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Shlemenko vs. Cooper, two additional bouts set for Bellator 44

The Gauge: March 2011

Jon Jones (photo courtesy of MMA Weekly)

Sometimes a fighter lives up to the hype, and sometimes he doesn’t.

While Jon Jones entered the sport of mixed martial arts quietly and quickly built up a reputation that resulted in an unbelievable amount of hype, eventually culminating in a championship victory, another athlete entered the sport as an established star but continued to display an uneven game that has caused him to be a fighter who is headed in the opposite direction from the new UFC light heavyweight champ.

That fighter is Bobby Lashley.

For those who have followed The Gauge through its many incarnations, dating back to The Sporting News website, you will remember a category – “Deflated” – that has been retired in this iteration of the feature. The category was meant to highlight one fighter whose momentum or hype had taken a huge hit in the month.

Well, for one time only, I’m resurrecting that little gem and awarding it to Lashley. It’s not that the former collegiate wrestler and WWE superstar doesn’t have the background or tools to become a successful mixed martial artist, but he just hasn’t managed to put it all together yet.

The heavyweight has only lost once in seven outings, but even most of his victories have not helped to build him up as a top fighter. From his early bouts against outmatched opponents, to his Strikeforce debut against Wes Sims, to his only career loss against Chad Griggs, and now to his most recent win in March under the Titan Fighting Championships banner, Lashley has failed to live up to his hype.

John Ott, his Titan FC 17 opponent, isn’t even a true heavyweight, yet Lashley was unable to finish him. While one can point to Lashley’s previous stoppage victories as a sign that he can be effective, it’s hard to say that an odd finish against Mike Cook, or wins over Bob Sapp and Wes Sims, really count for much. Ott and Griggs easily mark Lashley’s two toughest foes to date, and he has put up less than stellar showings against both.

If Lashley is ever to right the ship, he needs to work on his ability to finish opponents and his cardio. He comes out in a flurry, taking his opponent down and throwing flailing hammer fists. That might have worked against low level competition, but it won’t work against even the John Otts of the world. It’s time for Lashley to add another dimension to his game, either in the form of a more crisp and calculated ground-and-pound attack or a submission game, while also committing to a routine that allows him to finish the fight as strong as he starts it.

Beyond Lashley’s sub-par showing and Jon Jones’ huge win, a lot more happened in the month of March. The UFC held three events and purchased Strikeforce, M-1 Global ran its first solo effort on the Showtime network and Bellator kicked off its fourth season of action. So, how does it all break down? Let’s find out…

1. Jon Jones – “Bones” became the youngest champion in UFC history and nabbed a thief, all in a single day’s work. While the early pay-per-view estimates for UFC 128 suggest that the MMA community might be slightly premature in crowning Jones a superstar, a victory over a legendary opponent and an appearance on the Tonight Show was a good start. With his personality and fighting style, there’s no doubt that he’ll become one of the promotion’s biggest draws in the near future provided he has continued success. A feud with former teammate Rashad Evans won’t hurt either. Jones looks invincible right now, and it will be interesting to see how long he can keep it up.

2. Chan Sung Jung – “The Korean Zombie” trended on Twitter, confusing more than a few people, as he pulled off a twister to submit Leonard Garcia at UFC Fight Night 24 in a rematch of their WEC 48 war, which is widely considered a “Fight of the Decade” candidate. While the second meeting of the two WEC veterans didn’t produce quite as wowing of a show from start to finish, the finish itself was memorable and Jung avenged the controversial outcome of that first fight.

3. Phil Davis – Once Jon Jones claimed the UFC light heavyweight crown, talk turned to who could beat the new champ, and Davis’ name was quick to pop up. While he eventually cracked Antonio Rogerio Nogueira’s takedown defense in the main event at UFC Fight Night 24, he still demonstrated why he isn’t ready to crack the riddle to beating the new champ. Davis’ wrestling is great, but Lil Nog proved that it can be neutralized. That leaves Davis’ stand-up and his ability to use feints to set up takedowns, both of which will be key to his development. His win over Nogueira is impressive and he is showing great potential as a major component in the future of the light heavyweight division, but we shouldn’t jump ahead of ourselves and call him the man to conquer Jones just yet.

