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WEC makes Cerrone-Horodecki, Roller-Varner official for Dec. 16

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LC Davis inks six-fight deal with WEC, picks Aldo over Grispi

LC Davis (R) is slated for WEC 52 (WEC photo)

LC Davis signed a six-fight deal along with his bout agreement for his WEC 52 fight with Rafael Assuncao, the fighter said Tuesday on Are You Ready Radio with Joe Martinez and Joe Rizzo on the MMA DieHards Radio Network.

He also gave his prediction for the upcoming UFC fight between champion Jose Aldo and Josh Grispi.

Davis (16-3) will take on Assuncao (14-3) in a key featherweight tilt Nov. 11 in Las Vegas, in the first bout of the new contract.  The deal figures to carry over when the WEC merges into the UFC for 2011, although it’s not entirely clear at this point whether all fighters will make the jump.

“I signed a six-fight deal with the WEC just recently,” Davis said on the show.  “Six fights, like 26 months or something like that, so it’s like a two-year deal.”

Davis shot into the featherweight title mix with wins over Javier Vazquez, Diego Nunes and Deividas Taurosevicius before falling to Grispi in his most recent match, in June at WEC 49.  Having assessed the division, he gave a prediction for the match.

“I think Aldo’s going to win that one handily,” Davis said.  “I don’t see any way Grispi can win that fight unless he catches him in a guillotine, and I don’t see Aldo shooting in for takedowns.  So I think Aldo wins that, easily.”

Davis also did a little matchmaking of his own, revealing who he thinks would give the champion a better match.

“The fight I really wanted to see (was Mark) Hominick get a crack at Aldo,” Davis admitted.  “That’s probably a better matchup stylistically.  Styles make fights.  Nothing against Grispi, I just don’t think his style matches up against Aldo very good.”

Aldo will defend what will now be the UFC featherweight belt on Jan. 1 against Grispi at UFC 125 on New Year’s night.

Are You Ready Radio: Damacio Page, LC Davis

Damacio Page (R) once beat Scott Jorgensen (L) (WEC photo)

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Are You Ready with Joe Martinez and Joe Rizzo was back on the MMA DieHards Radio Network on Tuesday at 5 p.m. Eastern (2 Pacific). As we get ready for the final two WEC events ever, two of the participants in WEC 52 — Damacio Page and LC Davis — took time to talk about their upcoming fights and the promotion’s merger into the UFC.

Page returns to the cage after a 13-month layoff to take on Demetrious Johnson in a bantamweight bout, while Davis meets Rafael Assuncao in a featherweight matchup.

Page went into detail about his layoff and the litany of injuries to him and his opponents that kept him out of the cage for over a year.  He also said he has something special for Martinez when the pair are together in the cage at WEC 52, where Martinez will make his return as announcer.

Davis, who revealed that he signed a new six-fight contract along with the bout agreement with the Assuncao fight, looked at his career and what has transpired to get him to this point, including the loss to now-contender Josh Grispi in what turned out to be a match to determine an opponent for featherweight champion Jose Aldo.  He handicapped the Aldo-Grispi match and went so far as to suggest another opponent for Aldo (and it was not Davis suggesting himself).

At the party in which he watched Cain Velasquez take the UFC heavyweight title from Brock Lesnar, Davis spouted off about the former WWE wrestler getting what he deserved.  You will not believe who he was sitting next to when he said it!

Versus cancels “The Daily Line” show

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Roy Nelson pulled from UFC 125 card

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Are You Ready Radio with Joe Martinez: Urijah Faber talks merger

Urijah Faber (photo courtesy Tracy Lee/Combat Lifestyle)

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Now that the WEC is looking at its end, Urijah Faber can easily lay claim to being it’s post boy for all time. The California Kid talked about the merger and his impending UFC debut on “Are You Ready” radio with Joe Martinez and Joe Rizzo on the MMA DieHards Radio Network.

Because of the huge announcement of the disbanding of the WEC, this was a specially scheduled show. The show will go back next week to its normal time slot of Tuesdays at 5 p.m. Eastern (2 Pacific).

Urijah makes his bantamweight debut on Nov. 11 at WEC 52 against Takeya Mizugaki.  The headlining match will be his last fight under the WEC banner, and it will feature Martinez’s return to the mic inside the WEC cage.

WEC joins elite in American sports history with UFC absorption

Jose Aldo and the other WEC superstars are taking their act to the UFC. (photo courtesy of Karl Gehring/The Denver Post)

There have been rare instances in American sporting history where visionaries successfully started a rival operation to the established brand.

Mark down Thursday, Oct. 28, 2010 as one of those days.

World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) finally achieved what had become inevitable when its parent company, Zuffa, announced Thursday that it was merging it into the UFC.

