Archive for the ‘Fighter Features’ Category

A defense of Rousimar Palhares

MMA welterweight and now-UFC outcast Rousimar Palhares. (Photo courtesy of

Call it the knee-pop heard ’round the world.

It all took place over 31 frantic seconds on Oct. 9 in Barueri, Brazil. Entering the Octagon at UFC Fight Night 29, Rousimar Palhares had lost two straight bouts and desperately needed victory against Mike Pierce. In less time than it took weighing-in, Palhares won that fight but lost the MMA world’s goodwill. What went wrong in just over half-a-minute?

The answer is a textbook heel hook. Clamping down on Pierce’s exposed ankle, Palhares forced the tap with that dangerous maneuver. Over the next 3.08 seconds, “Toquinho” (Portuguese for “little tree stump”) didn’t release his vise-like hold. Instants later, his win plummeted from triumphant into tainted.

So much vanishes in those excruciating moments – wealth, glory, adoration. The extra suffering Palhares inflicted that night cost all three. Despite scoring UFC Fight Night’s only submission, “Toquinho” forfeited any and all bonuses for “unsportsmanlike conduct.” One day later, the UFC cut him for the same reason. Even if they hadn’t, glancing at any MMA forum shows backlash against Palhares is harsh, shrill and ongoing.

Overall, such punishments outweigh the crime. At 8-4 inside the Octagon following his heel hook debacle, Palhares is clearly UFC-caliber talent at 33 years old. Though he definitely sinned against Pierce, is it worth excommunicating “Toquinho” from the world’s top MMA organization for several seconds in error? The evidence points towards “no.”

For starters, the mental pressure Palhares likely suffered on fight night was equal or greater than the torque exerted on Pierce’s limb hours later. A career middleweight, “Toquinho” entered their standoff as a new welterweight. Having lost two bouts prior, the heat was on for Palhares’ reinvention at 170 lbs. Given three losses often earn UFC competitors walking papers, only debuting successfully could have saved Palhares from unemployment.

UFC Fight Night 29′s venue added extra tension. A native Brazilian, Palhares was defending his country’s honor against a foreign invader in America’s Pierce. In a country where fight fans chant “you’re going to die” in Portuguese at outsiders, failure isn’t an option for hometown heroes like “Toquinho.”

The icing on the cake was the fight itself. Prior to submitting Pierce, Palhares lost another potential leg-lock. In a sport where heart and willpower are all, no one goes quietly into the night. MMA lore bursts with comebacks – Jon Jones storming back against Alexander Gustafsson, for example – and defeat tastes especially bitter when cooking victory first. “Toquinho” is no exception, and he (understandably) wanted an indisputable finish against Pierce when sinking the heel hook in.

UFC Fight Night 29′s other players influenced its outcome for Palhares too. Take his bout’s third man – referee Keith Peterson let “Toquinho” crank his heel hook two whole seconds before jumping in. Though Palhares worked the hold another 1.08 seconds, Peterson has remained largely free of criticism for his oversight. This is troubling for two reasons. First, Peterson was nowhere near either fighter to quickly end the submission; second, he arguably assisted two-thirds of Pierce’s excessive imprisonment.

Pierce, meanwhile, came unprepared for Palhares’ grappling. Counting Pierce, “Toquinho” has taken 11 of 15 wins via submission, eight by leg-lock variation. In those 31 seconds, Pierce showed no takedown or submission defense for stalemating such proven specialization. Though Pierce is an excellent welterweight, the only reason fight fans are discussing his loss is that he couldn’t prevent it.

Cutting Palhares afterwards, the UFC cited his 2010 submission of Tomasz Drwal at UFC 111 as a factor in its decision. In that bout, Palhares also locked Drwal in a heel-hook past the finish. Old crimes, however, don’t always predict present behavior. “Toquinho” served a 90-day suspension for that transgression; more importantly, he also submitted David Branch and Mike Massenzio cleanly before facing Pierce.

This means 82% of Palhares’ submissions are by-the-book overall. His missteps against Drwal and Pierce are perhaps less habitual offenses and more isolated incidents. Though the UFC also cited elevated testosterone levels at last year’s UFC on FX 6 in dismissing “Toquinho,” it’s worth noting he tested clean after UFC Fight Night 29 as well.

It’s thus possible the UFC made an example out of Palhares as he wronged Pierce on free TV. MMA is still shedding its “human cockfighting” past; it hasn’t accrued enough social capital for blatant cheaters and possible PED users. Even if it has, Palhares’ eternal knee-crank seems more death match than legal sport.

None of this changes the legitimate danger Pierce faced in those tortuous seconds. MMA’s failure since is applying justice proportionate to that time. As of this writing, Pierce’s loss against Palhares has neither shortened nor stopped his MMA career. Banishing a fighter like “Toquinho” from the UFC – the sport’s highest peak – achieves exactly one or both those outcomes should he never return.

At day’s end, the UFC overreacted by disciplining Palhares before the full extent of Pierce’s injury (if any) emerges. It could most fairly punish “Toquinho” by suspending him in proportion to Pierce’s recovery time. At day’s end, an eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind – and one combatant should only lose legs to stand on in the UFC if they undoubtedly take another’s first.

Tara LaRosa: “There’s some things you need to know if you’re going to fight in Japan”

Tara LaRosa (L) vs. Kelly Warren (R). photo courtesy of Sherdog

The heritage and mystique of martial arts in Japan is attractive to many MMA fighters, but before you plan on competing in Nihon, Tara LaRosa has a few things to make you aware of.

LaRosa (Twitter: @TaraLaRosa) went to Yokohama, Japan, and lost a majority decision to Rin Nakai at “Pancrase 252: 20th Anniversary” on Sept. 29

LaRosa put her skills on display in back-to-back bouts in Japan in 2005, but had not competed there until recently meeting Nakai after failing to secure a slot in the house on “The Ultimate Fighter 18.”  LaRosa spoke with MMA DieHards Radio and detailed all experiences, both absurd and unique, about her latest trip to The Land of the Rising Sun.