4. Anthony Johnson – “Rumble’s” return to the Octagon ended in success, with a unanimous decision win over Dan Hardy at UFC Fight Night 24. The doubts surrounding Johnson’s ability to cut weight and any lingering ring rust were erased when he rocked Hardy early and used his wrestling to dominate the Brit for the better part of three rounds. The win over Hardy puts Johnson near the top of the welterweight heap, and if he can stay consistent and continue to make weight without issue, we could be looking at a title contender in the very near future.

5. (tie) Junior dos Santos and Brock Lesnar – The Ultimate Fighter 13 is now underway, and with it the hype train for the heavyweight showdown between coaches Lesnar and dos Santos. Dos Santos earned the first team victory with Shamar Bailey defeating Nordin Asrih, while Lesnar already began subtly demeaning his crew of fighters with what, from the preview of future episodes, appears to be his catchphrase for the season – “Making chicken salad out of chicken shit.”

6. The TUF fighters – Beyond the coaches for this season of The Ultimate Fighter, there are the 14 welterweights who made the house. It’s unfortunate to see one – Myles Jury – already out of the house with an injury, but this season actually appears to have at least a few prospects.

7. Jim Miller – Miller’s TKO victory over WEC import Kamal Shalorus at UFC 128 gives the AMA Fight Club product nine wins in ten Octagon appearances. We’re going to see the one man who holds a win over him – Gray Maynard – challenge Frankie Edgar for the UFC lightweight belt again, but surely Miller is either first or second, behind WEC’s final lightweight kingpin Anthony Pettis, in line to face the winner of that bout.

8. Brendan Schaub – Schaub doesn’t have much experience and usually isn’t brought up in conversations about top heavyweights in the UFC, but he is quietly putting together a solid resume since his TUF 10 finals loss to Roy Nelson. He has now defeated four fighters since that loss, with the level of competition consistently increasing. His latest win came at UFC 128 with a decisive knockout of the legendary Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic. The Croatian was giving Schaub a tough fight, but the former pro football player eventually landed a shot that turned Cro Cop’s lights out. He might not be in the contender conversation yet, but one or two more victories like that one, and it’s only a matter of time.

9. Magomed Sultanakhmedov – The “White Wolf” separated himself from the other big winners at M-1 Challenge 24 by also notching another win in the month of March to earn his ticket to the title fight with Tyson Jeffries at M-1′s first event to air live on Showtime. Prior to his TKO victory over Jeffries to capture M-1′s vacant middleweight strap, Sultanakhmedov scored a TKO of Plinio Cruz just three weeks earlier at M-1 Challenge 23. With M-1′s new spot on the US-based premium cable channel and White Wolf’s history of success, writers will probably be wrestling with his name for quite some time.

10. (tie) Jose Figueroa and Alexander Sarnavskiy – Figueroa and Sarnavskiy were among the other stars to deliver impressive performances on M-1′s Showtime debut. Figueroa scored a second-round TKO of Artiom Damkovsky to claim M-1 lightweight gold, while Sarnavskiy continued to impress as Europe’s top prospect by submitting late replacement Beau Baker. It might not be long until these two men are standing at opposite corners of the same ring.

Out of Obscurity: The Week in Review (March 23 – March 31)

Every Friday, MMA DieHards will take a look – with video footage when possible – at the previous week’s action at small regional and international shows with a focus on UFC and Pride veterans, consensus-ranked fighters and up-and-coming prospects. Here’s what went down between March 23 and March 31:

M-1 Challenge 24: Damkovsky vs. Figueroa (Norfolk, Va.; March 25)

Figueroa vs. Damkovsky

2010 M-1 Selection Americas tournament winner Jose Figueroa (10-4) scored a second-round TKO of Artiom Damkovsky (8-5) to capture the M-1 lightweight crown…Dream veteran Magomed Sultanakhmedov (16-5) claimed the vacant M-1 middleweight title with a second-round TKO of Tyson Jeffries (7-5)…Lightweight prospect Alexander Sarnavskiy (13-0) remained undefeated with a second-round rear naked choke submission of late replacement Beau Baker (8-4)…TUF 8 alum and UFC veteran Vinny Magalhaes (7-5) needed less than two minutes to score a TKO of Jake Doerr (6-1)…Bellator veteran Jason Norwood (11-2) used his wrestling to control Mojo Horne (8-3) en route to a unanimous decision victory…Jessie Riggleman (10-2) locked in a guillotine choke to submit Jason Hilliker (2-2) in the first round.

