Maia is a 35-year-old fighter from Sao Paulo, Brazil. Maia is a former Middleweight title challenger, who failed in his bid to unseat Anderson Silva. However, since making the drop to the Welterweight division he is 2-0 with 2 stoppage victories. Maia is a 4th degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and is one of the most accomplished grapplers in the UFC. Maia is a former Abu Dhabi Combat Club Submission Wrestling Champion and a Pan American Jiu Jitsu Champion. Maia trains with the Wand Fight Team in Sao Paulo, Brazil. He holds a career record of 17-4.

Analysis and Prediction: Maia is a talented grappler who has looked extremely impressive since making the drop to the Welterweight division. His striking has been rapidly improving and his submission game is excellent. Unfortunately, I think he’s still a bit behind Fitch in most areas of the fight. Maia does his best work submission-wise when he’s in top control, he’s unlikely to take down an excellent wrestler like Fitch and from the top, Fitch hasn’t been submitted since his first professional bout by Mike Pyle, which was in 2002. Maia isn’t a power puncher, so Fitch doesn’t have to worry about being aggressive with his striking and he’s more than capable of holding his own on the ground. I think he can wear down Maia en-route to a third round TKO victory. Jon Fitch via TKO in Round 3

Main Card (PPV): Heavyweight Bout: Alistair Overeem vs. Antonio Silva

Alistair “The Demolition Man” Overeem is a 32-year-old Dutch fighter. Overeem is a decorated former professional kick boxer who is a K-1 World Grand Prix Champion. Overeem is a former Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion and a former DREAM Heavyweight Champion. Overeem will be making his return to action after a 9-month drug suspension for high testosterone levels. He has come under some scrutiny for his massive increase in muscle mass over the past few years. Overeem is a new member of the Blackzillians, training at the Jaco Hybrid Training Center in Boca Raton, Florida. He holds a professional MMA record of 36-11 with 1 No Contest.
Antonio “Big Foot” Silva is a 33-year-old fighter from Campina Grande, Brazil. Silva is a former Elite XC Heavyweight Champion and is a former Super Heavyweight fighter. Silva is a decorated martial artist who holds black belts in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Judo and Karate. Silva is best known to casual fans for his 2011 upset victory over Fedor Emelianenko. Silva trains with the Black House MMA Gym in Brazil, with the likes of Lyoto Machida, Anderson Silva and the Nogueira brothers. He holds a professional MMA record of 17-4.

Analysis and Prediction: Overeem is returning after a long layoff due to a drug suspension and it’ll be interesting to see how the layoff affects his performance. He’s one of the most talented strikers in the Heavyweight division and he packs a hell of a punch. Silva is a dangerous match for Overeem, since his submission skills and wrestling skills are significant. Unfortunately, Big Foot gets hit a little bit too much. Silva’s best chance at pulling off the upset here is to simply run for the first round and let Overeem tire himself out looking for the homerun punch. From there, if he can work the fight to the mat he has a chance at earning a stoppage or submission. Still the more likely outcome is that he eats a huge punch or a knee looking for that takedown and ends up out cold in the first. Alistair Overeem via KO in Round 1

Main Card (PPV): Light Heavyweight Bout: Rashad Evans vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira

“Suga” Rashad Evans is a 33-year-old fighter from Niagara Falls, New York. Evans was a cast member and the eventual winner of the Heavyweight portion of the second season of The Ultimate Fighter. Evans is a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler from Michigan State University. Evans holds black belts in BJJ and Gaidojutsu and is a former pupil of Greg Jackson. Evans has since left New Mexico and is now a member of the Blackzillians training in Boca Raton, Florida. Evans is a former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion. He holds a professional MMA record of 17-2-1.

Antonio Rogerio “Minotoro” Nogueira is a 36-year-old fighter from Vitoria da Conquista, Brazil. Nogueira is a talented boxer who is one of the top ranked amateur boxers in Brazil and was a Brazilian amateur champion. Nogueira is also a talented grappler who has a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Nogueira spent the majority of his early career in Japan competing for promotions such as DEEP, Pride and UFO. He holds a professional record of 20-5, but has been stopped only once in his career.