The WEC will hold its 52nd and 53rd shows, respectively, on Nov. 11 and Dec. 16.  By the time the last fight of WEC 53 finishes, either reigning belt-holder Ben Henderson or Anthony Pettis will become the erstwhile promotion’s lightweight champion emeritus, at the same time earning a direct shot at the winner of the UFC lightweight title fight between champion Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard. Edgar and Maynard headline UFC 125 on New Year’s Day.

Featherweight champion Jose Aldo instantly became UFC champion upon the announcement, as he did not have fights immediately scheduled.  That quickly put to rest recent speculation about why Aldo might have turned down a UFC lightweight fight with the highly ranked Kenny Florian.

“As the UFC continues to evolve and grow globally, we want to be able to give fans title fights in every weight division,” said UFC president Dana White. “This is a big day for the sport and the athletes who will have the opportunity to fight on the biggest stage in the world.”

Bantamweight champ Dominick Cruz will put the “forever” WEC title on the line Dec. 16 against Scott Jorgensen.  Since there is no existing bantamweight division, the winner will, like Aldo, gain immediate recognition as the UFC champion.

The WEC has featured the lightweight (155 pounds), featherweight (145) and bantamweight (135) divisions, with the champions in the latter two normally considered for the top spot in the world in his class. Higher weight classes were dissolved in recent years, with some fighters, most notably Chael Sonnen, rolling into the UFC.

The television home of the WEC has been Versus, and the UFC laid the groundwork for the merge by running two of its own shows on the network in 2010.  That number will double in 2011, and apparently has no bearing on the UFC’s popular Fight Night broadcasts on Spike TV, which also carries the popular reality series The Ultimate Fighter.

“We have a great relationship with the Versus network, and we look forward to working with them to give UFC fans even more free fights in 2011,” White said.

The WEC was a regional promotion in California whose production value made it attractive enough for the UFC’s parent company to purchase.  Unlike PRIDE, which Zuffa bought and then shut down, it mainly left alone the WEC, which flourished with the association.

Throughout the history of the four major American sports, it has been rare for the upstart to gain entry into the top ranks, although it has happened in each.

In baseball, the National League is called the Senior Circuit because it existed before the American League.  The joint effort of the World Series at the beginning of the 20th century was not without incident, as the NL champion New York (now San Francisco) Giants refused to play the AL kings, the Boston Americans (now Red Sox) in 1904.  By the next year, the current framework of the World Series format was established.

In football, the popular battle between the NFL and the upstart AFL ended with a merger in the late 1960s.  The remnants of the AFL, for the most part, remain established as the American Football Conference (AFC).  The NFL has had other mergers, including the All-America Football Conference (AAFC) in the late 1940s.

More recently, the NFL fought off a challenge from the United States Football League in the mid-1980s.

In basketball, the National Basketball Association (NBA) could not hold off the American Basketball Association (ABA), which sent the Denver Nuggets, Indiana Pacers, New York (now New Jersey) Nets and San Antonio Spurs to the legacy league in 1976.

Hockey saw a similar happening in 1979, as the World Hockey Association (WHA) sent the Quebec Nordiques (now Colorado Avalanche), New England Whalers, Winnipeg Jets and Wayne Gretzky’s Edmonton Oilers to the NHL.

On Thursday, the WEC joined an elite club.

Lombard retains title, Frausto wins belt at Bellator 34

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Lombard defends Bellator middleweight belt against Shlemenko, calls out Jacare

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Frausto pulls mega upset of Fujii, Lombard keeps crown at Bellator 34

Zoila Frausto (R) delivers a big right hand to Megumi Fujii at Bellator 34

“Mega-Megu” was the victim of a mega upset at the hands of the “Warrior Princess.”

Zoila “Warrior Princess” Frausto,who was not even in the original tournament bracket, completed a most unlikely run to the Bellator women’s 115-pound title Thursday with a stunning split-decision victory over previously undefeated Japanese legend Megumi “Mega-Megu” Fujii at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Sunrise, Fla.

Also on the Bellator 34 card, Hector Lombard retained his middleweight title with a unanimous decision victory over Alexander Shlemenko.  But it was the women’s title fight that stole the show, as often has become the case on unisex MMA cards.

As recently as March, Frausto (10-1) fought at 135 pounds, where she suffered her only career loss when she was submitted by Strikeforce title contender Miesha Tate.  Frausto fought at 125 a few weeks later in beating Michelle Ould, and a little over a month thereafter the door opened for her at Bellator as she contracted to fight one of the tournament favorites, Rosi Sexton, at 121 pounds.  Brought in as a tune-up for Sexton, Frausto instead knocked her out cold in the first round.  The subsequent 60-day suspension effectively knocked Sexton out of the 115-pound tournament, and Frausto jumped at the chance to take her spot, despite never fighting at such a diminished weight.

Despite the huge weight cut and body change, Frausto nonetheless made weight each time in defeating Jessica Pene and Jessica Aguilar to reach the finals.  In spite of what appeared to be vulnerability in the ground game, noted grapplers Aguilar and Fujii did not work hard to take Frausto to the ground.  Frausto’s power strikes made the difference in each of the last two fights, both of which she won via split decision.

