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UFC 160: Velasquez vs. Silva Results and Wrap Up

May 27, 2013 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

It wasn’t the most highly anticipated card of the year, but it was an entertaining one nonetheless last night from Las Vegas. In the main event and co-main event of the evening, Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos both proved why they are the top of the heap in the Heavyweight division, with each man earning impressive stoppage victories over their opponents.

In other main card action Donald Cerrone battered and bloodied KJ Noons, giving him a rude welcoming to the UFC in a bout that left the octagon covered in blood. Canadian Lightweight TJ Grant continued his career resurgence since dropping from 170-pounds, as he blitzed former title challenger Gray Maynard in the first round, to earn a TKO victory and a title shot against Benson Henderson. In the other main card bout streaking Brazilian prospect Glover Teixeira earned a first round submission over James Te Huna.

Lightweight Bout: Donald Cerrone defeated KJ Noons via Unanimous Decision after Three Rounds

Finally, a game plan from Donald Cerrone. Cerrone had every move of Noons’ well scouted and was prepared to counter at every opportunity. Hell, he even used a number of takedowns throughout the fight to control the action on the mat. In the end both men were bloodied, but Noons was significantly more battered and bruised as Cowboy took a clear cut decision.

What’s next for Cerrone? Some people mentioned Josh Thomson as a possible foe, but apparently Thomson is pretty close to getting a title shot himself and I doubt Cerrone is at that level yet. I think a bout with Diego Sanchez makes a lot of sense for Cowboy. The other and possibly more intriguing option is to pair him up with Rafael dos Anjos.

What’s next for Noons? Probably finding a new job. He’s a tough fighter and he loves to bang, so there’s always the chance that the UFC keeps him around. But his contract in Strikeforce was pretty hefty and he’s not going to be sniffing a title shot in the UFC. If they keep him around a bout against someone like Tim Means or a rematch with Ryan Couture could be the way to go.

Lightweight Bout: TJ Grant defeated Gray Maynard via TKO (Punches) at 2:07 of Round One

These two guys came out looking to trade heavy leather and they did. Grant ate a few big shots from Maynard, but mostly shrugged them off before landing a big shot that hurt Maynard. From there he absolutely swarmed Maynard, not giving him any room to recover and pounded out a first round TKO.

What’s next for Grant? That’s easy, a bout against UFC Lightweight Champion Benson Henderson. Dana White said before the fight this was a title eliminator and he wasn’t changing his tune after this impressive performance. The rumor is that this fight could headline the first UFC on Fox Sports 1 card.

What’s next for Maynard? He’s teased retirement in the past, so I guess that’s always on the table. But athletes like that seem driven to compete, so I think he will. There are two match ups that I’d like to see the UFC go after, first of all a bout with Nate Diaz in a rematch from their bout on The Ultimate Fighter season 5. The other is a bout against the man who can’t win a decision, Evan Dunham.

Light Heavyweight Bout: Glover Teixeira defeated James Te-Huna via Submission (Guillotine Choke) at 2:38 of Round One

Teixeira wasted no time in this bout and he appeared as though he wanted nothing to do with Te Huna’s power striking game. He instantly shot for a takedown and even after it was stuffed, knocked off a few punches, before shooting again. Once he got this fight to the floor, it was excellent grappling displayed by Teixeira as he transitioned quickly. Te Huna tried to scramble to his feet, but Teixeira quickly snagged the neck and tightened the guillotine choke for a quick submission.

What’s next for Teixeira? After the fight his manager was calling for the winner of the upcoming UFC 161 main event between Dan Henderson and Rashad Evans, which is probably an excellent fight to get him ready for a title shot. I’d like to see the UFC take a different route with him though, and give him the winner of the Mauricio Rua – Lil’ Nog bout from the same card. Throw it as a main event in Brazil, and I think that’s a winner.

What’s next for Te Huna? Clearly that was too big of a step up in completion for him to handle. He’s a powerful striker who can knock anybody cold, so he’s a dangerous outing for anyone and he’s someone the UFC is going to want to keep around. I’d like to see him face a capable grappler in his next fight, which means he could fight Vinny Magalhaes. Ovince St. Preux could also be a good challenge, but that might be too much of a drop in competition for Te Huna.

Heavyweight Bout: Junior dos Santos defeated Mark Hunt via KO (Spinning Heel Kick) at 4:18 of Round Three

Junior dos Santos had a relatively easy path to victory if he decided to use his wrestling and take Mark Hunt down. Instead he chose to bang it out with one of the most dangerous Heavyweight strikers in the UFC and mostly dominated him. He dropped him with a big shot in the first round, but Hunt survived. He continued to pressure him as the fight went on, and in the third round as Hunt was getting noticeably fatigued, he went of the kill. An impressive spinning heel kick dropped Hunt and follow up punches sealed the deal for dos Santos.