Analysis and Prediction: This bout could end up being very entertaining, or highly lethargic depending on how these two men want to play it out. Nogueira is definitely the more technically sound striker, as his boxing is crisp and clean. Evans on the other hand packs more power, but his wild, loopy strikes often leave him open to counter shots, and he’s not really known for having the greatest chin. On the ground Nogueira is a world-class grappler with excellent submissions, but Evans is a top-notch wrestler who has strong ground and pound and excellent submission defense. I think the striking will be pretty close to break even at the start, but Nogueira will probably run out of gas quicker than Evans, as the Brazilian fades, expect the Blackzillian product to kick it into high gear with a relentless ground and pound attack. I expect Rashad to get a late stoppage. Rashad Evans via TKO in Round 3

Main Card (PPV): Featherweight Championship Bout: Jose Aldo vs. Frankie Edgar

Jose “Scarface” Aldo is a 26-year-old fighter from Manaus, Brazil. Aldo is the first ever and currently reigning UFC Featherweight Champion. Aldo holds a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, but he does his best work in the striking department using his dangerous Muay Thai skills. Aldo has been out of action for over a year due to injuries, and this will be his first bout since January 2012. Aldo throws some of the nastiest leg kicks in the UFC and has used those thudding kicks to completely hobble opponents in the past and significantly stunt their ability to move effectively. Aldo is an aggressive striker who always looks to finish his opponents. He holds a career record of 21-1 with the lone loss coming in 2005.

Frankie “The Answer” Edgar is a 31-year-old fighter from Toms River, New Jersey. Edgar is a former UFC Lightweight Champion who will be making the drop to Featherweight for the first time. Despite this being his first weight cut to 145-pounds, he shouldn’t struggle since he was one of the smallest Lightweights on the UFC’s roster and cut very little weight when fighting at 155-pounds. Edgar is a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler from Clarion University of Pennsylvania. He holds a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and has become a very formidable striker. Edgar has tight and technical boxing skills, highlighted by excellent hand speed and quality footwork. Edgar is a member of the Renzo Gracie Fight Team training out of his hometown. Edgar holds a professional MMA record of 15-3-1.

Analysis and Prediction: This one is going to be a highly entertaining bout for a number of reasons and there are plenty of factors going into this bout that can be looked at. Edgar is known for his amazing chin and his ability to recover from big shots, the problem has been in the past that he eats about one or two of those big shots every fight. Aldo is a world class finisher who swarms immediately the second that he senses his opponent is weak, if Edgar gets rocked like he did against Maynard, I don’t expect that Aldo will let him survive it. The other downfall for Edgar is that Benson Henderson showed that you could kick Edgar low almost at will. Jose Aldo throws absolutely nasty leg kicks and he’s definitely going to be looking to chop those legs out from under Edgar and slow him down. If Edgar doesn’t have a plan for those leg kicks, he’s going to be hobbled by the end of round one, and probably unconscious by the end of the third.

What’s going well for Edgar? Well, probably for the first time in his career he won’t be massively dwarfed in size by his opponent. My guess is that Aldo is still actually bigger than Edgar, but it won’t be by nearly as much as his bouts against Henderson and Maynard. Edgar’s footwork and hand speed were top notch at Lightweight and that’s likely going to translate well in the Featherweight division. It’ll be interesting to see how Aldo deals with a fighter who is closer to his speed than some of the more plodding power punchers that he’s faced in the past. Aldo has chewed through a number of wrestlers in the past, but Edgar may be the best that he’s ever faced. In fact, against Chad Mendes, Aldo was on his way to the ground before grabbing the fence allowed him to land a big knee that changed the entire course of the fight. Against another strong wrestler like Edgar it will be interesting to see what he’s capable of from the bottom.

Many people favor Aldo in this bout, and it’s a decent assumption, I however like Edgar in the fight. Aldo has been out of the cage for over a year, which is a significant layoff for a fighter who’s game relies a lot on speed and timing. Edgar has been far more active and I think he was absolutely robbed in his second bout against Henderson. Aldo has also shown some flashes of poor cardio, especially in his bout against Mark Hominick, if Edgar can push the pace and make Aldo work, he may be able to test the champion’s gas tank. I expect that it’s close the whole way, but Edgar comes alive in the championship rounds as Aldo begins to fade from a tough fight and takes a close decision. But damn he better have a plan for those leg kicks, or everything I just said is going out the window. Frankie Edgar via Split Decision

UFC: Ultimate Fight Collection 2012

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

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10 Most Anticipated UFC 2013 Fights

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

UFC: Ultimate Fight Collection 2012

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

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UFC 2012-13 Winter Events Preview

December 28, 2012 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

Happy Holidays, CamelClutchBlog faithful.  I sincerely hope everyone enjoyed whatever holiday they may or may not have celebrated this year.  I don’t think there is a politically incorrect way (and if there is, please tell me) for me to address the arrival of 2013 so I’d like to start by wishing everyone a happy and healthy New Year.

