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Lyoto Machida Opens Door On Anderson Silva UFC Fight

November 21, 2013 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

Anderson Silva has said numerous times that he would never fight Lyoto Machida. Silva often calls Machida a brother. Apparently his brother never got the memo because the former UFC champion isn’t ready to close the door on a potential.

The Super Fight has eluded the UFC for years. Dana White’s inability to sign cash bonanzas like GSP vs. Silva and/or Silva vs. Jon Jones has left the UFC without that historic epic big fight. Fortunately or unfortunately there is one big fight left on the table. It is certainly telling that this is what the epic fight has come down to in 2013.

Lyoto Machida stunned the MMA world when he moved to middleweight several weeks ago. Machida made an immediate impact, quickly disposing of his friend Mark Munoz in his 185 debut. It didn’t take long for the Silva vs. Machida questions to start. Up until now that fight has been off the table. While not confirming anything, the Dragon said enough recently when he kept the door open on the big 185 showdown.

Machida was asked recently about fighting his training partner and close friend Anderson Silva. Machida surprisingly said he’d consider it when the time is right.

“I don’t want this fight,” Machida said. “We’re close, and we have the same manager. He’s fighting for the belt, and I’m still far from it. It’s hard to talk about it now. I don’t know if we will cross paths one day. Let’s let things happen and decide what to do. You have to be prepared to face to situation. You have to talk about it.”

This is a much different sentiment than what Silva has conveyed whenever he has been asked about the fight. The talk first started a few years ago when Machida ran through Rashad Evans for the UFC light heavyweight title beginning what Joe Rogan called “the Machida era.” Silva immediately squashed any talk about a potential dream fight at the time. Even as recently, Silva said that the match is not only off limits, he’d retire before he’d fight his friend.

“Jacare is a guy that has been doing a great job and can earn a title shot,” Silva said. “Lyoto is a close friend, a great athlete, and we train together, just like Jacare (Souza).”

“If we get to a point where we’d have to fight, I’d even give up the title.”

Obviously these two aren’t on the same page. I always wondered why someone like Machida would even bother moving to 185 if his end-goal wasn’t to win the title, Silva being champion or not. I thought the second Machida dropped to middleweight that he would fight if Silva if presented the opportunity.

MMA is a weird sport. You see friends and even family members compete against each other all of the time at the highest levels of sport from football to basketball to baseball, etc. Yet in MMA, a sport where these guys spar together all of the time, they refuse to fight each other, sacrificing business and money in the name of friendship. Honorable yes but I just never understood that.

Fortunately for both of these guys they may not have to worry about it if Silva can’t get past Chris Weidman in December.

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UFC 163 Aldo Vs. Jung Results and Wrap Up

August 06, 2013 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

Apologies for the lateness of this wrap up everyone. Some plans from this weekend got in the way of me viewing UFC 163 live, so I was a day and a half behind before I was finally able to catch a replay of the event. Despite me taking the card to task a little bit beforehand for lack of big name recognition, the card mostly delivered. Although the main event failed to live up to the expected fireworks, it still provided a relatively entertaining scrap, there was also a Light Heavyweight robbery, a return to form from a Brazilian Middleweight as well as an exciting Flyweight scrap. Let’s take a look at what happened and what’s next in the fallout from UFC 163 from Rio de Janeiro.

Flyweight Bout: John Lineker defeated Jose Maria Tome via TKO (Punches) at 1:03 of Round Two

This fight was actually contested as a Catchweight bout after Lineker failed to make weight. This marks the second time that he’s failed to make weight at Flyweight and one has to wonder how long the UFC will allow it. Despite being marred by several low blows during the first round, the debuting Tome looked impressive, scoring a number of punches and combinations, especially from his takedown attempts. In the second round, Lineker punished Tome for being overly aggressive with his takedowns. Lineker landed a huge hook to the body that dropped his opponent, follow up punches from there and that was all she wrote.

What’s next for Lineker? He’s looked impressive in his Flyweight career, unfortunately he keeps missing weight. Still he’s an exciting fighter in a thin division talent-wise, so I think the UFC will give him a fair amount of rope on the weight issue. For his next contest he definitely deserves a step up in competition, and the proper opponent for him also fought on this card. “Uncle Creepy” Ian McCall earned his first UFC win on the undercard and would prove an interesting challenge for the heavy-handed Lineker.

What’s next for Tome? He looked impressive during the first round and he’s surely not going to get cut after a loss where his opponent missed weight and he fought anyways. He’s also in the UFC’s thinnest division. If Lineker gets Ian McCall, then it would make sense to match Tome with the man who McCall defeated Iliarde Santos. Santos proved to be a handful for McCall and put on an entertaining scrap, so pair these two off and let’s have another exciting Flyweight tilt.

Middleweight Bout: Thales Leites defeated Tom Watson via Unanimous Decision after Three Rounds

Leites is best remembered by most fans for the stinker he put on in his title shot against Anderson Silva. Clearly he has made some improvements since leaving the UFC. His striking looked more crisp than it ever has and his takedowns were on point throughout the fight. Leites also showed improved ground and pound, as his shots looked like they actually had a good amount of force behind them as opposed to weak punches that we’ve seen in the past. He looked pretty fatigued by the end of the bout, so cardio might still be an issue, but he definitely dominated Watson from bell to bell and it was an impressive return to the world’s largest MMA promotion.

What’s next for Leites? It was an impressive return yes, but he’s still far from earning himself another shot at the UFC title. He’s going to have to take his career in baby steps this time, I think the next logical opponent for him is Tim Kennedy. Kennedy recently beat up Roger Gracie in a less than impressive showing by both men, but he’s a popular fighter who is a tough match up for anyone. A bout against Kennedy would be a solid measuring stick for where Leites stands in the division.

What’s next for Watson? It’s hard to say, because he didn’t look overly impressive in this fight and he hasn’t looked at all impressive during his stint in the UFC. Still he’s a Brit, and the UFC likes to keep them around for shows in the UK. I think that’s a smart plan for the UFC. One of the struggling Strikeforce imports would make sense Trevor Smith or Lorenz Larkin maybe.

Middleweight Bout: Cezar Ferreira defeated Thiago Santos via Submission (Guillotine Choke) at 0:47 of Round One

Thiago Santos was moving up in weight for the first time and it proved to be a horrible idea. Ferreira stalked forward from the opening bell and his first flurry of punches had bad intentions. A high kick followed that wobbled Santos. Sensing opportunity he quickly latched on to the choke and rolled to the ground, earning a quick and impressive submission victory.

What’s next for Ferreira? It has to be Daniel Sarafian. Ferreira won the first season of The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil, but Sarafian was forced to withdraw from the tournament and that title of Brazil’s first Ultimate Fighter seems to have a permanent asterisk next to it. A bout between these two could settle the score and crown a true winner from the first season of TUF: Brazil.

What’s next for Santos? He definitely shouldn’t be staying at Middleweight as he definitely doesn’t have the size to hang with even the mid-tier fighters in that division. So what prospects are there at Welterweight for him?  Yuri Villefort on a Brazilian card? Maybe Neil Magny or Colton Smith in a battle of TUF champions.