The fight

LaRosa, the more seasoned and taller competitor, battered Nakai in the opening frame with solid punches that were connecting with power.  Nakai had no choice other than clinching up with LaRosa to avoid taking further punishment, yet was still bullied by the American.  The first round was a no brainer, LaRosa won.

In Round 2, Nakai managed to stay on top of LaRosa after taking her to the ground, but did zero damage.  LaRosa did not absorb any significant strikes, just spent the frame on the defense and the round could’ve been awarded to either.

The third and final stanza saw LaRosa utilize the same strategy and techniques as she exhibited in Round 1, landing punches while keeping her distance and avoiding takedown attempts.  Nakai eventually secured a takedown and latched on to a key-lock submission.

LaRosa was extremely impressed, but was not about to tap out with only 40 seconds left in a bout she believed she was winning.

The match went to the judges’ scorecards.  As you may or may not know, controversy is no stranger to a match involving a decision outcome between a North American and Japanese fighter in Japan.

“They gave her the majority decision, which means two judges scored it for her and one scored it a draw,” LaRosa told Jason Kelly and Joe Rizzo on MMA DieHards Radio.  ”See, that tells me I won.  If a Japanese judge gave me a draw, that means I won the whole thing.  But whatever, we knew what was going to happen going over there.  I knew if it went to a decision I was going to lose no matter what.  And I did.”


The submission that Nakai attempted in the third round caused unknown damage to LaRosa’s shoulder.  LaRosa said she could hear her shoulder tearing and compared it to the sound of ripping a drumstick off a turkey.  The tough-as-nails LaRosa played off the injury like it was nothing when doctors came to check on her following the bout.

After the medical staff left her locker room, LaRosa laid on the floor, suffering in agony to the point she felt nauseous.  She had a brief conversation with her manager, Monte Cox, describing the match and pain she was enduring afterwards.  Cox advised her to allow the doctors to treat her, as they are qualified and are purely looking out for her health.

“I love Pancrase for this,” LaRosa said.  “They had a team of doctors working the show.  I don’t know if this is normal and this is how it always is over there, but they had a team of doctors and a shoulder specialist.   They brought the doctor in, and his assistant, and they worked on me for 25 minutes or so and put my shoulder back in (the socket).  Thank you Pancrase, thank you Japanese doctors.”

Rules and regulations

If you were ever a fan of Pride FC, One FC, or even paid the slightest bit of attention to the Japanese MMA scene, you know corruption, manipulation and mind games are a big part of what they do to out-of-country competitors.

“There’s some things you need to know if you’re going to fight in Japan,” LaRosa explained.  “Number one, they’re going to hit you with things last minute.  They’re going to try to mess with you, I don’t know if they’re trying to or not, but they do.

“They sprung this one on us in the locker room before the fight – costume check.  They have to check your outfit, I don’t know what they’re checking for in particular, but they’re checking your outfit.”

While LaRosa didn’t have any issues with her attire, fellow “Pancrase 252: 20th Anniversary” competitor Richie Whitson was harassed due to not having draw strings in his shorts.

While LaRosa passed the last-minute wardrobe check, she had some questions regarding the rules, seeing as Pancrase didn’t have a meeting prior to fight day to clarify them with all the competitors.  Some rules she was expecting, others she was surprised by, and one is suspect of being tailor-made for this matchup.

“They said there’s no up-kicks.  What the (expletive) do you mean, no up-kicks?” LaRosa said.  “When she’s standing and I’m lying on the ground, on my back, I can’t kick up at her face.  No up-kicks.  Well, (expletive), how convenient is that?  She’s 5-foot-1 and I’m 5-foot-6.  Alright.  Great.  That’s fine.

“I’ve fought under so many rule constraints that I just roll with it.  You can tell me what-the-hell-ever and I’ll just try to curtail my game plan to it.  So, no up-kicks.  That’s why it looks a little funny in the third round and she’s standing, bent right over my knees, right over my legs, and I’m thinking, ‘Shit, how convenient is this? She’s not even guarding her face.’  I wanted to kick her right in the face.  Maybe it’s just for women, maybe they put special rules on you like that, I don’t know.  They did on Danielle West, she couldn’t do any chokes and she couldn’t throw any knees, but that was because she missed weight.”

Before any combat sports bout can proceed there’s a matter of weighing in, which, in Japan, offers a much harsher set of penalties than North American MMA promotions for not staying within the parameters of a weight class.

In most MMA competitions around North America, if a fighter does not make weight for a bout he or she must forfeit 20 percent of their purse.  However, what LaRosa learned in Japan about not making weight is a little drastic, but would surely decrease the number of mixed martial artists missing the mark.

“I don’t think many people know this because everyone is shocked and horrified,” LaRosa explained.  “When you miss weight you get fined $2,000.  It doesn’t matter what the hell you’re making.  If you’re making  $3,000, if you’re making $2,000, you have to pay Pancrase $2,000.  If you’re over far enough that they call off the fight, or you can’t fight because you’ve cut so much weight that you’re dying, not only do you have to pay $2,000, you have to pay them back for your flight.

“I don’t know where everybody else came from, but my flight was about $3,100, so I was not missing weight.  Now you’re in the hole about five grand.  If you don’t fight, you get a loss on your record.  It’s considered a forfeit, it’s reported as a loss.  So that’s what happens if you miss weight and you don’t fight.  There may be some other (expletive) in there as well, I don’t know.”

There is even more professional suffering for missing weight.

“If you miss weight and you do fight, the best you can get is a draw.  Even if you win, if you choke them out, knock them out, armbar them, rip out their spleen, what-the-hell-ever you do, you get  a draw.  And you still have to pay $2,000.  That’s protocol.”

The food

If you are a resident of the U.S. or Canada, you know damn well that we don’t offer much in the way of traditional dishes.  (Editor’s Note: The author is a professional chef.)  We opt to dine at Italian restaurants, Greek bistros, Chinese take-out, or something along those lines.  Although it fills the void, the taste of authentic food from its native country compared to a Canadian or American version of their plates is apples to oranges.