Speaking of healthy, I think we’d all like to wish a healthier 2013 for so many fighters who’ve been injured.  Yes, there is the purely selfish part of all of us who wants them healthier so they can entertain through this sport we love so much, but they obviously suffer from the lack of a paycheck.  Is GSP’s “Camp For Only One Fighter Like In Boxing” approach the answer, as Dana White recently mentioned? I have no idea.  If I knew how to stop fighter injuries, I feel like that information would be very valuable to promoters, gyms and bookies and I’d probably have heard from somebody by now.

But alas, I digress.  With over 30 events between pay-per-view, cable and free TV this year, not to mention compilations and weekly T.U.F. episodes, the UFC has been busy.  With one heavyweight title fight to go and a 2013 that’s shaping up nicely, let’s take a 30,000 foot view of what’s coming up and key fights look for in the year ahead.  Honestly, I could speak at length about each and every one of the fights that’ll be mentioned (particularly the Super Bowl weekend card) but again, this is more of a snapshot.  I’ll leave the in-depth analysis to our very own Lee McGregor, who’ll paint you a detailed portrait, complete with flowers and shading and colors and happy little trees.

These are just my thoughts, mind you, so if there’s something you feel I missed or a grievance with anything I say, throw it in the comments. Just don’t immediately jump to trolling. Let’s talk. No big whup.

UFC 155: Dos Santos vs. Velasquez II

What a difference a year makes.  Last November, the UFC debuted on Fox with then-champ and “we’d-later-confirm-he-was-injured” Cain Velasquez getting KO’d in 64 seconds by Junior dos Santos.   This Saturday, the UFC rings in the New Year with the anticipated rematch.  Since then, JDS successfully defended the title against Frank Mir and Velasquez healed up, turning the Octagon into a crimson Jackson Pollack at UFC 146 (using Bigfoot Silva’s face as the palette) along the way.  A healthy Velasquez looking to avenge his only loss makes him even more dangerous so I don’t see JDS swinging for the fences and clubbing him into 2013, but either way, this is a great fight.  As for the rest of the card, losing Forrest Griffin/Phil Davis was a bit of a blow, but if anything, I am most pumped about Jim Miller/Joe Lauzon in the co-main event.  Other key fights on the undercard are Brad Pickett/Eddie Wineland, Melvin Guilliard/Jamie Varner and the return of Todd “Don’t Let the Mike Russow Punching Bag Punch You Back” Dufee to the heavyweight division against Phil De Fries.

UFC on FX: Belfort vs. Bisping

Time to save your pennies with a PPV-less January since the UFC doubled up for February (more to come later).  No need to go into withdrawal, though, since there are back-to-back weekends of free fights, starting January 19th with Belfort vs. Bisping on FX.  The Brazilian returns home both in terms of geography (the fight is in Sao Paolo) and weight (his new home of 185) after moving up to LHW against champ Jon Jones.  Barring that near-upset armbar, Belfort spent most of the title fight getting beaten like a redheaded stepchild, but there’s no shame in that considering it was against Jonny Bones.  Bisping rebounded from a questionable decision loss to Chael Sonnen in January with a solid UD win over Brian Stann in September.  A win for either fighter should raise the question of a title shot, if only for the fact that the division is shallow and the idea of Silva vs. GSP or Jones super fights have subsided.  I’m prematurely picking Belfort, but Bisping’s surprising me lately so if he can survive the onslaught, I wouldn’t put it past him to get a tight decision.  Also, T.U.F: Brazil finalist Daniel Sarafian makes his UFC debut against C.B. Dolloway, Gabriel Gonzaga takes on Ben Rothwell in heavyweight action and undefeated Khabib Nurmagomedov takes on Thiago Tavares.  Finally, be sure to catch Edson Barboza against Justin Salas on the Fuel undercard.  His hype train got derailed a bit by Jamie Varner at UFC 146, but he’s an exciting fighter with lots of KO power and I see him getting back on track in a big way in his home country.

