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UFC 155 Dos Santos Vs. Velasquez 2 Predictions & Analysis

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

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

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

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

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

Quick Pick: John Moraga via Unanimous Decision

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

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

Quick Pick: Max Holloway via Unanimous Decision

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

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

Quick Pick: Todd Duffee via KO in Round One

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

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

Quick Pick: Michael Johnson via Unanimous Decision

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

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

Quick Pick: Melvin Guillard via TKO in Round Three

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

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

Quick Pick: Erik Perez via Submission in Round One

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

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

Quick Pick: Brad Pickett via TKO in Round Two

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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UFC 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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Alistair Overeem Targeting Bigfoot Silva Fight At UFC 156

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

We all know that Dana White is a gambler but he is taking a big one at UFC 156. Alistair Overeem is scheduled to return but will not be stepping right back into a title fight. The former champion will instead have to go throw a giant en route to a championship fight.

Antonio Bigfoot Silva has been calling out Alistair Overeem and it appears that the UFC have listened. The former Strikeforce fighters have been signed to fight on the UFC Super Bowl weekend extravaganza on February 2. The fight of course is contingent on Overeem getting his license back after being suspended for testing positive for PEDs. Overeem can apply for the license as soon as December 27. Although it is certainly not a guarantee.

Come Dec. 27, he’s like any other fighter,” NAC executive director Keith Kizer said. “He’s free to apply for his license. The commission will not do it administratively, however. He has to appear at a commission meeting.

This is an interesting fight on a lot of levels. UFC president Dana White has hinted several times that Overeem would fight for the title on his first fight off of suspension. White was criticized in some circles for rewarding Overeem with an immediate title fight, yet White appeared to be sticking to his guns. There was even talk at one point of cancelling the planned Junior Dos Santos vs. Cain Velasquez UFC heavyweight title fight and sticking Overeem in there. Something happened and it now appears that Overeem will once again have to earn his title shot.

I have mixed feelings on this one. On the one hand I do think that the UFC has been way too soft on PED offenders. I thought rewarding Overeem with an immediate title shot sent a bad message. On the other hand this is a business and the best thing for business is Overeem challenging for the UFC title immediately. Putting Overeem in a fight prior to that title opportunity is a big risk which could blow up in the UFC’s faces.

Now do I think that Silva will defeat Overeem? Not at all but stranger things have happened. Silva is a unique opponent and while I don’t think he is as bad as he looked against Cain Velasquez, I also don’t think he is as good as he looked against Fedor. I wouldn’t pick him but he is the kind of a fighter that will pull off an upset or two just due to his freakish size. Overeem should be able to pick him apart up top but if Silva can take him to the ground the K1 Grand Prix champion could be in serious trouble.

It has been a long time since Alistair Overeem looked bad in a heavyweight fight in America. You could argue about the Fabricio Werdum fight but at the end of the day Werdum wasn’t able to take him down. Overeem should roll fairly easily over the big man. However, what will the UFC do if there is an upset? There is no other challenger at heavyweight that has the box office appeal of Overeem outside of Cain or JDS. The UFC is already counting on Overeem’s heavyweight title fight as one of its big fights of 2013. Putting him in there with someone like Silva is incredibly dangerous yet some will say the right thing to do for the integrity of the sport.

The timing does work well for an Overeem win here. The heavyweight championship will be decided between Junior Dos Santos and Cain Velasquez at the end of the year. Overeem would be fighting a little more than a month later. The UFC would have plenty of time providing neither winner comes out with serious injuries to put the fight together for the spring or summer. My hunch is July for the annual big event but maybe it comes sooner if both winners escape unscathed.

Needless to say the UFC will have millions of dollars on the line at UFC 156.

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UFC Eyeing Five Big Fights For 2013

November 08, 2012 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

The UFC is hoping to rebound from a lackluster 2012 on pay per view with a big wish list of fights for 2013. The promotion is eyeing five big fights with hopes of shattering records and delivering fans the most exciting year in UFC history.

MMA writer Dave Meltzer breaks down the 2013 strategy in his latest issue of the Wrestling Observer newsletter. Meltzer breaks down the top five superfights with some context in what could turn into the most pivotal year in MMA history.

There is also the hope, obviously, that they can do a huge year on PPV if injuries don’t get in the way. Anderson Silva is going to the 11/17 show in Montreal. If GSP wins, they are going to have a call out or confrontation to set up Silva vs. GSP. Of course, GSP has to win his match. The idea or hope is to get Silva vs. GSP first, and if Silva wins, go with Silva vs. Jon Jones (provided Jones beats Chael Sonnen) later in the year. The idea is to do the major dream matches this year. If Silva doesn’t beat GSP and Jones remains champion, they could move to Jones against the heavyweight champion for a major year-end fight. The idea is if things go right to get two 1 million buy shows, plus big ones when Alistair Overeem goes for the heavyweight title, GSP vs. Nick Diaz if that one works out, along with Jones vs. Sonnen with the idea of five potential 700+ shows, plus Ronda Rousey vs. Cyborg which will garner a ton of attention even if the jury is very much out on what kind of numbers it would do.