What’s next for dos Santos? UFC President Dana White and many fans are already calling for dos Santos-Velasquez 3, and it’s hard to argue with them. Still I’d prefer that they give that fight a bit of time to settle and let each guy get another win. Still waiting can be dangerous as the UFC has learned with Alistair Overeem. So I suspect this is the next fight for each man. If I were the UFC I’d put this one on the debut for Fox Sports 1, they delivered on Fox, they can surely do it again.

What’s next for Hunt? He’ll probably fight the loser of the upcoming bout between Alistair Overeem and Travis Browne. Another fight that would make sense would be to have him fight Antonio Silva, who lost in the main event to the champion. The winner of that fight would get a decent bump up in contendership. Either of those fights I wouldn’t mind seeing.

UFC Heavyweight Championship Bout: Cain Velasquez defeated Antonio Silva via TKO (Punches) at 1:21 of Round One

Cain shot for a takedown, it got stuffed. He faked a takedown and landed a one-two directly on Silva’s chin and followed it up with punches, that was about all she wrote. The stoppage may have been a bit early if you ask me, but I don’t think the result was ever in doubt. After the fight Silva also complained that many of the shots that landed were illegal and hit him in the back of the head, which is probably a valid complaint as well as I counted at least two that landed in a dangerous area on the back of his neck. Still like I said, this one wasn’t ever in doubt.

What’s next for Velasquez? Seemingly a trilogy fight with Junior dos Santos. As I already mentioned, I’d like to see both guys take another fight to let this settle out a bit, but who knows. If they do, a fight for Cain against the winner of the upcoming Fabricio Werdum and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira would be a good choice. But it’s more likely he’s fighting dos Santos. That’s the money fight, which is likely what the UFC wants.

What’s next for Silva? Big foot got a bit lucky to get this title shot so quickly, but it’s way down the ladder for him now. There are a few potential match ups but none of them seem to have the perfect fit. So I’ll just list some names off and you can decide for yourself which you’d like to see. Frank Mir coming off the loss to Daniel Cormier, Mark Hunt coming off of his loss to dos Santos, Josh Barnett making his UFC debut after a loss to Daniel Cormier or Stefan Struve coming off of the loss to Mark Hunt.

GSP – The Way of the Fight Book

Anderson Silva – MMA Instruction Manual: The Muay Thai Clinch, Takedowns, Takedown Defense, and Ground Fighting

UFC shirts and videos on Amazon.com

UFC 160: Velasquez vs. Silva Predictions and Analysis

May 24, 2013 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

The UFC is back on Pay Per View this weekend and once again the Heavyweights are the main attraction. The UFC’s Heavyweight title is on the line in the main event as Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva gets a second crack at reigning UFC champion Cain Velasquez. The co-main event was expected to feature a grudge match between former champion Junior dos Santos and Alistair Overeem, however an injury forced Overeem to withdraw from the event and he was subsequently replaced by surging New Zealand-based banger Mark Hunt.

UFC 160 takes place live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada this Saturday night. In other main card action Gray Maynard and TJ Grant will scrap it out for a UFC Lightweight title shot against Benson Henderson. Surging Light Heavyweights will collide when Brazil’s Glover Teixeira fights New Zealand’s James Te Huna. The opening bout of the main card is sure to deliver fireworks as noted striker Donald Cerrone battles Strikeforce import KJ Noons.

Preliminary Card (Facebook): Featherweight Bout: Jeremy Stephens vs. Estevan Payan

Jeremy “Lil’ Heathen” Stephens is a 26-year-old fighter from Des Moines, Iowa. Stephens is a fairly capable grappler, but he prefers to stand and trade with most of his opponents. Stephens trains with Alliance MMA in San Diego, California. He holds a professional record of 20-9. Estevan “El Terrible” Payan is a 31-year-old fighter from Tempe, Arizona. Payan is a member of the Arizona Combat Sports Gym in his hometown. He holds a professional record of 14-3 with 1 No Contest.

Quick Pick: Jeremy Stephens via TKO in Round Two

Preliminary Card (Facebook): Bantamweight Bout: Brian Bowles vs. George Roop

Brian Bowles is a 32-year-old fighter from Charleston, West Virginia. Bowles is a former WEC Bantamweight Champion who holds a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Bowles is a member of The Hardcore Gym in Athens, Georgia, but also spends time with the American Top Team. He holds a career record of 10-2. George Roop is a 31-year-old fighter from Tucson, Arizona. Standing at 6’1” tall he is one of the largest fighters in the Bantamweight division. He is a member of the Apex MMA Gym in his hometown. He holds a career record of 13-9-1.

