Wanderlei Silva Out, Vitor Belfort In vs. Chael Sonnen at UFC 175

May 28, 2014 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

The UFC has lost its biggest grudge fight of the year. Wanderlei Silva vs. Chael Sonnen is off but fear not Brazilians. A new Brazilian hero has stepped up to fight Sonnen and his name is Vitor Belfort.

News broke early Wednesday evening that Wanderlei Silva had not shown up to get licensed to fight Sonnen on July 5. According to a report, Silva no-showed the procedure and left the Nevada State Athletic Commission hanging. It didn’t take long for the UFC to step into action and sign a new fight.

The UFC released the following statement to the media. “Due to issues related to Wanderlei Silva’s licensing in the state of Nevada, the UFC was forced to seek a replacement opponent to face Chael Sonnen at UFC 175 on Saturday, July 5 in Las Vegas. Former UFC champion Vitor Belfort has accepted the fight with Sonnen, subject to Belfort receiving a license to compete from the Nevada Athletic Commission.”

Chael Sonnen told the media that Silva refused to take a drug test on Saturday. According to Sonnen, he ran from his own gym when the commission showed up to take a sample. One report cites NSAC executive director Robert Bennett commenting that Silva had “ample time” to apply for a license.

To some this was a huge shocker, yet others weren’t as surprised. MMA journalist Dave Meltzer has joked constantly on his podcasts about Silva vs. Sonnen not happening. Silva was late to sign the bout agreement, which quite honestly has been cursed from the start. It was rescheduled and now the fight is off. Even as news broke on Twitter, some in the media commented that they never believed the fight would happen in the first place.

One theory I have seen talked about online is that Wanderlei felt he couldn’t hang with Sonnen after Sonnen took him down so easily in their scuffle on The Ultimate Fighter Brazil. It’s hard to wrap my head around that one because if there is one thing you could always say about Wanderlei, it is that he is as gutsy a fighter you’ll get…until now.

Vitor Belfort’s name came out of nowhere here. Belfort is in the midst of a career resurgence with a 3-0 win streak, all KO/TKO wins. Belfort was signed to challenge Chris Weidman for the UFC middleweight title when it was ruled that no fighter could use TRT exemptions any more. Belfort withdrew from the fight and went M.I.A. Even UFC president Dana White recently commented that he was unsure of Belfort’s future when asked about the Phenom.

What makes this so incredibly odd is that Belfort was probably going to get his title shot at Weidman on the July 5 card. Weidman was subsequently booked to fight Lyoto Machida once Belfort pulled out. Now after handing over his title shot, Belfort will presumably fight on the card anyway. Instead of fighting for the title, he is now fighting Sonnen who is 1-3 in his last four fights.

I questioned putting Sonnen vs. Silva on an already stacked card with Ronda Rousey and Chris Weidman fighting at UFC 175. Now it makes a lot of sense. While nobody will probably admit it, I have to think that the UFC purposely put this on a stacked card knowing that there was a good chance Silva would pull out. It would have been an enormous risk to put this on as a headliner knowing the questions surrounding Silva’s interest in the fight.

Unfortunately for Sonnen he just went from an easy win to an annihilation.

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Vitor Belfort Challenges Anderson Silva On Twitter

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

Vitor Belfort is not happy with Anderson Silva, Dana White, and the UFC. A day after White told reporters that giving Belfort a second crack at Silva is difficult, Belfort took to Twitter to vent his frustrations and call out the world champion.

Vitor Belfort has turned into arguably the most polarizing fighter in 2013 within the UFC. Controversy withstanding Belfort has rolled through the middleweight division’s top contenders like nobody has in recent years. Even with those successive and descive wins Belfort still appears no closer to getting a rematch with Silva according to the UFC president.

White was asked about a rematch between Silva and arguably the number one contender this past week and according to White, convincing Silva to give Belfort a rematch is almost darn near impossibe.

He’s looked great, but the hard position that Vitor is in is when you talk about a rematch for him, it’s like, [Silva] kicked him in the face in the first 60 seconds in one of the most devestating knockouts of all-time,” he said. “So when you go back to Anderson Silva, who’s in the twilight of his career, and you say to a guy like Anderson, ‘Eh, what about Vitor?’ He’d say, ‘I annihilated Vitor. I made it look like Vitor isn’t even a fighter we should have been fighting.’

That did not sit well with Vitor, especially this little nugget (or seed) that White threw out there at the following up the statement.

“You could make a better argument that Dan Henderson should get another shot.”

Vitor was not happy and after retweeting tweets from fans bashing White, the UFC, and Silva for the company’s stance on a rematch, Belfort took to Twitter to vent his frustrations on the situation.

It’s incredible how it seems as though Silva is the one picking his opponents. Think about this: Cain got knocked out in a devastating loss to Cigano, and after one fight he gets another title shot. Then after being massacred by Velasquez for 5 rounds, now Cigano gets another chance for the title. In order for a rematch to take place, the champion must accept a challenge. Both Cigano and Velasquez accepted. But I, on the other hand, crushed all the contenders that were put in front of me, and it seems that I have earned nothing, not even the respect I deserve for all I have done for the sport. My spot is the highest of any division contender in the UFC, and it is only logical and fair for me to be given a shot at the title. Why is it that I don’t have a title shot? Just because one time, Anderson happened to land a kick?! I can assure you that given a second chance, that would never happen again. I have proven myself over and over. It seems that Anderson wants to go on and do super fights or whatever. How can he think of doing a super fight right now when he has a contender of my caliber waiting to compete for the belt. I have no problem with super fights, as long as they don’t tie up the belt from other great contenders who deserve a chance to accomplish the greatest moments of their career. Nobody should be able to strip me of the dreams that God gave me and that I have worked so hard to achieve! It doesn’t matter who is the champion or how many title defenses they have, they should fight who is the number 1 contender in the sport, and that person is me! I really can’t understand any reason why Anderson would refuse to fight me, unless he was scared that the result would be different this time. Mind you, I have no personal beef against Anderson or any other fighter. I’m just talking about every fighter’s dream to win the belt – to fight for the world championship! That’s what this business is all about. If Chris Weidman can get a title shot just by defeating Munoz, imagine how much I deserve this after devastating everyone they put in front of me, not to mention all that I have contributed to the history of the sport. I deserve more respect for what I have done, am still doing, and am about to do. Come on – they even say that it makes more sense for Silva to fight Hendo??? What a joke! I trust that if Anderson keeps the belt on Saturday night or if Chris Weidman wins, they will accept the challenge to fight me next, because I earned the spot. Dana White, MAKE IT HAPPEN!