UFC on FOX: Johnson vs. Dodson

I like the UFC’s decision to put a flyweight title fight on free TV with some great support behind it.  “Mighty Mouse” and Dodson, the first T.U.F. finalist to get a title shot since season 5, will make viewers at home think they hit fast-forward with a breakneck pace that’ll hopefully get some lighter weight class fighters their dues.  Johnson has only one finish between his stint in WEC and now the UFC, but I for one didn’t expect him to hold off Joseph Benavidez to become the promotions first 125 lb champ.  I’ll give Dodson the power advantage so if he can frustrate Johnson by stuffing his takedowns and landing a few shots, I think he’ll pull off the win.  Much like a good sitcom with an excellent supporting lead, Donald Cerrone vs. Anthony Pettis has early “Fight of the Year” potential and puts the winner in LW title shot discussion (perhaps more so for Pettis than Cerrone given the story around a Pettis/Henderson rematch).  While it might not have direct title-shot implications, Glover Teixeira vs. Rampage is the kind of fight you invite your non-MMA friends to watch since there’s a good chance someone is getting knocked out.  On the undercard, Ryan Bader tries to stay relevant at 205 against Vladimir Matyushenko and hopefully Clay Guida does not employ his “punch and run” game plan like he did against Gray Maynard when he takes on Hatsu Hioki.

UFC 156: Aldo vs. Edgar

The first super card of 2013 is happening Super Bowl weekend on February 2nd.  It feels like we’ve been waiting forever now to get the featherweight title fight between Jose Aldo and Frankie Edgar.  I personally blame motorcycle accidents and rematches.  After questionable back-to-back title losses at lightweight  (I know I’ve said questionable twice already, once when referring to Bisping/Sonnen, but really watch Henderson/Edgar 1 and 2 and tell me Edgar didn’t win at least one of those fights), Edgar moves down to 145, the weight class everyone keeps saying he belongs in.  Aldo has not lost since 2005 and is one of the most exciting fighters in all of MMA. Edgar is going to have to drag Aldo into deep water, where we saw shades of him fading against Mark Hominick. Again, another “Fight of the Year” potential before March.  Before you even get to the title fight, though, the main card has three other fights that could headline a Fox or FX event in Rashad Evans vs. Lil Nog, Alistair Overeem vs. Bigfoot Silva (should Overeem win, he’ll probably be given a shot at the winner of JDS/Cain) and Jon Fitch vs. Demian Maia.  Oh, but my favorite fight on the undercard? Joseph Benavidez vs. Ian McCall, who both came up short in the inaugural flyweight tournament, but this could be a #1 contender fight to face the winner of Johnson/Dodson.

UFC on Fuel TV: Barao vs. McDonald

Kudos yet again to the UFC for giving an interim title some legitimacy and not using it as a marketing ploy to be used for unification bouts! Renan Barao, fresh off handing Urijah Faber what seems like his 100th title-fight loss at UFC 149, will defend his interim bantamweight title against Michael McDonald.  No, not the guy from The Doobie Brothers.  The guy who knocked Miguel Torres out of the UFC at UFC 145 and hasn’t lost under the Zuffa banner. Yup. That guy. Add to that a main card with two swing-for-the-fences LHW fights in James Te Huna vs. Ryan “Greatest Robot/Split Celebration in Octagon History?” Jimmo and undefeated Jimi Manuwa vs. Cyrille Diabate. Oh, and Brock Lesnar’s German kickboxing mini-me (!) Denis Siver looks to extend his featherweight winning streak to 3 against Cub Swanson.  All in all, I love this card and how it’s booked.  The UFC is ever so slightly increasing exposure for up-and-coming fighters but minimizing their own risk of underperforming by putting it on Fuel.  Paul Sass, if you’re reading this, another “Sassangle” submission on Danny Castillo on the undercard would be just fine with me.