Light Heavyweight Bout: Phil Davis defeated Lyoto Machida via Unanimous Decision

Robbery? Shenanigans? Incompetence? It’s hard to say exactly what the reason is that all three judges inexplicably awarded this fight to Phil Davis. It’s hard to complain too much, as the bout was a mostly action light affair. In the first round Machida controlled the distance for much of the round, and countered effectively. He also landed a nice flurry that sent Davis reeling towards the cage. A meaningless takedown at the end of the round was apparently enough to steal it. In the second Machida again controlled the pacing of the fight with his awkward striking style, and apparently once again Davis’ late takedown after a number of failed attempts stole him the round. The third round was Davis’ worst as he missed on a number of takedowns and was actually reversed by Machida and taken down. Still, one judge gave him the round. In the end Phil Davis took a Unanimous Decision that almost no one thought he deserved.

What’s next for Davis? A win is a win and it’s still going to move him up the Light Heavyweight rankings. He was a highly touted prospect expected to challenge Jon Jones when he first entered the UFC, but he hasn’t lived up to expectations quite yet. Still, he’ll likely be getting a top 5 opponent next, with a chance to springboard into the title conversation. Glover Teixeira is likely getting a title shot if he beats Ryan Bader in the next month, so that fight won’t produce an opponent unless Bader pulls off the upset. Another option could be Vitor Belfort who has openly campaigned that he won’t fight at Middleweight until he gets a title shot, but was willing to entertain bouts at 205 or even 265 pounds.

What’s next for Machida? Back to the drawing boards I guess? Machida does what he usually does and this time he wasn’t rewarded for his efforts. Despite the controversial decision, it’s still going to knock him a few pegs down the rankings. He could face the loser of the upcoming title bout between Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson. Another option might be to consider a cut to Middleweight if friend and training partner Anderson Silva comes up short in his second bout with Chris Weidman.

Featherweight Bout: Jose Aldo defeated Chan Sung Jung via TKO (Punches) at 2:00 of Round Four

This fight certainly didn’t end up with the fireworks and wild brawling that everyone suspected it may include, but it was a pretty entertaining scrap anyways. The best way I’ve heard the bout described so far was that Aldo was highly effective, yet wildly unspectacular when compared to his previous bodies of work (see demolitions of Cub Swanson or Urijah Faber’s leg.) During the first round of the bout, Aldo threw a kick to the legs, only for Jung to check it, the result ended up being a broken foot for Aldo and left him largely unable to throw kicks for the rest of the contest.

The result was a fairly measured offensive attack. The final results from Fight Metric were very close. With Aldo out landing The Korean Zombie 43-42 in total strikes, but 32-17 in significant strikes. The outing marks his lowest such output when you exclude fights where he knocked his opponents out in the first two rounds. Impressively, he also scored 5 takedowns in the bout, tying his personal best from his bout against Mark Hominick. It seems that whenever the champion gets in trouble, he does have a solid ground game to rely on. The ending will probably be one of the most notable things from the bout as Jung’s shoulder visibly popped out of place. He was unable to pop it back in, leading to Aldo attacking with a high kick to the shoulder which dropped Jung and follow up punches sealing the deal.

What’s next for Aldo? He’s teased moving up in weight to challenge in the Lightweight division, but after the bout Dana White seemed convinced that Aldo would stay at Featherweight. He’s run through many of the top contenders, but one name that has earned a shot is definitely Ricardo Lamas. Lamas has beaten a slew of top contenders including Cub Swanson, Hatsu Hioki and Erik Koch. Lamas has also been calling for the title shot publicly and with no other suitable challengers waiting in the wings, it’s time for him to get a shot.

What’s next for Jung? This probably depends on how long he’s on the shelf from that nasty shoulder injury. It’s a similar injury that caused him to need surgery and miss over a year of action. At the press conference he said the shoulder popped back in and he feels fine. If he can return to action quickly a bout against Dennis Siver would make the most sense. Siver recently lost a top contender bout to Cub Swanson at the UFC’s last Pay Per View.

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UFC 163 Aldo Vs. Jung Predictions and Analysis

August 02, 2013 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

Last weekend was a bit of a downer for the UFC as an organization. Despite a highly entertaining main event featuring a championship bout which itself featured the champion defending the title in his home state, the event was widely considered a ratings flop. It did pretty awful numbers on Fox, ranking as dead-last to second-last in terms of ratings depending on the varying reports that are making rounds on the internet. With that said, I’m going to take the UFC to task a little bit more than I usually do. They are following up a free card on Fox that did poorly with underwhelming results in live attendance and live viewership on television with a Pay Per View offering, that in my opinion and the opinion of several others leaves a lot to be desired in terms of name value.

UFC 163 takes place this weekend live from the HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The main event features Brazil’s favorite Featherweight fighter as UFC Champion Jose Aldo defends his title against “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung. The co-main event features a possible title eliminator at 205-pounds as Lyoto Machida takes on American wrestling standout Phil Davis. Other main card action features a Middleweight bout between Cezar Ferreira taking on Thiago Santos, as well another Middleweight bout between the returning Thales Leites and Tom Watson. The opening bout of the Pay Per View card features Flyweight action as John Lineker takes on Jose Tome.

Preliminary Card (Facebook): Light Heavyweight Bout: Ednaldo Oliveira vs. Francimar Barroso

Ednaldo “Lula Molusco” Oliveira is a 29-year-old fighter from Bahia, Brazil. At 6’7” he is absolutely massive for the Light Heavyweight division and has competed at Heavyweight in the past. He is a member of the Nordeste Jiu Jitsu Team who holds a professional MMA record of 13-1-1 with 1 No Contest, with the lone loss coming in his UFC debut against Gabriel Gonzaga. Francimar “Bodao” Barroso is a 33-year-old fighter from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He is a member of the Nova Uniao camp who is taking this bout on only a few weeks notice as an injury replacement for Robert Drysdale. He holds a professional MMA record of 15-3.

Quick Pick: Francimar Barroso via TKO in Round Two

Preliminary Card (Facebook): Welterweight Bout: Viscardi Andrade vs. Bristol Marunde

Viscardi Andrade is a 29-year-old fighter from Sao Paulo, Brazil. He was a competitor on the second season of TUF: Brazil. Andrade is a member of the Gracie Fusion Gym in Sao Paulo and holds a career record of 14-5, but is currently riding a 6-bout winning streak. Bristol Marunde is a 31-year-old fighter from Fairbanks, Alaska. He currently resides and trains in Las Vegas, Nevada at the Throwdown Training Center. After an unsuccessful debut in Strikeforce he appeared as a cast member on The Ultimate Fighter, eventually losing in the quarterfinals. He holds a professional MMA record of 12-8.

Quick Pick: Viscardi Andrade via Submission in Round Two

Preliminary Card (Facebook): Featherweight Bout: Rani Yahya vs. Josh Clopton

Rani Yahya is a 28-year-old fighter from Brasilia, Brazil. He is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt who trains with the Constrictor Team in his hometown. He is a veteran of the WEC and the UFC who has international grappling experience. He holds a professional MMA record of 18-7. Josh “The Gentleman” Clopton is a 32-year-old fighter from San Francisco, California. Clopton was a competitor on the fourteenth season of The Ultimate Fighter. He trains with the Skrap Pack in California and holds a pro MMA record of 6-1-1.