Wow! Belfort is criticizing Chris Weidman getting a title shot with a win over Mark Munoz. Guess what? He’s right. It is a little ridiculous but at the same time Belfort has no right to take about anyone in the world getting an undeserved shot. When he got his title shot at Silva he had not ever fought at middleweight in the UFC! If that wasn’t enough he received a title shot against Jon Jones after not fighting at light heavyweight in the UFC in years. So seeing Belfort criticize anyone for getting an unjust title shot is actually laughable. If this was an attempt at standup comedy bravo.

That said, he does have some valid points but this isn’t Jon Fitch running through five guys and being ignored. Belfort has only three wins in the division, all against top guys, but the way he is tweeting you’d think he ran through six guys.

Does Dan Henderson deserve a title shot over Belfort? At a different time in UFC history I’d say no. However, Henderson was promised a title shot after beating Rich Franklin and never received it. Henderson is a weird name to throw out there and I don’t think it was by accident. Do not be surprised at all if this is the UFC’s backup plan if they can’t sign Silva vs. Jon Jones or GSP.

There is also the pink elephant in the room known as TRT. Belfort has fought his last few fights with a TRT exemption and every single one of them have been outside the United States. He has not been cleared for the exemption in the U.S. What if Belfort challenges Silva or Weidman, wins the title, and can not get his exemption cleared in the U.S.? That puts a stranglehold on the UFC and its middleweight title. I can’t imagine that this doesn’t have something to do with it.

Does Vitor deserve a title shot? Yes. Is this a case of fighter misjustice? Absolutely not. Do I think the result would be any different today between he and Silva that it was in 2011? No but I don’t think I’d mind seeing Belfort get kicked in the face again.

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UFC on FX 8 Belfort vs. Rockhold Results and Wrap Up

May 20, 2013 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

UFC on FX 8 is in the history books and last night’s event provided some very entertaining scraps, some controversial decisions and some excellent finishes in the final fights. Before getting into my post-fight analysis of this card, including what’s next for the winners of each bout, I’m going to make a slight complaint to the UFC.

I rarely complain about matchmaking or what fights make the televised portion of cards, especially cards that are on free television, but what the hell was the opening bout between Rafael Natal and late-replacement Joao Zeferino doing on the main card? In Natal you have a grinding, plodding fighter who isn’t really known for doing much of anything exciting, unless he’s on the receiving end of a knockout, versus a late-replacement fighter who is making his UFC debut and is likely to gas horribly after taking the bout on only a week’s no tice. The end result was a slow, plodding affair and the UFC missed the chance to show off a couple of exciting Flyweight fights, both of which were buried on the Facebook portion of the prelims. Or even the Featherweight bout between Nik Lentz and Hacran Dias, which had some importance to the divisional rankings in that division.

With that gripe out of the way, let’s go ahead and dive right into the night’s fights and take a look at what happened and what’s next.

Middleweight Bout: Rafael Natal defeated Joao Zeferino via Unanimous Decision after Three Rounds

I’ve already made my complaints about this fight being on the main card known, and it was for good reason. The opening round of the contest was exciting as the two men engaged in mostly a stand up battle over the course of the first, before exchanging knee bar and heel hook attempts. After that, Zeferino was exhausted and his pace slowed noticeably. Natal took control in the final two rounds and used a dominant wrestling and top control game to dominate the action on the mat and pound away at an extremely exhausted Joao Zeferino. In the end he took home the Unanimous Decision nod.

What’s next for Natal? He’s winning fights, but he doesn’t have a whole lot of big name victories on his resume. He probably deserves a step up in competition but if he takes too big a step, he could be in trouble. The winner of an upcoming bout between Tim Boetsch and Mark Munoz could be a decent candidate. As could a bout against CB Dollaway.

What’s next for Zeferino? He was a late replacement and stepped up on short notice when the UFC needed him, he’s more than likely going to get another shot in the UFC. They’ll probably bring him back for another fight in his home country of Brazil. I suspect he could also be cannon fodder for someone like Uriah Hall who will be looking for a bounce back opponent after his disappointing loss at the TUF finale.

Lightweight Bout: Rafael dos Anjos defeated Evan Dunham via Unanimous Decision after Three Rounds

As expected these two Lightweights engaged in an exciting back and forth brawl that was pretty close. Close inspection of the Fight Metrics statistics for this fight showed an extremely close bout. Myself, I scored all three rounds for Evan Dunham, as I thought he was the fighter often landing the bigger punches and who earned more takedowns and had better takedown defense throughout the entire three rounds of the fight. This fight again shows us though how dangerous it can be to leave a fight in the hands of the judges. Despite most fans and observers believing Evan Dunham had won the fight, all three judges disagreed and handed dos Anjos the hometown decision.

What’s next for dos Anjos? He got the victory and although it’s a bit controversial, it was still a very close fight. Still dos Anjos looked entirely too hittable throughout the fight and struggled to keep Dunham under control any time they scrambled on the mat. He’s cracked the top 10 of the Lightweight rankings and will get a suitable opponent, but it might be a dangerous match up. Donald Cerrone and KJ Noons have an upcoming bout at UFC 160, the winner of that fight would be a good match for dos Anjos to test his striking skills.

What’s next for Dunham? Despite taking a loss here, it’s not likely that the UFC will punish him too much for it. Afterwards on Twitter Dana White claimed that ‘Evan Dunham was ROBBED!’ so the boss at least thought he won. I doubt he takes a big step back at all, and may even take a step forward. I expect he gets a top fifteen fighter coming off of a loss. Mark Bocek was the last man to lose to dos Anjos, that fight would make sense. It might also make sense for him to take on Thiago Tavares when he returns from suspension.

Middleweight Bout: Ronaldo Souza defeated Chris Camozzi via Technical Submission (Arm Triangle Choke) at 3:37 of Round One

Domination. Many people figured that despite his impressive winning streak heading into this fight, Camozzi was simply overmatched and was going to get wrecked. They were right. Souza showed off his continually improving Muay Thai skills, pressuring Camozzi on the feet before landing a trip takedown and absolutely schooling Camozzi on the mat. He switched beautifully from an Omoplata to an Arm Triangle Choke and coaxed Camozzi to sleep quickly.

What’s next for Souza? This bout was originally scheduled to be against Costa Philippou. After the bout many people said Jacare should face Belfort in a number one contenders match, but that’s a bit soon and even Souza admitted that himself at the press conference. Top contender Yushin Okami makes some sense, but I think the best bet is to go back to the original match up against Philippou.