Sultanakhmedov vs. Jeffries

Sarnavskiy vs. Baker

Alaska Fighting Championship 81 (Anchorage, Ala.; March 23)
Nic Herron-Webb (10-2) submitted Rolando Dominique (3-4) via a second-round armbar.

Pacific X-Treme Combat 22: Battle for the Belts (Mangilao, Guam; March 23)
Joe Taimanglo (14-4-1) submitted Travis Beyer (2-1) by way of a second-round kneebar.

Heroes Gate 3 (Prague, Czech Republic; March 24)
Ivan Buchinger (16-2) earned a unanimous decision over Maratbek Kalabekov (12-4)…Attila Vegh (21-4-2) scored a third-round TKO of Baga Agaev (20-11).

Ultimate Cage Championships 8: Double Trouble (Manchester, England; March 24)
Ali Arish (11-0) maintained his spotless record with a first-round TKO of Edvardas Norkeliunas (13-9-1).

Cage Fighting Championships 16 (Sydney, Australia; March 25)
No. 14-ranked middleweight and current Bellator middleweight champion Hector Lombard (28-2-1) opened a large cut on the head of UFC and Sengoku veteran Joe Doerksen (46-15) to force a first-round doctor’s stoppage for the TKO win. Lombard retained his CFC middleweight strap with the victory…Manuel Rodriguez (8-1) earned a unanimous decision over Rodney MacSwain (12-3) to become the No. 1 contender for the CFC welterweight crown.

Cornhusker Fight Club 4: Fighting Irish (Lincoln, Neb.; March 25)
Amateur fighter Miles Marshall (10-0) remained undefeated with a first-round TKO of Matthew Osterkamp (4-1 amateur).

Real Fight-FC (Minsk, Belarus; March 25)
Igor Araujo (20-6) secured a rear naked choke to submit Vitaliy Ostrovskiy (3-6) in the third round.

Titan Fighting Championships 17 (Kansas City, Kan.; March 25)

Lashley vs. Ott

Former WWE superstar and Strikeforce veteran Bobby Lashley (6-1) earned a unanimous decision over Bellator vet John Ott (8-8)…Strikeforce and Bellator veteran Aaron Rosa (16-3) secured a rear naked choke in the second round to submit TUF 10 alum Abe Wagner (8-4)…UFC and Strikeforce veteran Phil Baroni (14-13) took the unanimous nod over Strikeforce and Bellator vet Nick Nolte (3-3)…WEC and Bellator veteran James Krause (12-3) needed just 41 seconds to score a TKO of Nathan Schut (11-6)…Bellator veteran Eric Marriott (20-5) earned a unanimous decision over Willian de Souza (1-1).

Rosa vs. Wagner

Krause vs. Schut

Battlefield Fight League 7 (Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada; March 26)
UFC and Strikeforce veteran Jesse Taylor (18-6) earned a unanimous decision over Clay Davidson (5-3).

Caged Madness MMA (Glen Carbon, Ill.; March 26)

Rd 2 of Tickle (white trunks) vs. Berger

Chris Tickle (6-3) scored a second-round TKO of UFC and Strikeforce veteran Steve Berger (21-22-2).

Fighters Arena Lodz 2 (Lodz, Poland; March 26)

Conclusion of Drwal (black & white trunks) vs. Nascimento

UFC veteran Tomasz Drwal (18-4-1) knocked out Leonardo “Chocolate” Nascimento (8-8-2) in the second round…Bodog veteran Konstantin Gluhov (15-6) scored a second-round TKO of Bellator and M-1 Challenge vet Michal Kita (10-6).

