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Ronda Rousey To Coach Men and Women Season On The Ultimate Fighter

March 19, 2013 By: Category: Entertainment, Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

The next season of The Ultimate Fighter will get a much needed facelift. The UFC reality competition will get a lot of firsts including two head coaches who are women MMA fighters and a mixed house of male and female fighters.

UFC president Dana White made the official announcement during the UFC 158 weekend. UFC 135 pound women’s champion Ronda Rousey will serve as head coach opposite the winner of Cat Zingano vs. Meisha Tate fight. The two will coach both women and men fighters who will live together throughout the season.

“I’m going to announce tonight the coaches of ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ for the next season,” White said. “It will be Ronda Rousey vs. the winner of Tate and Zingano, who are fighting in the TUF Finale on April 13. For the first time ever, two women coaches, and we will have 135-pound men and 135-pound women living and training in the house together.”

I have mixed feelings on it. For one let me be frank and admit that I have barely watched The Ultimate Fighter in several seasons, let alone watched one episode from this season. The format is dull and uninteresting to me at this point. Will this bring me back? Absolutely not. I’ll admit that it is different but I still have no interest in watching amateur fighting every Tuesday night.

I do think that this is a great use of Rousey. Rousey gets a lot of media attention. It is one thing to expect someone to pay $60 to check her out, yet it is another thing altogether when they can do it on free television. I think there are plenty of viewers to be gained when she goes on talk shows and does media to promote the show. I think it’s a smart way to use her.

On the other hand, the mixing of sexes in the house is just asking for trouble. There is a lot that can go wrong there. All it takes is one bad incident between a male and a female to put a big black eye onm MMA and play into the stereotype. This could be a recipe for disaster.

Additionally, from what I read in the social media and in forums, most people are bored with the lame practical jokes and soap operas in the house. I can see this format being a big turn off to the core audience. This show could turn into the Real World real quickly and I have to think there is very little crossover audience between both shows.

The TUF commitment will also keep Rousey out of action until December.

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Looking Back At The Ultimate Fighter Season One

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

The Ultimate Fighter returns this week on FX. Lost in all of the excitement is the impact that this show had on MMA 17 seasons ago. As much as UFC will try, they will never have another class and show as exciting as The Ultimate Fighter Season 1.

I watched back the entire season of the first The Ultimate Fighter show recently. I remember at the time being hooked on the show the first time I watched it. I felt the same way re-watching the season all over again. The season was filled with drama, tremendous fights, and a cast of characters that has never been quite as engaging as the cast from this season.

First of all, the format was entirely different on the show. The show featured weekly physical challenges ala Survivor. Unlike today where it was as simple as winning teams picks next fight, fight choices were determined by whoever won these challenges. In looking back, it is amazing that none of the guys got seriously hurt on these challenges.

I don’t know if there have been a better paid of coaches than Chuck Liddell and Randy Couture. The guys were true pros and both seemed to have the best interests of their fighters. This was at a time right before the two blew up and became mainstream stars. Randy Couture in particular was fantastic, especially during the Southworth-Bonnar fight when he told Bonnar exactly what Chuck would be advising Southworth.

Joe Rogan has called the cast, “The heart and soul of ultimate fighting.” The cast was truly a classic. From their personalities to the legacy they would build in UFC. It’s funny, because they were portrayed as young hungry inexperienced MMA stars. Yet, a lot of them had great pedigrees and probably would have wound up in UFC at some point. Guys like Chris Leben and Bobby Southworth had good careers going before the show. It really shouldn’t be a huge surprise in retrospect that a lot of them easily transitioned into the UFC.

The cast featured a ton of guys that would go on to main-event UFC Fight Nights and Pay-Per-Views. Forrest Griffin, Diego Sanchez, Chris Leben, Josh Koscheck, Mike Swick, Stephan Bonnar, Kenny Florian, and Nate Quarry. If you just became an MMA fan in the last few years, you wouldn’t believe that all of these UFC fighters came through a reality show. The amount of talent that UFC was able to amass from the show was just amazing.

The first season saw the coaches pick teams. It is funny watching this draft back in retrospect to see how wrong Chuck and Randy were. Out of that entire class named above, none of them were picked #1 overall. The #1 overall pick was Bobby Southworth on Team Liddell. Arguably the biggest star to come out of the show, Forrest Griffin wasn’t picked until close to the end of the draft. It just goes to show you that there is no way to measure a fighter’s heart.

Chris Leben was the star of the show early on. If you heard Leben interviewed today, you would never realize that this was the same kid. Leben was a loud mouthed, arrogant, cocky, drunk during most of the show. Leben went from peeing in one of the fighter’s beds in the first episode to crying in a sleeping bag with Nate Quarry. The guy was an emotional roller coaster and really made his mark.

The most memorable thing about the show was probably the rivalry between Leben and Josh Koshcheck. Things came to a head when Southworth called Leben a, “fatherless bastard” one night while partying. Leben broke down crying and wound up sleeping outside of the house. Koshcheck and Southworth proceeded to dump water on Leben while he was sleeping. Leben got up and in a crazed state wound up going through the house punching walls and windows.

Dana White immediately capitalized on this and made a fight between Leben and Koshcheck. In my opinion, Koshcheck seemed scared going into the fight. This was the kind of a fight that would have made money if it was put on pay-per-view. Koshcheck actually pulled off the upset and won. The fight turned out to be kind of boring with Koshcheck continually grounding Leben. Koshcheck was just too good of a wrestler for Leben to go the ground with. It still amazes me that UFC has never re-matched the two fighters.

For a guy that was in his mid-30s, Southworth probably came out as the biggest idiot of the show. The guy was completely immature both in and out of the octagon. He reminded me of the little kid that encourages the bully in those 1980s movies, but won’t do anything himself. After losing a decision to Stephan Bonnar, Southworth whined and complained. The fight was definitely close, but it was his fault for not finishing. Two minutes after the fight he threw his UFC career out the window when he told Dana White to leave his room. White was angry and well, we have not seen Southworth in UFC since.

Plenty has been written about the finale between Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar and how it impacted UFC and MMA. Diego Sanchez defeated Kenny Florian in the middleweight final. These are two guys that have fought for the UFC lightweight title while Josh Koscheck has challenged for the UFC welterweight title. The level of talent that came out of the show will never be repeated for so many different reasons.

Tonight’s show will kick off the most anticipated season since Ortiz and Shamrock were coaching. Jon Jones and Chael Sonnen have manufactured a rivalry that some are hoping will reach the boiling point like Evans and Rampage and Ortiz and Shamrock. As for the class, the UFC is already dropping hints of chaos in order to stir up interest in the show. No matter who emerges from this year’s class, I don’t expect any class to make the impact of the first season.

Seventeen seasons later and I still don’t think UFC has been able to recreate the magic of season one. There have been more talented fighters, but nobody has translated to television like the first class. Getting one star out of a reality show like this is a miracle for anybody like a UFC. Getting 8 future stars out of a TUF class is unheard of and an unequivocal success. That alone is the reason why no season of The Ultimate Fighter will ever capture the magic of season one.