What’s next for Camozzi? He stepped up with very short notice to take on a tough opponent. The UFC isn’t going to punish him too much for putting a solid winning streak on the line against Souza in Brazil. Despite the UFC’s preference to face fighters coming off wins against each other, I think Camozzi deserves a chance to face his original opponent for this card Rafael Natal.

Middleweight Bout: Vitor Belfort defeated Luke Rockhold via KO (Spinning Heel Kick) at 2:32 of Round One

Go on YouTube and find this knockout. I’m not even going to talk about it, it’s just a thing of beauty. What I will talk about, is that this win possibly is still clouded by all of the TRT questions about Vitor, but he remains a dangerous fighter and is proving that he’s only getting better with age. In his last 11 fights, he’s lost only 2, to the UFC’s Light Heavyweight Champion and Middleweight Champion. Impressive stuff.

What’s next for Belfort? Despite doubting Belfort before the fight, I was proven thoroughly wrong. He was defeated soundly by Anderson Silva in his last Middleweight title shot, but he continues to creep closer and closer to a potential rematch. Unless Chris Weidman upsets Anderson during their Middleweight title fight this summer, Belfort will likely need one or two more wins. Yushin Okami is probably the best available match up for Belfort rankings wise and stylistically. Okami is the kind of fighter who will test Belfort’s ability to keep himself upright against a smothering wrestler.

What’s next for Rockhold? There are a number of decent Middleweights who are coming off of losses to match up with Rockhold here. Alan Belcher is primarily a striker and recently lost to Michael Bisping, matching those two up would make sense. A match up against former Bellator Middleweight Champion Hector Lombard could also make sense, as both are champions from other organizations trying to get on track in the UFC.

GSP – The Way of the Fight Book

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

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Vitor Belfort Wants Reporter Beat Up Over TRT Question

May 19, 2013 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts, Videos

Vitor Belfort is without a doubt a multi-dimensional UFC personality. Only Vitor can thank God for his strength and ask a rabid Brazilian fan base to beat up a reporter that dares ask him about TRT in one press conference.

Former UFC light heavyweight champion Vitor Belfort may be in the middle of one of the greatest comebacks in UFC history but we all know about the pink elephant in the room, TRT. Belfort is not only blind to the elephant but is willing to assault anyone that has the gall to ask him about it. Threatening physical harm on a reporter for asking the question probably isn’t the smartest way to quell criticism over his TRT exemption.

I have to admit that I have mixed feelings when it comes to Belfort’s TRT. I agree with many that the whole thing just seems kind of dirty. A guy who has a better physique and appears to be in the prime of his fighter career at 36 on TRT seems oh I don’t know…kind of odd to me. On the other hand I want to give the guy credit for putting together one of the most impressive win streaks in recent years inside of the UFC.

I also do find the scrutiny here a bit interesting. A week after a report comes out exposing UFC contracts you have all of these media members with a TRT agenda, yet I don’t recall any of these people pressing the UFC this hard on contracts. I also don’t recall these same media members pressing Chael Sonnen or Dan Henderson this hard on TRT in recent fights.

Reacting to questions about your TRT exemption with threats and blowing off questions makes me wonder even more why Vitor is so scared to talk about it. What’s he hiding? Is he afraid of not answering a question properly? I don’t get it.

Beyond all of that the height of arrogance of any UFC fighter came at the UFC on FX8 presser when Vitor asked to have a reporter beaten up for asking the question. Whether he was joking or not (and watching the presser, he doesn’t appear to be smiling), it is an incredibly irresponsible thing to do, especially in a country with such a fanatical fan following. The UFC needs to act immediately and take action.

Quite frankly if I were the UFC I’d be embarrassed today. Belfort’s high profile win has brought the TRT debate to a level I haven’t seen in awhile. Fans and media in other sports are laughing at the UFC today coming out of this controversy. To cap it all off with their star fighter threatening a reporter for asking is something that makes the UFC look every bit as amateur and barbaric as their critics think they are.

I haven’t seen any kind of response yet from the UFC. If I were them I would have immediately gotten in front of this and not only forced Vitor to apologize, but force Vitor to sit with that reporter and answer any questions asked about TRT. That hasn’t happened as of yet and until it does, this whole thing becomes a bigger circus by the day.

Check it out for yourself at the 18:30 mark of the presser. Am I overreacting? Maybe, but Dana White loves to compare his sport to the four majors. I couldn’t imagine anything remotely close to this happening in the NFL, MLB, NBA, or NHL.

GSP – The Way of the Fight Book

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

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UFC on FX 8 Belfort vs. Rockhold Predictions and Preview

May 17, 2013 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

The UFC has taken a few weeks off to catch our breath after UFC 159. That all ends this weekend as the UFC returns to the land of free television airwaves and to the land of Brazil for UFC on FX 8. In the main event of the evening the final Strikeforce Middleweight Champion Luke Rockhold looks to move immediately into contention for the UFC Middleweight title as he battles Vitor Belfort in a Middleweight bout. The co-main event features former Strikeforce Middleweight Champion Ronaldo Souza making his UFC debut against Chris Camozzi; himself a late replacement for injured Costa Philippou. Other main card action features a potential Fight of the Year candidate between always exciting Lightweight bangers Evan Dunham and Rafael dos Anjos.

Preliminary Card (Facebook): Lightweight Bout: Lucas Martins vs. Jeremy Larsen

Lucas “Mineiro” Martins is a 24-year-old fighter from Minas Gerais, Brazil. Martins is getting a second chance in the UFC after an unsuccessful UFC debut as a late replacement against Edson Barboza. Martins is a member of the Chute Boxe Academy in Brazil. He holds a career record of 12-1, with the lone loss coming in his UFC debut. Jeremy Larsen is a 27-year-old fighter from Phoenix, Arizona. He was a cast member on the fifteenth season of The Ultimate Fighter and lost at the live finale to Joe Proctor. Larsen is a member of the Arizona Combat Sports Gym in Phoenix. He holds a career record of 8-3.

Quick Pick: Lucas Martins via Submission in Round Two

Preliminary Card (Facebook): Flyweight Bout: Jussier Formiga vs. Chris Cariaso

Jussier Formiga is a 28-year-old fighter from Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil. He is a member of the famed Nova Uniao Gym in Brazil and is a former Shooto South American 123-pound champion. Formiga is one of the top Flyweight grapplers and holds a career record of 14-2. Chris “Kamikaze” Cariaso is a 31-year-old fighter from San Jose, California. Cariaso trains at the Fight and Fitness Gym in northern California. Cariaso is a talented striker who holds a professional record of 14-4.