LaRosa learned just that in her visit to Japan.

“I don’t know what they did to it, or lack thereof, but just the ingredients are so much fresher and it’s such a clean taste,” LaRosa said.  “It wasn’t heavy with oil, and you know how so much Asian food is heavy with sodium? Well, this wasn’t at all, not at all.  I ate lunch and dinner the two days I was there prior to weigh-ins and I woke up on weight.  I didn’t have to cut water, I didn’t have to (do) anything.  It was amazing.

“What we call pot stickers over here, forget about it.  They’re so much better over there.  They taste entirely different.  The stuff that we have over here is (expletive), OK?  I could stay there for the food alone.”

Along with the mouth-watering cuisine that comes from Japanese restaurants is an equally delicious, yet peculiar method of purchasing food.

In North America, when we think of eating from a vending machine it’s junk food or less-than desirable sandwiches.  In Japan, where they have more vending machines than people, you can get a scrumptious meal ranging from live crab to homemade pizza without the services of a chef.

“There’s vending machines everywhere, even in residential areas,” LaRosa said.  “We were in Yokohama, which is its own city, it’s not Tokyo; Tokyo is a different thing.  So, we were in Yokohama, which is a lot less touristy, and there’s vending machines right outside apartment buildings.  They’re everywhere, like, everywhere.  If you live in a sub-division or something, you’re not going to see random vending machines anywhere, right?  Well, they’re there.”

LaRosa’s trip to Japan was one of a kind, to say the least.  As a tourist, the food and sights are very satisfyinng enough.  To a foreign mixed martial artist, given what could be stacked against you, are you prepared to compete in Japan?

Pass the yen.

MFC 38: Anthony Birchak: ‘God’s gifts aren’t cheap’

Anthony Birchak securing back mount on Ryan Benoit (photo courtesy of Sherdog)

The first-ever MFC bantamweight champion was nearly not even a competitor in the bout.

Anthony Birchak (Twitter: @abirchakmma) was crowned the Maximum Fighting Championship bantamweight champ after defeating Tito Jones via second round rear-naked choke at MFC 38 on Friday.  Birchak, who defeated Ryan Benoit to get the much deserved title shot, talked to about the adversity he overcame prior to championship bout.

“My best friend died two weeks before the fight, my son was born, them saying I may not be even able to enter Canada, my main cornerman not being able to come up, it was almost enough to be the straw that broke the camel’s back,” Birchak told Nick Hammar of  “I prayed and prayed and prayed, and God’s gifts aren’t cheap.  I worked my ass off for this belt.  It’s surreal, it hasn’t really hit me yet.”

Fortunately, Birchak pushed through the struggles and has made history in Canada’s leading promotion.  He said he does not know the promotion’s plans for his next opponent, but he’s happy if they continue giving him tough opponents like Jones.

“Tito surprised me, man,” Birchak said.  “He (expletive) took me down, bro.  I wasn’t expecting that.  I figured he would light me up with a four-piece combination, but he got in on my body and I hit the mat.  I knew he wasn’t going to hold me down the whole time, though.  I saw I stung him a couple of times with my right hand, and I had to find my range, but once I was working him on the ropes I saw his energy just sapping.  After the first round I looked across the ring and I saw that I snatched it from him.  I snatched it from him.  His whole energy changed from this big, puffy gorilla to, ‘(Expletive), I have to go another round with this guy.’  My pace breaks people.”

MFC 39 is set to take place in January 2014, and there are no talks of Birchak being on the card yet, but given the three month period he likes to take between fights, the timing would seem appropriate for the Luta Elite fighter to make his first title defense.

Anthony Birchak: ‘I will be the first MFC bantamweight champion’

Anthony Birchak securing back mount on Ryan Benoit (photo courtesy of Sherdog)

After his remarkable fight at MFC 37, Anthony Birchak feels no different pressure en route to making history at “MFC 38: Behind Enemy Lines.”

Birchak (Twitter: @abichakmma) is scheduled to meet Tito Jones in the Maximum Fighting Championship’s inaugural bantamweight title fight at MFC 38 on Friday at the Shaw Conference Centre in Edmonton, Alberta.

Though, MFC fans voted for the main event on the MFC 38 card, Birchak’s match against Ryan Benoit is what placed former Rage in the Cage champion in this position.  During the contest, which aired on AXS TV the same as MFC 38 will, commentators Michael “The Voice” Schiavello and Pat Miletich frequently made remarks in awe of the show they were witnessing.

Birchak defeated Benoit via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28) in a battle of epic proportions, and he feels the performance demands a little credit.

“It was a really back and forth fight, and I wish I didn’t make it look like that, you know what I mean?” Birchak told Jason Kelly and Corey Charron on MMA Cypher Radio on the MMA DieHards Radio Network.

“A lot of the (times) that I ended up in a bad situation it was because I was being careless, I think I gave him a little more thunder than he deserved.  But it was a good fight and I think we put on a good show and I definitely think me and Benoit deserve a plaque that says fight of the year, for sure.”

Unfortunately for fighters like Birchak and Benoit, the annual Fighters Only MMA Awards are a popularity contest because the fans vote.  This method allows casual fans to cast their opinion of the best bout each year – Yes, even the ones who only go out to the bar to watch the ‘big fights”- and that leads to the UFC’s biggest stars receiving unwarranted votes at times.

The UFC is a marketing machine, so they can’t be faulted for the fans’ decision, but it does take chances away from competitors like Birchak.  To crown an indisputable MMA award winner in any category it would take a panel of judges that have watched every single MMA bout in a 12-month period.  Yeah, that’s not going to happen.

Seeing as awards based on votes are out of Birchak’s control, he takes a different approach to swaying the ballot.