Quick Pick: Brian Bowles via TKO in Round One

Preliminary Card (Facebook): Welterweight Bout: Stephen Thompson vs. Nah-Shon Burrell

Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson is a 30-year-old fighter from Simpsonville, South Carolina. A former professional kick boxer with a perfect record, he entered the UFC with a ton of hype, but lost some of that shine with a tough loss to Matt Brown. He is a member of the Pitch Black MMA Team in South Carolina. He holds a professional MMA record of 6-1. Nah-Shon “The Rock-n-Rolla” Burrell is a 23-year-old fighter who recently made his way to the UFC from Strikeforce. He is a member of the Fight Firm Gym in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Burrell holds a professional record of 9-2.

Quick Pick: Stephen Thompson via TKO in Round Three

Preliminary Card (FX): Lightweight Bout: Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Abel Trujillo

Khabib “The Eagle” Nurmagomedov is a 24-year-old Russian fighter from Makhachkala, Russia. He now resides and trains in the USA in Fairfield, New Jersey with the AMA Fight Club and the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, California. Nurmagomedov holds a perfect professional record of 19-0, including a 3-0 mark in the UFC. Abel “Killa” Trujillo is a 29-year-old fighter from Greensboro, North Carolina. Trujillo trains with the Blackzillians in Boca Raton, Florida. Trujillo holds a professional record of 10-4.

Quick Pick: Khabib Nurmagomedov via Submission in Round Two

Preliminary Card (FX): Welterweight Bout: Colton Smith vs. Robert Whittaker

Colton Smith is a 25-year-old fighter from Des Moines, Iowa. An active member of the US Armed Forces, he is most notable as the winner of the sixteenth season of The Ultimate Fighter. He is a member of the Vanguard Fight Team in Fort Hood, Texas. Smith holds a career record of 3-1. Robert Whittaker is a 22-year-old fighter from Menai, New South Wales, Australia. Whittaker was the winner of the Welterweight tournament on The Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes. He is a member of the PMA Super Martial Arts Gym in New South Wales. He holds a career record of 10-2.

Quick Pick: Colton Smith via Unanimous Decision

Preliminary Card (FX): Featherweight Bout: Dennis Bermudez vs. Max Holloway

Dennis “The Menace” Bermudez is a 26-year-old fighter from Saugerties, New York. He is a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler who trains with the Long Island MMA Gym in Lindenhurst, New York. He was a competitor and the runner up on the fourteenth season of The Ultimate Fighter. Bermudez holds a career record of 10-3. “Blessed” Max Holloway is a 21-year-old fighter from Waianae, Hawaii and is notable as the youngest fighter on the UFC’s current roster. He is a member of the Gracie Technics Gym in Hawaii. He holds a career record of 7-1.

Quick Pick: Dennis Bermudez via Submission in Round Two

Preliminary Card (FX): Welterweight Bout: Mike Pyle vs. Rick Story

Mike “Quicksand” Pyle is a 37-year-old veteran fighter from Dresden, Tennessee. Pyle has been fighting professionally since 1999 and has fought for a number of major MMA promotions. He is a member of the Xtreme Couture Gym in Las Vegas, Nevada. He holds a professional record of 24-8-1. Rick “The Horror” Story is a 28-year-old fighter from Tacoma, Washington. Story is a member of the Brave Legion Gym in Vancouver, Washington. Story holds a professional MMA record of 15-6.

Quick Pick: Rick Story via Unanimous Decision

Main Card (Pay Per View): Lightweight Bout: Donald Cerrone vs. K.J. Noons

Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone is a 30-year-old fighter from Colorado Springs, Colorado. Cerrone is a tough and well-rounded fighter who is a member of Greg Jackson’s Submission Fighting Gym in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Cerrone is a former professional kick boxer and is a well-rounded striker. Cerrone is also a talented grappler, although most of the time he prefers to trade with his opponents. He is one of the top fighters in the Lightweight division but has constantly come up short in title eliminator bouts. He holds a professional record 20-5.

KJ “The King” Noons is a 30-year-old fighter from Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. He is a former professional boxer and kick boxer and holds a black belt in Kenpo Karate. Noons is a member of The Arena Gym in San Diego, California. Noons has fought for a number of major MMA promotions including ICON Sport, Elite XC, Dream and most recently Strikeforce. He is an exciting fighter who loves to brawl, which probably explains why the UFC is bringing him into the promotion despite losing 4 of his last 5 bouts. Noons holds a professional record of 11-6.