Ultimate Challenge MMA: Lights Out (London; March 26)
Cage Rage veteran Giorgio Andrews (8-0) kept his unblemished record intact with a first-round TKO of James Lutman (4-6).

King of the Cage: Turning Point (Tarzana, Calif.; March 27)
UFC veteran Alberto Crane (14-5) snagged IFL vet Gabe Rivas (13-18-1) in an armbar for the first-round submission victory…2008 Olympic bronze medalist judoka Ronda Rousey (1-0) made a successful pro MMA debut, needing only 25 seconds to submit Ediane Gomes (6-2) via armbar.

Counterpunch: Strikeforce Challengers 15

(photo courtesy of Strikeforce)

It’s the start of a new era for Strikeforce.

Now under the ownership of UFC parent company Zuffa, Strikeforce begins its run under the new ownership with another in its series of Challengers events. The show has always been dedicated to providing a platform for promotional up-and-comers, and that will not change with Zuffa at the helm.

For Strikeforce Challengers 15, Justin Wilcox and Rodrigo Damm will take center stage on a card that also includes prospects Scott Lighty, Lorenz Larkin, David Douglas, Caros Fodor and James Terry.

The action in Stockton, Calif., gets underway April 1 at 11 p.m. ET on Showtime.

The MMA DieHards panel of writers – Bob Badders, Bryan Henderson, Jason Kelly, Joe Rizzo and Rob Tatum – gathered to make their picks for the main card.

Three fighters earned unanimous nods from our panel as favorites in their fights.

In a 165-pound catchweight bout, James Terry (9-2) is the panel’s clear choice to defeat late replacement Josh Thornburg (6-2). Terry, who trains with Cung Le, has amassed four wins and one loss under the Strikeforce banner. His lone defeat came against Tarec Saffiedine. Thornburg, who steps in for the injured Conor Heun, is a Cesar Gracie disciple and has finished four foes by way of submission. He has also competed for Strikeforce, losing a decision to Roger Bowling. While Thornburg is a potential prospect for the organization, he enters this fight on short notice and will likely be outclassed by Terry on the feet. Terry has proven himself in the past on the Strikeforce stage and will continue to do so here. Look for him to score a TKO of the submission specialist.

Light heavyweight Scott Lighty (6-1) is the consensus pick to defeat late replacement Lorenz Larkin (8-0). Larkin comes into the fight undefeated, but he also comes in on short notice for Satoshi Ishii. This should be a fight filled with fireworks, as the two competitors come in with a combined ten KO/TKO finishes out of their combined 14 wins. Lighty is a kickboxer who has already appeared within Strikeforce twice, including a loss to Antwain Britt. This will be Larkin’s first fight at such a high level, which could be the deciding factor. Someone will get knocked out here, and we’ll say that someone is Larkin.

In the panel’s opinion, the main event is a lock for lightweight Justin Wilcox (10-3), who will face Rodrigo Damm (9-4). Damm has lost three of his last four bouts, including a knockout at the hands of Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez and a TKO against Maximo Blanco under the Sengoku banner. While Damm’s recent opponents have been top-notch competition, his lack of success is troubling as he enters the cage against “The Silverback.” Wilcox has just three career losses, two of which came in 2006 (Dan Hornbuckle, Chad Reiner) and one in 2008 (Mitsuhiro Ishida). The American Kickboxing Academy product has put together a string of impressive wins under the Strikeforce banner and should be able to add Damm’s name to that list. Wilcox has trouble finishing, so look for him to dominate with his wrestling on his way to a decision win.

The panel was divided on the other two contests, which brings us to the “Counterpunch,” where one of the writers in the minority defends his reason for going against the popular opinion.

WW: Damian Douglas (3-1) vs. Wayne Phillips (5-3)
Picking Douglas: 3 (Badders, Kelly, Rizzo)
Picking Phillips: 2 (Henderson, Tatum)

Tatum: In the first televised bout of Strikeforce Challengers 15, these two largely unknown welterweights will do battle.