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UFC The Ultimate Fighter 16 Finale Results and Wrap Up

December 17, 2012 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

On Saturday night the UFC brought the live finale of the American version of the latest season of The Ultimate Fighter to television once again on FX. Coach Roy Nelson battled late replacement fighter Matt Mitrione in the main event of the evening, while the co-main event featured the Welterweight finals of the reality show as Canada’s Mike Ricci took on Colton Smith. Let’s take a look at the main card fighters from both shows and see what’s next for each fighter.

The Ultimate Fighter: Team Carwin vs. Team Nelson

Featherweight Bout: Dustin Poirier defeated Jonathan Brookins via Submission (D’arce Choke) in Round 1 – 4:15

This was a highly entertaining bout for the four minutes that it lasted. The two exchanged wild punches at the beginning and that might be a slight cause for concern for Poirier. However near the end of the round he dropped Brookins momentarily, and then stuffed a takedown and locked up the D’Arce Choke that eventually coaxed a tap out.

What’s next for Poirier? He reclaimed his place in the top ten in the Featherweight division after his loss to the Korean Zombie. He’ll need another top ten opponent and there is one that makes a lot of sense. Chad Mendes fought on the Australian show this weekend and absolutely plastered his late replacement opponent in the first round. A bout between these two is perfect.

What’s next for Brookins? He probably needs a slight step down in competition to get his feet back under him. He’s a talented grappler that showed improved striking before Poirier tagged him at the end of the first. I think a bout against Bart Palaszewski makes a lot of sense.

Heavyweight Bout: Pat Barry defeated Shane del Rosario via KO (Punches) in Round 2 – 0:26

Shane del Rosario controlled the tempo of the first round and actually came somewhat close to finishing the bout in the first. However, he got sloppy and tried for a choke without setting it up properly which allowed Barry to escape, showing an improved ground awareness. In the second del Rosario seemed to visibly slow and left himself open to the big right hand that ended the bout.

What’s next for Barry? He still has a lot of liabilities on the ground but he’s a great striker and every time he throws a leg or body kick it’s absolutely sickening to hear the thud. Todd Duffee and Phil de Fries have an upcoming bout later this month at UFC 155. The winner of that bout would be a good choice. Against Duffee it’s a striker vs. striker brawl, if its de Fries he’s going to have to show off how much his ground skills have actually improved.

What’s next for del Rosario? He hasn’t exactly looked like the world-beater and top prospect that he was billed as when he came over from Strikeforce. He’s probably closing in on his last chance in the UFC and there’s another fighter who is in a similar bout in Dave Herman. Once Herman is done his “marijuana rehab” this fight makes sense with the loser likely getting the axe.

Welterweight Bout: Colton Smith defeated Mike Ricci via Unanimous Decision to win The Ultimate Fighter

Despite Ricci being the more highly touted fighter heading into the show and being one of the early favorites, Smith apparently didn’t get the memo to lay down and die. He smothered Ricci for fourteen of the fifteen minutes and didn’t give him any room to get his offense off. In the last minute Ricci nearly scored the last minute submission upset, but it wasn’t meant to be and Smith took home a clear-cut decision victory.

What’s next for Smith? According to him he’s heading to 155 pounds, which is probably a better weight class for him, but it’s always tough heading into the shark tank that is the UFC’s Lightweight division. There’s no easy fights for him there and he’s only got a handful of professional fights under his bout. KJ Noons and Ryan Couture are fighting at what’s expected to be the final Strikeforce show ever, the winner of that bout would be a good test for Smith.

What’s next for Ricci? He has also indicated that he plans on making the drop to 155 pounds. Again this probably the best decision for him, but it’s going to be a tough place for him to fight. There are a number of smothering wrestlers at 155 and he’s going to have to prove that he can beat one of them if he wants to stay employed by the UFC. Danny Castillo and Paul Sass have an upcoming bout and both are known primarily as ground fighters. The loser of that match up is probably a good choice for Ricci’s next bout.

Heavyweight Bout: Roy Nelson defeated Matt Mitrione via TKO (Punches) in Round 1 – 2:58

Mitrione looked okay at the beginning of the bout, getting the better of some of the early exchanges. Nelson wasn’t going to be denied though as he put his iron chin to good use. Taking big punches and walking through them hardly sounds like a good strategy, but it works for Nelson. Halfway through the first he landed a couple of big counter punches right up the middle that floored Mitrione and follow up punches on the ground sealed the deal.

What’s next for Nelson? He said after the fight that since his fight with Carwin has been called off due to injury multiple times, he’s not interested in setting that up again. Still, there’s some bad blood there and the fight makes sense. If they go a different direction Cheick Kongo turned down the late notice bout against Nelson, who had some choice words to say about it. With a full training camp there’s no reason for Kongo to say no this time.

What’s next for Mitrione? Hard to say, since he looked okay but this makes two straight losses for Mitrione. Mike Russow and Shawn Jordan have an upcoming bout in January and the loser of that bout would make sense for Mitrione to get some standing back in the division.

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UFC The Ultimate Fighter 16 Finale Predictions and Preview

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

Fresh off an extremely successful night of fights last weekend on FOX, the UFC is bringing another action packed weekend of fights. After UFC on FX 6 on Friday night, live from the Gold Coast in Australia, the UFC brings another exciting event to the free television airwaves with The Ultimate Fighter Finale. The event airs on FX live from The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

A heavyweight clash headlines the event in what was originally scheduled to be a coach’s battle, an injury to Shane Carwin forced his withdrawal from the event and Matt Mitrione has stepped in to fight opposing coach Roy Nelson. The co-main event of the evening features the Welterweight finale of the show as Canadian Mike Ricci takes on Colton Smith. Other main card bouts include a Featherweight bout between Dustin Poirier and Jonathan Brookins, a Lightweight bout between Melvin Guillard and Jamie Varner as well as a Heavyweight tilt between Pat Barry and Shane del Rosario.

Preliminary Card (Facebook): Flyweight Bout: Jared Papazian vs. Tim Elliott

Jared “The Jackhammer” Papazian is a 24-year-old fighter from West Hills, California. Papazian is a member of the Gracie Barra Gym in Encino, California who will be making his Flyweight debut. He holds a career record of 14-8, with 1 No Contest. Tim Elliott is a 25-year-old fighter from Wichita, Kansas. Elliott is a member of the Grindhouse MMA Gym in Lee’s Summit, Missouri. He holds a career record of 8-3.

Quick Pick: Tim Elliott via Unanimous Decision

Preliminary Card (Facebook): Lightweight Bout: Mike Rio vs. John Cofer

Mike “The Wolverine” Rio is a 31-year-old fighter from Miami, Florida. A member of TUF: Live he is a member of the Zen Jiu Jitsu Gym in his hometown. The former NAIA Wrestler holds a career record of 8-1. John Cofer is a 28-year-old fighter from Athens, Georgia. A member of the Hardcore Gym in Athens, the former NCAA wrestler was also a cast member of The Ultimate Fighter: Live. Cofer holds a career record of 7-2.

Quick Pick: Mike Rio via TKO in Round Three

Preliminary Card (Facebook): Bantamweight Bout: Reuben Duran vs. Hugo Viana

Reuben “Hurricane” Duran is a 29-year-old fighter from Chula Vista, California. He is a member of the Pinnacle Jiu Jitsu and MMA Gym in Redlands, California. He holds a career record of 8-3-1. Hugo “Wolverine” Viana is a 30-year-old Brazilian fighter from Salvador, Bahia, Brazil. A cast member on the first season of The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil, he is a member of the Champion Fight Team in Brazil. He holds a perfect career record of 6-0.