Analysis and Prediction: Noons is a talented and technically sound boxer, but he’s struggled against the more versatile and dynamic strikers that he’s faced throughout his career. Cerrone will certainly be aware of this and will look to use his kicks to his advantage. A more complete kick boxer and with a 3-inch reach advantage, Cerrone is also the more talented grappler. I think Cerrone plays this one safe and uses leg kicks and well-timed takedowns to control the pace of this fight, before snagging a late submission. Donald Cerrone via Submission in Round Three

Main Card (Pay Per View): Lightweight Bout: Gray Maynard vs. TJ Grant

Gray “The Bully” Maynard is a 34-year-old fighter from Phoenix, Arizona. Maynard was a competitor on the fifth season of The Ultimate Fighter. He is a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler from Michigan State University. Maynard is a former member of the Xtreme Couture Gym but has recently changed his training camp and is now a member of the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, California. Maynard is one of the top fighters in the Lightweight division, most known for his trilogy of fights with Frankie Edgar. Maynard holds a career record of 12-1-1 with 1 No Contest.

TJ Grant is a 29-year-old fighter from Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia, Canada. Grant is a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and a talented grappler. He is a former Welterweight fighter who dropped to the Lightweight division in 2011. Since that drop he has gone 4-0 over increasingly difficult competition. Grant is a member of the Fit Plus Gym in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. Grant has shown increased striking proficiency in his last few bouts, becoming more and more content to slug it out with his opponents. Grant holds a career record of 20-5.

Analysis and Prediction: Maynard is a smothering wrestler who has some of the best top control in the Lightweight division. His striking is somewhat slow and unrefined, but it’s been getting better since his switch to AKA and he packs a hell of a punch. Grant may be a better grappler, but he’s not going to be able to scramble underneath Maynard. Grant’s best bet comes in attempting to counter the wild, winging punches of Maynard and outwork him on the feet. If he’s successful at that, I think Maynard will revert to what he knows best, power double leg takedowns. It’s a close fight, but I think Maynard controls the action on the mat just enough to earn the judge’s nod. Gray Maynard via Unanimous Decision

Main Card (Pay Per View): Light Heavyweight Bout: Glover Teixeira vs. James Te Huna

Glover Teixeira is a 33-year-old fighter from Minas Gerais, Brazil. Despite being Brazilian, he now resides and trains in the United States as a member of The Pit Fight Team in San Luis Obispo, California and as a member of the Black House Gym in California. He holds a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, but also has excellent wrestling skills allowing him to get the action to the ground if he ever gets in trouble standing. He was originally scheduled to face Ryan Bader at this event, but Bader was forced to withdraw due to injury. Teixeira holds a career record of 20-2.

James Te Huna is a 31-year-old fighter from Darfield, New Zealand. Te Huna is a member of the Pirtek Athletic Allstars Gym in Sydney, Australia. He is taking this bout as an injury replacement for Ryan Bader. Te Huna is a highly aggressive striker with big time power in both of his hands. Earlier in his career he fought for the CFC (a top Australian promotion) and won the Light Heavyweight Grand Prix. Te Huna is currently riding a four-fight winning streak and his lone UFC loss came to top contender Alexander Gustafsson. Te Huna’s professional record is 16-5.

Analysis and Prediction: Teixeira is a significant favorite heading into this bout and that’s deservedly so. Still, in his bout against Rampage Jackson, he showed some weaknesses. Most notable was his wild, looping punches. Rampage was too tired and outworked to take advantage, but Teixeira will need to watch out against Te Huna, because the Australian has the power to flick off his lights with one big punch. Teixeira is an intelligent fighter, so I think it’s likely he takes Te Huna down early and often. On the ground he has a huge advantage and I think he exploits it. Late in the first he scores a takedown and grounds and pounds his way to a submission opening, either via Arm Triangle choke or Rear Naked Choke. Glover Teixeira via Submission in Round One

Main Card (Pay Per View): Heavyweight Bout: Junior dos Santos vs. Mark Hunt

Junior “Cigano” dos Santos is a 29-year-old fighter from Cacador, Brazil. He is a former UFC Heavyweight Champion and is widely considered the number two Heavyweight in the world. Dos Santos is a talented boxer with big power and fast hands. Dos Santos is a member of Team Nogueira, holding a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu under Yuri Carlton. Dos Santos has excellent hand speed and until his last bout against Cain Velasquez had dominated every fighter that he had ever faced. In some of his more recent bouts he has shown improvements in his wrestling and grappling skills, taking down accomplished grapplers and wrestlers like Shane Carwin and Frank Mir. He holds a career record of 15-2.