UFC 157: Rousey vs. Carmouche

Welcome to the “Rhonda Rousey Show,” ladies and gentlemen.  UFC’s first ever women’s champion Rhonda Rousey will have the first ever women’s MMA fight in the promotion against Liz Carmouche, who’s riding a two-fight winning streak coming out of Invicta FC.  Again, if we’re playing wheelchair matchmaker and the “business” around the card’s composition, the UFC is supporting this inaugural lady’s scrap very well with a potential #1 contender fight at 205 between Dan Henderson and Lyoto Machida, perennial contender Urijah Faber vs. Ivan Menjivar, two struggling but game HWs in Lavar Johnson and Brendan Schaub plus the return of Robbie Lawler both to the UFC and to welterweight to fight Josh Koscheck.  While I don’t necessarily agree with the timing since the UFC will be hot off a big card like 156 and I fear people might get tight with their wallets with two fights in one month, they’ve paired Rousey up with a tough fighter to build a story around and it should make for a solid landing.  No disrespect to Carmouche, but I, like many, anticipate another armbar victory for Rousey.

Quick Hits – March & Beyond…

– UFC on Fuel TV (March 3): Wanderlei Silva vs. Brian Stann and Stefan Struve vs. Mark Hunt? The fans of Saitama Super Arena will go home happy.  One, if not two, of those fighters will need to be woken up by smelling salts.  Not sure if Siyar Bahadurzada will be able to match his 42 second KO of Paulo Thiago against a durable Kim Dong-Hyun, but it’ll be fun to see him try. Also, Diego “The Dream” (really, you have to chuckle) Sanchez returns yet again to 155 against Japanese legend Takanori Gomi. TONY ROBBINS. YES.

– UFC 158: St. Pierre vs. Diaz (March 16): GSP fighting in his hometown of Montreal again? I’m shocked.  Not sure I agree with Nick Diaz jumping Johnny Hendricks for a title shot after a loss/weed suspension, but it’s a bigger draw and GSP’s been very vocal about wanting to take out the “disrespectful” Diaz.  Speaking of Hendricks, he’s slated to fight Jake Ellenberger and Carlos Condit looks to rebound from his loss to the champ in a rematch against Rory Macdonald.  Lots of potential storylines for the UFC welterweight division hang in the balance.  Grab a Labatt Blue and enjoy.

– BEYOND: April 27 is when Chael Sonnen gets his shot at the LHW belt against fellow T.U.F. coach and current champion Jon Jones in NJ. In related news, Twitter and wit will get you title fights regardless of records in that particular weight class and this season of T.U.F. will actually be worth watching; Anderson Silva will return mid-late 2013 in a non-super fight.  If he wants Anderson Silva money, my bet is he’s hoping Bisping beats Belfort in January; for the love of God, will someone get Eddie Alvarez, Gilbert Melendez and Daniel Cormier in the UFC already?

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

Anderson Spider Silva (Em Portugues do Brasil

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Jose Aldo & Rampage Jackson Out Of UFC 153

September 12, 2012 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

The hits keep on coming for the UFC. Just when the dust started to settle from the UFC 151 fiasco, the UFC has another problem on their hands. In a matter of hours the UFC lost both of its top two fights on the upcoming UFC 153 Brazilian event.

If Dana White thought he had it bad trying to find one main-event to save UFC 151, he now has to find two fights to save the upcoming UFC 153. The good news is that the UFC has a month to find replacement fights. The bad news is that the company will have a real hard time satisfying a Brazilian audience now that their champion has been removed from the card.

Word broke shortly after the UFC 152 media call that Rampage Jackson was out of UFC 153. Jackson was set to fight Glover Teixeira in the co-headliner. White tweeted that Jackson was out with a back injury. This was a huge fight as it was Jackson’s last fight on his deal and a great opportunity to move Teixeira into the upper echelon of the light heavyweights with a win. The upper echelon of light heavyweights haven’t exactly been beating the UFC’s door down to fight Teixeira. Shogun Rua reportedly was fine with being cut rather than fighting Teixeira when asked. Finding a high profile replacement to fight Teixeira with a month out isn’t going to be easy.

No Rampage-Teixeira would have been fine if the main-event also didn’t happen to fall apart on the same day. The highly anticipated Jose Aldo vs. Frankie Edgar UFC featherweight championship fight left as fast as it came. Aldo officially pulled out after suffering a motorcycle accident last week. Aldo was originally scheduled to fight Erik Koch who pulled out of that fight with an injury a couple of weeks back. This leaves UFC 153 with a main-event at this point of Erick Silva vs. Jon Fitch.

