Josh Barnett Wins UFC 164 Return Over Frank Mir

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

Josh Barnett returned to the UFC for the first time in 11 years at UFC 164. Barnett said he was coming to defend his title and while there was no title on the line he did make a statement at the expense of Frank Mir.

Barnett fought for the first time in the UFC at 164 since winning the UFC heavyweight title at UFC 36 becoming the youngest heavyweight champ. Barnett defeated Randy Couture for the title at 36 and was quickly stripped of the title after he tested positive for PEDs.

Barnett flirted with a return to the UFC over the last several years but was finally able to make a deal a few months back. UFC president Dana White welcomed Barnett back with a big challenge, a fight with a former heavyweight champion. Barnett was not going to get an easy road. He had to get through Frank Mir first and there were some that thought he’d never overcome that roadblock. They were wrong.

Barnett looked great in his return to the UFC. Barnett opened up immediately and charged after Mir. Both guys clinched and exchanged a series of punches. It was an exciting fight from the start with Barnett pushing the pace. Barnett trapped Mir’s wrist and went after the body. Barnett dropped Mir with a vicious knee strike and the fight was immediately stopped at 1:56 of the first round.

The win gave Barnett his fifth first-round victory in his last seven fights. The victory was certainly not without controversy. Mir popped up quickly after the stoppage and protested. I thought upon looking at the replay that the stoppage was fine, not great. Barnett told Joe Rogan after the fight that he’d do it again later tonight or any other time. Mir was not happy.

UFC president Dana White immediately vented his frustration with the stoppage on Twitter.

F#$king ridiculous stoppage!!!! The guys with experience make mistakes. That guy had no business being in the Co Main event!” – @DanaWhite

A win is a win and the heavyweight division just got a huge boost tonight. With Travis Browne dropping Alistair Overeem at the UFC on FS1 event, the division was without a true number one contender. Fabricio Werdum was in the mix and of course Browne, but those aren’t money fights. Barnett challenging for the UFC title, never actually losing it for the first time in over a decade is big money!

Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos will wrap up their trilogy in October at UFC 166. Barnett makes the perfect fighter to challenge the winner. On paper I don’t see Velasquez having any problem with Barnett. I could see Velasquez destroying Barnett pretty quickly. Dos Santos on the other hand could have some trouble but if I had to pick one I’d probably go with JDS. Regardless, either fight is a money fight.

Tainted win or not it is a huge step back towards the UFC heavyweight title for Barnett. The UFC finally has a top contender in the division that can draw some money with the champion. Irate or not I’d be shocked if White does anything but shoot Barnett straight to a title fight in 2014.

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Josh Barnett Vs. Frank Mir Set For UFC 164

May 30, 2013 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

Frank Mir offered to welcome back Josh Barnett to the UFC and he has gotten his wish. The two former UFC heavyweight kingpins will slug it out at UFC 164 in one of the more intriguing heavyweight fights of the year.

The UFC made the announcement this week shortly after it was announced that Barnett was returning to the company. The fight pits two former heavyweight champions with one on the decline and the other fighting in his biggest fight in years.

I think that the UFC has thrown Barnett an easy first fight. Dana White said awhile back that he wanted to match Barnett up with Junior Dos Santos in his first fight back. With all due respect to Frank Mir he is not nearly as dangerous of an opponent as JDS. I don’t know many people who would have picked Barnett over JDS. I don’t know many people who are not picking him over Mir.

I hate to sound like I am ragging on Mir because I am a big fan. I just think it’s time to call him what he is and that’s an aging heavyweight fighter. It has been awhile since he has come out and looked explosive against anyone. I will say this for him. I was impressed with his performance against Daniel Cormier in that he never appeared to gas out. Cormier muscled him around for three rounds but Mir was still coming. That said, Mir wasn’t able to do anything against Cormier.

Barnett on the other hand is coming in right off of an explosive performance against Nandor Gueimino on the final Strikeforce event. Barnett is 9-1 in his last ten with his only loss coming to Cormier. What may be even more impressive is that 8 of those 9 wins were decisive and only 1 went the distance. That said, none of those losing opponents were anywhere near the caliber of Mir.

I don’t know what you do against Barnett if you are Mir. You can’t stand with him and while Mir is a master on the ground, Barnett is certainly capable of handling Mir on the ground. I think if you’re Mir you just go in there and let it fly hoping to either impress the UFC enough to keep you around with a loss or connect on a lucky shot against Barnett.

The big win here will be the promos. You are talking about two of the best promo guys in the business in Barnett and Mir. I could easily see these guys talking this fight into one of the most anticipated heavyweight fights of the year. I doubt it will deliver anywhere close to what they promise but it will be fun to listen to them hype it over the next few months.

I can’t imagine that this will be the main-event yet at this point it appears to be. There is still plenty of time and with the show being sandwiched between UFC on Fox Sports 1 events, the UFC will likely look to capitalize with a big main-event. Maybe Georges St-Pierre vs. Johny Hendricks or Jon Jones defending the title? The event takes place in Milwaukee, WI on August 31 to close out the summer season.