Mark “The Super Samoan” Hunt is a 39-year-old fighter from South Auckland, New Zealand. Hunt is a former professional kick boxer, who competed in K-1 and was the winner of the 2001 K-1 World Grand Prix. Hunt is a former Super Heavyweight fighter who is known for his strong chin and knockout power. Hunt trains at the Oceania Super Fight Gym in New South Wales, Australia and the American Top Team in the US. Despite struggling in the middle of his career, Hunt is currently on a four-fight winning streak. He holds a professional MMA record of 9-7.

Analysis and Prediction: Dos Santos is an accomplished striker and has big time power, but Hunt has been knocked out only by the biggest power punchers in the sport, making a pure knockout seem unlikely. Still dos Santos should be able to avoid the big power shots of Hunt and outwork him on the feet. But any time Hunt is standing, he’s a live underdog, so the best bet for dos Santos would be to take Hunt down to the ground and work his grappling game against Hunt. 6 of Hunt’s 7 MMA losses are via submission, so if dos Santos is at all competent on the mat, it’s hard to think he won’t snatch a submission after ground and pounding away at a fatigued Hunt. Junior dos Santos via Submission in Round Three

Main Card (Pay Per View): Heavyweight Bout: Cain Velasquez vs. Antonio Silva

Cain Velasquez is a 30-year-old fighter from Salinas, California though he is the son of Mexican immigrants. Velasquez is a two-time UFC Heavyweight Champion and is also the reigning and defending champion. Velasquez is a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler from Arizona State University. Velasquez trains at the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, California where he trains with friend and fellow Heavyweight standout Daniel Cormier. Velasquez is a very well rounded fighter with strong kickboxing, excellent grappling skills and extraordinary cardio. Velasquez holds a career record of 11-1, with the lone loss coming against Junior dos Santos.

Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva is a 33-year-old fighter from Brasilia, Brazil. He is a former Super Heavyweight fighter and has fought for a number of major MMA promotions including Cage Rage, Bodog Fight, EliteXC, Sengoku and Strikeforce. Silva is a tough and well-rounded fighter who holds black belts in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Judo and Karate. Silva is a member of the Black House Gym in Brazil and also trains with the American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Florida. Silva is coming off of one of the biggest wins of his career when he completed a third round knockout of Alistair Overeem in a comeback of the year performance. Silva holds a professional record of 18-4, including a previous career loss to Velasquez at UFC 146.

Analysis and Prediction: After the one-sided beat down that Velasquez put on Silva in their last bout, it was hard to imagine they would be fighting again so quickly, almost a year later to the day. In that first bout Velasquez swarmed Silva immediately, taking him down and throwing elbow that opened a massive cut on Silva’s forehead and simply battering the bloodied Bigfoot en-route to a first round stoppage. Silva is certainly going to be wary of seeing a similar game plan from the champion come Saturday night.

That’s all well and good, but I doubt it’s going to mean a whole lot. Against Overeem, Silva was less than impressive. In the first two rounds, FightMetric stats show Silva landed only 7 Significant Strikes at a less than 30% accuracy clip before Overeem left his hands down and his chin out, opening the door for a big comeback. Against Velasquez who is far less arrogant and far more intelligent defensively than Overeem, there’s not going to be an opening like that.

I expect a very similar fight to the first one. Velasquez might not land the big elbow that turns the fight into an instant bloodbath, but the result is likely going to be the same. Silva hits like a truck, so if he can time Velasquez on the way in, there’s a decent chance he can earn a knockout, but if dos Santos couldn’t time Velasquez on the way in, I don’t think a slow, plodding fighter like Silva can do it. This one gets wrapped within a round. Cain Velasquez via TKO in Round One

GSP – The Way of the Fight Book

Anderson Silva – MMA Instruction Manual: The Muay Thai Clinch, Takedowns, Takedown Defense, and Ground Fighting

UFC shirts and videos on Amazon.com

UFC 2013 Spring/Summer Events Preview

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

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

APRIL

Event: UFC on Fox 7: Henderson vs. Melendez

Date: April 20, 2013

Venue: HP Pavilion in San Jose, California

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

CARD GOES HERE

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

Event: UFC 159: Jones vs. Sonnen

Date: April 27, 2013

Venue: Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey

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

CARD GOES HERE

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

MAY

Event: UFC on FX 8: Belfort vs. Rockhold

Date: May 18, 2013

Venue: Arena Jaragua in Jaragua do Sul, Brazil

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

CARD GOES HERE

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

Event: UFC 160: Velasquez vs. Bigfoot 2

Date: May 25, 2013

Venue: MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada

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

CARD GOES HERE

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

JUNE

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

Date: June 8, 2013

Venue: Paulo Sarasate Arena in Fortaleza, Brazil

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

CARD GOES HERE

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

Event: UFC 161: Barao vs. Wineland

Date: June 15, 2013

Venue: MTS Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

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

CARD GOES HERE

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

JULY & BEYOND

Event: UFC 162: Silva vs. Weidman

Date: July 6, 2013

Venue: MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada

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

CARD GOES HERE

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

Event: UFC on Fox 8

Date: July 27, 2013

Venue: Key Arena in Seattle Washington

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

Event: UFC 163: Aldo vs. Pettis

Date: August 3, 2013

Venue: HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Georges St-Pierre: The Way of the Fight Book