Quick Pick: Hugo Viana via Unanimous Decision

Preliminary Card (Fuel TV): Welterweight Bout: TJ Waldburger vs. Nick Catone

TJ Waldburger is a 24-year-old fighter from Temple, Texas. He is a member of the Grappler’s Lair Fight Team in Belton, Texas. He holds a career record of 15-7. Nick “The Jersey Devil” Catone is a 31-year-old fighter from Brick Township, New Jersey. The former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler trains out of his own gym, the Nick Catone MMA Academy in New Jersey. He holds a career record of 9-3.

Quick Pick: TJ Waldburger via Submission in Round One

Preliminary Card (Fuel TV): Lightweight Bout: Vinc Pichel vs. Rustam Khabilov

Vinc “From Hell” Pichel is a 30-year-old American fighter from Simi Valley, California. Pichel was a cast member of The Ultimate Fighter: Live who trains at Big John McCarthy’s Ultimate Training Academy in California. He holds a perfect professional record of 7-0. Rustam Khabilov is a 26-year-old fighter from Makhachkala, Russia. He is a former Combat Sambo world champion who is a member of the Legion Sport Club Fight Team. Khabilov also splits his training time at Greg Jackson’s MMA Academy in New Mexico when he is in the USA. He holds a career record of 14-1.

Quick Pick: Rustam Khabilov via TKO in Round One

Preliminary Card (Fuel TV): Bantamweight Bout: Johnny Bedford vs. Marcos Vinicius

“Brutal” Johnny Bedford is a 29-year-old fighter from Woodville, Ohio. Like many of the fighters on this card he is a former cast member of The Ultimate Fighter, appearing on the fourteenth season of the show. He trains out of the Fitness Fight Factory in Fort Worth, Texas. He holds a career record of 18-9-1. Marcos “Vina” Vinicius is a 33-year-old fighter from Sao Jose dos Pinhais, Brazil. He was a competitor on the first season of The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil who trains at the Striker’s House Gym in Curitiba, Brazil. He holds a career record of 20-3-1.

Quick Pick: Johnny Bedford via Unanimous Decision

Preliminary Card (Fuel TV): Welterweight Bout: Mike Pyle vs. James Head

Mike “Quicksand” Pyle is a 37-year-old fighter from Dresden, Tennessee. A brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Pyle is a member of the Xtreme Couture Gym in Las Vegas, Nevada. He holds a career record of 23-8-1. James Head is a 28-year-old fighter from Highland, Illinois. A member of the Lovato Jiu Jitsu Gym in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma he holds a professional record of 9-2.

Quick Pick: James Head via TKO in Round Three

Main Card (FX): Featherweight Bout: Dustin Poirier vs. Jonathan Brookins

Dustin “The Diamond” Poirier is a 23-year-old fighter from Lafayette, Louisiana. He was one of the top prospects in the Featherweight division, but a loss to Chan Sung Jung has dropped his stock slightly. Poirier is a tough and well-rounded fighter who has decent technical striking, but is also very dangerous on the ground. Poirier is a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu who now trains with the American Top Team in Louisiana. He holds a career record of 12-2, including 10 stoppage victories.

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Jonathan Brookins is a 27-year-old fighter from Portland, Oregon. Brookins is best known as a cast member and the eventual winner of the twelfth season of The Ultimate Fighter. Brookins is a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu who trains out of the Gracie Barra Gym in Orlando, Florida. Despite winning the show at Lightweight, he is a natural Featherweight fighter, who is 1-1 inside the UFC since making the cut back to Featherweight. Brookins holds a career record of 13-5.

Analysis and Prediction: Poirier was formerly a top contender in the Featherweight division before Chan Sung Jung ran him over. Poirier is a talented boxer who is very active on the feet (even in his loss to Jung.) Poirier is also a talented grappler, despite only having a purple belt. Brookins’ striking isn’t great and he usually does his best work on the mat. Brookins is taller and is probably going to be the larger fighter on Saturday night. Poirier was unable to stop the takedowns against Jung and Brookins is a talented wrestler, but he’s likely been drilling takedown defense in preparation for this fight. Poirier is the better striker who will win most of the striking exchanges and if he’s worked on his sprawl well enough, he should be able to fend off most of Brookins’ takedowns. It’ll be close, but he’s probably got enough in the tank to take a decision. Dustin Poirier via Unanimous Decision

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

Melvin “The Young Assassin” Guillard is a 29-year-old fighter from New Orleans, Louisiana. Guillard was a competitor on the second season of The Ultimate Fighter. Since his time on the show Guillard has had mixed results inside the octagon, but his natural athleticism and striking power make him one of the toughest match ups in the UFC’s Lightweight division. A brown belt in Judo, he now trains with the Blackzillians at the Jaco Hybrid Training Center in Boca Raton, Florida. Guillard holds a career record of 30-11-2 with 1 No Contest.

Jamie “The Worm” Varner is a 28-year-old fight from Phoenix, Arizona. Varner is a former WEC Lightweight Champion who is coming off of a Fight of the Night performance against Joe Lauzon. Varner is a member of the AMA Fight Club training in Whippany, New Jersey. Varner is best known for his wrestling, often using his takedowns and ground and pound to control his victims on the mat. However, Varner has never been one to shy away from a brawl and often gets drawn into standup exchanges, even when it is to his detriment. He holds a career record of 20-7-1 with 2 No Contests.

Analysis and Prediction: By the match up the advantage here should go to Varner. Guillard has always struggled against talented wrestlers who can take him down and control him on the ground. Unfortunately Varner has never met a brawler he didn’t want to throw down with, and that’s going to put him right into Guillard’s wheelhouse. If Varner plays it smart, he uses constant pressure, takedowns and ground and pound to search for a submission opening and tap Guillard. The more likely outcome is he stands and brawls for two and a half rounds, before he gets blasted in the third and knocked out. Either way, he’ll probably stay employed if he does that and might even earn Fight of the Night honors, he still won’t win the fight though. Melvin Guillard via TKO in Round Three

Main Card (FX): Heavyweight Bout: Pat Barry vs. Shane del Rosario

Pat “HD” Barry is a 33-year-old fighter from New Orleans, Louisiana. Barry is a striker who is a former professional Sanshou and K-1 Kickboxer. As a pro kickboxer he compiled a record of 18-6-1. He is quite short and compact for a Heavyweight fighter, standing at only 5’11”. His compact frame often leaves him at a reach disadvantage, but also allows him to generate a lot of power in his strikes. Barry is a member of Team Death Clutch, training at The Academy in Alexandria, Minnesota. Barry holds a professional MMA record of 7-5.

Shane “No Limits” del Rosario is a 29-year-old fighter from Orange County, California. Like his opponent he is also a former professional kickboxer. He is a very talented and well-rounded fighter who recently made the jump from Strikeforce to the ranks of the UFC. Del Rosario is a member of the Team Oyama Gym in Irvine, California. He holds a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and until his last bout was undefeated as a pro fighter. He holds a career record of 11-1, with his only loss coming against Stipe Miocic at UFC 146.