Quick Pick: Rani Yahya via Submission in Round One

Preliminary Card (FX): Flyweight Bout: Ian McCall vs. Iliarde Santos

Ian “Uncle Creepy” McCall is a 29-year-old fighter from Costa Mesa, California. Once considered the world’s number 1 Flyweight fighter, he has struggled against the top two competitors in the UFC’s Flyweight division going 0-2-1 against Demetrious Johnson and Joseph Benavidez. He is a member of Team Oyama in California and holds a professional record of 11-4-1. Iliarde Santos is a 32-year-old fighter from Para, Brazil. He is a member of the Ulisses Pereira Team in his hometown. He recently made his UFC debut at Bantamweight as an injury replacement and is getting a shot in his more natural weight class. He holds a pro record of 27-7-1 with 1 No Contest.

Quick Pick: Ian McCall via Unanimous Decision

Preliminary Card (FX): Welterweight Bout: Sergio Moraes vs. Neil Magny

Sergio “The Panther” Moraes is a 31-year-old fighter from Sao Paulo, Brazil. Moraes is best known as a finalist from the first season of The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil, although his position as finalist was as an injury replacement. He is a BJJ black belt who has trained with a number of teams in Brazil including Alliance Jiu Jitsu, Team Nogueira and Universidade da luta. He holds a pro record of 7-2. Neil Magny is a 25-year-old fighter from Brooklyn, New York. Magny was a cast member on the sixteenth season of The Ultimate Fighter. Magny trains with Miguel Torres’ team in Chicago, Illinois. He holds a career record of 8-1.

Quick Pick: Neil Magny via Unanimous Decision

Preliminary Card (FX): Women’s Bantamweight Bout: Amanda Nunes vs. Sheila Gaff

Amanda “The Lioness of the Ring” Nunes is a 25-year-old fighter from Bahia, Brazil. She is a solid striker who has won the majority of her fights via stoppage. Nunes trains with the AMA Fight Club in New Jersey, but also trains at the MMA Masters Gym in her hometown. She holds a career record of 7-3. Sheila “The German Tank” Gaff is a 23-year-old fighter from Bad Hersfeld, Germany. She is a striker who has never backed down from a brawl during her bouts. Gaff is a member of the Arena Aschaffenburg in Aschaffenburg, Germany. She holds a career record of 10-5-1.

Quick Pick: Amanda Nunes via TKO in Round One

Preliminary Card (FX): Light Heavyweight Bout: Vinny Magalhaes vs. Anthony Perosh

Vinny “Pezao” Magalhaes is a 29-year-old fighter from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil although he now lives in Portland, Oregon. Magalhaes is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt who is the BJJ coach at Team Quest in Oregon and Nevada. Magalhaes was a cast member from the eighth season of The Ultimate Fighter. Magalhaes holds a career record of 10-6 with 1 No Contest. Anthony “The Hippo” Perosh is a 41-year-old fighter from New South Wales, Australia. Perosh is a former Heavyweight fighter who is a BJJ black belt who trains with the Sinosic Perosh Martial Arts Gym in Australia. He holds a pro MMA record of 13-7.

Quick Pick: Vinny Magalhaes via Submission in Round Two


Main Card (Pay Per View): Flyweight Bout: John Lineker vs. Jose Tome

John “Hands of Stone” Lineker is a 23-year-old fighter from Parana, Brazil. Lineker is a former Jungle Fight Bantamweight Champion but has also competed for a number of other promotions including Shooto Brazil, Gladiators Fighting Championship and Nitrix MMA. Lineker is a former Bantamweight fighter and is fairly large for the Flyweight division, which has affected his cardio in the past. Lineker is a member of the EMPORIUM Gym in Parana. He is an aggressive and powerful striker with knockout power and strong combinations. He holds a career record of 21-6 including 12 stoppage victories.

Jose “No Chance” Tome is a 31-year-old fighter from Ceara, Brazil. Tome has compiled an impressive record, mostly on the Brazilian regional scene. Tome is an aggressive brawler who is fairly well rounded despite his tendency to engage in brawls. Tome is a member of the Renovacao Fight Team in his hometown. He has a strong chin but has somewhat porous striking defense. Despite decent striking skills, Tome’s best bout in this contest might be to try and control the bout on the ground. Tome holds a career record of 33-3 but has not been defeated since July of 2008, a span of 17 fights.

Analysis and Prediction: Tome has an impressive record from the Brazilian regional circuit, but this is certainly going to be one of the toughest tests of his career. Lineker is an extremely aggressive striker who throws nasty combinations and attacks the body relentlessly, the results often taking a serious toll on his opponent’s cardiovascular endurance. Tome is going to need to be aware of this and is going to need to counter punch aggressively when Lineker winds up some of his bigger punches. Tome likely holds a small advantage on the ground, but Lineker is quite big and strong so taking the fight to the ground might be easier said than done. In the end I think Lineker lands a couple of big combinations that stun Tome and lure him into a brawl, from there it’s lights out in round two. John Lineker via KO in Round Two

Main Card (Pay Per View): Middleweight Bout: Thales Leites vs. Tom Watson

Thales Leites is a 31-year-old fighter from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Leites is a former UFC Middleweight title challenger who has not fought in the UFC since UFC 101 in 2009. Leites is a talented grappler who holds a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt. Leites trains with the Nova Uniao camp in Rio de Janeiro. Since being dropped from the UFC Leites has gone 6-1, with the lone loss coming to Matt Horwich, which he has since avenged. Leites holds a professional MMA record of 20-4.

Tom “Kong” Watson is a 31-year-old fighter from Southhampton, England. Watson trains with Greg Jackson’s camp in New Mexico but also spends time at the Reign Training Center in Orange County, California. Watson has fought for a number of major MMA promotions in Europe including Cage Rage, BAMMA as well as MFC in Canada. Watson is a talented striker who excels at close range, fighting from the clinch with knees and elbows effectively. Watson has shown a weakness against talented wrestlers and grapplers in the past and will hold a significant striking advantage in this bout if he can keep the bout standing. He holds a career record of 16-5.

Analysis and Prediction: Leites was less than impressive during his last go-round with the UFC but he has looked impressive on the regional scene since being released. His stand up is never going to be world beating but it looks like it has improved slightly since his first stint in the UFC. Watson however is a tough and durable striker who can absolutely batter Leites in the close quarters of a clinch. If Leites is going to move in for a takedown, he’ll need to be sure to set it up well, as Watson is physically strong and will be able to stuff long distance shots. This bout comes down to whether or not Leites can get Watson to the ground, I’ve never been overly impressed with Watson, so I think he eventually will. From there, he’ll find an opening and snag a submission late in the first, or sometime in the second. Thales Leites via Submission in Round Two

Main Card (Pay Per View): Middleweight Bout: Cezar Ferreira vs. Thiago Santos

Cezar “Mutante” Ferreira is a 28-year-old fighter from Sao Paulo, Brazil. Ferreira is best known from his appearances on The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil where he was the eventual winner of the show. Ferreira is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu who also excels in Capoeira. Despite being Brazilian, Ferreira now resides and trains in the USA with the Blackzillians at the Jaco Hybrid Training Center in Boca Raton, Florida. Ferreira was originally schedule to face Clint Hester on this card, but an injury forced him to withdraw. Ferreira is an aggressive striker who mixes his combinations well, but has also been known to be somewhat overly aggressive at times. He holds a career record of 5-2.