“There’s top-ranked fighters all across the world and they just don’t get the exposure, and that’s why I always try to leave a lasting memory for my fans,” Birchak said.  “I want to leave it right there, seared in the frontal lobe.  I’m all about my fans so hopefully that one will be there for a good while.”

As gratifying as Birchak’s triumphant bout against Benoit was, his first-ever MMA coach, Drew Fickett, taught him from the get go that it’s not about getting fight of the night.  Fickett stressed that Birchak get in, get out and go early.  Birchak appreciates a good scrap as much as the next man, but comprehends that a short day at the office is always a treat.

Birchak’s match with Benoit is in the past and he is focused on Jones.  The Apex MMA teammate realizes the significance of the bout and becoming the first champion of the MFC’s newest weight class.  Birchak cannot promise a grueling three-round fight against Jones, but can give his word that he will leave the ring a champion.

“Obviously, I want to put on something special, but the pressure is there whether it’s an inaugural fight, or a title fight.” Birchak said.  “At MFC 37 it was the first MFC bantamweight fight ever, now it’s the first (MFC bantamweight) title fight ever.  I’m here to be a pioneer, I’m here to be that guy that kicked off the bantamweight division, I’m here to be that guy who won the first bantamweight title.  I’m here to be that guy.  The pressure is always there no matter what fight it is.

“I told everyone my resolve is true and I will be the first MFC world bantamweight champion.”


*Below is a video of MFC 37, which features the main event between Birchak and Benoit.


With Matyushenko injured, DeBlass and Lambert verbally agree to meet at Bellator 108

Former ROC champ and UFC middleweight Tom DeBlass has confirmed with sources close to the situation that Tom DeBlass and Jason Lambert have verbally agreed to meet at Bellator 108 on Nov. 15 at Revel Casino in Atlantic City, N.J.

DeBlass was originally scheduled to face Vladimir Matyushenko, but “The Janitor” withdrew from the bout due to a broken hand.

DeBlass, an ADCC veteran, BJJ world and Pan Am champion, is making his second appearance in the Bellator cage after defeating Carlos Brooks via TKO in his promotional debut at Bellator 95 in April.  The former ROC light heavyweight and heavyweight champion was on a seven-fight win streak to start his MMA career, but suffered his first loss after taking a short notice fight against Cyrille Diabate at “UFC on Fuel TV 2: Gustafsson vs. Silva” in Sweden in April 2012.  He followed up the performance with a decision loss to Riki Fukuda at “UFC on Fuel TV 6: Franklin vs. Le” in Japan, last November.  The Ocean County BJJ head instructor also has intentions to compete in this weekend’s Pan Ams BJJ tournament in New York.

Lambert made his debut in Bellator in January with a submission victory over Hector Ramirez.  “The Punisher” has competed in various MMA promotions in his 38-fight career, including the UFC.  Lambert has notable wins over Renato Sobral and Terry Martin.


UFC 165: Jesse Ronson gets UFC contract, plethora of new friends

Jesse Ronson (R) kicking Tony Hervey (L) at SFS 3

Along with a UFC contract, Jesse “The Body Snatcher” Ronson received an influx in friends.

Ronson (Twitter: @ronsoff), who trains primarily at Adrenaline Training Center in London, Ontario, graces the Octagon for the first time at UFC 165 on Sept. 21 in Toronto.  Stepping in for injured Mark Bocek, Ronson will meet fellow lightweight Michel Richard dos Prazeres in his UFC debut.

Since signing with the UFC, Ronson’s friend’s list has increased tenfold.

As with any newfound fortune or fame, you can bank on friends and family coming out of the woodwork.  In a city such as London, that has a population in the vicinity of 355,000 residents, news travels fast and locals take notice of one’s change in status.  Ronson’s level-headed demeanor assists him in warding off the leaches, although, he can’t help but chuckle at some of the people attempting to latch on to his coat tails.

“I hear people, like fans and stuff, when I’m out and it’s nice to have the support, but some people are popping up out of nowhere,” Ronson told  “I have people contacting me on Facebook that I haven’t spoke to since high school, and I didn’t even speak to them in high school, and they’re like, ‘Hey, let’s get a beer or hang out or whatever.’  Even girls I tried to get with years back that wouldn’t speak to me are now asking me to hang out.  I’m just like, ‘Yeah, don’t I know your boyfriend?’  It’s funny.”

Ronson built his reputation in the Canadian MMA circuit, competing on regional shows throughout the country.  Along with the training at ATC, a gym owned by Mark Hominick, Sam Stout and Chris Horodecki, Ronson also prepares for bouts at Rory McDonell’s Para Bellum MMA and other Ontario based gyms.

After winning eight consecutive bouts, most recently a lightweight title match against Shane Campbell at AFC 19, Ronson was planning a stint in the WSOF.  But that didn’t last long.

“My manager called and told me I’m not fighting in WSOF,” Ronson said.  “I asked him why, and he said, ‘Because you’re fighting in the UFC on September 21.’  I was shocked, it was surreal, but I can’t explain how happy I was.  This is what I’ve always wanted and now I’m here.  It’s a great feeling.”

After the closure of the Score Fighting Series, Ronson, like many other Ontarian mixed martial artists, had a difficult time trying to find bouts without signing a long-term deal.  Ronson held out for a chance to compete in the UFC, which meant turning down various offers from other MMA promotions.  It was a lot of tough decisions, but having veterans like Hominick and Stout around him help Ronson in making the right career moves.

The experienced mixed martial artists Ronson surrounds himself with are also beneficial when he deals with his newfound fame and increase in media duties,

Hominick fought UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo at UFC 129, the organization’s grandest show to date, in the night’s co-main event.  The amount of media and fans that flocked to ATC to catch a glimpse of Hominick in his preparations for Aldo was massive and that’s something Ronson doesn’t know if he’s ready for quite yet.

“We had to lock the doors just to get some training done when (Mark) had that fight,” Ronson said.  “It was crazy, I couldn’t believe how many people would show up every day.  And Mark is a friendly guy so he tried to sign as many autographs as possible and answer everyone’s questions.  The gym was full of fans and media every single day before that fight.  I don’t know if I want to have to go through that.”