Douglas, as some may remember, competed in the now defunct ShoXC Challengers series back in 2008… and has not competed since. The Cesar Gracie product has been out of action for nearly two and a half years.

Phillips, meanwhile, was in action as recently as December, picking up a decision victory over Fernando Bettega at Strikeforce: Henderson vs. Babalu 2. Although sporting a less than stellar 5-3 record, Phillips has never been finished.

The bottom line in this fight is that you have to favor the more active fighter. The sport of mixed martial arts evolves by the day, and taking off a lengthy period of time (for any reason) is likely to set anyone back. I don’t expect anything different in this bout, as Phillips takes a decision victory.

LW: David Douglas (8-2) vs. Caros Fodor (7-2)
Picking Douglas: 3 (Badders, Henderson, Kelly)
Picking Fodor: 2 (Rizzo, Tatum)

Rizzo: “The Future” is his nickname, but if he keeps riding through the Strikeforce Challengers series, Fodor’s time is going to come sooner than later. The submission specialist (six of his seven career wins, against two losses) is facing Douglas, whose submission defense had better be sharp if he is going to slow down Fodor. Douglas will be on the wrong end of this fight as “The Future” gets closer to arrival.

Bellator bout between Jessica Aguilar and Carla Esparza targeted for June

Jon Fitch out of UFC 132 rematch with B.J. Penn

Holly Holm to fight Sept. 2 in Albuquerque

Phil Baroni and Frank Trigg added to BAMMA 6 card

Thiago Silva admits guilt, will accept NSAC punishment

Combat Sports Report: Pan Results, New “It’s Showtime” Champ, NCAA Champs to MMA

Every sport has a breeding ground for its future stars. In the case of mixed martial arts, the worlds of grappling, kickboxing and amateur wrestling are most likely to spawn the next Demian Maia, Mirko CroCop or Brock Lesnar. Collectively, these sports fall under the umbrella of “combat sports.” Every Wednesday, MMA DieHards reports on the biggest happenings in each of these realms of combat.

Grappling & Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
by Gianni Grippo, four-time Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world champion

Vieira (in white) celebrates his absolute division championship win (photo courtesy of GracieMag)

The 2011 Pan is now all in the past. With each match having been completed and the Bren Events Center in Irvine, Calif., cleaned out, we can look back at what transpired in one of the most prestigious Jiu-Jitsu competitions.

In the roosterweight (126.5 lb) division, it was a battle of four contestants, the champion only needing one win to reach the finals. The two finalists would end up being former world champion Felipe Costa and Gracie Barra star Rafael Freitas, who would end up putting on a technical show for the fans. Fast paced from start to finish, Costa and Freitas exchange sweeps and takedowns and by the end of the ten minutes the score was even at 4 to 4, with no advantages. Then in the judge’s decision, they gave Freitas the gold, based on his aggression and control of the fight.

In the light-featherweight (141 lb) division, there were plenty of intriguing matches taking place. In the end, it came down to Caio Terra and Bruno Malfacine, but they both had to battle their way to the finals. Malfacine went through last year’s brown belt world champion Milton Bastos, and pulled off a gorgeous flying armbar on veteran Wellington “Megaton” Dias. On the other side of the bracket, Terra made it to the finals by narrowly getting by all his opponents, including Daniel Beleza, who had just beaten last year’s champion, Carlos “Holanda” Vieria. In the finals, the battle between Terra and Malfacine was an intense, low-scoring affair. The only points occurred when Terra went for a sweep and Malfacine tried to defend by attacking the foot, and rolling out of bounds. Terra would be awarded the two points at the end of the scramble, and would survive Bruno’s last minute blitzkrieg to take the gold.

As it was in Portugal, where Atos’ fantastic four dominated the featherweight (154 lb) division by closing out together, the Pans in Irvine were no different. All four Atos competitors (Ed Ramos, Bruno Frazzatto and the Mendes Brothers) made the semifinals, beating all their opponents to again shut out the division together. They elected to give Frazzatto the gold, with Rafael taking the silver, and Gui and Ramos taking bronze.