I am real curious to see how this plays out after all of the UFC 151 fallout. Dozens of UFC fighters publicly criticized Jon Jones for turning down a fight. Several including Anderson Silva claimed that they would have fought with no notice and saved the show after it had been cancelled. I am real interested to see if any of these fighters who all had problems with Jones for turning down a fight, turn down a proposed fight from Dana White with 30-days notice. This is a show that will likely be cancelled if nobody steps up. Let’s see how many of those fighters are willing to do on 30 days notice what Jones wouldn’t do with eight.

Count Urijah Faber in as a fighter that will stand behind his words. Faber has offered to step in and fight Frankie Edgar at UFC 153. At this point all reports indicate that the fight is under consideration. It is an interesting fight to think about, but I can’t imagine that anyone is really interested in paying to watch it. Plus, Frankie Edgar has everything to lose and nothing to gain. Edgar stepped down in weight to do the UFC a favor and in turn received a title shot. Putting that shot on the line against a guy that just recently lost could be devastating to the UFC’s future plans of an Edgar vs. Aldo fight. For that reason I don’t believe that the UFC will take Faber up on this offer. I think the UFC winds up pulling Edgar from the show to save one of the few marquee fights they have signed up for the future.

Anderson Silva is an interesting name. Silva did offer to fight at UFC 151 at light heavyweight with 8 days notice. This is bigger. This show is in Brazil and Silva was extremely upset when his fight against Chael Sonnen was moved from Brazil to the point that he almost refused to fight. Silva could not only save the event, but get that fight he wanted in front of his home audience. On the other hand, does the UFC really want to expose their marquee fighter on a fight with short notice? Say Silva fights and gets KO’d on a fluke. That would kill marketing efforts going forward. I have read some tweets suggesting a third Silva vs. Sonnen fight but at light heavyweight. It is very intriguing but with a potential big money fight in the future with Jones vs. Sonnen, would the company want to sacrifice Sonnen’s first light heavyweight bid against the Spider?

The UFC is likely to announce a replacement sometime before the end of the week. We’ll have the announcement and analysis immediately thereafter.

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

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Frankie Edgar In, Erik Koch Out Vs. Jose Aldo At UFC 153

August 31, 2012 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

Well that didn’t take long did it? Former UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar will make his featherweight debut in a championship fight. USA Today reports that Edgar will replace Erik Koch against Jose Aldo at UFC 153 in Brazil.

Obviously, we’ve had a rough couple of weeks here at the UFC, and then sure enough, I walk in to work today, and Erik Koch is hurt,” White told USA TODAY Sports. “But Frankie Edgar, being the stud and the warrior that he is, steps up and accepts this fight.

The news comes a week after the UFC had to not only cancel a scheduled title fight with Jon Jones and Dan Henderson, but had to shut down an entire show. In this case, the champion will get plenty of time to prepare for his opponent. Aldo and Edgar won’t square off until October 13, giving both fighters ample time for training camps.

This is a rare case where the UFC winds up with a better main-event due to injury. The last time I can remember this happening was Tito Ortiz stepping in for Phil Davis at UFC 133 against Rashad Evans. Edgar is a huge boost over Koch with all respect to Koch. Quite frankly I am sure the UFC were salivating over the idea of making this fight change. Compound that with the fact that the event will be taking place in Aldo’s home country of Brazil and you have just turned a forgettable headliner into one of the most anticipated fights of the year.

Edgar is moving down after a successful run at lightweight for over five years. Edgar is coming off back to back losses to UFC lightweight champion Ben Henderson. Edgar leaves the UFC lightweight division with a record of 9-2-1 which included a championship win over the legendary BJ Penn. Edgar has never fought at featherweight at any time throughout his career.

I hate to spoil the party here but it should be pointed out that Edgar will now be the UFC fighter getting a championship fight on his division debut this fall. Vitor Belfort who hasn’t fought in the UFC light heavyweight division in over seven years will be getting a shot at Jon Jones at UFC 152. At least in the case of Belfort you can make a case that Belfort won seven of his last eight fights. Not so much in this case!