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Josh Barnett Returning To The UFC

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

Josh Barnett is coming home. The seventh Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight champion has signed a multi-fight deal to return to the octagon for the first time in over eleven years.

I may be wrong but I can’t remember another UFC star or former champion that had such a large gap between runs as Barnett’s eleven years. broke the news earlier this week that after months of negotiating, Barnett and the UFC finally agreed on a deal.

USA TODAY Sports/ ( today confirmed with promotion officials that former UFC heavyweight champion Barnett has signed a new multi-fight deal with the promotion and is expected to make his return to the octagon later this year. An official announcement is expected soon.

This is big news to a heavyweight division that has been up and down over the last several years in regards to star power. The signing immediately puts Barnett into the championship mix if you the company wants to play up the storyline that Barnett never lost the belt. The only problem with that tale is that the reason Barnett was stripped of the title was a positive PED test.

I think that the biggest asset Barnett brings to the promotion is his ability to talk. Some would argue that Barnett is the best talker in all of Mixed Martial-Arts. Barnett is a longtime professional wrestling fan and has brought some of those elements into MMA with his promos and style. The one thing you can say about Barnett is that he gets it. You can probably list the good talkers in the UFC on one hand, which is kind of sad if you think about the number of fighters on the roster. Don’t be surprised if Barnett immediately becomes one of the biggest draws in the company.

Now whether Barnett can back any of his verbal attacks up in the octagon is another story. Barnett is 9-1 in his last ten fights. The knock on this record is the quality of competition. There is nobody on that list of nine wins who would impress anyone. I’d say his most impressive wins came in seven years ago when he put together back to back wins over Mark Hunt and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. Barnett’s last two fights against quality competition were a Nogueira rematch and Daniel Cormier which were both losses. To his credit he wasn’t finished in any of those two fights.

What do you do with Barnett? Dana White said a few weeks ago that his original plan for Barnett was a fight with Junior Dos Santos. JDS is fighting Mark Hunt at UFC 161 and all indications are that he would get a title shot with a win. I would imagine a loss would set him up for a fight with Overeem. I suppose you can match him up with Mark Hunt if Hunt were to lose. Alistair Overeem is rumored to have a fight agreement in place with Travis Browne but I haven’t heard anything official so I guess you can say he is in the mix. Frank Mir and Antonio Silva (if he were to lose to Cain) are also viable options. Unfortunately nothing really jumps out at me as anything I’d get excited about other than a fight with Velasquez.

Barnett and Dana White have had their issues over the years. However, White has had an eye on Barnett for awhile. When Barnett was signed to fight Fedor I remember White saying he’d consider bringing Barnett back if he won. The fight fell through and Barnett wound up in Strikeforce.

The biggest surprise to me is that Viacom/Spike showed no interest in signing Barnett. Barnett would have been a perfect signing for a TNA Wrestling/Bellator crossover, the same way King Mo was intended to be used. Barnett is a pro wrestler and has even headlined shows in Japan. The marriage seemed like a natural yet from all accounts Bellator and Spike showed no interest.

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Josh Barnett Not Signing With UFC

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

The flirtation between Josh Barnett and Dana White went exactly as you expected it would. Barnett will not be returning to the UFC but the reason why may or may not surprise you. broke the story on Wednesday that Josh Barnett will not be moving to the UFC. The reason why though and the circumstances behind it are quite interesting. According to the story the UFC and Barnett agreed on all of the financial terms of a new deal. Surprisingly (or not) the report says that it was Barnett who turned down the deal due to the UFC failing to meet one undisclosed term which was not financial.

This is bad news for the UFC, especially coming off of a pay per view where their next scheduled championship fight completely fell apart. The heavyweight division is in trouble, big trouble. There are still a few stars left but it is a one man show with Cain Velasquez atop the mountain. A deep look into the division reveals a ton of parody and retreads. The division desperately needed someone with the star power of Barnett to come in and give it a boost. Throw in Barnett’s ability to talk and self-promote better than almost any other fighter in MMA and this is a big loss no matter how you cut it.

How Barnett would have done in the UFC is another discussion. But, the UFC would have had a former heavyweight champion who never lost his title returning to the company. I know Dana White said Barnett would have to wait on a title match but I don’t believe that. They could have easily moved him to the top with the justification being that he is a former champ that never lost and had a big money fight right off the bat.

Some will say that this news is not surprising at all. There are many that believe that Barnett never really wanted to come back to the UFC at all. Critics have accused Barnett of avoiding the UFC in order to take easier fights and pad his record. I think that is a bit of a stretch but at this point I am starting to believe those critics, depending upon what this undisclosed consideration turns out to be.