Anderson Silva: Like Water

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UFC Signs Two Big Heavyweight Fights For UFC 160

February 12, 2013 By: Category: UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

The UFC is gearing up for another top heavyweight May event. A new report indicates that the UFC will roll out its two biggest heavyweight fights on deck for the event which should set the table for the remainder of 2013 in the heavyweight division at UFC 160.

Dave Meltzer reports on his latest F4Wonline.com podcast that while the UFC aren’t committing to another all-heavyweight card, they are coming back with heavyweight headliners for their May event. If all things go as planned the event will see a rematch one year in the making with a lot more at stake than was in their previous battle.

Cain Velasquez will likely defend the UFC heavyweight title against Antonio Bigfoot Silva in the main-event. I have to admit that this surprised me. I’ll give the UFC a lot of credit here. The fight certainly isn’t what’s best for business right now. Yet the UFC finally do what’s right and give a guy a title shot who by all rights just earned one.

That said, I don’t know how much interest there is in this fight. I love a rematch but not when a guy obliterated his opponent in their first fight. Velasquez’s massacre of Silva in 2012 has gone down in UFC history as one of the most brutal and impressive wins. Silva does have the KO over Overeem but it wasn’t like he was real impressive earlier in the fight. I like the fight in that it’s credible when it comes to the title and for that I’ll watch.

The co-headliner is the fight that is likely to draw the crowd that night. Alistair Overeem and Junior Dos Santos will finally settle their grudge if the UFC has its way. Overeem and JDS were scheduled to fight last May for the title before Overeem got suspended for a positive PED test. Both fighters have talked a lot of trash for the last year. This is a ready-made grudge fight that has the potential to do big business thanks to fighter promotion.

I really like that the table will be set for the rest of the year with this card. Other than a long, boring decision, the Overeem vs. Dos Santos fight will determine a number one contender. I know a lot of people had fun with Overeem losing the million dollar fight against Cain but if Overeem can finish JDS, I don’t think there will be any money lost if he gets Cain next.

Unfortunately there isn’t a lot of wiggle room here if things don’t go as planned such as an injury to the Overeem vs. JDS winner or a long, boring fight. Overeem and Dos Santos are it when it comes to viable contenders. Quite frankly I’d bet even with a loss their next win would put them right back to the front of the line due to the lack of depth at the top of the division.

The division desperately needs Jon Jones to make the move to heavyweight by the end of 2013. If things go right, you can have the next title fight in December along with Jones’ heavyweight debut. I’d rush Jones to the title but at least you can let things simmer for 2014 this way. Without Jones moving up the division is in for a lean year in 2013 at this rate.

Keep in mind that none of these fights are actually signed yet and all are in negotiations. Anything can change but as of now the plan for UFC 160 is in full motion.

Update: The fights are now official!

UFC: Ultimate Fight Collection 2012

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

UFC shirts and videos on Amazon.com

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!

UFC: Ultimate Fight Collection 2012

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

UFC shirts and videos on Amazon.com

Alistair Overeem Licensed To Fight Big Foot At UFC 156

January 08, 2013 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

Alistair Overeem is signed to fight Big Foot Silva at UFC 156. Overeem however is suspended and needed to plea forgiveness to the NSAC on Tuesday to get re-licensed. He did and will take only his second UFC fight in February.

Overeem was suspended for nine months after returning a testosterone-to-epitestosterone (T/E) level of 14:1 prior to his scheduled UFC 146 title fight last year with Junior Dos Santos. The UFC had booked Overeem tentatively to return at UFC 156 provided he could get licensed. After all was said and done it was nothing but a mere formality for the Strikeforce heavyweight champion.

If you expected the Nevada State Athletic Commission to grill Overeem you were mistaken. The hearing was more about what they could do better to test as opposed to Overeem and the shenanigans he pulled up through the last hearing. The quack doctor, the elaborate tales, and running away from a test were never addressed. Instead Overeem was practically given a happy ending on the way out and granted his license to fight.

Look let me make this perfectly clear. I am an Overeem fan. I want to see Overeem fight and I think he should have been reinstated unless he failed any recent tests. However, I think the kid gloves treatment of a guy who made a mockery of their last hearing was one of the biggest embarrassments I have seen related to a sports commission. Considering the background of this case, this hearing today was as big of a sham as the first one.