Quick Pick: Chris Cariaso via Unanimous Decision

Preliminary Card (Facebook): Flyweight Bout: John Lineker vs. Azamat Gashimov

John “Mao-de-Pedra” Lineker is a 23-year-old fighter from Parana, Brazil. A fairly large Flyweight, Lineker is a former Jungle Fight Bantamweight Champion, winning that title in 2011. Lineker is a tough and well-rounded scrapper who is dangerous anywhere the fight takes place. He is a member of The Emporium Gym in Brazil and he holds a professional record of 20-6. Azamat “Tough Guy” Gashimov is a 23-year-old fighter from Dagestan, Russia. He trains with Greg Jackson’s camp in New Mexico, one of many Russian fighters to recently flock there. He holds a professional record of 7-2, but will be making his Flyweight debut in this contest.

Quick Pick: John Lineker via TKO in Round Two

Preliminary Card (Fuel TV): Light Heavyweight Bout: Fabio Maldonado vs. Roger Hollett

Fabio Maldonado is a 33-year-old fighter from Sao Paulo, Brazil. A former professional boxer with a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, he is a tough match up for almost anyone. He trains with Team Nogueira in Florianapolis, Brazil. He holds a professional MMA record of 18-6. Roger “The Hulk” Hollett is a 34-year-old fighter from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Hollett is a former MFC Light Heavyweight Champion and spends most of his training camp at Titans Gym in Nova Scotia. He holds a professional MMA record of 13-4.

Quick Pick: Fabio Maldonado via TKO in Round Two

Preliminary Card (Fuel TV): Bantamweight Bout: Yuri Alcantara vs. Iliarde Santos

Yuri “Marajo” Alcantara is a 32-year-old fighter from Marajo, Brazil. After coming to the UFC from the WEC as a Featherweight, he has since dropped to Bantamweight, but his lone bout at 135-pounds is a No Contest. Alcantara is a talented grappler with a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. He is a member of the Marajo Brothers Fight Team, holding a record of 27-4 with 1 No Contest. Iliarde Santos is a 32-year-old fighter from Belem, Para, Brazil. He is a member of the Ulisses Pereira Team in Brazil. He is a late replacement for Marcos Vinicius who was forced to pull out of this bout due to injury. He holds a professional record of 27-6-1 with 1 No Contest.

Quick Pick: Yuri Alcantara via Submission in Round Two

Preliminary Card (Fuel TV): Welterweight Bout: Paulo Thiago vs. Michel Prazeres

Paulo Thiago is a 32-year-old fighter from Brasilia, Brazil. He is a member of the Constrictor Fight Team and is notable as one of the UFC’s most dangerous and successful part time fighters. He is a member of the BOPE (Brazil’s Special Forces Unit.) He holds black belts in BJJ and Judo and holds a career record of 14-5. Michel “Trator” Prazeres is a 31-year-old fighter from Belem Para, Brazil. Prazeres is a teammate of Yuri Alcantara who is taking this bout as a late replacement for Lance Benoist. He holds a perfect professional record of 16-0.

Quick Pick: Paulo Thiago via TKO in Round One

Preliminary Card (Fuel TV): Lightweight Bout: Gleison Tibau vs. John Cholish

Gleison Tibau is a 29-year-old fighter from Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil. Tibau is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu who currently trains in the United States with the American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Florida. Tibau has been fighting in the UFC since 2006 and this will be his 19th time fighting in the Octagon. He holds a career record of 26-9. John Cholish is a 29-year-old fighter from Hackettstown, New York. Cholish is notable as a part time fighter, holding down a full time job on Wall Street as a broker and being a Cornell University grad. Cholish trains with the Renzo Gracie Academy in New York, New York. He holds a professional record of 8-2.

Quick Pick: Gleison Tibau via Unanimous Decision

Preliminary Card (Fuel TV): Lightweight Bout: Francisco Trinaldo vs. Mike Rio

Francisco “Massaranduba” Trinaldo is a 34-year-old fighter from Amarante, Brazil. He was a competitor on the first season of The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil, where he competed as a Middleweight. He is a member of the Brazilian Top Team and the Constrictor Team in Brazil. He holds a professional MMA record of 12-2. Mike “The Wolverine” Rio is a 31-year-old fighter from Miami, Florida. Rio is also a TUF-alum, competing on the fifteenth season of the American version of the show. Rio trains with the Young Tigers Gym in Miami, Florida. He holds a professional record of 9-1.

Quick Pick: Francisco Trinaldo via Unanimous Decision

Preliminary Card (Fuel TV): Featherweight Bout: Hacran Dias vs. Nik Lentz

Hacran “Barnabe” Dias is a 28-year-old fighter from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Dias is a member of the Nova Uniao camp in Rio de Janeiro. Dias is a talented wrestler who is absolutely smothering from top position. This will be Dias’ first fight since June 2012, almost a year ago due to injuries. He holds a professional record of 21-1-1. Nik “The Carny” Lentz is a 28-year-old fighter from El Paso, Texas. Lentz is a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler from the University of Minnesota. Lentz trains with the American Top Team as well as the Minnesota Martial Arts Gym in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. Lentz holds a professional MMA record of 23-5-2-1, but is 2-0 in the UFC since dropping to Featherweight.

Quick Pick: Nik Lentz via Unanimous Decision

Main Card (FX): Middleweight Bout: Rafael Natal vs. Joao Zeferino

Rafael “Sapo” Natal is a 30-year-old fighter from Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Natal now trains stateside in the New York City, New York at the Gracie Fusion Gym. He is a talented grappler who holds a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Natal was originally scheduled to face Chris Camozzi at this event, but an injury to co-main event fighter Costa Philippou caused the card to be shuffled. Natal is a fairly one-dimensional fighter whose stand up is somewhat lacking, but his ground control is top-notch. Natal holds a career record of 15-4-1.

Joao “The Brazilian Samurai” Zeferino is a 27-year-old fighter from Santa Catarina, Brazil. Zeferino is a member of the Nitrix Fight Team in his hometown of Florianopolis, Brazil. Zeferino will be making his UFC debut in this bout and is entering the UFC on a seven-fight winning streak. Zeferino is tough and well rounded and has a number of victories via Submission. Despite a strong 13-4 record, he lacks a signature win on his resume and the most notable fighter on his docket is probably Sean Salmon.