Barnett’s only real option at this point is Bellator. Unfortunately for him, Bjorn Rebney has publicly stated that they have no interest in him. A hybrid deal with TNA Wrestling and Spike TV makes perfect sense. Barnett as a dual fighter and pro wrestling in Bellator and TNA could actually move numbers for both companies. I wonder if Bellator’s interest would change with pressure from TNA Wrestling and Viacom. A transition as a personality and host on Spike TV also makes a ton of sense for Barnett.

It is hard to say whether negotiations are completely dead. You never know and stranger things have happened. A deal could be struck with this undisclosed term being met and Barnett could sign tomorrow. Although I think it is fair to say that the chances of that happening are looking very slim.

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UFC Champ Cain Velasquez: Who’s Next?

February 05, 2013 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

The UFC is still reeling days after their planned heavyweight championship showdown fell apart thanks to a big, nasty giant. So what is next for Cain Velasquez? Let’s take a look at the division and breakdown some possible matchups for the champ.

It was too easy yet the UFC got cute and fell on their faces. Alistair Overeem walked into the UFC looking like a Greek God and sent the former heavyweight kingpin Brock Lesnar into retirement. The aura was created, the fans bought in, and a million dollar challenger was born.

Even with a failed PED test (which had a ton of comedy around it), Overeem was still promised the next title fight. Then Overeem and the UFC made the ultimate gamble and set up their golden challenger with a tune up fight. Unfortunately this isn’t pro wrestling and there is never a guaranteed win in MMA. They both found out the hard way and now Cain Velasquez is looking around for his next victim.

The heavyweight division is in bad shape right now but there are a few intriguing possibilities. The UFC can look in several directions for Velasquez’s next challenger. Here are a few possibilities which may not be as juicy on paper as Velasquez vs. Overeem, but could turn out to be some pretty interesting fights.

Junior Dos Santos: JDS is the obvious choice here. He is the only heavyweight now that you can argue truly deserves a title shot. The problem here is that he and the UFC made Velasquez get a win, so JDS should have to do the same. He does hold a win over Cain and he was never put away in their last fight. It certainly won’t draw the intrigue of Overeem vs. Cain but of any possibilities, it makes the most sense.

Bigfoot Silva: If Overeem was the number one contender and Silva KO’d him, shouldn’t he get the title shot? Logically you can make a strong argument that he deserves it. Unfortunately it hasn’t even been a year since Velasquez absolutely mauled Bigfoot in what was arguably the most brutal beating seen in UFC in 2012. There will be little intrigue here and the fact is that most will see this as a lopsided matchup. He does deserve the title shot but he’ll need 1-2 big wins before people start to buy into him. Based on sport I’d go with Bigfoot. Based on business I’d look elsewhere.

Josh Barnett: Now to be clear the Babyfaced Assassin hasn’t even signed with the UFC yet, but negotiations are underway. Barnett is coming off a lopsided win over a guy that nobody would recognize. He hasn’t had a big win in a long time in America, unless you count Brett Rogers. Selling him as a deserving challenger is going to be rough. However, you can play the UFC heavyweight champion card. Barnett technically never lost the title in a ring or octagon. Barnett is smart enough to promote the fight in such a way that people will eventually want to buy into either seeing Cain shut him up or him taking his belt back. Dana White says he’s not in consideration. I don’t believe it for a second.

Alistair Overeem: That’s right I said it. Why not? Nick Diaz, Frankie Edgar, and Chael Sonnen are all getting title shots off of losses right? The UFC has booked more on business than sport over the last several months and this fight still makes the most sense for business. Overeem is a star and a draw and while he did hit the ground, I think enough people would be interested in a Cain vs. Overeem strike-fest to make it viable. Do I think he’ll get the title shot? No, but stranger things have happened in the UFC.

Jon Jones: I brought this up in my post-UFC 156 blog on Saturday night just shortly after Overeem hit the mat. The UFC light heavyweight champion has said on more than one occasion that he is planning to move up to heavyweight this year. He is obligated to a title defense in April so Cain would have to wait. But, what if Jones decides after Sonnen that he is done in the division? The UFC could book this fight on their July super show and promote it as something very special. Would anyone really have a problem with a champion moving up and getting an immediate title shot? I doubt it. The big question here is whether the UFC wants to cut their nose off to spite their face and weaken one division to strengthen another.

Daniel Cormier: The Strikeforce Grand Prix heavyweight tournament winner says that he will not fight his teammate Cain Velasquez, but does he mean it? Cormier has never made UFC money or anything close to what he’d make as UFC heavyweight champion. Jon Jones said he’d never fight his teammate either and he eventually did. This is a sport and in sports, friends play against each other all of the time, sometimes even family members. I will take Cormier at his word for now, but I am not convinced that a fighter who hasn’t made the big money would turn away millions for one fight. If Cormier accepts, you have one intriguing matchup for fight fans.

Fabricio Werdum: Let me make this perfectly clear. I can’t stand the man! I have grown to have a large distaste for Werdum after he sat on the mat and made a mockery of his entire fight with Alistair Overeem. But, if you are looking for a credible heavyweight he could fit the bill. He will be fighting Big Nog in June which is the problem as you’d have to keep Velasquez idle until the end of the year for a fight. Werdum is on a 2-0 streak and a win over Big Nog would give him three and probably a title shot at the end of the year. Unfortunately he is locked into the Brazilian The Ultimate Fighter so pulling him now isn’t feasible.