Now that we are past that, Overeem will look to continue his winning streak next month at UFC 156. Overeem will fight fellow ex-Strikeforce alumni Antonio Big Foot Silva underneath the Jose Aldo vs. Frankie Edgar UFC featherweight title fight. The heavyweights are scheduled to co-headline the pay per view event.

A win from Overeem should lock up a dance with UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez. Overeem spent a lot of time building up a grudge fight with Junior Dos Santos last year which looks like will be all for nothing. I find Overeem vs. Velasquez to be more of an intriguing fight, yet the grudge was obviously the bigger sell at the box office.

Overeem claimed in his hearing on Tuesday to be “bigger” and healthier than he was before. When Overeem fights on February 2, it will be over one year since he fought his last fight. That is a lot of rust to shake off.

An interesting back story to the fight is that Overeem and Silva were actually scheduled to fight in the semifinal round of the Strikeforce Grand Prix Heavyweight tournament in 2011. Overeem withdrew due to injury and eventually went to the UFC. Daniel Cormier wound up replacing Overeem, who beat Silva, and then beat Josh Barnett in the finals to win the tournament.

UFC: Ultimate Fight Collection 2012

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

Anderson Spider Silva (Em Portugues do Brasil

UFC shirts and videos on Amazon.com

UFC 155 Dos Santos Vs. Velasquez Results and Wrap Up

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

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

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

Derek Brunson defeated Chris Leben via Unanimous Decision after Three Rounds

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

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

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

Yushin Okami defeated Alan Belcher via Unanimous Decision after Three Rounds

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jim Miller defeated Joe Lauzon via Unanimous Decision after Three Rounds

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anderson Spider Silva (Em Portugues do Brasil

UFC shirts and videos on Amazon.com

UFC 155 Results: Cain Velasquez Regains UFC Title

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anderson Spider Silva (Em Portugues do Brasil

UFC shirts and videos on Amazon.com

UFC 155 Dos Santos Vs. Velasquez 2 Predictions & Analysis

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

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

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

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

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

Quick Pick: John Moraga via Unanimous Decision

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

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

Quick Pick: Max Holloway via Unanimous Decision

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

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

Quick Pick: Todd Duffee via KO in Round One

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

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

Quick Pick: Michael Johnson via Unanimous Decision

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

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

Quick Pick: Melvin Guillard via TKO in Round Three

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

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

Quick Pick: Erik Perez via Submission in Round One

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

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

Quick Pick: Brad Pickett via TKO in Round Two

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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UFC 2012-13 Winter Events Preview

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

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

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

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

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

UFC 155: Dos Santos vs. Velasquez II

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

UFC on FX: Belfort vs. Bisping

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

UFC on FOX: Johnson vs. Dodson

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

UFC 156: Aldo vs. Edgar

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

UFC on Fuel TV: Barao vs. McDonald

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

UFC 157: Rousey vs. Carmouche

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

Quick Hits – March & Beyond…

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

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

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

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UFC Heavyweights Analyze Dos Santos Vs. Velasquez II

December 26, 2012 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts, Videos

UFC 155 will feature one of the most anticipated heavyweight clashes in UFC history. Junior Dos Santos vs. Cain Velasquez will fight a second time and even after a convincing KO win, not everyone is convinced that JDS can do it twice…especially his peers.

It is easy for a blogger like me to sit here and make UFC predictions but even I’ll admit it is more interesting to hear them from the pros themselves. So let’s hear what the heavyweights that have stepped into the UFC octagon have to say about Velasquez vs. JDS II.

Former UFC heavyweight champion Randy Couture is going with the challenger.

The rematch is gonna be interesting, I think you’ll see Cain back at the top of his game and sharp it was a question with the shoulder issues he had. Coming back and fighting a guy the caliber of Dos Santos. he was just sitting there waiting and obviously hungry. Cain certainly wants his belt back so i think maybe we’ll see a little bit tighter Dos Santos than we’ve seen in the past. but it will be an interesting rematch, for sure. I expect to see a lot more wrestling out of Velasquez, to deal with the punching and striking abilities of Junior dos Santos.

It is hard to take Couture’s picks seriously as it seems that Randy likes to go with underdogs more often than not His assessment of Velasquez and the wrestling makes a lot of sense, although I am expecting another one round KO, this time in favor of Velasquez.

Roy Nelson also offered his pick. Roy is interesting because he has actually gone the distance with the champion. Unfortunately you never know if what Roy is saying is actually what he thinks or what he is hoping will make headlines.