Analysis and Prediction: Natal has many faults, he’s overly cocky and thinks very highly of himself, which often leads to blunders inside the cage. That same arrogance cost him in his bout against Andrew Craig. Still he should have the skills necessary to dispatch of Zeferino. Natal controls the action on the mat throughout all three rounds as he takes Zeferino down in all three rounds. Rafael Natal via Unanimous Decision

Main Card (FX): Lightweight Bout: Rafael dos Anjos vs. Evan Dunham

Rafael dos Anjos is a 28-year-old fighter from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He is a member of the Evolve MMA Gym, training in his hometown. Dos Anjos is a talented grappler who holds a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Despite his grappling prowess, in his most recent fights he has been having a great deal of success using his rapidly developing Muay Thai skills. Dos Anjos is currently riding a three fight-winning streak and it includes two dominant decision victories over Anthony Njokuani and Mark Bocek. Dos Anjos holds a career record of 18-6.

Evan Dunham is a 31-year-old fighter from Eugene, Oregon. Dunham trains at the Throwdown Training Center in Las Vegas, Nevada and he occasionally spends time at his former gym Xtreme Couture. Dunham is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu who is prone to getting into brawls at times. Dunham is known as a somewhat slow starter, who takes a while to get going in some of his fights, but once he does, he is one of the most exciting fighters in the Lightweight division to watch, holding three Fight of the Night Bonuses. He holds a career record of 14-3.

Analysis and Prediction: This has to be considered a front-runner for the Fight of the Night bonus. Dos Anjos is coming along nicely with his skill development and seems happy to brawl it out on the feet recently. Dunham is a notoriously slow starter, which means he often has to fight from behind on the scorecards. That could be a problem, because dos Anjos doesn’t give up rounds easily. Dunham is a talented wrestler, but dos Anjos’ grappling is top-notch which means he could be tough to corral on the ground. In the end I think Dunham’s slow start will be his downfall. Rafael dos Anjos via Unanimous Decision

Main Card (FX): Middleweight Bout: Ronaldo Souza vs. Chris Camozzi

Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza is a 33-year-old fighter from Vila Velha, Brazil. Souza is a member of the Black House Training Center in Manaus, Brazil. He is one of the most talented grapplers in the world, holding black belts in both Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Judo. Souza is a 5-time World Jiu Jitsu Champion, including a number of open weight titles in submission grappling tournaments. Despite Souza’s excellent grappling credentials, his overall MMA game has come a long way as his striking has improved by leaps and bounds since his initial entry into MMA in 2003. Souza is a former Strikeforce Middleweight Champion who holds an MMA record of 17-3 with 1 No Contest.

Chris Camozzi is a 26-year-old fighter from Alameda, California. Camozzi was a cast member on the eleventh season of The Ultimate Fighter but was ultimately removed from the competition due to injury. Camozzi is a member of the Factory X Muay Thai Gym in Lakewood, Colorado. He is currently riding a four-fight winning streak and is getting a shot in the co-main event after some card shuffling resulting from an injury to Costa Philippou. Camozzi is a grinder who doesn’t really excel at any one thing, but is capable of fighting anywhere the fight goes. He holds a career record of 19-5.

Analysis and Prediction: Camozzi is currently riding an impressive winning streak, but it’s hardly been against top-notch talent. Jacare on the other hand is going to be a whole different animal to deal with. Camozzi is a grinder, but Souza is going to put him through a meat grinder. Souza’s Muay Thai has improved to the space where he can hang with Camozzi on the feet and if he gets Camozzi on the ground, he’s submitting him. By the end of round two, I think he does just that. Ronaldo Souza via Submission in Round Two

Main Card (FX): Middleweight Bout: Vitor Belfort vs. Luke Rockhold

Vitor “The Phenom” Belfort is a 35-year-old fighter from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Belfort is a veteran of the sport, who has been competing professionally since 1996. Belfort is a former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion and also won a UFC Heavyweight Tournament at UFC 12. Belfort has fought for a number of major MMA promotions, including Cage Rage, Affliction, Strikeforce and PRIDE. He holds black belts in both Judo and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, although he is most well known for his striking skills. Brazil lives and resides in the United States. Belfort is a member of the Blackzillians, training in Boca Raton, Florida at the Jaco Hybrid Training Center. He holds a professional MMA record of 22-10.

Luke Rockhold is a 28-year-old fighter from Santa Cruz, California. Rockhold is a talented kick boxer but is well rounded and can fight effectively both on the mat and at range on the feet. Rockhold is a former Strikeforce Middleweight Champion and was the final man to hold the title when the promotion folded. This fight will mark Rockhold’s UFC debut and will be his first fight since July 2012 after nagging injuries have kept him out of action for 10 months. Rockhold holds a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and has won a number of Gold medals in the IBJJF World Jiu-Jitsu Championships. Rockhold is a member of the American Kickboxing Academy training in San Jose, California. He holds a professional record of 10-1.

Analysis and Prediction: Many fans and media pundits have questioned the UFC continually putting Belfort on Brazilian cards, where there is no athletic commission and it’s widely believed that he’s using TRT constantly. I have to agree with them, but like Kenny Florian recently stated on UFC Tonight, this fight isn’t going to be about Testosterone, it’s going to come down to skill.

Belfort is an absolute demon in the first round, but as we’ve seen throughout his career he has struggled in fights where he gets dragged into deeper waters. Rockhold on the other hand is a top-notch competitor with excellent cardio. One thing that could affect this fight is the dreaded case of Octagon jitters. Fighting in hostile territory, in his first UFC fight after nearly a year layoff, could certainly mess with Rockhold’s head come fight time.

I think that Rockhold as the striking skills to exchange with Belfort on the outside without getting lit up. Rockhold is hard to hit and his footwork and timing are excellent. On the ground, Belfort probably has the higher credentials, but Rockhold has shown more impressive ground skills throughout his career and is probably the smarter fighter, which means he might be looking for takedowns. In the end this fight is really close, but I think the longer the fight lsts the more it favors Rockhold who is accustomed to fighting for five full rounds already from his reign as Strikeforce Champion. Luke Rockhold via TKO in Round Four

GSP – The Way of the Fight Book

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

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UFC 2013 Spring/Summer Events Preview

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

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


Event: UFC on Fox 7: Henderson vs. Melendez

Date: April 20, 2013

Venue: HP Pavilion in San Jose, California

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


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

Event: UFC 159: Jones vs. Sonnen

Date: April 27, 2013

Venue: Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey

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


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


Event: UFC on FX 8: Belfort vs. Rockhold

Date: May 18, 2013

Venue: Arena Jaragua in Jaragua do Sul, Brazil

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


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

Event: UFC 160: Velasquez vs. Bigfoot 2

Date: May 25, 2013

Venue: MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada

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


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


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

Date: June 8, 2013

Venue: Paulo Sarasate Arena in Fortaleza, Brazil

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


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

Event: UFC 161: Barao vs. Wineland

Date: June 15, 2013

Venue: MTS Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

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


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


Event: UFC 162: Silva vs. Weidman

Date: July 6, 2013

Venue: MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada

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


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

Event: UFC on Fox 8

Date: July 27, 2013

Venue: Key Arena in Seattle Washington

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

Event: UFC 163: Aldo vs. Pettis

Date: August 3, 2013

Venue: HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Georges St-Pierre: The Way of the Fight Book

Anderson Silva: Like Water

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Chael Sonnen Accepts, Vitor Belfort Declines

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

I’ve heard plenty of UFC fighters challenge other fighters over the years. However, this is the first time I can ever recall a UFC fighter claim that a challenge heard on national television was a misunderstanding.