Roy Nelson: If not for his loss to Werdum I’d shoot him right into the top of the mix. Nelson is a funny guy because he’s always hanging around the top of the division but like Michael Bisping, he can never close the door when he needs to for a title shot. Roy vs. Cain would be a lot more intriguing to me than it may be to some people. He does have a fight scheduled with Cheick Kongo in April so you run into the same scheduling problems with him as you would with Jones. However, if Nelson can pull off the win why not give him the title fight? Don’t tell me you wouldn’t watch!

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List Of Strikeforce Fighters To UFC Roster

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

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

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

Daniel Cormier (11-0)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Strikeforce: Marquardt Vs. Saffiedine Results and Wrap Up

January 13, 2013 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

The dust has settled in Oklahoma City and the hexagonal cage of Strikeforce is being disassembled for the final time, and likely being prepped for sale on eBay. In what was a highly entertaining night of fights, Strikeforce gave a final farewell to the fans and a showcase for several of their fighters. Although I usually give you a brief recap of the fight and what’s next for each of the main card fighters in these write ups, I think it’s probably more sensible to talk about the winners who will likely be moving into the UFC and potential first opponents for their bouts.

Lightweight Bout: Estevan Payan defeated Michael Bravo via TKO (Punches) at 4:01 of Round 2

Payan looked impressive battering Bravo all over the cage for the better part of two rounds. If he moves into the UFC Lightweight division, he’s going to be receiving significantly better competition. There are plenty of fighters in the Lightweight division, but a striker would probably be the best match up for him. Terry Etim or Caros Fodor would probably be decent match-ups.

Lightweight Bout: Adriano Martins defeated Jorge Gurgel via Unanimous Decision

Adriano Martins has long been one of the top Brazilian prospects at Lightweight and he’s absolutely massive for a Lightweight. He battered Jorge Gurgel as most people expected him to and will likely make the leap to the UFC’s Lightweight division. He could probably be a good addition to one of the UFC’s international cards in Brazil, possibly against a TUF: Brazil cast member. Renee Forte or Cristiano Marcello would be good choices.

Middleweight Bout: Roger Gracie defeated Anthony Smith via Submission (Arm Triangle Choke) at 3:16 of Round 2

Gracie is one of the top submission grapplers in the world. Although his striking and his overall MMA game isn’t really proven yet, he’s as dangerous as they come on the mat. Gracie will get a shot in the UFC, but he needs to prove that he can handle wrestlers or someone who won’t be easy to takedown. The UFC has a couple of Middleweight grinders like Riki Fukuda and Tom Lawlor who would be solid matches.

Lightweight Bout: Pat Healy defeated Kurt Holobaugh via Unanimous Decision

Healy basically got screwed on this card as he had a number of big name opponents pull out of this fight because of injuries. One of those opponents was Strikeforce Lightweight Champion Gilbert Melendez. Still Healy went in there and did what he does best and used solid wrestling and striking to grind a Unanimous Decision victory. He should get a decent fighter in his UFC debut. There are so many talented fighters in the UFC’s Lightweight division that it’s hard to pick one. The winner of the upcoming Bobby Green and Jacob Volkmann fight at UFC 156 is probably a good start.

Middleweight Bout: Tim Kennedy defeated Trevor Smith via Submission (Guillotine Choke) at 1:36 of Round 3

Kennedy is a highly entertaining fighter and a former member of the US Marines. We know how much the UFC loves Brian Stann because of his military past and Kennedy could end up being just as popular and marketable. The Middleweight division is a bit thin but he’s a solid talent who comes to fight, so the UFC will certainly look to give him a chance to have some success. Derek Brunson who just made his UFC debut with a win over Chris Leben would be a good choice to test Kennedy’s UFC readiness.

Lightweight Bout: Ryan Couture defeated KJ Noons via Split Decision

This one may have been a bit controversial, but the UFC can’t be unhappy about bringing the son of UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture into the promotion. He’s still a raw and somewhat unproven talent, but Couture is a grinder much in the same make of his father. He’s not likely to ever ascend to the upper echelon of UFC fighters, but he’s fun to watch. Bouts against fighters like Sam Stout or Anthony Njokuani might prove to be entertaining bouts and good tests of his capabilities as a fighter.

Catchweight (194 Pounds) Bout: Ronaldo Souza defeated Ed Herman via Submission (Kimura) at 4:38 of Round 1

Ronaldo Souza might be one of the Strikeforce fighters who has the biggest impact on the UFC. He’s a very tough and very talented fighter who continues to improve his overall MMA skillset. One of the best grapplers on the planet, his striking has been rapidly improving under the tutelage of the trainers at the Black House Gym. He’s probably going to need a big fight first and since I think one of the best possible match ups they could give him is a top contender. Someone like Hector Lombard would fit the bill almost perfectly. Or perhaps a rematch with Strikeforce champ Luke Rockhold for a chance at a bout with Anderson Silva.