In a similar scenario as the featherweight category, the lightweight (167.5 lb) category once again would be shut out by the Alliance dynamic duo of world champions, Lucas Lepri and Michael Langhi. Each had their share of battles before reaching the finals together. Langhi was tested by Rodrigo Caporal, who looked like he might seal the victory until Langhi found a submission that still remains a mystery to everyone, and in the semifinals, he dismantled Jonathan “JT” Torres, taking his back and choking him with the gi. On Lepri’s side of the bracket, he was able to get by newly-minted black belt Zak Maxwell with a guard pass, and in the semi’s he bested Augusto “Tanquinho” Mendes by two points. In the finals, closing out for the third year in a row, it was Lepri’s turn to take the gold, with Langhi happily accepting the silver.

At the Abu Dhabi World Pro Trials in San Diego, a rivalry was started when Claudio Calasans and Lucas Leite fought an epic match that left the Atos and Checkmat’s camps practically at each other’s throats. Well, the two teams would have that chance again at middleweight (181 lb) at the Pan. In the semifinals, it was Leite who would get one for Checkmat as he would beat Atos’ Gilbert Burns to advance himself to the finals for a rematch with Calasans. But Calasans was coming in on fire, recently crowned European champion and having just beaten Clark Gracie in a tough semifinal. Calasans would not be denied. At only 53 seconds into the contest, he was able to finish the Checkmat star with a wrist lock, bringing the Atos gang into a frenzy and avenging his teammate’s loss.

At medium-heavyweight (194.5 lb), it was the return of Andre Galvao that shaped the division. Lacking names such as Romulo Barral or current world champion Tarsis Humphreys, Galvao was the clear favorite and proved why. In the final, he would beat the revelation of the tournament, Eduardo Santoro (who had just beaten last year’s champion, Otavio Souza) by a 2 to 0 score, displaying great sweeps and a strong base. Still shaking off the rust from his competition lay off, you can expect even more from the champion in the upcoming World Championships.

Last year, it was Bernardo Faria who stole the show and captured the heavyweight (207 lb) title, dominating his division. In 2011 though, it was Rodolfo Vieira’s turn to shine as he defeated last year’s grand champion. Vieira showed no respect towards Faria in the finals, as he pummeled him from start to finish to win by points, 8 to 0. It was an impressive display of dominance by Vieira, who dismantled the current world champion with a takedown and two guard passes.

At super-heavyweight (221 lb), Marcus “Buchecha” Vinicius had his coming out party at his first IBJJF championship as a black belt. The young Checkmat student dominated everyone in his weight class, capping it off by finishing Bruno Bastos in the finals in a beautifully sunk-in choke from the mounted position. The Rodrigo Cavaca student was pleased with his performance and in the interview afterwards declared his intention to compete at the Worlds, where three-time absolute champion Roger Gracie will be waiting.

At ultra-heavyweight (221 lb & above), although only five names were listed, it was still a deep division with great talent. In the end though, it would come down to Antonio Braga Neto and Antonio Peinado, who would both take out last year’s finalists, Gabrielle Vella and Luiz “Big Mac” Theodoro. In the finale, it was Braga Neto who came out the victor, winning his third Pan title in consecutive years by sweeping Peinado and closing the ten minute match up 2 to 0.

In the biggest division of the tournament, the absolute never lacked fireworks, with great matchups taking place all over the mat areas. In the semifinals, Faria was able to beat the eventual super-heavyweight champion Marcus “Buchecha” with a thrilling 6 to 4 victory. On the other side, it was Vieira who made it to the finals by choking out the ultra-heavyweight champion, Antonio Braga Neto. So, it was a heavyweight finals rematch between Faria and Vieira. Unlike the weight class final, Faria made it much more competitive and nail-biting for Vieira, who was unable to dominate and score at will as he had before. But in the end, with the score still at 0 to 0, Vieira would come away with another win and another gold due to being up on advantage points. The 2011 Pan belonged to the GF Team black belt, who joined an elite group as Pan black belt absolute champion.

So there you have it! Although the Pan’s are over, the competition season is just beginning!