It is easy to get excited over this list but if there is one thing we saw in 2012 it is that the UFC fight schedule is often changing due to injuries and upsets. Right now there is only one fight on this list that is about as guaranteed as you’re going to get and that is the heavyweight title fight.

The only thing holding back this fight is Overeem and whether he can pass his drug tests before the fight. If he can than this fight is going to be huge, especially if it turns out to be JDS vs. Overeem. The anticipation for this fight has only grown since it was cancelled in the spring. Cain vs. Overeem is another intriguing fight but I don’t know if it will have that same kind of “pro wrestling” appeal that JDS vs. Overeem would have. Although the idea of seeing two heavyweight strikers go for the knockout in a championship fight will do huge numbers in its own right.

The company’s top draw Anderson Silva could be responsible for the biggest year in UFC revenues on his two fights alone. The pressure is on Georges St-Pierre to fight Silva but he doesn’t seem that interested in the fight. I am really surprised that the UFC is still pursuing this knowing St-Pierre’s lack of interest. I also think while this fight would be big, it would not be the blockbuster that some are predicting. I think the size mismatch is a lot to turn people off. It’ll be huge but I really don’t know if they can top UFC 100 numbers. I would be shocked if they sold out Texas Stadium as well. It will still be a big fight but I am real skeptical of this one happening.

GSP vs. Nick Diaz still has a lot of appeal among MMA fans. I know that Dana White recently said that Diaz would have to wait for his title shot but I’m not buying it. Slower than expected ticket sales for UFC 154 will shoot Diaz right to the front of the line to fight GSP. I would be shocked if Diaz fights anyone but GSP when he returns, unless the UFC can pull off the Silva fight. From all accounts it would appear that this is the fight GSP wants as well. I think this one would be big, much bigger than some people think. There is more intrigue about this fight than most people realize and I think it happens in 2013.

Ronda Rousey vs. Cris Cyborg Santos is another one that is almost guaranteed to happen. I don’t think Rousey is in a financial position to turn down the fight. The UFC is willing to build an entire division around her, yet I have to wonder how interested they’ll be if she turns down the money fight. I will say this about the fight. I don’t think this one is going to be nearly as big as people think. I still think that Women’s MMA has a long way to go with casual fans and while this one will certainly appeal to hardcore fans, I just don’t know if the landscape is right to take full advantage of this fight. I think this fight could open up that door, but are people willing to pay $50 to see a women’s fight at the top? Maybe, but I don’t think so.

Finally the UFC have high hopes with Jon Jones vs. Anderson Silva. Silva’s recent 50% ownership demands don’t make this one likely, although I think it was said in jest. I think this one has the potential to shatter UFC numbers. Unfortunately they really screwed up booking Sonnen vs. Jones and should have gone here first. I still don’t know if they’d sell out Texas Stadium with this one, but they’d get more mainstream appeal than any other fight. As a fight fan I hope it happens. Dana White guarantees it, both fighters have finally opened the door, and the timing is just perfect.

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Chael Sonnen Announces 205 Debut At UFC 155

August 15, 2012 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

Chael Sonnen has officially announced that he will be moving up to 205 and will play with the big boys at light heavyweight. Sonnen will make his debut against a former UFC light heavyweight champion to help the UFC close out the year on December 29 at UFC 155.

It was officially announced on Tuesday that Sonnen vs. Forrest Griffin will go down on December 29. The fight marks Sonnen’s UFC debut at 205 pounds and the start of his quest to fight for the light heavyweight championship. Sonnen will be looking to bounce back off a loss while Griffin will hope to put together back to back wins.

Believe it or not, this is not the first time Sonnen and Griffin have fought in MMA. The two UFC fighters fought before joining the Ultimate Fighting Championship on a smaller regional show several years ago. Griffin defeated by Sonnen via submission in the first-round in that fight over eight years ago. Sonnen is looking for revenge.

Sonnen made the announcement on the UFC Tonight broadcast.

“I could go up to 205 and I could take Jon Jones’ belt the same as I could take his candy on Halloween – a little punk kid, I’d snatch it away all I want,” Sonnen said. “But there’s something to be said in sportsmanship for earning your shot. And on the 29th of December, I’m going to go through Forrest to do it.”