Light Heavyweight Bout: Gegard Mousasi defeated Mike Kyle via Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 4:09 of Round 1

Gegard Mousasi is one of the most talented fighters in the Light Heavyweight division, although in my opinion he might be a bit undersized for the division. Still he’s a handful anywhere the fight goes with excellent kick boxing skills and a dangerous submission grappling acumen. He outworked Kyle on the ground and took advantage of his opponent’s weakness to earn a submission victory. Mousasi should receive some stiff competition almost immediately upon his entry to the UFC. A bout with Forrest Griffin might be a good way to introduce him to UFC fans. Or perhaps a bout with Shogun, despite him coming off of a loss, would be a good gauge of Mousasi’s place in the UFC.

Heavyweight Bout: Josh Barnett defeated Nandor Guelmino via Submission (Arm Triangle Choke) at 2:11 in Round 1

Much has been made of the bad blood between Zuffa and Josh Barnett. Despite him being a former UFC Heavyweight champion, many people wondered whether he would be welcomed back. My guess is that they will bring Barnett into the fold, he remains a likely Top 10 Heavyweight fighter and is highly marketable due to the pro-wrestling style nature of his interviews and interactions with fans and media. If he is indeed brought into the UFC there a number of suitable match ups for him including Antonio Rodrigo Nigeria or Shane Carwin.

Heavyweight Bout: Daniel Cormier defeated Dion Staring via TKO (Punches) at 4:02 of Round 2

Everyone knew Daniel Cormier was coming to the UFC, he probably would have come over even if he happened to lose by some fluke. He’s the reigning champion of the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix and one of the top Heavyweight fighters in the world. He laid out his plans for his trip to the UFC immediately in his post fight interview. He called out former UFC Champion Frank Mir for a bout at an upcoming UFC on Fox card. I wonder how much Showtime liked Fox being given a primetime plug on their network. He also outlined his desire for a future match up against UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones.

Welterweight Championship Bout: Tarec Saffiedine defeated Nate Marquardt via Unanimous Decision to win the Strikeforce Welterweight Title

This was another entertaining bout albeit it was a bit of a slow starter. It was also a bout that not many people thought that Saffiedine could win, myself included. Saffiedine used significantly improved wrestling and leg kicks backed by an excellent jab to outwork Marquardt across all five rounds. There is a bit of a logjam in the UFC’s Welterweight pecking order, so Saffiedine isn’t getting an immediate title shot, that’s almost certain. But he has done something to earn himself a top contender and the chance to work himself into the title picture. They will certainly be daunting match ups but he deserves the shot. Martin Kampmann is available but is coming off of a loss. The winner of the upcoming match between Demian Maia and Jon Fitch could work. Or perhaps the winner of the upcoming Carlos Condit – Rory MacDonald fight.

The Losers: The last thing to really touch on is to ask whether any of the losers will have a place in the UFC. According to a couple of fighters, many were told that the stakes were basically win and move to the UFC or lose and become unemployed. I have a hard time imagining that the UFC would be so shortsighted as to leave solid, talented fighters on the table because of politics or backstage promises.

Middleweight Anthony Smith looked decent before losing to Roger Gracie via Submission in the second round. With the UFC being thin at Middleweight, I could see Smith getting a one-bout contract with the UFC. If he wins there might be a place for him, if he loses it’s probably back to unemployment. A lower ranked Middleweight like Tim Credeur would be good. Or perhaps Trevor Smith who looked game before succumbing to a Tim Kennedy on the same card in a similar winner stays, loser leaves town UFC fight.

Kurt Holobaugh battled Pat Healy on short notice in a fight that many people said no to. He is a natural Featherweight fighter and did a solid for Zuffa and the UFC, so I’d imagine he’s going to repaid with another chance in the UFC. Lightweight fighter KJ Noons had a highly entertaining bout with Ryan Couture, and many people felt that he won the fight. He’s got some big notable wins, including a win over Nick Diaz and he’s an entertaining striker, so there’s probably a spot for him in the UFC’s ultra crowded Lightweight division.

Ed Herman will obviously remain a UFC fighter as he will not be punished for doing the promotion a favor and stepping in as a late replacement for a fighter as dangerous as Jacare Souza. Mike Kyle is a former Heavyweight who now competes at Light Heavyweight and prefers to stand and bang. He’s never going to be a top contender but he’s got an exciting style and big time knockout power and he’s fairly marketable, so I would be surprised if he didn’t get a shot at a UFC bout.

Former Strikeforce Welterweight Champion Nate Marquardt might be an interesting case as well. He was released from his UFC contract a while ago for failing a pre-fight medical test because of high levels of testosterone. If he is welcomed back, there are a number of decent fights for him. Thiago Alves is a decent potential opponent. As would be Dan Hardy or James Head.