Analysis and Prediction: Barry is probably the more powerful striker, and I think that’s probably his only advantage. Despite his past as a pro kickboxer, Barry is facing another former professional striker and given del Rosario’s reach advantage, he’s probably going to be able to exploit Barry on the feet. Add to that Barry’s ground defense basically resembles him trying to be a fish out of water and del Rosario is actually a talented grappler and this one has bad news written all over it for Barry. Shane del Rosario via Submission in Round Two

Main Card (FX): The Ultimate Fighter Welterweight Final Bout: Colton Smith vs. Mike Ricci

Colton Smith is a 25-year-old fighter from Manassas, Virginia. He is relatively new to the MMA game, in fact before entering the house he bad never fought a fighter who wasn’t making his professional debut. Smith is a former member of the US Armed Forces who now resides in Ft. Hood, Texas. Smith is a member of the Vanguard Fight Team who made his way to the live finale by decisioning all of his opponents inside the house. Smith holds a professional MMA record of 3-1.

Mike “The Martian” Ricci is a 26-year-old Canadian fighter from Montreal, Quebec. He is a member of the famed Tristar Gym in Montreal, Quebec. Ricci is an accomplished fighter who has fought much tougher competition than his TUF Finale opponents, including the likes of Jordan Mein, Pat Curran and current UFC fighter Daron Cruickshank. Ricci is a diverse striker, but is well-rounded. He took two unanimous decisions on his way to the semifinals of the show before scoring a highlight first round knockout in his semifinal fight. He holds a professional record of 7-2.

Analysis and Prediction: Smith is a feel good story from the show, but he’s probably going to be overmatched by Ricci in almost every way here. Smith is a grinder, who isn’t really great at anything, but isn’t awful in any particular area. Unfortunately for him, Ricci is better anywhere that the fight goes. Ricci has more big fight experience, he’s fought a better caliber of competition throughout his career and he’s from a better training camp outside of the show. Ricci wins this one in pretty dominant fashion. Mike Ricci via TKO in Round Two

Main Card (FX): Heavyweight Bout: Roy Nelson vs. Matt Mitrione

Roy “Big Country” Nelson is a 36-year-old fighter from Las Vegas, Nevada. Nelson is a veteran of the MMA game, with 24 career fights. He was a member of and the eventual winner of the tenth season of The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights. Nelson’s bout on that season against Kimbo Slice is currently the 2nd-most watched MMA fight in history. Nelson is a talented grappler with a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Nelson is a decent albeit sometimes sloppy striker who also has big power in his hands and an incredibly durable chin, having been knocked out only once in his professional career. Nelson is a former IFL Heavyweight Champion and has also fought for notable promotions like EliteXC and BODOG Fight. Nelson holds a career record of 17-7.

Matt “Meathead” Mitrione is a 34-year-old fighter from Springfield, Illinois. Mitrione is a former NFL player who played for the New York Giants and the Minnesota Vikings. Like his opponent for this bout, he was a cast member of The Ultimate Fighter: Heavyweights. Mitrione is currently training at the Jaco Hybrid Training Center Florida with the Blackzillians, while also spending time at Duke Roufus’ Roufusport Gym in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Mitrione has fought all of his career bouts in the UFC and was beginning to gain recognition as an up-and-comer in the Heavyweight division, but that was derailed by a lackluster decision loss to Cheick Kongo. He holds a career record of 5-1.

Analysis and Prediction: Mitrione was once considered a rising prospect in the UFC’s Heavyweight division. He looked thoroughly unimpressive in his bout against Kongo though. Nelson hasn’t looked overly impressive in some of his more recent bouts either, but he has faced much stiffer competition as of late and throughout the duration of his career.
Mitrione does his best work when he’s able to strike freely, but against Nelson that’s not going to happen. Nelson is going to continually crowd Mitrione, and force him to work from in close. Nelson is also excellent in the clinch as his dirty boxing packs a lot of power. On the show Mitrione was exploited for how poor his defensive wrestling is on his season of TUF and I’m sure Nelson is preparing for that. Nelson earns a takedown from the clinch in the first round and absolutely batters Mitrione for a stoppage victory.

Roy Nelson via TKO in Round One

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Top Five UFC The Ultimate Fighter Coaches Of All-Time

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

To date there have been fifteen seasons of The Ultimate Fighter that have aired in the USA on Spike TV and FX, plus a sixteenth season that is currently airing on FX. Add to that a completed season of The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil and a currently airing season of The Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes (UK vs. Australia) and there have been thirty professional fighters who have served time as coaches on The Ultimate Fighter.

With the recent announcement of Jon Jones and Chael Sonnen as upcoming coaches for the next season of The Ultimate Fighter, many people have seen through the UFC’s charade, and are criticizing the UFC’s decision to forego the sporting aspect of the UFC and instead focus solely on the business aspect of the UFC. Despite what fans may believe about the decision to use Sonnen and Jones as coaches on the next season of the UFC’s flagship reality show, they are still intriguing choices as coaches. Not only for the potential entertainment value of the trash talk and banter between the two, but also due to the wealth of MMA talent and knowledge that these two men can pass on to the future athletes of the UFC.

In honor of the potential that Jones and Sonnen bring to the next season of The Ultimate Fighter on FX, here is a look back at the history of The Ultimate Fighter. A look at the Top Five Coaches in The Ultimate Fighter history.

Honorable Mention – Tito “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” Ortiz

Record as a Coach: 16-11

Record in Coach’s Bouts: 1-0 (Victory over Ken Shamrock)

Winner’s Coached: Kendall Grove (Season 3), Michael Bisping (Season 3)

Tito Ortiz was one of the original stars of the UFC so it was no surprise that he was called on to coach one of the first seasons of The Ultimate Fighter. Ortiz coached the third season opposite his nemesis Ken Shamrock in the third fight of their trilogy of fights. Creating high ratings and high entertainment because of the constant squabbling between the two coaches, the competition much like the fights between Ortiz and Shamrock were fairly one-sided. Ortiz was the coach of both the winners of the third season. Ortiz also fared well as a coach on his second stint during TUF 11 opposite Chuck Liddell. However, he wasn’t able to finish the season or participate in the coach’s bout due to a back injury that removed him from the show.

Honorable Mention – Georges “Rush” St. Pierre

Record as a Coach: 11-3

Record in Coach’s Bouts: 1-0 (Victory over Josh Koscheck)

Winner’s Coached: Jonathan Brookins (Season 12)

Despite being one of the biggest draws in the history of the UFC and a long-reigning Welterweight Champion, GSP has surprisingly appeared on The Ultimate Fighter as a head coach once. Coaching opposite Josh Koscheck for the twelfth season of the reality show, GSP’s team went 5-2 throughout the first round of the competition, and both of the finalists were from Team Rush. In addition to his impressive coaching performance, GSP also dominated Koscheck in the coach’s bout. GSP was responsible for coaching Jonathan Brookins to victory during his season as a coach. GSP also coached briefly during The Ultimate Fighter 4: The Comeback, but during that season there were no head coaches, only fighters stopping by to help out.