I have to admit that this one took me by surprise. It wasn’t all too long ago in which Dana White was publicly questioning Grifffin’s desire to even continue fighting and suggested that the former champion should consider retirement. There was a story this week about Wanderlei Silva’s next fight and I was almost certain that Chael was going to be his opponent. This one surprised me.

Chael certainly brings fresh life to the UFC light heavyweight division. The UFC champion Jon Jones has blown through the division’s top contenders so fast that we are already going on repeats with Lyoto Machida getting the next shot at the Jones vs. Dan Henderson winner. I have to believe that the UFC are foaming at the mouth at the possibilities of promoting a Sonnen vs. Jones championship fight. I would not be shocked to see Sonnen get the shot after Machida if he wins in convincing fashion.

Unfortunately this isn’t pro wrestling because if it were, Sonnen would walk in, KO Griffin in the first-round, and call out the champion. Griffin is one of the bigger light heavyweights of the division. I do think that Sonnen would dominate Forrest on the ground, I just wonder if Griffin is too big for Sonnen to take and hold down. There are certainly easier paths that Sonnen could have taken on his debut. Heck, Anderson Silva made his light heavyweight debut against James Irvin! Sonnen has guts and is a money fight in the making with Jon Jones. Getting past Forrest won’t be easy although I lean towards Sonnen in the fight.

With Junior Dos Santos vs. Cain Velasquez for the UFC heavyweight title on top and Sonnen vs. Griffin in support, UFC 155 is already shaping up to be one of the biggest shows of 2012.

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Cain Velasquez Will Get The Next UFC Heavyweight Title Shot

August 13, 2012 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

The UFC heavyweight championship picture will finally have some stability. After a week of chaos, Dana White has finally answered the million dollar question. Cain Velasquez will get the next title shot.

Dana White set off a firestorm a week ago when he told reporters that not only did Junior Dos Santos request to fight Alistair Overeem instead of Cain Velasquez, but that the UFC were considering it. After a week of debate by both MMA fans and media, White cleared up the situation at the UFC 150 post fight press conference.

Alistair Overeem was originally scheduled to fight Junior Dos Santos back in May but had to pull out of the fighter after losing his license. Overeem tested positive in a pre-fight PED test for elevated levels of testosterone and had his license suspended until December. Even on the sidelines, Overeem began a trash talking campaign against the champion that got his attention to the point that Junior and the UFC were seriously considering cancelling the planned Velasquez-JDS fight in favor of an Overeem-JDS fight. The only problem there is that in order for that fight to be made, the UFC would have to take a million dollar risk in hoping that Overeem could get his suspension lifted.

Keith Kizer of the Nevada State Athletic Commission officially batted down Overeem’s Hail Mary pass last week. Overeem suggested in an interview that he could get an early hearing from the NSAC. Kizer publicly said otherwise when asked about whether Overeem could reapply before the end of the suspension.

The regulation indicates that you can’t file an application until that timeframe is up,” Kizer said. “There’s nothing for a commission to put on an agenda. You can’t vote on an application that has yet to be filed. There’s no such door to walk through.

One of two things must have happened here. For the UFC to actually consider giving Overeem the fight, they had to be under the impression that Overeem had a shot at this early hearing. Either Overeem’s camp did have plans for an early hearing that got shot down once the NSAC started receiving blowback or the camp were just publicly posturing all along with no serious commitment from the NSAC on an early hearing. Either way by Kizer publicly coming out and shooting it down, he sealed the deal for Velasquez’s title shot.

While I think this was the right move to make all along, I wasn’t as irate as some in the MMA media were about Velasquez losing his title shot. Velasquez got KO’d in 94 seconds by JDS two fights ago. Yes Velasquez absolutely destroyed Big Foot Silva, we are talking about Velasquez defeating an opponent that was a) coming off of a loss and b) had never even fought in the UFC before. Compare that to Overeem defeating a former UFC world champion and I think you can make a very good argument that Overeem should be allowed to jump ahead of Velasquez in the title picture.

That said, Overeem is the knucklehead that screwed it up for himself with all of the shenanigans surrounding his recent PED tests and failure. This wouldn’t have even been an issue if Overeem played by the rules of the game. Thus I don’t feel sorry for him, but I also wouldn’t have felt sorry for Velasquez either for not getting the rematch.

Dana White told reporters that the fight is tentatively scheduled to take place on the final UFC event of the year on December 29 at UFC 155 in Las Vegas, NV. I say tentatively because this fight has been promised since May yet nothing has been signed on paper. An injury to Dos Santos or Velasquez would open up an interesting scenario that could allow Overeem sneak into the mix before waiting for the championship rematch to take place.

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