Well, Ronson may hope it doesn’t get that bad, but if his win streak continues in the UFC, he may have no choice other than going through it.  Friends and family included.

‘The Ultimate Fighter 18′ recap with Josh Hill – Episode 1

Canadian bantamweight fighter, Josh Hill (Photo courtesy of

Following each episode of “The Ultimate Fighter 18,” will recap the show with Josh Hill, a contestant on this season.  This  time we focus on episode one.

For the first time in “The Ultimate Fighter” history the head coaches, UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey and No. 1 contender Miesha Tate, are females and the participants are coed.  The season premiere was broadcast on Sept. 4 on Fox Sports 1, and set the pace for an entertaining season with Tate and Rousey feuding, and an motivational speech from UFC president Dana White to kick things off.

Josh “The Gentleman” Hill joins the cast as a bantamweight competitor.  While he said the experience in itself was unique, he was not overwhelmed by the history-making season.

Likewise to past seasons, 32 mixed martial artists pair up and fight to gain entry to the TUF house.  On television the 16-bout day is crammed into an action-packed two hours, but Hill’s day was not so short.

“It was a long ass day,” Hill told  “They had two locker rooms, and 16 of us in each locker room, so it was pretty packed in there.  They also had some issues with the power right before my fight, so I was warming up and then I had to cool down and warm up again.”

When Hill’s time to shine arose, he was having an off day, similar to what White mentioned at the beginning of the program.  White said that no matter how a fighter feels, their day to perform to their fullest abilities was the day of eliminations.

Hill was dealing with family issues leading up to the bout, but still trained on a regular schedule, if not more.  He can’t exactly pinpoint what went wrong, but when fight time came he wasn’t feeling like his usual self.

“I fought like (expletive),” Hill said.  “I didn’t feel good at all going into my fight.  By about half way through the first round I felt like I was gassed, and that’s not like me, cardio is something I never have a problem with.”

Following the match White complained about Hill’s performance, and “The Gentleman” can understand why, but can’t fathom why the UFC president wasn’t scolding the losing opponent, Patrick Holohan.  Nonetheless, White’s remarks didn’t bother Hill.

“I had to do what I had to do to win,” Hill said.  “I had to use my wrestling to keep taking him down, and I’m not even a wrestler.  I couldn’t let (Holohan) get space because I didn’t know if I’d have my hands up when he tried to hit me.

“I wish they would’ve showed a little more of my fight (on television).  I had his back a couple times and tried to do the best I could, feeling how I felt.  I won and that’s what mattered most.  I can understand (the UFC) wanting it to be exciting, but I fight for me first.  I did what I had to do.”

Hill’s performance didn’t have the coaches clamouring for him, however, after being picked sixth overall out of the male combatants by Tate, the Canadian believes he was fortunate to not get selected later.

Even though he warmed up with Team Rousey, Hill had no preference which coach chose him.  The most important thing on that day was gaining admission to the TUF house, and that he did.

After the teams were selected Rousey picked the first match.  Next week the television series presents Shanya Baszler representing Team Rousey, and Julianna Pena standing in for Team Tate.  Both female fighters were No. 1 picks for each team.

Hill will return next week to give us a firsthand perspective of episode two.

The Ultimate Fighter 18 results


Jessamyn DukeRichmond, Ky Laura HowarthHove, East Essex, England Submission via triangle choke3:50 of the 1st round
Cody BollingerRancho Cucamonga, Calif. Rafael FreitasAlbuquerque, N.M. TKO1:54 of the 2nd round
Jessica RakoczyLas Vegas, Nev. Revelina BertoWinter Haven, Fla. Submission via arm bar2:32 of the 2nd round
Chris BealSomis, Calif. Sirwan KakaiCoconut Creek, Fla. Unanimous DecisionSudden Victory round
Julianna PenaSpokane, Wash. Gina MazanySeattle, Ak Unanimous Decision
Michael WoottenLiverpool, Merceyside, England Emil HartsnerLuberod, Skane, Sweden Unanimous DecisionSudden Victory round
Peggy MorganNashua, N.H. Bethany MarshallNewport News, Va TKO2:58 of the 1st round
Joshua HillBinbrook, Ontario, Canada Patrick HolohanTagllaht, Dublin, Ireland Majority Decision
Colleen SchneiderLas Vegas, Nev. Shayna BaszlerSioux Fall, S.D. Submission via arm bar4:24 of the 1st round
Louis FisetteWinnipeg, Manitoba, Canada Chris HoldsworthWoodland Hills, Calif. Submission via triangle choke4:09 of the 1st round
Raquel PenningtonColorado Springs, Colo. Tonya EvingerLake St. Louis, Mo. Submission via guillotine choke3:56 of the 2nd round
Tim GormanWest Des Moines, Iowa Lee SandmeierKnoxville, Iowa TKO4:46 of the 1st round
Roxanne ModafferiYokohama, JPN Valerie LetourneauLa Prairie, Quebec, Canada Submission via rear naked choke3:36 of the 1st round
Anthony GutierrezLee’s Summit, Mo. Matthew MunseyHollywood, Fla. Unanimous DecisionSudden Victory round
Sarah MorasKelowna, B.C., Canada Tara LaRosaAlbuquerque, N.M. Unanimous Decision
David GrantBishop Auckland, Durham, England Daniel MartinezSan Diego, Calif. Submission via arm bar2:02 of the 2nd round


Team Selections

Team Tate won the coin toss, electing to pick first. Below are the final rosters, in order each was selected, are:

Team Tate

Julianna Pena
Sara Moras
Raquel Pennington
Roxanne Modaferri
Cody Bollinger
Chris Holdsworth
Josh Hill
Tim Gorman

Team Rousey

Shayna Baszler
Jessamyn Duke
Peggy Morgan
Jessica Rakoczy
Chris Beal
David Grant
Anthony Guitierrez
Michael Wootten

UFC Ultimate Fight Night 28 main card recap

Main card reca for UFC Ultimate Fight Night 28, which takes place at 7:00 p.m. ET on Wednesday at Mineirinho Arena in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil.