Vitor Belfort is full of surprises. He surprised the MMA community when he recently challenged Chael Sonnen. Unfortunately the fight isn’t happening and you may be surprised when you find out why.

Belfort recently racked up his second middleweight win in a row at UFC on FX 7 at the expense of Michael Bisping. Ironically it was Belfort’s post-fight interview that wound up making headlines that night and not his brutal KO win.

Some expected Belfort to use his win over Bisping as an argument for a championship rematch with Anderson Silva. Think again. Instead, Belfort issued challenges to guys that aren’t even his division.

Take that punk Chael Sonnen…get him out. Dana, Lorenzo, kick him out. Let me fight Jon Jones. I need that rematch. Take that clown away. Go home…You did a reality show. Go home. Let me fight the real champion. Champion against champion, not that clown.

Sonnen is a clown. Get out. Get out of the way. He just got knocked out pretty bad by Anderson Silva then he fights Jon Jones. He doesn’t deserve the reality show. Let me fight—real champion versus real champion. I know he’s a good athlete, but he needs to go to the back of the line. Let me fight the rematch.

Chael immediately accepted the fight on the post-fight show. “Let be really clear and speak directly to you, Vitor. You’ve been telling the world you want to meet Jesus, and I’ll gladly arrange that travel. But first, I’m going to get rid of Jon Jones, but you are next.

Let me be clear,” Sonnen continued. “Vitor, I accept, but don’t make any mistake about that. You’ve called me out twice now. Once after I signed a contract to fight Anderson, and once when you know I was busy with Jon Jones, but I’m letting you know I accept.

Vitor responded with a tweet that would lead you to believe that we were at the start of a good old fashioned MMA grudge match.

@sonnench You don’t have the power to send me to Jesus, buy I can provide you with an early encounter with Satan!” – @VitorBelfort

Unfortunately it would appear as of today that Belfort is not any closer to getting a fighter with either Jon Jones or Chael Sonnen than he was last week. Jones simply brushed off the challenge with an “LOL” on Twitter. Sonnen on the hand immediately accepted Belfort’s challenge and in the biggest surprise of all, Belfort turned down the fight.

Sonnen broke the news in an interview this week. According to Sonnen, the challenge everyone heard was well, misinterpreted.

I thought he challenged me,” Sonnen wrote on a live chat. “Which I quickly accepted. Then his people reached out to me and said I simply [misunderstood], that he simply wants the fight that I have, that he does not wish to fight me.

Sonnen later added, “It’s a good move by him. He’s terrible.”

So there you have it? Not only was Vitor’s post-fight challenge a shocker, his follow up is even more shocking. According to Chael, Vitor is running scared or at least it would appear that way. Why? I have no idea.

I guess sixteen years of getting punched in the face will do that to a man.

UFC: Ultimate Fight Collection 2012

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

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UFC On FX 7: Belfort Vs. Bisping Predictions and Analysis

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

Last weekend was a very big day for the world of MMA. Despite the best of intentions for the final Strikeforce card last Saturday a rash of injuries, politics and bad luck the card wasn’t what was initially planned as a big sendoff for the promotion. Despite that the card was fairly entertaining. Despite that however, the ratings were absolutely terrible, drawing a mere 310,000 viewers for the event on Showtime. But, as always the runaway locomotive that is the UFC will continue to roll on this weekend.

The UFC returns to the birthplace of MMA for UFC on FX 7, as they host yet another event in Brazil. The event airs on FX from the Ibirapuera Arena in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The main event features loud-mouthed British fighter Michael Bisping takes on Brazil’s own Vitor Belfort for a shot at the Middleweight title. Brazilian’s are featured in all of the other main card bouts on FX as the co-main event sees TUF: Brazil’s Daniel Sarafian takes on C.B. Dollaway. Heavyweights collide in another bout as Gabriel Gonzaga takes on Ben Rothwell and a Lightweight bout with high potential for violence as Thiago Tavares takes on Khabib Nurmagomedov.

Preliminary Card (Facebook): Lightweight Bout: Francisco Trinaldo vs. C.J. Keith

Francisco “Massaranduba” Trinaldo is a 34-year-old fighter from Amarante, Brazil. Trinaldo is a member of the Constrictor Team and Brazilian Top Team in his home country of Brazil. He was a cast member on the first season of The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil. He holds a professional record of 11-2. C.J. Keith is a 26-year-old fighter from Porterville, California. He is a member of the Pro Buhawe Gym in California. Keith holds a professional record of 8-1, with his lone loss coming in his UFC debut against Ramsey Nijem.

Quick Pick: Francisco Trinaldo via TKO in Round One

Preliminary Card (Fuel TV): Light Heavyweight Bout: Wagner Prado vs. Ildemar Alcantara

Wagner “Caldeirao” Prado is a 26-year-old fighter from Sao Paulo, Brazil. Prado is a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu who trains with Team Nogueira in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Prado holds a career record of 8-1 with 1 No Contest. Iledmar “Marajo” Alcantara is a fighter from Soure, Para, Brazil. He is the younger brother of fellow UFC fighter Yuri Alcantara who is taking this bout as a last minute replacement with only two weeks’ notice. He holds a career record of 17-5, with most of his fights coming in the Jungle Fight promotion.

Quick Pick: Wagner Prado via TKO in Round Two

Preliminary Card (Fuel TV): Bantamweight Bout: Yuri Alcantara vs. Pedro Nobre

Yuri “Marajo” Alcantara is a 32-year-old Brazilian fighter from the island of Marajo in Brazil. He is a member of the Pattaya Fight Team in Brazil. He is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu who holds a career record of 27-4. Pedro “The Rock” Nobre is a 26-year-old from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He trains with the Brazilian Top Team and is another late notice replacement for this fight card. He was also a cast member from TUF: Brazil. The natural Flyweight will be moving up in weight for this bout, but holds a career record of 14-1-2 as a professional.