Thiago “Marreta” Santos is a 29-year-old fighter from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Santos is a member of the Tata Fight Team in Rio. Santos was a cast member on the second season of TUF: Brazil but fell short to the tournament’s winner Leonardo Santos. Santos is taking this bout as a late injury replacement for Clint Hester. Santos uses leg kicks well and will need to attack the legs and body repeatedly if he’s going to keep the extremely aggressive Ferreira at bay. Santos holds a professional MMA record of 8-1.

Analysis and Prediction: Ferreira is a tough and aggressive southpaw striker who trains with a team of excellent kickboxers at the Blackzillians, he’s certainly going to want to keep this fight on the feet. Santos is going to need to keep Ferreira away from him, a steady stream of leg kicks and jabs should be on the menu from him. He’ll also need to choose his shots widely, because at times Ferreira does leave himself open to big counter shots. Still, he packs one hell of a punch and is going to hold a decided size advantage. I think ‘Mutante’ gets the job done. Cesar Ferreira via TKO in Round Two

Main Card (Pay Per View): Light Heavyweight Bout: Lyoto Machida vs. Phil Davis

Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida is a 35-year-old fighter from Salvador, Brazil. Machida is one of the top Light Heavyweight fighters in the world who is a former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion. Machida is a 3rd dan black belt in Shotokan Karate and a black belt in BJJ, he is also the most prominent karate practitioner in modern MMA. Machida is a member of the Black House and is one of the most prominent training partners of Anderson Silva along with the Nogueira brothers. Machida is often described as elusive by UFC commentator Joe Rogan, known for his excellent and fluid footwork and striking defense. He also has excellent timing and is one of the Light Heavyweight division’s best counter-strikers. He holds a career record of 19-3.

Phil “Mr. Wonderful” Davis is a 28-year-old fighter from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Davis is a former NCAA Division 1 wrestler from Penn State University. Since switching to MMA, Davis has reached the rank of purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and has improved his striking considerably. Davis is a member of the Alliance MMA Gym in Chula Vista, California. Despite Davis’ improvements in his striking skills, he is still quite far behind the striking prowess of Machida. Davis is a smothering wrestler, but in his lone career loss against Rashad Evans, his takedowns were stuffed and his striking game devolved significantly. Despite his striking disadvantages he will own a five-inch reach advantage over Machida in this fight. Davis holds a career record of 11-1 with 1 No Contest.

Analysis and Prediction: Davis needs to get this fight to the ground and he needs to do it in a hurry. He stands fairly little chance of having nearly a remote chance of success in the striking game. So the question becomes, can Davis take Machida down? He’s going to struggle mightily. Machida has excellent footwork, he uses angles well and is very quick making him difficult to take down. Davis will have a reach advantage in the bout, but he’ll still have a problem getting the better of the striking. I imagine that Machida takes this bout relatively slow to start, feinting and jabbing, prodding with kicks before eventually turning up the volume as time goes on. He could find a stoppage if Davis pushes the envelope too much when he gets desperate, but it’s more likely that Machida takes this one on points. Lyoto Machida via Unanimous Decision

Main Card (Pay Per View): UFC Featherweight Championship Bout: Jose Aldo vs. Chan Sung Jung

Jose “Scarface” Aldo is a 26-year-old fighter from Manus, Brazil. Aldo is the reigning and defending UFC Featherweight Champion and was the final WEC Featherweight champion. Aldo holds a black belt in BJJ, but he is better known for his Muay Thai striking abilities. Aldo is a member of the Nova Uniao Gym training in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Aldo was originally scheduled to fight Anthony Pettis in this bout before a knee-injury forced Pettis to withdraw. Aldo is a well-rounded striker who is very aggressive with his leg kicks, knees to the body and flashy head kicks. Aldo also has big time power in his hands and has won the majority of his bouts via TKO. Aldo holds a nearly perfect professional record of 22-1.

“The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung is a 26-year-old fighter from Pohang, South Korea. Jung is a talented grappler who holds a green belt in Judo and a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Despite these somewhat less than impressive belt credentials he is a creative and extremely talented grappler. Jung also holds a black belt in Tae Kwan Do and his striking style is very representative of that background. Before joining the WEC and UFC, Jung fought for a number of major Asian MMA promotions including Pancrase, KoreaFC, DEEP and Sengoku. Jung is a member of Korean Zombie MMA in his hometown and has also trained with the Korean Top Team in Seoul. He holds a career MMA record of 13-3.

Analysis and Prediction: This fight is a bit of a mismatch, but there are definitely a few ways for the upset to get pulled off. Aldo is the Featherweight division’s most devastating striker and is probably top five pound-for-pound in that category. Jung has decent striking, but he moves forward at a bit too much of a plodding pace to really challenge Aldo. Still, the Zombie is one of the more talented grapplers in the division and is extremely creative with his submission game, the problem for him will be getting Aldo to the floor. Aldo is massive and extremely strong, so much so that he’s been able to fend off talented wrestlers in his career. Jung will need to utilize trips and throws to take Aldo down.

Jung is also returning from a layoff of over a year. That kind of ring rust is going to be tough to shake off. It’s going to be even harder with an aggressive striker like Aldo throwing bombs and pressuring constantly. Jung has shown excellent cardio in the past, in fact in his bout against Poirier he seemed to get better as the fight wore on, Aldo is the exact opposite. He’s massive for the weight class and sometimes struggles to make weight, or oftentimes the cut just has negative effects on his cardio. The Aldo-Edgar bout is a clear example, as Edgar was able to come alive in the final few rounds to take advantage of a tiring Aldo. A similar game plan might be wise for the Zombie if he’s able to survive that long.

Jung has struggled against strikers that are far inferior to Aldo, including being knocked cold by George Roop. Jung has a strong chin and can take a fair amount of punishment, but Aldo is simply the heaviest hitter that he’s ever faced. I expect a beat down from the champion, culminating in quite possibly a knockout of the night bonus check. Jose Aldo via KO in Round Three

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UFC 157: Rousey vs. Carmouche Results and Takeaways

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

Do Women really deserve a place in the UFC? Can Ronda Rousey really deliver the goods and headline a major UFC Pay Per View event? The PPV numbers aren’t in yet, but the overwhelming answers to those first questions are emphatic yeses. UFC 157 took place last night from the Honda Center in Anaheim, California and early gate figures are showing that Rousey and women’s MMA pulled over 15,500 people into the Honda Center and created a live gate of $1.4 million.

In the main event of the evening Rousey overcame a slight stumble early on in the fight and escaped the most dangerous moment of her fighting career to notch yet another first round victory via submission. In the co-main event of the evening Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida defeated Dan Henderson in a somewhat lackluster affair to claim another crack at the UFC Light Heavyweight title. Let’s recap what happened on the main card and what’s next for the fighters.

Welterweight Bout: Robbie Lawler defeated Josh Koscheck via TKO (Punches) at 3:57 of Round One

Koscheck’s goal was to take this fight to the ground and given his wrestling prowess and Lawler’s previous struggles against wrestlers it seemed like it was probably the winning strategy. Apparently Lawler learned how to sprawl and brawl as he put on an excellent display of fending off Koscheck’s takedown attempts during this fight. Lawler landed a couple of big punches to a crawling Koscheck and stunned his opponent. Koscheck turtled instead of fighting back and the referee stopped the fight. Some complained that the stoppage was early, but nonetheless Lawler pulled off a big upset.