#5 – Rich “Ace” Franklin (The Ultimate Fighter 2, The Ultimate Fighter 11)

Record as a Coach: 3-2

Record in Couch’s Bouts: 1-0 (Victory over Chuck Liddell)

Winner’s Coached: Rashad Evans (Season 2)

Franklin has always been known as the UFC’s company man for his willingness to step up on late notice and fight at different weights. Whatever his bosses needed. That was also the case for his second stint as a coach on The Ultimate Fighter. During the eleventh season of the show an injury to coach Tito Ortiz caused the UFC to need a suitable replacement for the post-show coaches bout. In stepped Rich Franklin both as a replacement fighter and as a coach for the final episodes of the show, during that episode he managed to advance his only remaining fighter Kris McRay into the live finale. Franklin also served as a coach on the second season of the reality show, although he coached against his good friend Matt Hughes and there was no post-show coaches bout. Franklin’s fighters during the second season dominated the Heavyweight portion of the competition and he was the coach of eventual winner and future UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Rashad Evans. In his late replacement bout against Chuck Liddell, Franklin scored a victory by TKO over Chuck Liddell.

#4 – Urijah “The California Kid” Faber (The Ultimate Fighter 15/ TUF: Live)

Record as a Coach: 10-5

Record in Coach’s Bouts: 0-1 (Loss to Renan Barao)

Winner’s Coached: Michael Chiesa (Season 15)

Faber coached opposite his Bantamweight rival Dominick Cruz on the debut season of The Ultimate Fighter on FX. Adding a live twist to the show, it failed to produce a significant ratings hike. Faber brought in his Team Alpha Male teammates to help him coach and provided a lot of guidance to his fighters. A talented wrestle-boxer himself, Faber made a bit too much of an effort to shape his fighters into that mold. Still one can’t argue with his results as his team was able to take five of the eight first round bouts, and the two finalists of the show were from Team Faber. Despite his impressive record as a coach, a knee injury to Dominick Cruz scrapped the traditional coaches bout at the end of the show. Instead Faber faced off against replacement Renan Barao Pagado for the Interim Bantamweight Championship but was soundly outworked over five rounds and lost the bout.

#3 – Michael “The Count” Bisping

Record as a Coach: 15-13

Record in Coach’s Bouts: 1-1 (Loss to Dan Henderson, Victory over Jason Miller)
Winner’s Coached: Ross Pearson (Season 9), James Wilks (Season 9), Diego Brandao (Season 14)

Bisping is famous for not only being a Light Heavyweight winner from the third season of The Ultimate Fighter, but also for being extremely successful as a coach on the show. Bisping made his first appearance on the show coaching Team United Kingdom opposite Dan Henderson and Team USA on the UK vs. USA edition of The Ultimate Fighter. Bisping coached his UK brethren to victory in both the Lightweight and Welterweight divisions. Despite coaching both winners from this season of the show, he was posterized in highlight reel fashion at UFC 100 by an H-Bomb from Henderson in the second round. Bisping coached opposite Jason “Mayhem” Miller in the final season on Spike TV before transferring to FX. Despite a fairly even coaching gig against Miller, Bisping dominated him in the coach’s fight and coached another winner as Diego Brandao won the Featherweight division of the show.

#2 – Rashad “Suga” Evans

Record as a Coach: 13-1

Record in Coach’s Bouts: 1-0 (Win over Quinton Jackson)
Winner’s Coached: Roy Nelson (Season 10)

Rashad Evans is another one of the former winners of The Ultimate Fighter that eventually made his way to the other side of the table and served time as a coach on the Heavyweights only tenth season of TUF. Coaching opposite his arch-rival Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Rashad’s season was filled with trash-talk and back and forth bickering between not just the coaches, but also the fighters. Rashad’s fighters dominated Jackson’s throughout the entire competition, including posting a 7-1 mark in the first round of the competition. Evans completely out-coached Jackson and then when the coach’s bout came up at UFC 114, Evans out-classed Jackson inside the octagon. Evans’ accomplishments are also most notable for having the highest ratings in the history of The Ultimate Fighter. Although the inclusion of internet sensation Kimbo Slice was definitely a major factor, the grudge between coaches was an important factor that helped the show gather a peak viewership of 7.25 million.

#1 – Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell

Record as a Coach: 12-6 (although the format for TUF 1 was different than following seasons)

Record in Coach’s Bouts: 1-1 (Victory over Randy Couture, Loss to Rich Franklin)

Winner’s Coached: Forrest Griffin (Season 1), Diego Sanchez (Season 1), Court McGee (Season 11)

Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell is not only one of the most popular fighters in the history of the UFC, perhaps even the most popular, but he was also one of the most successful coaches in the history of the show. Coaching the original season of the show opposite Randy Couture, Liddell’s team was extremely successful. The format of the show was significantly different to following versions, mainly because of the inclusion of team challenges, which eliminated fighters before they even fought. However, Liddell’s team excelled at challenges, winning nearly all of the team competitions for the season and eliminating many of Couture’s fighters before they even fought inside the octagon. When it came down to the finals of the show, Liddell’s fighters dominated as both Griffin and Sanchez won their respective divisions under Liddell’s tutelage. In the coach’s bout after the show, Liddell knocked out Couture to win the UFC Light Heavyweight title.

During his second coaching gig opposite Tito Ortiz, Liddell once again found his fighters dominating. An injury to Tito eventually led to an opponent switch, which opened the door for Rich Franklin to step in and take a bout against Liddell at UFC 115. Despite coaching another fighter to victory on this season of the show (Court McGee), Liddell was on the wrong end of a knockout in this coach’s bout, as Franklin flattened Liddell in the first round and sent the Iceman into retirement.

Despite his loss in his final coaches bout, Liddell remains a successful coach from the show and is responsible for launching the careers of several big names who are still in the UFC today. Names like Forrest Griffin, Diego Sanchez, Josh Koscheck, Kenny Florian, Court McGee, Brad Tavares and Kyle Noke.

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Jon Jones & Chael Sonnen Aren’t Enough To Save The Ultimate Fighter

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

The UFC shook up the MMA world last week when it was announced that Jon Jones and Chael Sonnen would coach The Ultimate Fighter 17. The move was an obvious last ditch attempt to save the falling franchise but are two star coaches really enough to pull this one off of life support?

I don’t like the fight but I was certainly intrigued when the match and The Ultimate Fighter plans were announced. I have watched The Ultimate Fighter from the start but like many, I have lost interest over the years. I’ll be honest and admit I haven’t watched a minute of this current season and have no plans to do so. I can’t say that would be much different if Jones and Sonnen were coaching.

The game plan here is good. Past seasons of The Ultimate Fighter where opposing coaches brought the drama always did well. TUF seasons 3 and 10 for instance were two of the highest seasons in show history. But that doesn’t always work? Plenty of other seasons featured tension between star coaches and didn’t click as well as 3 and 10. The biggest difference there between those seasons and the upcoming is that the popularity of MMA was different. This is why I think Jones and Sonnen will have the kind of impact on TUF that the UFC and FX are hoping it will.

Coaches are definitely a problem. The second Shane Carwin and Roy Nelson were announced as coaches, I tuned out. On the flip side I did enjoy the first few weeks of the previous Dominick Cruz-Urijah Faber season, specifically for Cruz. I really enjoyed watching Cruz work out with the contestants. As far as the tension or anything else, it really didn’t make a difference.