Glover Teixeira takes Ryan Bader’s best, KO’s him in Round 1

Glover Teixeira may have appeared to be on the losing end of the bout, but stay composed and got rid of Ryan Bader in the opening frame.

Bader approached the bout with aggression.  The TUF alum brought the fight to Teixeira and was getting the best of him, but that only lasted until until the Brazilian had enough.

After taking everything Bader could throw at him, Teixeira landed a right-left punch combo that collapsed his counterpart.  Teixeira followed up with a few shots, but the bout was over.

Teixeira won via round-one TKO, which brings his win streak to 20.

Bader is back in the loss column and puts him at 1-2 in his last two Octagon outings.

“Jacare” wows onlookers in TKO victory over Yushin Okami

Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza stepped outside his comfort zone to end Yushin Okami’s night in UFC Ultimate Fight 28’s co-main event.

Souza, the combatant known as “Jacare” that submits any and all foes, laid a beating on Okami in a way fans have never seen.  Okami is known for never being submitted, but Souza switched his typical game plan and decided to show off his powerful fists.

After pummeling Okami for a minute, the Japanese mixed martial artist got his wits back.  Not that it mattered, because seconds later “Jacare” planted his fist on Okami’s head and sent “Thunder” crashing to the mat.  Souza followed up with a barrage of punches to end the fight in the opening frame.

“Jacare” moves to 3-0in the octagon, and furthered his win streak to five.

Okami had a three-fight win streak ended.

 Joseph Benavidez disposed of Jussier Formiga in Round 1

Joseph Benavidez strategically struck his way to victory against Jussier Formiga

Benavidez kept a good distance and displayed excellent lateral movement against Formiga.  He would get in and out to land his strikes and not take any punishment.  When Benavidez saw his chance to strike, he did.  After a two-punch combination that landed flush from the former UFC flyweight No. 1 contender, Benavidez followed up with a knee to Formiga’s stomach.  Formiga hit the mat and Benavidez landed a few short punches for good measure to finish off his opponent.

The victory put Benavidez on a three-fight win streak and in possible title contention again.

Formiga is back in the loss column and now owns a 1-2 record in the UFC.

 Piotr Hallman defeats Francisco Trinaldo via submission in Round 2

Piotr Hallman took a large amount of damage to his body before capitalizing on Fransico Trinaldo’s mistake and sink in a kimura to end the fight.

Trinaldo battered Hallman throughout the opening round, but not much significant damage was done.  The biggest story of Round 1 was Trinaldo working liver shots on Hallman.

Round 2 started with a little more action as Hallman beat Trinaldo to the ground and put his opponent in an uncomfortable position, landing hammer fists in the process.  Trinaldo swept for a ankle lock but that was short lived.  Hallman kept the pressure on Trinaldo, but the Brazilian managed to work back to his feet.  Hallman took Trinaldo back to the mat. Stayed busy, but was still ineffective in his attacks.  Hallman attempted a kimura late in the frame and torque it until Trinaldo was forced to tap out.

Hallman walked away with a submission victory in his UFC debut and extended his winning streak to nine.

Trinaldo had a two-fight win streak snapped and dropped to 3-2 in the UFC.

 Rafael Natal showcased his jiu-jitsu skills and powerful ground and pound en route to defeating Tor Troeng

Rafael Natal proved to be the better jiu-jitsu competitor in an exciting MMA match against Tor Troeng.

Natal, an accomplished jiu-jitsu practitioner, dropped Troeng with a single punch and followed his opponent to the ground.  Natal was searching for an arm-triangle choke, but Troeng reversed the submission.  From there, the two mixed martial artists rolled on top of one another searching for a fight-ending submission.  Troeng seemed to get the better of the round as he landed more punches and had top position when the frame ended.

Natal opened up in Round 2 with a vengeance.  After taking Troeng to the canvas he unleashed a large amount of hammer fists.  Troeng survived the onslaught and managed to take Natal’s back.  Though, Troeng could not hold the position long, it allowed him to not eat anymore of Natal’s dangerous punches.  Natal, using his crafty BJJ, regained top control and peppered Troeng with punches until “The Hammer” got back to his feet.  The two foes stayed in a clinched position against the cage until time ran out.

Round 3 started with Troeng carrying Natal while defended a guillotine-choke.  He attempted to slam Natal to the canvas, but only made matters worse and tightened the submission, however, he did escape.  Natal eventuated to half guard and worked for any submission Troeng would give up.  Troeng, though in trouble at times, always found a way out.  Natal finished the final frame in top position, battering his opponent with punches.

Natal clearly won a unanimous decision and is now on a three-fight win streak.

Troeng’s five-fight win streak was snapped and his UFC debut was spoiled, but he put up a good fight and will likely return to the Octagon.

 Ali Bagautinov wins via TKO against Marcos Vinicius

Ali Bagautinov punished Marcos Vinicius before finishing him off in the third round.

A brief period of measuring range from each competitor started the bout, but that didn’t last long.  Bagautinov launched at Vinicius with a flurry of punches that backed his opponent up, but “Vina” stood his ground.  Both combatants hesitated before throwing strikes again, but similar to earlier in the round, Bagautinov exploded with another attack.  Vinicius was trapped in a guillotine, but managed to defend and gain dominant position on Bagautinov to end the stanza.

In the second frame, Vinicius fought a strategic game, but Bagautinov would attack with relentlessness whenever his opponent tried to gain the upper hand.  Bagautinov eventually landed in Vinicius’ guard and battered his counterpart from there.  Once the bout continued on the feet, Bagautinov was right back to displaying bursts of strikes to not let Vinicius set up his offence.