I am a Frankie Edgar fan but let’s be frank about this. The man is 1-2-1 in his last four fights. He hasn’t won a fight in close to a year! If the UFC defended the Vitor call on his 7-1 record, how do they defend this? I like Edgar and I want to see Edgar fight Aldo, but in no way does he deserve a title shot. It is unfair to the others in the division and it greatly diminishes the credibility of UFC championships.

I was never a fan of Edgar moving down in weight, especially after the last fight with Henderson. It just seems odd to me that a guy who was so close to winning the title (and should have won) would be pressured into dropping a division. The right call in my eyes was to either give Edgar an immediate rematch or a title eliminator fight. Hopefully when this charade is all said and done Edgar can go back to the division where he belongs. I just don’t see the reasoning other than finding a drawing opponent for Edgar to send the guy to another division.

Unfortunately the more the UFC overextends themselves on shows, the more you are going to see situations like Edgar vs. Aldo or even Jones vs. Belfort. It is almost as if Vince McMahon is booking the fights these days.

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

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Frankie Edgar Announces Move To Featherweight

August 22, 2012 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

The UFC moving truck continues to busy in August with fighters moving up and down in division. The latest is former UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar. Edgar has caved into the pressure and announced his move to the featherweight division.

I have to admit that I was stunned when I read this announcement. The calls for Edgar moving to featherweight have been loud since he was first defeated by Ben Henderson earlier this year. Edgar was adamant that he had no interest in moving. Even after his most recent fight he still was adamant that he was not moving. Guess what? He’s moving.

UFC president Dana White has been putting the public pressure on Edgar to move for awhile. In my opinion, this is more about Jose Aldo than it is about Edgar. Jose Aldo is so good, that he has practically no competition in the division. As a draw he is about as poor as it gets right now. Moving Edgar allows the UFC to finally cash in on Aldo for a fight or series with Edgar.

I don’t get this whatsoever in looking at the big picture. I blogged extensively in the past about why the calls for Edgar to move to featherweight were ridiculous. In short, the man has only lost one fight in his entire UFC career in the division. The man has beaten every top lightweight fighter he has ever been matched up with up until Ben Henderson. Even with Henderson, he was never finished. Plus and this is a huge plus, he was robbed of the title in their last fight! I am not a big Edgar fan but I’ll call a spade when I see it and Edgar deserves a rematch no matter what was promised to Nate Diaz. I don’t understand why you would sacrifice one of the most dominant lightweights in history for one money fight. I don’t get it.

Sure they could move Edgar back to the division after the Aldo series should he lose, but what is the point? You are taking one of the most dominant fighters in the division away for an extended period of time. Could Edgar stick around and help build the featherweight division? I guess so but here is a dirty little secret nobody in Zuffa would ever admit. Nobody wants to watch the featherweights! They are fun for a fight here and there but they aren’t draws. Casual MMA fans want to watch big guys slug it out or go to the ground, not little guys bounce around for five rounds. If that was the case Jose Aldo would be the biggest draw in the UFC!

Edgar was told that he must win one fight before getting a title shot. That sounds legitimate doesn’t it? One fight makes a top contender? In one breath Dana White is telling Chael Sonnen he needs more than one win to get a title shot yet in the other he says it is okay for Frankie Edgar. Maybe I am putting too much stock into the titles but I have a real hard time with the credibility of a title fight when the challenger is getting the shot off of one win. Edgar needed three to get to BJ Penn and in my opinion that is the way all title paths should be.

There is also the whole issue of weight cutting. Weight cutting is a part of fighting but it is a very dangerous game. Edgar is a fighter known for the fact that he doesn’t cut weight for his fights. Now you have pressured the guy into a situation where he needs to cut weight and then rehydrate by fight time. I won’t even get into the fact that you have a real unfair situation to Aldo in that case, but such is life in the UFC and their phony divisions.

I know Edgar isn’t a big draw but I am disappointed we won’t be getting Henderson-Edgar III, Edgar vs. Diaz, Edgar-Maynard IV, Edgar-Pettis, Edgar-Guida, Edgar-Lauzon, or Edgar-Miller in the foreseeable future. As a fight fan I think this may be one of the most short-sighted moves I have seen from Zuffa in a long time.

I guess I’ll get excited for Frankie Edgar vs. Chad Mendes instead.

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

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