Quick Pick: Yuri Alcantara via TKO in Round Two

Preliminary Card (Fuel TV): Lightweight Bout: Edson Barboza vs. Lucas Martins

Edson “Junior” Barboza is a 26-year-old Brazilian fighter from Rio de Janeiro. A purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and a black belt in Tae Kwan Do, Barboza trains out of The Armory in Jupiter, Florida. Barboza is a former professional kick boxer, who holds a 10-1 record in his professional MMA career. Lucas “Mineiro” Martins is a 24-year-old Brazilian fighter from Minas Gerais, Brazil. He is a member of the Chute Boxe Academy who is taking this bout on short notice. He heads into his UFC debut with a perfect professional record of 12-0.

Quick Pick: Edson Barboza via TKO in Round Two

Preliminary Card (Fuel TV): Featherweight Bout: Diego Nunes vs. Nik Lentz

Diego “The Gun” Nunes is a 30-year-old Brazilian fighter from Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. Nunes is a member of the Nova Uniao Gym in Brazil who holds a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Nunes holds a professional record of 18-3. Nik “The Carny” Lentz is a 28-year-old from El Paso, Texas. He is a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler from the University of Minnesota who trains with the American Top Team. He has a professional MMA record of 22-5-2-1.

Quick Pick: Diego Nunes via Unanimous Decision

Preliminary Card (Fuel TV): Middleweight Bout: Ronny Markes vs. Andrew Craig

Ronny Markes is a 24-year-old Brazilian fighter from Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil. Markes is a member of the Nova Uniao Gym in Brazil. Markes is a talented grappler who is very large for the Middleweight division. He holds a professional record of 13-1. Andrew Craig is a 26-year-old from Houston, Texas. Training out of the Team Tooke Gym in his hometown, he is a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. He holds a perfect professional MMA record of 8-0.

Quick Pick: Ronny Markes via TKO in Round Three

Preliminary Card (Fuel TV): Featherweight Bout: Godofredo Castro vs. Milton Vieira

Godofredo “Pepey” Castro is a 25-year-old fighter from Fortaleza, Brazil. He is best known as a finalist on the first season of TUF: Brazil. He is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu who trains at his own MG Pepey Gym in Brazil. He holds a professional record of 8-1. Milton “Miltinho” Vieira is a 34-year-old Brazilian fighter. A member of the Brazilian Top Team and a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt, he is widely acknowledged as the man who created the anaconda choke. He holds a professional fighting record of 13-7-2.

Quick Pick: Milton Vieira via Unanimous Decision

Main Card (FX): Lightweight Bout: Thiago Tavares vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov

Thiago Tavares is a 28-year-old Brazilian fighter from Florianopolis, Brazil. Tavares is a talented grappler with a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. He trains with the Brazilian Top Team and Ataque Duplo Gym in Santa Catarina. Tavares entered the UFC as a top undefeated prospect back in 2007. He has had twelve fights since then, going 7-4-1 in the promotion. His striking has been improving throughout his career to the point where it’s still not his best strength, but it’s not a glaring weakness either. Overall, his professional MMA record stands at 17-4-1.

Khabib “The Eagle” Nurmagomedov is a 24-year-old Russian fighter. He is a well-rounded fighter who holds a black belt in Judo and is an International Master of Sports (a top rank) in Combat Sambo. Nurmagomedov currently splits his training time between Russia and the USA. He trains with the Red Fury Fight Team in Russia and the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, California. He is one of the top Lightweight prospects to ever come out of Russia. He holds a perfect career record of 18-0, but is coming off of a fairly controversial decision victory over Gleison Tibau in his last bout.

Analysis and Prediction: This will likely be a close bout as Nurmagomedov takes another significant step up in competition. Tavares is tough and well rounded and has very impressive cardio, which is something that Nurmagomedov has struggled with in the past. Tavares does his best work on the ground, but so far in his UFC career the young Russian has defended all ten takedown attempts against him. If Nurmagomedov is able to stuff Tavares’ takedowns attempts and punish him as he shoots, if Tavares is able to work the bout to the floor, he’ll likely be able to earn a decision based on positional dominance and top control. I think the more likely outcome is that he struggles to work the fight to the floor and Nurmagomedov punishes him with kicks and punches from in close en-route to a decision victory. Khabib Nurmagomedov via Unanimous Decision

Main Card (FX): Heavyweight Bout: Gabriel Gonzaga vs. Ben Rothwell

Gabriel “Napao” Gonzaga is a 33-year-old Brazilian fighter from Rio de Janeiro. Gonzaga now trains stateside in the USA with Team Link in Ludlow, Massachusetts. Gonzaga is a former member of the Chute Boxe Academy, who is best known for his highlight reel head kick knockout of Mirko Filipovic at UFC 70. Gonzaga has had numerous successes in the Abu Dhabi Combat Club submission grappling tournaments as well as the Mundials Grappling Tournament in Brazil. He holds a professional record of 13-6.

“Big” Ben Rothwell is a 31-year-old fighter from Kenosha, Wisconsin. Rothwell is a former professional kick boxer who has trained under famed coaches Duke Roufus and Pat Miletich throughout his career. He now owns and fights out of his own gym in Kenosha, Wisconsin called Rothwell MMA/LCCT BJJ. Before making his debut in the UFC, Rothwell fought for a number of major MMA promotions including M-1 Global, King of the Cage, IFL and Affliction. Rothwell is a veteran of the sport who has over 40 career bouts on his ledger and holds a career record of 32-8.

Analysis and Prediction: Rothwell looked very impressive in his last outing against Brendan Schaub and appears to have gotten himself in better shape recently. After the bout he credited a new training regimen and lifestyle and dietary changes for the improvements. Rothwell does his best damage from in close using dirty boxing and clinch work to batter his opponents. This could present problems, as it will give Gonzaga ample opportunity to work the fight to the ground from in close. I don’t think that Gonzaga can keep up with Rothwell’s pace however, as he fades later in the fight and succumbs to strikes in the third. Ben Rothwell via TKO in Round Three

Main Card (FX): Middleweight Bout: Daniel Sarafian vs. C.B. Dollaway

Daniel Sarafian is a 30-year-old Brazilian fight from Sao Paulo, Brazil. He was a competitor on the first season of The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil. Sarafian has a background in Judo and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. He was a favorite to win the show and made it to the finals, but an injury forced his withdrawal. Sarafian has fought for a number of promotions in Brazil, Philippines and USA. Sarafian holds a career record of 7-2.