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Strikeforce: Marquardt Vs. Saffiedine Predictions and Analysis

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

This weekend marks a landmark event for the Strikeforce organization. It is the final fight card on their Showtime contract, but it is also expected to serve as the final Strikeforce event of all time, as after this event the promotion is expected to be folded and merged into the UFC. This Saturday night live from the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma the card will air on Showtime. Although the card was initially dubbed ‘Champions’ most of those champions have since pulled out from the event. Although what’s left is a bit watered down, many of these guys will be fighting for a UFC contract, so there should still be some entertaining bouts.

Despite many of the champions pulling out, there are a couple of champions that still remain on the card. The main event of the evening features a Welterweight Championship bout between Strikeforce champ Nate Marquardt taking on Tarec Saffiedine. The co-main event of the evening features Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix champ Daniel Cormier taking on relatively unheralded Dion Staring in what is likely going to be a soft ball leading into his UFC debut. The main card also features a couple more interesting bouts like Josh Barnett taking on Nandor Guelmino, a Light Heavyweight bout between Gegard Mousasi taking on Mike Kyle in a bout that has been long overdue. The opening bout of the Showtime telecast features UFC Middleweight Ed Herman taking on former Strikeforce champion Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza.

Preliminary Card (Unaired): Lightweight Bout: Michael Bravo vs. Estevan Payan

Michael Bravo is a 24-year-old fighter who will be making his promotional debut in this bout. Bravo is a member of the Arena MMA Gym in San Diego, California. Bravo is a talented striker who is currently on a three fight-winning streak. Bravo holds a professional record of 7-3, and all seven victories via Knockout. Estevan “El Terrible” Payan is a 30-year-old fighter from Tempe, Arizona. He is a member of the Arizona Combat Sports Gym who has previously competed for Bellator. Payan holds a professional record of 13-3.

Quick Pick: Estevan Payan via Unanimous Decision

Preliminary Card (Unaired): Lightweight Bout: Jorge Gurgel vs. Adriano Martins

Jorge “J.G” Gurgel is a 35-year-old fighter from Fortaleza, Brazil. Gurgel is a member of and the head trainer at his own gym in Cincinnati, Ohio. Gurgel is a former UFC fighter who is more known for getting into wild brawls despite his technical grappling proficiency. Gurgel holds a career record of 14-8. Adriano Martins is a 30-year-old Brazilian fighter from Manaus, Brazil. He is a member of the Top Life Amazonas Gym in Brazil who holds a career record of 23-6.

Quick Pick: Adriano Martins via TKO in Round Two

Preliminary Card (Showtime Extreme): Lightweight Bout: Ryan Couture vs. K.J. Noons

Ryan Couture is a 30-year-old American fighter from Edmonds, Washington. Couture is best known as being the son of UFC Hall-of-Famer Randy Couture and is a member of his dad’s Xtreme Couture Gym in Las Vegas, Nevada. Couture holds a career record of 5-1. K.J. “King” Noons is a 30-year-old fighter from Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. Noons is a former professional boxer and kick boxer who now trains MMA at The Arena in San Diego, California. He holds a pro record of 11-5.

Quick Pick: Ryan Couture via Split Decision

Preliminary Card (Showtime Extreme): Middleweight Bout: Tim Kennedy vs. Trevor Smith

Tim Kennedy is a 33-year-old fighter from San Luis Obispo, California. Kennedy is a former member of the US Army who trains out of Greg Jackson’s MMA in Austin, Texas. Kennedy holds a career record of 14-4, who has defeated all but the top-tier of fighters in Strikeforce. Trevor “Hot Sauce” Smith is a 31-year-old American fighter. Smith is a member of the Ring Demon Jiu Jitsu Gym in Tukwila, Washington. He holds a professional MMA record of 10-2.

Quick Pick: Tim Kennedy via TKO in Round Two

Preliminary Card (Showtime Extreme): Middleweight Bout: Roger Gracie vs. Anthony Smith

Roger Gracie is a 31-year-old Brazilian fighter from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Gracie is a member of the famed Gracie Jiu Jitsu family. Gracie is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt who trains with the Black House Gym in Brazil and London, England. Gracie holds a career record of 5-1. Anthony “Lionheart” Smith is a 24-year-old fighter from Corpus Christi, Texas. Smith is a member of the Disorderly Conduct Gym in Omaha, Nebraska. Smith holds a career record of 17-8.

Quick Pick: Roger Gracie via Submission in Round Two

Preliminary Card (Showtime Extreme): Lightweight Bout: Pat Healy vs. Kurt Holobaugh

Pat “Bam Bam” Healy is a 29-year-old American fighter from Salem, Oregon. Healy is a member of the Team Quest Gym in Portland, Oregon. Healy was originally scheduled to headline the event against Lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez, but an injury to Melendez has dropped him to the Preliminary Card. Healy holds a career record of 28-16, but is currently riding a five-fight winning streak. Kurt Holobaugh is a26-year-old fighter from Independence, Louisiana. He is a member of the Gracie Barra North Shore Gym in Louisiana. Holobaugh is a Featherweight moving up in weight, who recently made headlines for having a professional fight on the same night as his wedding. He holds an unbeaten professional record of 8-0.