What’s next for Lawler? Despite beating a former top contender in Koscheck, it’s most likely that the UFC decides to bring Lawler along somewhat slowly. A striker at heart, it’s probably most intriguing if the UFC matches him up with another striker for the most entertainment value. A bout against fellow main card fighter Court McGee could make sense, or a bout between the winner of the upcoming bout between Nate Marquardt and Jake Ellenberger.

What’s next for Koscheck? After his former AKA teammate Jon Fitch got cut last weekend, it’s hard to imagine that Koscheck is going to be able to survive this loss. Like Fitch he is expensive, in fact he makes more per fight than Fitch did and he’s fallen even further down the rankings. If he does somehow survive the next round of cuts then a bout with Erick Silva would make some sense as both men try to rebuild themselves.

Welterweight Bout: Court McGee defeated Josh Neer via Unanimous Decision after Three Rounds

Court McGee looked mighty impressive in his Welterweight debut. Neer is a talented grinder, but McGee outworked him everywhere that the fight went. McGee out struck Neer all over the fight and dominated him on the ground, coming close to sinking in a couple of submissions but ultimately taking a clear-cut unanimous decision.

What’s next for McGee? He looked mighty impressive in his Welterweight debut. As I mentioned earlier he could be a good match for Robbie Lawler. British wrestler John Hathaway could also be an interesting match up to see how McGee handles another grinding wrestler.

What’s next for Neer? Likely unemployment. Neer has been bounced from the UFC before, but he always seems to make his way back due to his willingness to fight on short notice against almost anyone. I imagine his next fight comes outside the UFC.

Bantamweight Bout: Urijah Faber defeated Ivan Menjivar via Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 4:34 of Round One

Urijah Faber dominated this fight the whole way. Faber is excellent with his takedowns and transitions, and his ability to gain dominant positions from scrambles. Faber’s transition to the back in this fight was very slick and he continues to prove that he can bounce back even after tough losses.

What’s next for Faber? He really needs to fight a top contender, but it’s getting annoying how poorly he’s doing against the champions but continues to knock the top contender’s off their perch and eliminating new title challengers. He’s got to fight another top contender though and give him a chance to knock someone else out of contention. Eddie Wineland is the only one that makes a whole lot of sense right now.

What’s next for Menjivar? A bout with Brian Bowles might make the most sense as they’re the two most recent fighters to lose to Faber. Should Brad Pickett lose to Mike Easton in their upcoming bout at UFC on Fuel TV, then that bout could also be highly entertaining.

Light Heavyweight Bout: Lyoto Machida defeated Dan Henderson via Split Decision after Three Rounds

This fight was light on action, but Machida did what he does best. He stuck and moved and avoided most of Henderson’s power shots while delivering several of his own. Although the crowd disliked a lot of this fight, it’s hard to discount the technical striking game that Machida brings to the table and his ability to avoid taking damage. Unfortunately for Machida, despite being promised a title shot, it could be up for grabs due to the nature of his unimpressive performance.

What’s next for Machida? Likely the winner between Chael Sonnen and Jon Jones. However the split decision nature of this win could leave the door open for someone else to steal that title shot, namely Alexander Gustafsson who has an upcoming bout with Gegard Mousasi and was also promised a title shot with an impressive victory. Either way, Machida will remain close to title contention.

What’s next for Henderson? He already said he wasn’t retiring, so that’s out the window. A potential bout with Rashad Evans could prove to be entertaining but Evans wants a different opponent (Shogun) so the UFC could be going with that. A fan favorite bout between Henderson and Forrest Griffin could deliver an epic knockout.

Women’s Bantamweight Championship Bout: Ronda Rousey defeated Liz Carmouche via Submission (Armbar) at 4:49 of Round One

Rousey had a lot to lose in this bout, as did the UFC, but luckily for them despite a scary moment at the beginning of the fight the fight went exactly as expected. Rousey overcame the most difficult test of her career so far and still snagged another first round armbar. Rousey set herself up for trouble by focusing too much on getting the armbar and not enough on winning the fight, it’s probably something she’ll have to work on going forward.

What’s next for Rousey? Cyborg Santos isn’t happening right now, so as much as Eric wishes it to happen, it’s probably not on the docket. The winner of the upcoming bout between Cat Zingano and Miesha Tate is the most likely candidate.

What’s next for Carmouche? Sara McMann is a former American wrestler who was scheduled to fight Liz Carmouche in Strikeforce in the past before the event was cancelled. With McMann recently signed to the UFC and without a first opponent, this bout still makes a lot of sense.

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UFC 157: Rousey vs. Carmouche Predictions and Preview

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

The UFC delivered another successful free card last weekend on Fuel TV but it’s time for the UFC to head for the record books. The UFC returns to the land of Pay Per View this weekend with UFC 157 from the Honda Center in Anaheim, California. History will be made in the main event as the event is headlined by the first Women’s MMA bout in UFC history as UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey takes on the UFC’s first openly gay fighter in Liz Carmouche.

The co-main event of the evening features what could certainly be one of the most entertaining Light Heavyweight bouts of the year as Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida takes on Dan Henderson in a bout that could certainly determine the next contender for the UFC Light Heavyweight title. Former WEC poster boy Urijah Faber takes on Ivan Menjivar in Bantamweight action on the main card. Two Welterweight bouts will open the main card as Robbie Lawler returns to the UFC to take on Josh Koscheck in the opening bout. The other bout features Court McGee making his Welterweight debut against the always-tough Josh Neer.

Preliminary Card (Facebook): Welterweight Bout: Nah-Shon Burrell vs. Yuri Villefort

Nah-Shon “The Rock-n-Rolla” Burrell is a 23-year-old fighter who is making his UFC debut after a career in Strikeforce. He trains out of the Fight Firm Gym in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He holds a career record of 8-2. Yuri Villefort is a 21-year-old fighter coming over from Strikeforce. Villefort is a member of the Blackzillians, training at the Jaco Hybrid Training Center in Boca Raton, Florida. Villefort holds a career record of 6-1.

Quick Pick: Nah-Shon Burrell via Unanimous Decision

Preliminary Card (Facebook): Welterweight Bout: Jon Manley vs. Neil Magny

Jon Manley is a 26-year-old fighter from Adams, Massachusetts. Manley is a former cast member from the sixteenth season of The Ultimate Fighter. He now trains with Team Link in Ludlow, Massachusetts and holds a career record of 7-1. Neil Magny is a 25-year-old fighter from Brooklyn, New York. Like his opponent he fought on the sixteenth season of The Ultimate Fighter. He is a member of the Torres MMA Gym in Chicago, Illinois training under Miguel Torres. He holds a professional record of 7-1.

Quick Pick: Neil Magny via Unanimous Decision

Preliminary Card (Facebook): Welterweight Bout: Kenny Robertson vs. Brock Jardine

Kenny Robertson is a 29-year-old fighter from East Peoria, Illinois. He trains with the Central Illinois Combat Club in Spring Bay, Illinois. Robertson holds a career record of 11-2. Brock “The Machine” Jardine is a 27-year-old fighter from Fergus, Ontario, Canada. Jardine now resides and trains at the Pit Elevated Fight Team in Orem, Utah. He holds a professional record of 9-2.