In Round 3 it appeared that Bagautinov had taken a page out of Vinicius’ book as he began picking his shots wisely, but that didn’t last long.  As soon as Vinicius hit Bagautinov with a few punches, the Russian popped off and sent his opponent crashing to the canvas from a punch.  Bagautinov followed his opponent to the mat and put Vinicius away at  on Round 3 via TKO.

The victory places Bagautinov on a nine-fight win streak, and sent a message to his fellow flyweights.

Vinicius is now on a two-fight losing skid with the loss to Bagautinov.

UFC Ultimate Fight Night 28 preliminary card recap

Preliminary card recap for UFC Ultimate Fight Night 28, which takes place at 4:30 p.m. ET at Mineirinho Arena in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil.

Edimilson Souza wins UFC debut against Felipe Arantes

Edimilson Souza looked as relaxed as one could be in a UFC debt, as he took care of UFC four-fight veteran Felipe Arantes.

Souza was the more aggressive striker, not to mention a calm competitor in his UFC debut with a flicking jab and odd looping hooks, to start the match, but Arantes eventually nailed a takedown to nullify his opponent’s attacks.  Both fighters are competent in the art of Brazilian jiu-jitsu, therefore, neither could gain much of an advantage on the canvas.  However, once the round was ending, Arantes passed guard and was searching for a submission, but Souza defended properly and made it out of Round 1.

With an arsenal of strikes unloading and good head movement, Souza controlled the fight from a striking aspect in Round 2.  Arantes defended intelligently, but rarely got off any offensive attacks.  Souza stayed staking his foe as the round finalized, but never had Arantes in any possible fight-ending situations.

Arantes showcased his striking abilities in Round 3, keeping Souza at bay and throwing punches with bad intentions.  Souza eventually countered one of Arantes’ attacks and swarmed his opponent.  Souza was pelting Arantes with punches to the body and head, but “Sertanejo” stayed in the fight by taking his counterpart to the mat.  Arantes turned the flow of the match and stacked Souza against the cage, while blasting him with knees and punches to end the fight.

Souza appeared to not have any nervousness in his inaugural UFC bout, and the focus was present as he won his UFC debut and furthered his win streak to eight.

Arantes is back in the loss column after going 2-1 in his last three bouts.

Lucas Martins submitted Ramiro Hernandez via rear-naked choke

Lucas Martins wasted no time putting Ramiro Hernandez to sleep at UFC Ultimate Fight Night 29, as he secured the first finish of the evening.

Both combatants were content trading punches and kicks in a wild fashion to begin the match, and the tempo was at the highest the card at yet seen.  Around 40 seconds into Round 1, Martins dropped Hernandez with a punch and pounced on his opponent.  Hernandez did what he could to fight off Martins in a dazed stage, but “Mineiro” switched from a striking offence and took “Junior’s” back.  They toppled to the ground and Martins sunk in two deep hooks before choking Hernandez unconscious, forcing the referee to stop the contest at 1:10 of Round 1.

The victory is Martins’ first in the Octagon, after he lost to Edson Barboza at his UFC debut in January.

After entering the Octagon on a two-fight win streak, Hernandez’s UFC debut was spoiled by Martins.


Elias Silverio outlasted Joao Zeferino’s grappling to earn a unanimous decision victory

With good takedown defence in tow, Elias Silverio defeated Joao Zeferino via unanimous decision at UFC Ultimate Fight Night 28.

Zeferino pinned Silverio against the cage, grinding his opponent down until the referee split the two mixed martial artists up due to lack of action midway through the bout.  Within seconds, Zeferino had Silverio immobilized against the fence again.   There was a short exchange of strikes near the end of Round 1, and Zeferino hit Silverio with a head kick to finish the frame and leave a lasting image in the judges’ minds.

After a kick-punch combination from each combatant to start Round 2, Silverio planted Zeferino against the cage, but positions were reversed quickly.  Once Silverio escaped the grasp of Zeferino, he knocked “The Brazilian Samurai” to the mat and unleashed what ground and pound he could from his opponent’s guard.   Zeferino got the fight back to standing and, of course, held Silverio against the cage again.  The frame ended with a short flurry of ground and pound from Silverio, but Zeferino still controlled the majority of the round.

Silverio took down Zeferino to open the final frame, he let his fists drop on his opponent’s face, but when “The Brazilian Samurai” scrambled to get up he inadvertently landed an illegal kick to a downed opponent.  There was a short pause in the match, but things resumed and Zeferino appeared to have dumped most of his energy.  His ability to control Silverio was gone, and “Xuxu” stayed on his opponent’s back, unloading punches.  Once standing again, Silverio hit Zeferino with a series of punches and kicks, but was pressed up against the cage again by his opponent.

Silverio won the match via decision and remains undefeated at 9-0.  Meanwhile, Zeferino lost his second UFC bout in a row and is still winless in the Octagon.

Ivan Jorge displays impressive final round and earns decision victory against Keith Wisniewski

After starting off slow, Ivan Jorge rallied to finish the match strong and defeat Keith Wisniewski via decision.

Jorge used a limited amount of striking to initiate the match in an effort to take his opponent down, but Wisniewski defended all attempts from “Batman.”  Aside from a couple of standing neck crank attempts and two perfected placed knees to the head from Wisniewski, Round 1 did not off much action outside of takedown defense.

In the second stanza, Jorge latched on to Wisniewski’s back in a standing position against the cage and kept pressure high as he tried to take his opponent’s back.  After a lull in action for a few moments, referee Mario Yamasaki separated the fight.  The two contestants immediately returned to clinching without much offence.

The third round showed more clinch work, but each fighter was landing knees and punches to the body of their opponent.  About midway through the bout, Wisniewski absorbed a knee to his groin, but the fight ensued after just a few seconds.  Wisniewski grew tired as the match progress, and Jorge increased the intensity.  “Batman” damaged Wisniewski’s midsection with knees and wore him down with strong grappling.

Jorge went on to win a unanimous decision and extend his win streak to seven.

Wisniewski returned to the UFC on a six-fight win streak, but he has lost three consecutive bouts since being back in the Octagon.