Quick Pick: Pat Healy via Unanimous Decision

Main Card (Showtime): Catchweight 195 Pound Bout: Ed Herman vs. Ronaldo Souza

Ed “Short Fuse” Herman is a 32-year-old American fighter from Vancouver, Washington. Herman now lives and trains in Fort Collins, Colorado with the Team Quest Gym. Herman is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, but is a tough, well-rounded fighter. Herman is best known as a finalist on the third season of The Ultimate Fighter. Herman is taking this bout as an injury replacement for Strikeforce fighter Lorenz Larkin who was forced to withdraw from the fight. Herman holds a pro record 20-8 with 1 No Contest.Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza is a 33-year-old Brazilian fighter from Vila Velha, Brazil. He is a former Strikeforce Middleweight Champion. Souza is one of the most dangerous grapplers on the planet, who holds a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and a black belt in Judo. Souza is a member of the Black House Gym in Brazil who has won numerous submission grappling tournaments in his life. Souza has rapidly been improving his overall MMA game and has improved his striking significantly since making the initial switch to MMA. Souza holds a professional record of 16-3 with 1 No Contest.

Analysis and Prediction: Herman is a talented grinder and is very tough to finish, but after seeing his loss to Jake Shields, I have to question how he’ll do in this bout. With the improvements in his striking game, Souza is almost sure to be better in every area where this fight is contested. Herman is tough and very durable, so it won’t be easy for Souza, but I can see him taking a pretty clear cut decision victory here. Ronaldo Souza via Unanimous Decision

Main Card (Showtime): Light Heavyweight Bout: Gegard Mousasi vs. Mike Kyle

Gegard “The Dreamcatcher” Mousasi is a 27-year-old Armenian fighter from Tehran, Iran. Mousasi is a talented kick boxer who now trains out of Leiden, Netherlands as part of the Golden Glory Gym. Mousasi holds a black belt in Judo and is also a former professional kick boxer. Mousasi is a former Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion and a former DREAM Light Heavyweight Champion. Mousasi is fighting for the first time in over a year, returning from a torn ACL injury. He holds a professional record of 32-3-2.

Mike “MAK” Kyle is a 32-year-old American fighter from Boise, Idaho. Kyle is a former Heavyweight fighter who now competes at Light Heavyweight. Kyle is a member of the American Kickboxing Academy training out of San Jose, California. Kyle has competed in the UFC previously and was infamously accused of biting Wes Sims during their bout. Kyle will likely be fighting for the chance to return to the UFC. He holds a career record of 19-8-1 with 2 No Contests.

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Analysis and Prediction: Mousasi is definitely one of the top talents in the world at Light Heavyweight who isn’t competing in the UFC and after this bout that’s probably going to change. He’s a better grappler and a far superior striker, but Kyle hits very hard and is large for a Light Heavyweight. The game plan to beat Mousasi is to grind him out from top control using a wrestling based approach. I doubt that Kyle can pull off something like that, but the time off for Mousasi is slightly concerning. Kyle is probably more interested in brawling and that gets him on the wrong end of a highlight knockout, but probably earns him a shot in the UFC anyways. If it wasn’t for the long layoff due to injury, I’d be much more confident in Mousasi, but as is, I still think he’s talented enough to win. Gegard Mousasi via TKO in Round Two

Main Card (Showtime): Heavyweight Bout: Josh Barnett vs. Nandor Guelmino

Josh “The Warmaster” Barnett is a 35-year-old fighter from Seattle, Washington. Barnett is a former professional wrestler, spending some of his time wrestling in Japan. Barnett is a talented catch wrestler and grappler who holds a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Barnett is a member of the CSW Gym in Fullerton, California. Barnett is a former UFC Heavyweight champion who was later stripped of the title after testing positive for banned substances. This will be Barnett’s first fight since losing in the finals of the Strikeforce of the Heavyweight Grand Prix. Barnett holds a career record of 31-6.

Nandor “The Hun” Guelmino is a 37-year-old fighter from Vienna, Austria. Guelmino is a Tae Kwan Do practitioner who holds a black belt in the discipline. Guelmino will be making his promotional debut, but is currently riding a seven-fight winning streak. Despite not being a well-known fighter, he is talented, but has struggled against most of the upper-level fighters that he’s faced. Guelmino holds a career record of 11-3 and has won 9 of those 11 via stoppage.