There are much bigger problems than the coaches, the first and foremost being the oversaturation of Mixed Martial-Arts on television. One of the biggest reasons TUF worked for so many years is that there was very little MMA on television. Now, you can see a free MMA television show or card almost weekly if you have the right cable channels or Internet connection. TUF fights are glorified amateur fights and why would any fan want to go out of their way to watch amateur fights when they can see pros on TV elsewhere?

The format is outdated and incredibly stale. Quite frankly I don’t know what you can do to fix it at this point. It’s the same show every season with new fighters. Dumb pranks, boring amateur fights, and manufactured storylines are your typical TUF season. I wrote a blog several months ago with seven ideas on how to improve The Ultimate Fighter. There are things that can be done. Bringing in star coaches was not one of them and would be at the bottom of my list.

Star coaches are not always the answer. Brock Lesnar was the biggest drawing card in MMA history. Yet after the hype, even Brock as a head coach wore thin fast on The Ultimate Fighter. What people are missing about Jon Jones and Chael Sonnen is that most MMA fans don’t like either one of them. This isn’t a case where you have a clear cut good guy vs. bad guy story between coaches. A lot of MMA fans have become complacent with both which is a very bad thing if you are expecting them to tune in and watch TUF.

Jon Jones isn’t connecting with fans. Dana White in one of his dumbest moments ever as a promoter buried the guy for almost a month to the media and fans. It was promotional suicide. I said it at the time and I’ll say it now. For a full month he was buried as a coward, not a “true fighter”, and disconnected with the fans. Now you are expecting those same fans you told Jones was basically a fraud to tune and watch him every week on TUF?

Chael Sonnen is an awesome character, no doubt about it. As an old school pro wrestling fan, he is a throwback to the days of territorial pro wrestling. But fans have grown tired of his act. He is now laughed at instead of laughed with. Fans see him and this whole idea of Sonnen as a title challenger as a complete joke. Additionally, fans already know what they are getting and a lot of them don’t believe a word that comes out of his mouth. I think Sonnen needed at least one win in the division before you promote him as any kind of rival to Jon Jones. Most will just see him as a big-mouthed sacrificial lamb.

Finally, I have to wonder if the UFC actually set the standard too high here with Jones and Sonnen. Will the audience expect to see the biggest stars of the UFC coaching on TUF? With all due respect if the UFC follows this season with something like Donald Cerrone vs. Anthony Pettis, can they really expect fans to get into the show the same way they did with superstar coaches? I think a huge part of the bad season right now is the coaches, although that wouldn’t explain the successful Michael Bisping vs. Mayhem Miller season.

So for all of those naïve writers in the media who are telling fans that don’t like it that they’ll watch anyway, my hunch is that you’re wrong. Sure the ratings will greatly increase but will they sustain? Will they produce at or above expectations on a new night? My hunch says no and while this is a nice shiny band-aid on The Ultimate Fighter, the UFC and FX need to do a lot more to close the wounds and keep them from bleeding permanently.

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UFC TUF 17 Coaches Media Call With Jones, Sonnen, and White

October 17, 2012 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts, Videos

UFC champion Jon Jones and Chael Sonnen were announced on Tuesday as The Ultimate Fighter season 17 coaches. The two will meet together for the first time on a media call which has the potential to be one of the most entertaining press calls in UFC history. Let the games begin!

As disappointing as the whole turn of events was with Sonnen getting a UFC title shot in a UFC division he has not competed in since returning to the UFC, I am intrigued. Sonnen began calling Jones out on Twitter a few weeks back and was denied a fight against Jones at UFC 151 when the champion refused the match. In an effort to save the struggling The Ultimate Fighter franchise, Dana White revealed that arguably his two most polarizing figures would not only fight, but coach against each other on the upcoming series.

It will be interesting to see if anyone from the MMA media takes the UFC president Dana White to task for booking this farce of a fight. It will also be interesting to hear how White defends the decision and what his plans are for the division following the fight. Needless to say there are a lot of questions that need to be asked. Whether they are answered or not we will find out shortly.

The press conference starts October 17 at 4 PM/EST and will be available thereafter on demand. The video is embedded below so if you can’t watch it live, come back later and enjoy all of the fireworks on the replay.

Get your popcorn ready!

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Jon Jones Vs. Chael Sonnen Announced For TUF and UFC Title Fight

October 16, 2012 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

Nobody can accuse Jon Jones from running Chael Sonnen any longer. The UFC light heavyweight champion will not only fight Sonnen in 2013 but will coach against him on The Ultimate Fighter season 17.

This should be a good one,” said White. “Jon has accepted the fight. He knows the fans want to see that fight.”

I can’t say I am surprised. Jon Jones recently gave an interview where he said he was interested in coaching on The Ultimate Fighter and also recently said that he’d fight Chael if that’s what the fans wanted. I actually sent out a tweet on Monday predicting this exact scenario including the TUF gig.

Dana White broke the news to the LA Times on Tuesday in a story that has a lot of MMA fans and media scratching their heads. Sonnen will go from getting thrashed by Anderson Silva in the second round to an immediate championship fight in his light heavyweight debut (well return after a lengthy absence) As entertaining as this sounds, it makes even less sense than giving Vitor Belfort a title shot. The fight will go down on April 27.

The fight comes at a very odd time for both the champion and challenger. Sonnen signed to fight Forrest Griffin in December while Jones was expected to fight either Lyoto Machida or Dan Henderson. My hunch is that this fight has a lot more to do with the abysmal The Ultimate Fighter ratings this season as opposed to championship integrity.

The big losers here are Lyoto Machida and Dan Henderson. Henderson was scheduled to fight Jones at UFC 151 but had to pull out due to injury. Machida was told he was getting the next title shot after he dominated Ryan Bader on Fox. Machida declined a recent opportunity to fight Bones at UFC 152. My hunch and nobody will say it is that the UFC are still real upset with Henderson for canceling with little notice and Machida for turning down the shot with little notice.

What makes this even more complicated is that White recently announced that the upcoming UFC on Fox fight between Mauricio Shogun Rua and Alexander Gustafsson could determine a top contender. That fight is in December so that would mean that the winner would have to sit out at minimum 7-8 months for his title shot. That also means is that the earliest Machida or Henderson have at even sniffing a title shot is next fall.

There are both reasons to get excited and reasons to cry foul over the latest news. Chael Sonnen has simply talked himself into a title shot here. He may be entertaining to read on Twitter but the fact is that he just got beat by Silva and has never even fought in the division. This is hardly what I would call challenging Jon Jones. It is also another case of the UFC trying to shine up a mismatch which smart fans at the end of the day will see through and will probably take a pass.

I think it is safe to say that the UFC is more interested in business than sport. That is fine and I can’t disagree with it, but don’t claim otherwise. This fight is being made purely for business reasons. There is reason that title fights don’t sell on UFC pay per views like they used to. I love great fight-hype and Chael may be the best, but this really sets the UFC back as far as I am concerned quite a bit when it comes to sports legitimacy. At some point you have to question whether the UFC should even have titles or just go back to the Super Fight titles like the old days.

The plus of course is that this will generate tremendous interest into The Ultimate Fighter. TUF is a dying franchise, drawing just over 600,000 viewers this past week. There is certainly no guarantee that coaches will make a difference as Brock Lesnar did not have nearly the impact on TUF as some, including myself speculated he’d have. However, I have to think that Chael will play the game (unlike Brock) and deliver such compelling television week to week that fans who stopped watching awhile back will reconnect with the show.