Quick Pick: Brock Jardine via TKO in Round Two

Preliminary Card (FX): Featherweight Bout: Dennis Bermudez vs. Matt Grice

Dennis “The Menace” Bermudez is a 26-year-old from Saugerties, New York. He is a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler who was a cast member on the fourteenth season of The Ultimate Fighter where he was the runner up. He holds a career record of 9-3. Matt “The Real One” Grice is a 31-year-old fighter from Harrah, Oklahoma. Like his opponent he is a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler. Grice trains with the Titan Martial Arts Gym in Oklahoma. He holds a career record of 15-4.

Quick Pick: Dennis Bermudez via Submission in Round Three

Preliminary Card (FX): Lightweight Bout: Sam Stout vs. Caros Fodor

Sam “Hands of Stone” Stout is a 28-year-old fighter from London, Ontario, Canada. A UFC veteran and former professional kick boxer, he trains with the Team Tompkins Gym in his hometown. Stout holds a professional MMA record of 18-8-1. Caros “The Future” Fodor is a 29-year-old fighter from Kirkland, Washington. Fodor is a member of the AMC Pankration Gym in Washington training with UFC Flyweight Champion Demetrious Johnson. He holds a career record of 7-2 and is making his UFC debut after an extended Strikeforce career.

Quick Pick: Sam Stout via Unanimous Decision

Preliminary Card (FX): Lightweight Bout: Michael Chiesa vs. Anton Kuivanen

Michael “Maverick” Chiesa is a 25-year-old fighter from Aurora, Colorado. He is best known for his stint on the live season of The Ultimate Fighter where he was the eventual winner of the reality show. He now trains with the Sikjitsu Gym in Spokane, Washington. He holds a perfect professional record of 8-0. Anton Kuivanen is a 28-year-old fighter from Helsinki, Finland. He is a member of Team MMA Finland, but also trains in the USA with American Top Team. He holds a professional record of 17-5.

Quick Pick: Michael Chiesa via Unanimous Decision

Preliminary Card (FX): Heavyweight Bout: Brendan Schaub vs. Lavar Johnson

Brendan “The Hybrid” Schaub is a 29-year-old fighter from Aurora, Colorado. He was the runner-up on the tenth season of The Ultimate Fighter featuring only Heavyweights. He is a former NFL linebacker and now trains with the Grudge Training Center in Colorado. He holds a professional MMA record of 8-3. Lavar “Big” Johnson is a 35-year-old fighter from Madera, California. A former Strikeforce fighter he came to the UFC in 2012 and quickly racked up two impressive knockout victories. He is a member of the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, California. He holds a professional MMA record of 17-6.

Quick Pick: Lavar Johnson via TKO in Round One

Main Card (Pay Per View): Welterweight Bout: Josh Koscheck vs. Robbie Lawler

Josh “Kos” Koscheck is a 35-year-old fighter from Waynesburg, Pennsylvania. He is a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. Koscheck was a cast member on the first season of The Ultimate Fighter and is a former UFC Welterweight title challenger. Koscheck now trains with the Dethrone Base Camp in Fresno, California. Koscheck’s wrestling is his bread and butter game but his striking has improved over his career. He holds a career record of 17-6.

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“Ruthless” Robbie Lawler is a 30-year-old fighter from Davenport, Iowa. Despite being only 30 he has a long and decorated history in the sport of MMA competing as a pro since 2001. He has fought for a number of major MMA promotions including the UFC, Strikeforce, Icon Sport, Pride, Elite XC and the IFL. Lawler is a striker with big power, who has spent the majority of his career at Middleweight, but is dropping to 170-pounds for his return to the UFC. He is a member of the H.I.T. Squad in Granite City, Illinois. He holds a professional record of 19-9 with 1 No Contest.

Analysis and Prediction: Koscheck doesn’t have the greatest chin or the greatest striking defense, as he’s been chin-checked in the past by lesser strikers than Lawler. With that said, Lawler has slowed significantly recently and is likely in the twilight of his career. Lawler is a decent wrestler, but he’s poor at fighting from his back, which is where Koscheck is most likely to put him. Koscheck will likely test his striking against Lawler, but I expect that if he struggles at all he’s going to shoot for a takedown. From there ground and pound will likely set up a submission. Josh Koscheck via Submission in Round One

Main Card (Pay Per View): Welterweight Bout: Court McGee vs. Josh Neer

Court “The Crusher” McGee is a 28-year-old fighter from Layton, Utah. He is best known as the eventual winner of the eleventh season of The Ultimate Fighter. McGee is a true grinder and is well rounded mixing his striking and takedowns. McGee holds a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. He trains with The Pit Elevated Fight Team in Orem, Utah. He is making his Welterweight debut after a two fight losing streak in the UFC’s Middleweight division. McGee holds a professional record of 13-3.

Josh “The Dentist” Neer is a 29-year-old fighter from Des Moines, Iowa. He formerly trained under Pat Miletich but now trains with the Cesar Gracie Fight Team in California. Neer holds a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and is a tough, well-rounded fighter with strong takedowns and excellent top control. Despite not yet being 30 years old Neer has been fighting as a pro since 2003 and has over 45 career bouts. Neer holds a career record of 33-12-1, with 29 stoppage victories.

Analysis and Prediction: Both of these fighters are grinders, so this one is likely going to come down to who can impose their will on the other one. Neer has decent cardio, but he has slowed down in the third rounds of fights before, if the other fighter makes him work. Provided McGee doesn’t lose a ton of his cardio with the weight cut, he should be able to push the pace on Neer and wear him down. McGee uses takedowns and top control to take a decision. Court McGee via Unanimous Decision

Main Card (Pay Per View): Bantamweight Bout: Urijah Faber vs. Ivan Menjivar

Urijah “The California Kid” Faber is a 33-year-old fighter from Isla Vista, California. Faber is a former WEC Featherweight Champion, a title that he held for over two years in the WEC. Faber is a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler from the University of California at Davis. He holds a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and has continually improved his striking throughout his career. Faber is a member of and one of the founders of Team Alpha Male in Sacramento, California. Faber holds a career record of 26-6.

Ivan “The Pride of El Salvador” Menjivar is a 30-year-old fighter from La Paz, El Salvador. He holds the distinction of being Georges St. Pierre’s first career opponent. Menjivar holds a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and now trains at the Tristar Gym in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Menjivar is an aggressive grappler who continually seeks submissions on the ground and has 10 career submission victories. Still, as aggressive as his guard is, Menjivar does his best work from top control. Menjivar is a veteran fighter with this being his 35th career bout, he holds a professional record of 25-9.