“I think I was the only one who gave Junior a chance to actually finish that fight…I still got Junior. Just because, he hits hard and if anything he’s got five rounds to knock Cain’s block off. If Cain does the same thing he did last time, it’s not gonna be a good thing. I think Cain has to just change his game-plan up and actually go out there and execute good, solid grappling match game-plan, then he’ll be okay. As long as you’re tying him up, he can’t punch you.

So Roy is going with Junior. Like Couture though Roy is saying that Velasquez’s key to victory is the wrestling.

You didn’t expect the media to pass up the opportunity to quote former Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem did you?

I think Cain is gonna do good in this next fight. I think he might even get the belt. I think he’s gonna get the belt.

Talk about going out on a limb. I have to say I expected Overeem to take another dig at Dos Santos but he kept the pick rather straight and professional. A Cain vs. Overeem fight is certainly intriguing but for the sake of seeing JDS vs. Overeem, I am hoping to see JDS pull off the win and make it 2-0 against Velasquez.

Frank Mir is a former UFC heavyweight champion who has fought Dos Santos and trained to fight Velasquez. Mir is one of the better analysts in the game in my opinion so I tend to put a little more weight behind his opinion as opposed to his peers. Here is what he said on Fuel TV.

I think it’s really close. Again, I think Velasquez is extremely well rounded, very tenacious has great grappling ability. I think the way to beat Dos Santos is to close off the cage, to put him against there and put him down on the ground. Lets test his abilities in other areas. He’s already proven he’s an unbelievable fighter when it comes to the open area. His footwork, his speed. I think if you want to take the champion away from that, you have to take him out of that element. I think Velasquez has the potential to possibly do so. That being said he’s already tried once and came up short and Dos Santos, so far no one has really figured out the riddle on really how to cut him off and get him down to the ground. No one has been able to really be dominant at all, or even show a chink in his armor. As of right now, he goes around and he does what he does best and no one is able to stop him. They’re both such great fighters. I’ll probably slide toward the champion just because he is the champion. It’s not something I would actually bet my house on.

Former UFC contender Shane Carwin also weighed in on the fight. Dos Santos brutalized Carwin in Carwin’s last fight which saw Carwin go the distance with JDS.

Dos Santos and Cain, I think it is more of the same from the last fight, Dos Santos

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Alistair Overeem “I Want Dos Santos To Win”

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

UFC heavyweight Alistair Overeem is turning into one of the most quotable fighters in sports. Overeem is not shy when it comes to his thoughts on champion Junior Dos Santos. That is why it is no surprise that Overeem is pulling for the Brazilian in his next title fight.

Overeem may be on suspension but he hasn’t stopped talking about UFC heavyweight champion Junior Dos Santos. Overeem tells the Las Vegas Sun that he hopes Junior wins his upcoming title defense against Cain Velasquez so he can have his shot at knocking out JDS.

I want dos Santos to win so I can beat him, but I think Cain is going to take care of him for me, unfortunately,” Overeem said. “Junior is going to get taken down. He’s going to get ground-and-pounded.

The K1 Grand Prix winner and former Strikeforce champion is not amused at Junior’s recent wavering on fighting Overeem or fighting Velasquez.

(Junior’s) been doing the zig-zag,” Overeem said. “He wants to fight me then he doesn’t, so then he fights Cain. I think he’s going to have his hands full with Cain. He’s going to lose.

Interesting that Overeem would pick Cain over Junior in the fight. While I agree with him, I am surprised that he continues building up a fight with JDS even though he thinks he will wind up fighting Cain for the title.

Overeem also talks about why he decided to take a fight with Antonio Silva as opposed to waiting out the heavyweight champion. Silva called out Overeem recently but the original plans from the UFC was to bring Overeem back immediately into a title match. Overeem told the Sun that ring rust is more his motivation for taking the fight. Overeem is confident he will win but doesn’t want to sit out from December 2011-summer of 2013.

I will give Overeem a lot of credit. Fighting Silva is extremely high risk and very little reward. Overeem can look at guys like Anthony Pettis as a guy who was guaranteed a title shot, took a fight between, and wound up losing and costing him his title shot. There is already a ton of hype in Overeem vs. the UFC champion. I can’t imagine it can get much bigger with a win over Silva.

Silva is a unique opponent and is certainly capable of pulling off the upset. Silva is coming off a win after being massacred by Cain Velasquez back in May. This is not exactly what I’d call an easy fight or a “give-me”. A Silva win would shake up the division and throw a major wrench into the UFC’s plans. Now if Cain wins (which I think he will) and Overeem loses, the UFC can certainly cash in with a JDS vs. Overeem grudge match.

Overeem still does have to get licensed before he can fight anyone. The UFC and Overeem are confident that this won’t be an issue. If so, Overeem may not be fighting anyone in the UFC in the near future.

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