Jorge’s six fight win streak

…kicked off the UFC on

Sean Spencer edges out split-decision victory against Yuri Villefort

The only match on the Facebook portion of the card was a 15-minute slugfest between Sean Spencer and Yuri Villefort

Villefort started the opening round throwing knees and leg kicks, while Spencer went upstairs and used his boxing to batter his opponent’s head.  Neither combatant got the better of each, but Spencer did drop Villefort momentarily with a punch early in the frame.  Villefort landed the sole takedown of the round, but Spencer managed to spring back to his feet immediately.

Round 2 began, and Villefort darted across the cage and achieved a double-leg takedown, but Spencer was back to his feet in a short time.  After exchanging on the feet for over a minute, Villefort attempted a second takedown but was denied.  Nearing the final minute of Round 2, Spencer began slightly limping and moving with less ease due to Villefort continuously landing leg kicks.   Villefort kept using a tipe kick to make distance between himself and Spencer, then would slam “Black Magic” in the legs and eventually dropped him with a leg kick.

After talking a verbal blasting from his corner ahead of the third round, Spencer came out aggressive, even throwing leg kicks of his own.  Spencer managed to turn the first half of the round into a brawl, but Villefort found his range and slowed the pace of the bout.  Spencer neglected all takedown attempts from an exhausted Villefort in the final round of the match, and beat up the Brazilian on their feet.  Spencer went on to win Round 3, and a split decision victory.

The victory marks Spencer’s first win in the Octagon, after losing his debut to Rafael Natal via arm-triangle choke at “UFC on Fox 6 – Johnson vs. Dodson” in January.

Villefort is now 0-2 in the UFC after transferring to the promotion via Strikeforce.

Marina Shafir: ‘I’m going to be proving a lot of people wrong’

MMA rising featherweight Marina Shafir (Photo courtesy of

A lifetime of competing has aligned Marina Shafir with exceptional training opportunities, and has readied her for a career in shutting down the naysayers.

Born in the small eastern European country Moldova, Shafir (Twitter: @MarinaShafir) moved with her family to Latham, N.Y., when she was 5 years old.  Her father, a professional power lifter and Army Special Forces member at the time, let Shafir have her first experience in judo at the age of 6, which set her off on a successful quest in the discipline.
Shafir was competing in judo at 13 years old.  After conquering the junior circuit by age 17, she started showcasing her skills on an international stage.  As Shafir advanced in judo, her seamstress mother and mechanic father watched as travel expenses mounted.  Along with an itinerary that included travel throughout the U.S. twice a month and outside the country about four times a year, Shafir was dealing with rehabbing a lower-back injury.

The odds stacked against her, Shafir made a decision that seems unthinkable in retrospect when considering where she is today.

“On top of me being almost crippled and my family struggling to keep my dream alive, I just quit,” Shafir told Jason Kelly and Joe Rizzo on MMA DieHards Radio on the MMA DieHards Radio Network.  “I bartended for about three-and-half years, and I worked at Starbucks and I taught the little kids at the local jiu-jitsu club I started going to just to stay active.

“I did all these boot camps.  I went to the gym, I did five (kilometer runs), but it just got so boring for me.  I just wasn’t one of those gym rats.  I tried to be, but I wasn’t.  I started rolling more, and one thing led to another, then I got my first amateur fight and I realized I belong in that cage.

“Now we’re here.”

Where “we” are is close to Shafir making the switch from amateur mixed martial artist to professional.

Shafir’s amateur MMA record stands at 3-0, with all victories coming via armbar submissions.  She views the transfer from amateur to pro as an elevation in professionalism – fighting as well as entertainment.

Her close association with UFC women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey gives onlookers the inclination that Shafir is ready to graduate to the next phase of MMA competition, but she has a different agenda.

“I think everyone that I train with is really shocked I’m still an amateur fighter,” Shafir said.  “I understand why.  I mean, after all, my best friend is a world champ.  They’re like, ‘Why don’t you just go pro?’  I could if I wanted to, but I want to go through the ropes, and when I feel like I’ve gone through the ropes of the amateur circuit, then let’s sway into professional.  It really boils down to me to make that call.”

Being chums with Rousey is beneficial in and out of the cage.  A golden nugget of advice Shafir said Rousey provided her with is to always remain true to who she is.  And as far as training perks, Shafir has had the privilege of working with some of the sport’s best athletes, and even got to experience “The Ultimate Fighter 18” alongside Rousey.

While Shafir looks up to Rousey more than anyone in MMA, there is one former UFC champion that she places second to none inside the cage.  If things go as planned, Shafir may be training with this combatant soon and need a roll of toilet paper.

“I going to be training at Anderson Silva’s Muay Thai College,” Shafir said.  “I think I might (expletive) my pants.  I might do, like, a shart, like a (expletive)-fart.

“Anderson Silva is my absolute favorite fighter, I don’t care what anybody says about him, I don’t care what anybody thinks about his style, because he is the (expletive) man.  All you mother(expletive) are drinking ‘Haterade,’ and wait until the rematch (against UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman at UFC 168).  You see who your true fans are when you lose, and I’m a true (expletive) fan.  He could lose five times in a row and I’d still be there and he’d still be the best fighter in the world.”

Silva’s school would prove essential if Shafir was to meet the fighter many MMA analysts have concluded would be her best friend Rousey’s toughest test.

Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos, The Invicta and former Strikeforce female featherweight champion, is considered to have the striking ability to stifle Rousey’s outstanding grappling talents.  Due to each combatant competing in different weight classes, the bout has a small chance of ever materializing.

Shafir, however, intends on having a career in the 145-pound division, and says she is ready to face “Cyborg” now, despite the difference in experience.  Whether she could or couldn’t defeat “Cyborg” is debatable, but her eagerness to succeed in MMA cannot be denied.

“I’m very excited for the future of my career, and I’m just really excited to get into it,” Shafir said.  “I’m going to be proving a lot of people wrong.”

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