Analysis and Prediction: This is actually a rematch from Canadian promotion TKO in 2006, which ended in controversy after Menjivar was DQ’ed for landing an illegal kick. Things have changed since then, and Menjivar is probably going to struggle mightily in this bout. There’s not really an area where Menjivar holds the edge over Faber. Faber struggled against Renan Barao in his last bout and was beaten to the punch multiple times, but he’s still technically sound enough to get the better of Menjivar and still packs decent power in his punches. On the ground Menjivar isn’t going to be able to confuse and outwork Faber, who excels in quick scrambles for position and is a smothering wrestler from the top. Faber batters Menjivar, but the El Salvadorian survives to drop a decision. Urijah Faber via Unanimous Decision

Main Card (Pay Per View): Light Heavyweight Bout: Lyoto Machida vs. Dan Henderson

Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida is a 34-year-old Brazilian fighter from Salvador, Bahia, Brazil. Machida is one of the top fighters in the Light Heavyweight division and is a former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion. Machida is an excellent striker whose unorthodox style confuses and frustrates many of his opponents. Machida is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and also holds a 3rd dan black belt in Shotokan Karate. Machida is a member of the Black House Gym in Brazil training with longtime friends Anderson Silva and the Nogeuira brothers. He holds a professional record of 18-3.

Dan “Hollywood/Hendo” Henderson is a 42-year-old fighter from Downey, California. Henderson was the final Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion and is a former Welterweight and Middleweight Champion in Pride Fighting Championships and is the only fighter to ever hold two titles in two different weight classes at the same time. Henderson is a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler who represented the USA in Greco-Roman Wrestling at the Olympics. Henderson is a head coach and one of the founding members of the Team Quest Gym. Henderson is best known for his wrestling prowess, his powerful right hand and his iron chin, having never been knocked out in 37 career fights. Henderson holds a career record of 29-8.

Analysis and Prediction: This is probably the most intriguing fight of the night and has the potential to be either a Fight of the Night contender or a snoozer, depending on how things play out. Machida is usually cautious and willing to wait for opportunities in the striking department, but Henderson is a patient striker himself. Henderson has also never been knocked out in his career, so he’s usually willing to take a few punches to look for an opening for the H-Bomb. Machida’s speed advantage is going to be extremely important if he wants to be successful.

One of the other big stories of this fight will be Machida’s willingness to engage. In his bout against Rampage he landed more punches and landed more accurately but he allowed Rampage to be the aggressor and it ended up costing him a decision. With Henderson’s strong Greco-Roman background a similar strategy could be disastrous if Henderson is able to get hold of him and pressure him against the cage. Machida will need to keep himself separated from Henderson and stay away from the power punch.

The likely outcome for this fight is that Machida uses his elusive style to slip and move and stays on his bicycle long enough to stay away from Henderson. The smart money says that Machida takes a decision. But I’ve never hidden my man-crush on Henderson, so I’m taking him via knockout via H-Bomb. WAR HENDO! Dan Henderson via KO in Round Three

Main Card (Pay Per View): Women’s Bantamweight Championship Bout: Ronda Rousey vs. Liz Carmouche

“Rowdy” Ronda Rousey is a 26-year-old fighter from Riverside County, California. She is quickly becoming one of the sports most recognizable and popular fighters. She was the final Strikeforce Women’s Bantamweight Champion and is the reigning and defending UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion. Rousey is a talented grappler with a 4th dan black belt in Judo. She is one of the most accomplished Judo practitioners in US history winning a bronze medal in Judo at the 2008 Olympic games. Rousey is a talented grappler who now trains with the Cesar Gracie Fight Team in Santa Monica, California. Rousey holds a perfect professional record of 6-0, with all 6 of her victories coming via first round submissions from arm bars.

Liz “Girl-Rilla” Carmouche is a 29-year-old fighter from Lafayette, Louisiana. Carmouche is a yellow belt in Kenpo Karate and holds a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Carmouche is a former member of the United States Marine Corps and served time overseas. Carmouche is notable for being the UFC’s first openly gay fighter, although that should definitely not overshadow her in-ring accomplishments. Carmouche is a talented grappler who does his best work from top control, but also has been improving her striking. She holds a career record of 8-2.

Analysis and Prediction: Hopefully Carmouche has been doing a whole lot of arm bar defense during his training camp. That’s one of the dangerous things about fighting Rousey right now, while you’re busy making sure she doesn’t arm bar you, she’s training and getting better in every area of the fight game. Carmouche is a decent fighter, but I think she’s likely going to be a step behind no matter where this fight goes. If she’s tentative Rousey will become the aggressor and stalk her down. If Carmouche tries to be the aggressor she risks running into Rousey’s vaunted Judo game and being tossed to the mat where she enters the grappling domain of Rousey and opens her up for the arm bar.

No matter where this fight goes, I don’t think Carmouche stands too much of a chance. Rousey, first round, arm bar. Ronda Rousey via Submission in Round One

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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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Dan Henderson Vs. Lyoto Machida Set For UFC 157

November 23, 2012 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

The UFC light heavyweight champion will get closer to a clear cut top contender on February 23, 2013. Dan Henderson vs. Lyoto Machida will meet at UFC 157 in a battle of former Strikeforce and UFC champions in hopes of providing the UFC with an undisputed number one contender.

The announcement is now official and the fight will likely headline or semi-main event the UFC 157 event in Anaheim, California in 2013. Henderson will be coming off an arguable fight of the year for 2011 victory over former champion Shogun Rua while Lyoto Machida comes off of a one-sided dominant win over Ryan Bader.

This fight had been rumored for awhile yet the UFC appeared hesitant to pull the trigger. Henderson’s time table for returning has always been an issue as multiple reports indicated various dates in which he could return. Machida has been idle since the Bader win and with champion Jon Jones already booked for April the UFC opted to move forward with its two top contenders.

Where this gets real muddy is that Shogun Rua vs. Alexander Gustafsson will take place shortly on the next UFC on FOX special. UFC president Dana White has indicated that the winner of that fight would be first in line for a UFC light heavyweight title fight. I would have to imagine that the winner of Henderson vs. Machida would get priority with the winner of Rua vs. Gustafsson being the backup should the new contender face a long layoff due to injury.

To make matters even more complex there is the Jon Jones vs. Anderson Silva fight hanging over the division. The UFC is obsessed with making this fight in 2013. If Jones defeats Sonnen he won’t be able to take another title fight and the Silva fight before the end of the year. If Silva vs. GSP doesn’t happen, I could see the UFC holding Silva out until after Jones vs. Sonnen and doing whatever they can to make that fight happen. If that is the case you could be looking at a scenario where nobody is challenging for the UFC light heavyweight title in 2013 other than Chael Sonnen.

This is a really complicated fight. I have a hard time with Henderson having to take another fight after earning a title shot when you are now looking at two challengers in a row who were handed shots without merit. I put the whole UFC 151 blame on Henderson for failing to tell the UFC about his injury and I think this is a backhanded punishment from the company.

As for Machida that is another tough one. I never felt that he earned the title shot in the first place. A win over Ryan Bader gets you a title shot? Yet for whatever reason a giddy Dana White proclaimed Machida the new top contender to the world on FOX. Machida declining short notice fights with Jones put him in this position. I don’t blame Machida for turning down arguably the last title shot he’ll receive in a long time due to short notice. Putting Machida back in a fight almost makes White look foolish after calling the guy the top dog in the division in front of a national television audience.

Machida has opened on one sports book as a -240 favorite to Henderson as a +180 underdog. This now makes Henderson’s third fight in a row in which he will enter as an underdog. I love Henderson in this fight. Machida hasn’t decisively beaten an elite fighter in over three years ( I’m not counting an aged Randy Couture fighting his last fight as an elite win). I’ll take the guy coming off of wins over Rua, Fedor Emelianenko, Rafael Cavalcante riding a four-fight winning streak any day. Quite frankly I expect a bit of a boring fight here with Machida running and Henderson chasing for 3-5 rounds. Yet in the end I expect Hendo to take the win.