Next month, competitions all over the World will be going down, such as IBJJF’s New York Open and Phoenix Open, as well as the Abu Dhabi World Pro in Abu Dhabi. Then in May, the CBJJF’s Brazilian Nationals will be hitting the Tijuca Tenis Clube in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. So listen up, because there is still so much more to come!

Kickboxing & Muay Thai
by Rob Tatum

This week in kickboxing, It’s Showtime continued its push as a dominant promotion, crowning a new 61 kg (134.2 lb) champion from Brussels on March 26.

Bennoui poses with the belt following his title victory (photo courtesy of It's Showtime)

Karim Bennoui defeated former champ Sergio Wielzen by decision to claim the It’s Showtime 61 kg MAX title. Also on the card, Marat Grigorian stopped Severiano Rijssel by second-round TKO. Grigorian will now face Yohan Lidon in May for the promotion’s 73kg (160.6 lb) title.

Coming up on April 9, Moscow will host the W5 Grand Prix K.O. The event is highlighted by a 71 kg (156.2 lb) four-man tournament featuring Dzhabar Askerov, William Diender, Enriko Gogokhia and Mike Zambidis. The opening round will feature Askerov battling Diender and Zambidis taking on Gogokhia. Look for K-1 veteran Zambidis to face Askerov in the finals, with the Greek brawler coming out as the victor.

April 23’s Shootboxing 2011 Act 2 will be hosted at Korakuen Hall. Matchups are yet to be finalized, but the event will include kickboxing legend Andy Souwer as well as RENA and Ryuya Kusakabe.

Thai Fight will hold one of its non-tournament events on May 14 from Cannes, France. Both Buakaw Por. Pramuk and Yodsanklai Fairtex will participate in the event, but as I predicted previously, they will not be facing one another. Also in action will be Sudsakorn, Saiyok Pumpanmuang, and Thai Fight 2010 67 kg (147.4 lb) winner Fabio Pinca.

United Glory has announced that heavyweights Errol Zimmerman and Mourad Bouzidi will meet for the second time in Moscow on May 28. The event is headlined by K-1 World Grand Prix semifinalist Gokhan Saki taking on Brice Guidon.

Speaking of Saki, the fighter recently announced that he will be fighting Ukrainian Sergei Lascenko on June 18 from the Netherlands. The event will take place in Rotterdam and will include a heavyweight tournament. Expected participants are Anderson “Braddock” Silva and Wendell Roche.

Amateur Wrestling
by Staff, The Open Mat

The season has finally run its course and we find our self with a small break. So, what is next in the world of amateur wrestling? Most wrestlers are either shifting their focus to the international styles or taking a break to rest and heal.

NCAA Division I 157 lb. champion Bubba Jenkins

One interesting thing we learned this week is that this year’s 157-pound NCAA National Champion Bubba Jenkins will pursue a career in MMA. We will say that following Bubba will be interesting to say the least.

Jordan Burroughs of Nebraska was named the winner of the Hodge Trophy. The Hodge Trophy is awarded to the best college wrestler of the season. Burroughs was the undefeated 165-pound NCAA National Champion this year. Burroughs will be looking to earn his spot on the 2012 Olympic Team and then he has hinted that he will also pursue a career in MMA.

This week’s article is somewhat short, but we have a lot coming your way as we head towards the US Nationals. Also, we plan on educating more MMA fans about “America’s Martial Art”, wrestling.

I want to end on more of a somber note. This year the Nebraska-Omaha wrestling team captured the NCAA Division II National Title. A few hours after they won, the wrestlers were called into a room and told that the Athletic Director Trev Alberts – yes, the same one fired from CBS – had decided to drop their program. Adding insult to what should have been a night of celebration; the guy even had the wrestlers locked out of the locker room upon their return. Why am I telling you all of this?

Simple: we need the support of MMA fans. We all know that MMA’s next big stars have a pretty good chance of coming from the wrestling ranks. Help support these future stars by attending some matches in your area next year. The wrestling community would greatly appreciate it. What Mr. Alberts did to these young men is simply disgusting. If you would like to show your support for this program, please check them out on Facebook, just search for “UNO Wrestling.” (in-depth coverage)

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