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Anderson Spider Silva (Em Portugues do Brasil

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UFC Announces The Ultimate Fighter 16 Head Coaches

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

How will the UFC rebound from its lowest rated The Ultimate Fighter season in history? With two heavyweight head coaches that will surely polarize MMA fans. Heavyweight sluggers Shane Carwin and Roy Nelson will coach TUF 16.

Two of the hardest hitting fighters in MMA will serve as TUF coaches on the second season of the show to air on FX. Nelson is coming off a win while Carwin is coming off of a loss and a long vacation. Carwin and Nelson don’t have the bitter rivalry of last season’s coaches but as fierce competitors you never know what can happen.

Carwin and Nelson do nothing for me as TUF coaches.. Shane Carwin is about the most serious fighter I have ever seen interviewed. I take nothing away from him as a fighter, but I haven’t seen much of a personality over the last few years. Roy Nelson is a guy that comes off a bit more obnoxious than funny to me. The idea of seeing the fat guy fight is funny once, but after that I can’t think of many interviews I have seen with Roy where he has blown me away with wit and humor. Not too mention, Nelson is 4-3 in UFC competition. Should this guy really be a TUF head coach?

The one upside here is that there aren’t any star fighters or headliners held up due to TUF. When you have champions like Dominick Cruz and Georges St-Pierre as coaches with fight commitments, you tie up entire divisions for months if not a year. Taking Carwin or Nelson out of the mix for the next several months won’t anyone or anything in the UFC heavyweight division.

Carwin and Nelson are fascinating choices to me because the UFC is theoretically under enormous pressure. Coming off of a season of the lowest ratings in TUF history, you would expect them to come back with more dynamic coaches. I could be reading more into this than I should be, but maybe this is a message to Fox/FX? Certainly the UFC cannot be happy that none of the Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen UFC 148 Prime Time or Countdown specials were given airtime on Fox.

On the other hand, there are some notable differences in this season’s TUF show. For one, the show will not air live anymore. Two, there are no tryouts to get on the show. Dana White and producers hand-picked competitors as opposed to previous years where they held open tryouts. There are still rumors that this would be a comeback season, but that is not confirmed. My hunch is that since there were no tryouts, that the rumor would only be stronger.

This season will feature an entire welterweight class. The idea of Carwin and Nelson teaching welterweights is just bizarre to me. Carwin is a decorated amateur wrestler and Nelson has a much better ground game than he gets credit for. However, I just don’t know how well their game plans will translate to welterweight hopefuls.

I am not sure if they will ever find another Forrest Griffin or Rashad Evans on The Ultimate Fighter. To me, the concept is long past being interesting or productive. It was easy to find talented unsigned fighters several years ago as opposed to now. I did enjoy last season but quite frankly that was mostly due to watching Dominick Cruz teach and train. I can’t imagine that I would find watching Nelson or Carwin coach to be anywhere close to as fascinating as Cruz.

This is going to be a very interesting dynamic between these two heavyweights,” UFC president Dana White said. “They both have huge punching power and great chins, but outside of the octagon, they couldn’t be any more different.”

That’s fine, but it’s time to create a show that’s different.

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

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UFC Vet Kenny Florian Retires From MMA

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

It has been a busy week of retirements this week in MMA. UFC veteran Kenny Florian will join Jason Mayhem Miller on the retirement sidelines. The nine-year MMA vet has called it a day after a moderately successful run in the UFC.

The news was a bit of a surprise but hardly qualified as the “big announcement” that the UFC promoted earlier in the week. Florian hurt his back in training and said that it hasn’t been the same since. He re-injured it a few weeks ago and hasn’t been able to train since. Florian will remain a part of the UFC family as a broadcaster.

I’m just so thankful to the UFC and everyone here for everything they have done. Fighting found me and I’m a much better person because of it. I’m happy…. I’ve dealt with injuries in the past, but back in November I was training and hurt my back. It just hasn’t quite been the same … I re-injured it a few weeks back. So, it’s been tough. I haven’t been able to train. And I’m the type of person who never wants to do anything half-ass. If I’m going to train for a fight, I want to be able to do it 100 percent. [The decision] has been several months [in the making]. It’s been very, very hard. It’s been tough.

Kenny Florian entered the UFC in 2005 as part of the first The Ultimate Fighter class. Florian fought at middleweight on the show on Chuck Liddell’s team before being traded to Randy Couture. Florian defeated Chris Leben to make it to the semi-finals. Florian lost to Diego Sanchez in the finals via TKO in the first round on the live finale special.

Florian went on to have a pretty successful career in the UFC. The only thing missing from Florian’s career was a UFC championship. Florian developed a bit of a reputation as a choker in title fights thanks to UFC president Dana White. Florian was the kind of a fighter who looked great in the chase but came up real small when it counted in the title fights. To his credit, Florian fought his way to three championship fights, four if you include the TUF 1 final.

One thing that always bugged me about Florian is that I felt the UFC pushed him too hard. The UFC pushed him as a big star and a guy that “finished fights.” Yet in big fights against BJ Penn and Jose Aldo, Florian looked anything like a guy that finished fights. Florian got his most recent championship shot after only one win in the division. Those kind of politics and the favoritism shown towards Kenny by Zuffa always rubbed me the wrong way.

To be fair, Florian certainly had his share of impressive wins. On the positive, Kenny Florian competed in four different weight classes and is a part of the most successful season in The Ultimate Fighter history. Florian has earned three UFC championship fights, going 0-3 in all three. Florian is 14-6, with 17 fights in the UFC. Florian finished 10 of his 12 UFC wins before the final bell.

Florian has been preparing for life after fighting for awhile now. Florian joined the UFC broadcast team as a part-time substitute back in 2008. Florian is a regular co-host of MMA Live on ESPN with Franklin McNeil. Kenny is also a fixture of UFC Tonight. I have grown to really enjoy Florian’s editorials at the end of the show where he will give the unique perspective of a top UFC fighter on a hot topic in the MMA world.

One thing I won’t miss is Kenny’s brother Keith barking in his corner during fights. His loud, screeching voice is beyond obnoxious. It looks like I can turn the volume up again.

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Wanderlei Silva Vs. Rich Franklin II Set For UFC 147

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

The injury bug has bit the UFC once again, forcing the promotion to scramble for a new main-event. In the case of UFC 147 the new main-event is actually an old main-event. Former MMA champions Rich Franklin and Wanderlei Silva will now square off on June 23 in Brazil.

The fight announcement was a bit of a surprise. Silva’s original opponent Vitor Belfort officially pulled out of the main-event against Wanderlei last week after suffering a hand injury. Silva and Belfort are opposing coaches on The Ultimate Fighter Brazil. The coach vs. coach homeland headliner was scrapped in favor of a rematch of the UFC 99 main-event.

Silva vs. Franklin was not on anyone’s radar when it came to predicting the new Brazilian main-event. Franklin was originally signed to fight Cung Le at UFC 148. Personally I was hoping to see Alan Belcher get the call but it was not to be. This is certainly a strange fight to rematch considering the first one ended with relatively little controversy. The reshuffled fight now leaves Le without an opponent underneath the biggest fight card of the year.