Analysis and Prediction: Guelmino is a Tae Kwan Do specialist and he’s utilized his striking to win many of his career bouts. He has a strong jab and decent takedown defense, but Barnett will be by far the stiffest test of his career. Despite the beating he took from Cormier, Barnett is a top level Heavyweight who is a dominant and smothering grappler from top control and his positional awareness and submission skills make him extremely dangerous on the mat. Guelmino has a couple of submission wins himself, but he’s not going to be able to do much once Barnett gets him down and gets on top. I expect this one doesn’t last long, Barnett isn’t one to showboat and with the chance to hop into the UFC with an impressive showing, I expect him to make short work of Guelmino. Jab, shot, takedown, top control, guard pass into mount and ground and pound for a stoppage in the first round. Josh Barnett via TKO in Round One

Main Card (Showtime): Heavyweight Bout: Daniel Cormier vs. Dion Staring

Daniel “DC” Cormier is a 33-year-old fighter from Lafayette, Louisiana. Cormier is a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler and a former Olympic Wrestler. Despite his impressive wrestling credentials, he has made vast improvements to his striking and overall MMA game. Cormier recently won the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix by defeating Josh Barnett in the finals. Cormier is a member of the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, California where he trains and is good friends with UFC Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez. Cormier holds a perfect professional record of 10-0.

Dion “Soldier” Staring is a 34-year-old Dutch fighter from Deventer, Netherlands. Staring is a well-seasoned veteran of the sport of MMA, with 35 career professional bouts. Staring has fought for a number of major MMA promotions throughout his career including Shooto, Walki and Jungle Fight. Staring is a former sparring partner of Alistair Overeem who formerly trained with Overeem at the Golden Glory Gym in Amsterdam. He has since made a transition to the Imperial Athletics Gym in Boca Raton, Florida, making the move with Overeem to the Blackzillians team. Staring holds a professional record of 28-7.

Analysis and Prediction: Cormier is currently sitting at a ridiculous 22-to-1 on the Vegas line for this fight. While I think that might be a bit crazy, it’s probably closer to the true odds than anyone will readily admit. Staring took a fight that a lot of people said no to. He’s more suited to Light Heavyweight, but Cormier isn’t a massive Heavyweight who will overwhelm him with size. Instead, he’ll overwhelm him with skill. Despite the change to training with the Blackzillians, Staring hasn’t competed against anyone who is as talented or a complete fighter as Cormier. As he showed as he bulldozed his way through the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix Cormier is a talented wrestler with smothering top control and his striking is top notch as well. His style is very similar to his AKA Teammate and UFC Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez, which means he’s a nightmare for almost anyone in the Heavyweight division. Takedowns and ground and pound end this one quickly for Cormier. Daniel Cormier via TKO in Round One

Main Card (Showtime): Welterweight Championship Bout: Nate Marquardt vs. Tarec Saffiedine

Nate “The Great” Marquardt is a 33-year-old American fighter from Lander, Wyoming. Marquardt is a former UFC Middleweight fighter and a former Pancrase Middleweight Champion. Now fighting out of Denver, Colorado he is a member of the Grudge Training Center and the High Altitude Martial Arts Gym. Marquardt is also a former member of Greg Jackson’s Team in New Mexico. He holds a number of black belts in several martial arts including a 2nd degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, a black belt in Gaidojutsu and a black belt in Pancrase Pankration. Marquardt is a tough and well-rounded fighter who is now the reigning and defending Strikeforce Welterweight Champion. He holds a professional MMA record of 32-10-2.

Tarec “The Sponge” Saffiedine is a 26-year-old Belgian fighter from Brussels, Belgium. Saffiedine has fought for a number of major promotions such as Shooto, DREAM, Shark Fights and Strikeforce. Saffiedine is a member of the Team Quest Gym in Temecula, California. He holds a black belt in Shihaishinkai and a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Before becoming a full-time fighter he was an amateur kick boxer in Belgium where he compiled 12-1-1 record. Since becoming a professional fighter he holds a career record of 13-3, and has never been finished in his professional career.

Analysis and Prediction: Tyron Woodley has laid out the game plan to beat Saffiedine and it comes from smothering top control and a quick pace. In their bout two years ago, Saffiedine had nearly no answers for Woodley’s wrestling. While Woodley is a more accomplished amateur wrestler, Marquardt’s MMA wrestling is probably more dangerous since you have to consider the chance that he just blasts you with power punches.

In his first fight at Welterweight Marquardt looked excellent. He looked like he handled the cut well and looked extremely large by the time the fight started. Marquardt’s grappling skills looked solid against Woodley, as did his striking. He’s always been a decent striker, but his power shots and ability to throw combinations with speed and accuracy were improved at the 170-pound class. Saffiedine is also a talented striker, but he lacks the power to make Marquardt respect his shots.

I expect Marquardt to constantly move forward, offering relentless pressure. Saffiedine will undoubtedly be slightly tentative, fearing the takedown from Marquardt. This will leave him susceptible to leg kicks, body punches and uppercuts from Marquardt, who could also just spam takedowns to try and get this bout to the ground as quickly as possible. I think Saffiedine can play it safe and hang around for a while, but late in the second round he gets tagged and the referee waves it off. Nate Marquardt via TKO in Round Two

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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