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Dan Henderson Confirms Planned Lyoto Machida UFC Fight

November 01, 2012 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

Dan Henderson’s knee injury days before UFC 151 sent the light heavyweight division into a tailspin. Where does Henderson fit into the picture once he returns? According to Hendo, it won’t be in a championship fight.

Dan Henderson has sat on the sidelines the last few weeks and watched his UFC light heavyweight title opportunity go up in smoke. UFC president Dana White threw the entire division for a loop when he named Chael Sonnen, a fighter who hasn’t fought in the division in years, as the number-one contender. Henderson now confirms that unlike Sonnen, he will indeed have to fight to get his title shot.

Henderson joined Ariel Helwani on the MMA Hour for a revealing interview this past week. Henderson had some interesting things to say to the MMA reporter including what is next in his UFC career. Helwani asked Henderson about a rumored fight against Lyoto Machida which is now no longer just a rumor.

“I think that’s what’s being talked about,” he said. “We’ll wait and see. I don’t think it’s a secret. Dana already announced he was going to try to put him and me together.”

Helwani indicated that the fight could come as soon as UFC’s Super Bowl weekend show. That would stack the show with three marquee fights if you include Edgar vs. Aldo and the rumored Little Nog vs. Rashad Evans fights. My hunch is that either the Henderson or Evans fight moves off of the event but as of now that appears to be the working plan.

It is a really tricky situation here when you look at how this whole UFC 151 situation played out. Henderson earned his title shot with the win over Shogun Rua and hasn’t lost a fight in the UFC in years. Taking the title shot away from a guy due to injury sends a mixed message and isn’t really fair. On the other hand, Henderson really screwed the company by withholding his injury status for a reported two weeks. This is absolutely a punishment to Henderson and at the end of the day, I don’t know how fair that is yet the show must go on.

Interestingly enough Dave Meltzer recently reported on his F4Wonline.com podcast that the working plan was for the UFC to go with Jones vs. Henderson in February. Jones wouldn’t have been medically ready to go which put the fight on ice. Henderson told Helwani he would have coached opposite of Jones on TUF if asked. In hindsight you have to really wonder if Sonnen vs. Jones was a necessary evil at all.

Henderson vs. Machida is certainly an interesting fight. On paper you’d have to favor Machida. On the other hand, who has Machida beaten lately that was an elite fighter? An aging Randy Couture and overrated Ryan Bader would be it. Until someone stops Henderson I’d favor him in the fight. I just think that when people analyze Machida they are breaking down the Machida of old and not the Machida of the present.


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UFC’s Stance On Short Notice Title Fights Is Unfair

October 18, 2012 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

The top UFC light heavyweight fighters are in an uproar over Chael Sonnen getting to the front of the title line. UFC president Dana White has made his message crystal clear. Accept your short notice title fight or move to the back of the line and that just isn’t fair.

White blasted Lyoto Machida, along with a few others for not taking a championship fight against Jon Jones on short notice. White’s message was clear in a recent media call. You may have earned the title shot but you can just as easily lose it if you don’t take the fight when offered, short notice or not.

“Everyone of these guys that are b*tching about a title show now, were offered the fight and turned it down. They refused to fight Jon Jones. Now they’re bummed out because Chael stepped up on eight days notice and he’s going to coach The Ultimate Fighter and fight him? I mean, it’s pretty simple. “(Jones and Sonnen) will do this,” White continued. “They’ll fight, and then we can continue to have the light heavyweight division rolling and have an absolute No. 1 contender when Jones comes back (from injury).”

UFC fighters, fans, and media are still reeling over the announcement that Chael Sonnen would go from defeated middleweight to a light heavyweight championship shot against Jon Jones. Top contenders, specifically Dan Henderson and Lyoto Machida have both taken to Twitter to express their outrage over the fight.

With all respect,but for me Chael does not deserve The title shot,I would like To know What He had done in LHW for deserve!!” – @LyotoMachidaFW

I guess I should just quit training to win fights and to be exciting for the fans and just go to shit talking school.” – @DanHendo

If these two elite light heavyweights expected any sympathy from UFC president Dana White, they better think again. White blasted these along with other top light heavyweights for refusing to fight Jon Jones on short notice at either UFC 151 or UFC 152. The message White sent to his fighters was clear. While his fighters may have earned the fight, he could just as easily take it away if they don’t do business the UFC’s way and quite frankly, that is just not right.

Losing a title shot temporarily due to an injury is one thing. Losing it altogether because of an injury or short notice is something unique to the UFC. Dan Henderson is a prime example. Henderson will now have to wait for his title shot. To be fair, Dana White did say in a recent conference call that Henderson’s status is still up in the air. That is fine. But White has also been saying how Henderson needs to now fight Lyoto Machida to get the title shot. Champions get hurt all of the time and are rewarded with an immediate fight with the interim title shot when they return. Heck, Alistair Overeem was suspended for failing a PED test and is getting a title shot off of suspension. But for some reason Henderson has to now fight another fight to get a shot that he rightfully earned due to an injury?

Lyoto Machida was declared the number one contender by Dana White after he thrashed Ryan Bader on Fox. I had a problem with it at the time but hey, that was the declaration. Machida was then contacted and asked to take a fight with Jones on short notice for UFC 152. Having not trained at all while the champion was deep in camp Machida declined the fight. Machida was not in shape and felt that he couldn’t prepare for the short turnaround time. He was then ridiculed by White and told to go to the back of the line. In what kind of sport is this acceptable?

The Machida situation is really the problem here. Machida earned (according to the UFC) a title shot against Jones. Machida fought and trained hard for that opportunity. Being that this was his second title shot, it was all or nothing for this fight. Machida had everything to lose walking into a fight with Jones unconditioned and without a proper camp. He earned the right to a full camp. I get the machismo aspect of this in that fighters fight but this is also a business. Jones had a full camp of conditioning, Machida didn’t. The UFC didn’t have to book Jones that quickly. They could have waited. It should be up to Machida as to whether he wants the full or short camp. Penalizing him for not taking it is quite frankly unethical.

Dana boasted about how Chael Sonnen was the only one who wanted to step up and fight Jones on short notice, like he is some kind of warrior or something. Sonnen had zero to lose! He didn’t earn a title shot and was not even in line to get one (little did we know). Of course he stepped up to fight Jones. He stepped up the same way Vitor Belfort did. None of those men were risking a thing. I am sure that Brandon Vera, Stephan Bonnar, or Ken Shamrock would have as well. The big difference between those guys and Machida, Henderson, or Shogun Rua who turned down the fight is that those guys were playing with house money. The other top contenders worked hard to earn a title shot and shouldn’t be asked to blow it because the UFC needs a main-event.

Would the UFC have given Machida or Rua another title fight in the near future as thanks for taking the title shot on short notice? You know the answer to this and that is why Dana White is being a spoiled, selfish, brat with this new edict. Title shots that are earned should be respected. Sure while it’s nice to do Uncle Dana a favor, what will these fighters get for their gamble?

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