But the real shocker was the fight against Fujii, who was 22-0 with 18 submission wins, a reputation as the pound-for-pound best fighter and a big money line (5.5-to-1) in her favor heading in.

Coached by her boyfriend and noted brawler Jorge Gurgel, Frausto scored perhaps the greatest upset in the history of women’s MMA, considering her inexperience heading into the tournament and the pedigree of her opponent.
Frausto won on two judges’ cards, 48-47 and 49-46, while Fujii had the other, 48-47.
“It’s the best feeling in the world, a lot of people said I couldn’t do it,” an emotional Frausto said.  “I worked so hard,  I have the lord to thank.”

“Zoila, you are everything Bellator is about,” promotional CEO Bjorn Rebney said to the new queen of Bellator’s 115-pound division.

Fujii secured just a single takedown the entire fight, and it was with 32 seconds left in the fifth and final round.  Her striking appeared to feature more accuracy than Frausto’s, but the soon-to-be champion’s power shots made the difference.  Considering her strengths, Fujii’s game plan appeared to be curious, as she appeared ready to grapple only by the later part of the fourth round.

“I wanted to fight in her area, so I did a lot more striking,” Fujii said through a translator.  “I did my best.”

Frausto might have stolen the first round with a flurry that appeared to have Fujii in trouble.  Frausto connected high with a kick and hit a heavy punch combination at the retreating Fujii, who got out of trouble as the bell sounded by attempting her only takedown of the first two rounds.  The second round featured a stand-up battle as Fujii danced out of range of Frausto’s power-punch attempts, but appeared to get the better of the action by getting in and out quickly. Frausto’s home-run swings began to connect in the middle of the third round, giving Fujii a mouse under the left eye and moving her backward.

Fujii finally went to the clinch late in the fourth round and was able to deliver a couple of knees, but could not complete a high judo throw as Frausto muscled out of it.  A close fifth round appeared to be punctuated when Fujii scored the takedown, but it was not enough.

About the only surprising thing about Lombard’s defense against Shlemenko was that it went the distance.  Lombard, who has taken to winning his fights in a matter of seconds, won 49-46 on all three judges’ scorecards to retain the belt he won as the Season 1 tournament champion.

“I don’t want to make excuses,” Lombard said.  “I don’t feel 100 percent.”

Then Lombard utilized the spotlight to call out Strikeforce middleweight champion Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, continuing the trend between the two promotions started with lightweight champs Gilbert Melendez of Strikeforce and Eddie Alvarez of Bellator.  Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney has done nothing but stoke those fires, saying he favors all his champions against those of Strikeforce.

Lombard (27-2-1), a 2000 Olympic judoka under the Cuban flag, used his takedowns to easily outpoint Shlemenko (30-5), who offered nearly no defense to it for the first four rounds.  Each time Shlemenko was able to spin and get Lombard to his back, Lombard could not control him.  But there was little offense generated either way from long stretches during the five-round title tilt.  Shlemenko earned his spot by winning the Season 2 middleweight tournament.

Lombard came out aggressive from the opening bell, with wild power shots never finding their mark except, perhaps, to create a knot on the right side of Shlemenko’s forehead.  However, the contusion might have resulted from an accidental head butt that appeared to gash Lombard in the center of the forehead.  Neither ailment was an issue in the fight.

Lombard scored a pair of takedowns in the round and fought from Shlemenko’s guard for the latter half of the stanza, save for a quick sweep that Lombard rapidly reversed.  It turned out to be a preview of the ensuing rounds.

Lombard took the fight to the ground early in the second round, but he could not work through the Russian’s guard.  Shlemenko eventually got up, but Lombard put him down again, then let him up.  Lombard scored a double-leg takedown with 44 seconds left, narrowly avoiding Shlemenko’s knee, which was aimed at his head.  The third and fourth rounds were similar, with mild boos drawn from Lombard’s adopted hometown crowd due to inaction.  Shlemenko rallied to win the final round, but never had the champion in trouble.

Lombard’s only losses have come against Akihiro Gono and Gegard Mousasi, both in 2006.  He has won 16 straight fights since a draw with former Ultimate Fighter contender Kyle Noke in 2007, and is 20-0-1 in his last 21 starts.

FULL RESULTS:

J.P. Reese def. Bomnay Somchay via TKO at 3:32 Round 1

Raphael Davis def. Tony Lopez via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

Mike Bernhard def. Dragan Tesanovic via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)

Zoila Frausto def. Megumi Fujii via Unanimous Decision (48-47, 47-48, 49-46)

Hector Lombard def. Alexander Shlemenko via Unanimous Decision (49-46, 49-46, 49-46)

Dan Cramer def. Igor Almeida via TKO (Doc Stoppage) at 2:36 of Round 1

Frank Carrillo def. Moyses Gabin by Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)

Ralph Acosta def. Tulio Quintanilla by Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)

John Kelly def. William Kuhn by Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

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