C.B. “The Doberman” Dollaway is a 29-year-old fighter from Mount Gilead, Ohio. Dollaway is a member of the Power MMA Team training in Tempe, Arizona. Dollaway is best known as a finalist on the seventh season of The Ultimate Fighter. Dollaway is a former NCAA Division 1 Wrestler from Arizona State University. Dollaway uses his wrestling throughout his bouts, but his striking is still somewhat raw. Due to this, he often struggles against fighters that he cannot easily takedown. He holds a professional MMA record of 12-4.

Analysis and Prediction: Daniel Sarafian was one of the top Middleweights on TUF: Brazil. He is very well rounded and packs big power in his punches. Dollaway is a talented wrestler, but that is basically the extent of his skills. Dollaway has struggled throughout his career against fighters that can stop his takedowns. Expect a sprawl-and-brawl heavy game plan for Sarafian, as he’ll try to punish Dollaway every time he shoots in. Dollaway has a pretty low fight IQ and isn’t talented enough to fight Sarafian in a striking contest, if he doesn’t take this one to the ground quickly, he’s probably going to sleep. Daniel Sarafian via TKO in Round Two

Main Card (FX): Middleweight Bout: Vitor Belfort vs. Michael Bisping

Vitor “The Phenom” Belfort is a 35-year-old fighter from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. A veteran of the sport of MMA, he has been fighting professionally since 1996. Belfort won the UFC 12 Heavyweight Tournament and is also a former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion. Belfort holds a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, a black belt in Judo and a purple belt in Shotokan Karate. Although originally from Brazil, Belfort now lives and trains in the United States, previously with the Xtreme Couture Gym in Las Vegas, Nevada but for this bout he has switched his training to the Jaco Hybrid Training Center in Boca Raton, Florida with the Blackzillians. This will be Belfort’s return to Middleweight after a failed attempt against Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones. Belfort holds a career record of 21-10.

Michael “The Count” Bisping is a 33-year-old fighter from Manchester, England. Bisping is best known as the winner of the Light Heavyweight portion of the third season of The Ultimate Fighter. Despite given a bad reputation as having “pillow fists” Bisping is one of the best technical strikers in the Middleweight division and his defensive boxing is usually sound (his knockout loss to Dan Henderson not withstanding.) Bisping is a member of the HB Ultimate Training Center in Huntington Beach, California. Bisping has excellent footwork and a strong jab, which are key components to his defensive boxing skills. He is also a well-rounded fighter who has been improving his wrestling and grappling skills. In his last bout against Brian Stann, Bisping used his defensive boxing skills, mixed with well-timed takedowns to take a Unanimous Decision. He holds a career record of 23-4.

Analysis and Prediction: Belfort does his best work in the opening rounds. Bisping certainly knows that and he’s not going to be putting himself at risk in the opening rounds. Bisping has solid defensive striking and is a talented counter-puncher. With the monumental error in judgment that he showcased against Dan Henderson withstanding, Bisping has never been stopped in his career. The backbone of his striking defense is his movement and footwork, he’s going to need to be moving constantly, as standing in front of Belfort is going to be a big mistake.

The key to beating Belfort in the past has been to use takedowns and to control him on the mat, Bisping doesn’t have the necessary skills to pull that off over five full rounds, so Belfort is going to have his chances in the striking. Belfort’s conditioning didn’t look great in his bout against Jon Jones, although it might not be a fair comparison since he spent most of that bout underneath Jones and trying to survive. He’s not likely to have that kind of problem against Bisping, unless the Brit has been stepping up his wrestling training significantly. He did manage to land some takedowns against Stann, but Belfort’s takedown defense is significantly better than Stann’s.

I think Belfort is going to come out flying in the first round, looking for the big Hail Mary punch. Bisping is going to be too wise for that. Bisping will spend most of the first two rounds playing a lot of defense and looking for a chance to work this fight to the ground. As the fight wears on, Belfort will slowly begin to fade, and that’s when I expect Bisping to come alive. He becomes more active and more aggressive as the fight wears on. I expect he takes a Unanimous Decision. Michael Bisping via Unanimous Decision

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

Anderson Spider Silva (Em Portugues do Brasil

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Daniel Cormier Could Fight Jon Jones In UFC Debut

January 03, 2013 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

The fast track to receiving a UFC light heavyweight championship is now clear. The less you fight in the division, the better chance you have of being named number one contender.

2012 was a game changing year in the UFC. It was the first year that the UFC made it perfectly clear that they more interested in business than sport. How else would you explain a sport where the champion is defending his title against two guys that haven’t won fights in his division in years, and set to fight another that has never fought a fight in his entire career at light heavyweight?

Strikeforce heavyweight Grand Prix champion Daniel Cormier has signed his UFC contract and after fulfilling his last obligation to Strikeforce, will step inside the UFC octagon. This is a move that was widely expected for months. What wasn’t expected is that Cormier could be coming to the UFC outside of his division. Even more unexpected is how the heavyweight champion will be greeted by Dana White.

[Cormier] is going to bring a lot of excitement to the heavyweight or light heavyweight division,” White said. “And he could be next in line to fight (Jon) Jones.

Back that up! The UFC president is handing a fighter a title shot in a division that he has never even fought in? Has the UFC suddenly turned into DREAM? If Cormier does debut as a challenger to the light heavyweight champion that would make three challengers in a row that haven’t won a fight in the division in years or ever. Say what you will about Chael and Vitor but hey, at least they fought at light heavyweight at one point in their careers!

I don’t think it is a bad thing to make an exception for someone every once in awhile. For example if Jon Jones decided one day that he wants to fight at heavyweight, I wouldn’t have a huge issue at giving him a title shot in his debut. If Georges St-Pierre wanted to move to middleweight, sign me up for a title shot immediately. But Daniel Cormier?

It makes no sense. So Cormier who is a Strikeforce heavyweight Grand Prix champion gets an immediate title shot and the actual Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem and the last light heavyweight champion have to win fights to get title shots? The idea that Cormier would get a title shot over Dan Henderson who was the actual light heavyweight champion, came to UFC as champion, and has actually defeated top ranked fighters has to take a backseat to Cormier is about as absurd as it gets.

In the long run I think this kind of entertainment over sport booking is going to catch up with the UFC. Say Jon Jones defeats Cormier. You have a guy in Jones that has an impressive streak of wins but no credibility as champion. How do you market that? What about the fans like me that enjoyed the investment of watching someone rise through the ranks and earn their title shot? Those title fights are a heck of a lot more intriguing to me than the one-sided fights against undeserving challengers with bigger names.

For what was once the most intriguing division in the UFC has now turned into an absolute joke!

UFC: Ultimate Fight Collection 2012

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

Anderson Spider Silva (Em Portugues do Brasil

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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?

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

Anderson Spider Silva (Em Portugues do Brasil

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