While I have little interest in seeing Silva vs. Franklin again I will say that I absolutely loved their first fight. Franklin won a unanimous decision in their first fight. Although I didn’t think the fight was as one-sided as some did, I had no problem with Franklin winning the decision. The fight was better than I expected, but it was the finish of the fight that had me on my feet.

After dominating the majority of three rounds, Franklin narrowly escaped a brutal assault by Silva in the final 30 seconds of the fight. Here is how I described it when I recapped the fight two years ago in my blog.

The final 30 seconds of the Round 3 will make the highlight films. Silva stood up from a Franklin takedown. Franklin was still holding Silva from behind and leaning on the cage. Silva began to fire rocket elbows at Franklin’s face, reminding me of Gary Goodrich from the old UFC days. Franklin was trapped and saved by the bell. Another 30 seconds and Silva would have pulled off one of the most exciting knockouts in UFC history.

Silva will get another shot at the knockout. I am a big Silva fan but I don’t expect the same fight as the first. Silva’s better days are behind him and I think he is getting knocked out in his home country at UFC 147. Franklin is coming off a decision loss to Forrest Griffin but I still think he is the better fight at this stage of the game. Wanderlei did show me something with his TKO win over Le but Franklin is a much more polished fighter than Le.

The irony here is that this is Franklin’s second stint as a replacement in a The Ultimate Fighter coach vs. coach main-event. Franklin stepped in for Tito Ortiz back at UFC 115 and sent Chuck Liddell into retirement with a first round KO. Unfortunately for Silva fans, it looks like Franklin could be sending his second legend into retirement on June 23.


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Seven Ways To Improve The Ultimate Fighter

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

The Ultimate Fighter Live castThe Ultimate Fighter Live is producing one of my favorite seasons in UFC history, yet it is also producing the lowest ratings in TUF history. Since everyone else under the sun has blogged about how they would fix the show, I figured I would give my two-cents as someone who watches weekly.

I want to say upfront that I am a big fan of this season’s TUF. I love the coaches, I love the dynamic, I think the fighters are arguably more skilled as a whole than almost any other season past the first few, I love the live aspect, and I just think the show is great. Maybe it is because the last couple of seasons were some of the least interesting in show history but the bottom line here is that I think this is a great show.

Unfortunately the greatness of the season isn’t finding its way into a large number of homes. TUF is currently experiencing its lowest ratings in show history. As much as Dana White can try and spin the ratings as a positive, the show is a ratings bomb in comparison to past seasons. While the move to FX is probably the biggest reason, I also think after 14 years the show can use some tweaking. Here are just a few ideas moving forward to improve The Ultimate Fighter and get back some of that audience the UFC left behind on Spike TV.

Add Commentary – This is a no brainer and is something that has been suggested in just about every article or blog I have written about improving TUF. The idea of two fighters you don’t know fighting in a gym is not very appealing to the casual eye. Adding some commentary would give the fight some more perspective, educate the audience to the moves and sequences, and help create some much needed drama in those lagging situations. The Contender had commentary and I think it made a big difference in creating drama during that great first season of the boxing reality show. Jon Anik is already there, give him a microphone, a partner, and let’s get some announcers into the mix.

Produce another Comeback season – One of my favorite seasons of The Ultimate Fighter was the Comeback. The comeback brought together a bunch of struggling UFC fighters that fans already knew and gave them one last opportunity to hold on to their coveted UFC job. I tend tune out quickly during most TUF seasons because quite frankly I have little interest in watching amateur fighters with little technique fight in a gym with 30 people.

The reason I loved the Comeback season was because every fight had technique and was just as good as a fight you would see on pay per view. There is also something different about watching a fighter who finally achieved his dream struggle with losing it as opposed to a young fighter that improved quickly and didn’t work for it nearly as hard. There are a lot of fighters in the UFC under contract that are either one fight away from being cut or on the verge of being cut immediately so they would have no shortage of talent available. Let’s bring it back!

Stick to light heavyweights and heavyweights – I know this one is going to draw the ire of hardcore MMA fans but the fact of the matter is that casual fans want to see big guys throwing down as opposed to smaller, faster fighters. Hey listen, I think this may be the best season in TUF history when it comes to fights. But I am also the hardcore MMA fan that is going to watch the show no matter what. The reason a heavyweight title fight does so well on pay per view is because fans think they are going to see knockouts. Casual fans don’t understand that they have just as good a chance of seeing a knockout with the lighter weight classes. If you want to bring in some new eyes they need to see fighters that are bigger than they are slugging it out and looking for a knockout.

Open up the gym to fans – There are already too many UFC shows as it is so I would never endorse adding another live event, especially weekly. However, there are a couple of different ways the UFC can add a live audience and more excitement to the fights. The best way to do this would be to open up the UFC Gym to a limited number of live fans. The UFC could even scrutinize the list and only invite Fight Club members, making sure you are getting a rabid fan in the building as opposed to a casual fan off the street.

Having a full house of fans in the gym going nuts for a fight could not only add a whole new dimension of excitement to the show, it could make future stars. A viewer sitting at home watching an audience chanting the name of a fighter because he had an exciting fight may see that fighter as someone different than just an inexperienced amateur fighter. Another way to add an audience would be to bring the fights to a sound stage somewhere and give away free tickets like TNA Wrestling does, although I think opening up the gym is a much better way to accomplish the same thing.

Eliminate preliminary fights – I know Dana White loves the preliminary fights but I absolutely detest them. There is nothing more boring to me than watching a two hour show of back to back to back to back amateur fights with little technique or excitement. Remember, these are all fighters who can’t get into the UFC. So now you are doubling the amount of amateur fighters which means you are really getting some bottom barrel fights in there. Outside of the fights they sit the coaches there and eliminate any kind of tension the two may have by putting them together as commentators.

While this season did have some killer preliminary fights, I still tuned out. The whole point of a reality show is to provide some color and entertainment outside of just fights. In addition, you are taking away time from getting to know the winners by shuffling them in and out for more fights. If people wanted to watch two hours of amateur fights that badly, local arenas would be turning crowds away. The problem here is that you bore casual viewers out of TUF early and rarely do they come back.

Bring back fighter challenges – The early days of The Ultimate Fighter had challenges where fighters had to compete in different games like obstacle courses, etc. in order to win fight advantages. I don’t think you need to go back to putting fight advantages on the line but I think you can bring back the challenges for monetary gain, some hard green cash. As much as I love MMA some of these episodes of The Ultimate Fighter can get boring when it is just training and fighting. I know you are putting your athletes at higher risk for injury but they face those same risks by training and fighting. I think the training could provide a different element and allow fighter personalities to shine.

Allow fans to pick the fights for the first two rounds – I love this one and I am really surprised with as much social media innovation the UFC has done that they never got the fans involved in the show. At the end of the day it really doesn’t matter which team wins because I find TUF to be a pretty level playing field when it comes to making fights. I think the UFC should allow the fans to pick weekly fights either through social media or a phone poll. This would give the fans a more vested interest to tune in every week as well as increase social media awareness (every little bit helps). There is certainly a lot of tweaking that would have to be involved here and it is always dangerous when you take control of the show out of your hands but desperate times call for desperate measures. Give the power to the people!

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