Archive for the ‘Features’ Category

Rose Namajunas: “I forgot who ‘Thug Rose’ was”

UFC strawweight Rose Namajunas

As a reflective woman that is well aware of who she is, Rose Namajunas has the strength to display the real her to the world.

One of 11 women absorbed by the UFC from Invicta FC, Namajunas (Twitter: @rosenamajunas) has been selected to compete on “The Ultimate Fighter 20″ and go on to compete in the UFC’s strawweight division.  It’s not surprising that Namajunas was picked to represent the UFC’s newest weight class and second women’s division, as she is a highly talented athlete and fan favorite.

As far as getting in the cage and competing, “Thug Rose” is accustomed to that.  However, facing the enclosed walls of the TUF house is a new task she will have to conquer.  Namajunas has hypothetically contemplated being in that position and was previously undecided on how she would feel about it, but now that the opportunity is a reality, she is content with it.

“As of recent I have been going through a lot of life changes and I just see it totally different now,” Namajunas told Jason Kelly and Joe Rizzo on MMA DieHards Radio.  “I’m actually really looking forward to kind of being secluded and being locked away from everyone, including my soul mate.  Before, that idea was scary, but I’ve been going through a lot of changes outside of fighting and this opportunity came at the right exact time.  It seems so right and I am ready to embrace it all.  Whereas before I was so afraid of it all.  And I’ve always said to myself that this is probably what I should be doing, so I am really looking forward to this opportunity.”

Competing on “The Ultimate Fighter” is a task on many different levels.  First of all it is the last stop before the big show.  Along with that pressure comes the additional nervousness of being in the limelight of weekly television with viewers ready to tear you down for any minuscule mistake.  And let’s not forget the biggest strain of all, each competitor is there to perform at the highest level and win the tournament.

Perhaps without some soul searching, Namajunas wouldn’t be as comfortable entering the TUF house.  Maybe she needed to realize who she is as a person before she could further herself as a participant in the sport of MMA.

“In a general sense I lost confidence in myself, and that’s not who I am,” Namajunas said.  “I’ve always been the most confident.  I almost forgot who ‘Thug Rose’ was, in a way.  I was kind of putting up that front, but I wasn’t that anymore and I was kind of holding on to it, but it was dwindling away.

“I’ve noticed over the course of the past couple years I’ve became something I wasn’t.  I became a zombie and accepted certain things the woman that I used to know wouldn’t accept.  It’s weird because I came to realize that’s what I was and I also noticed sometimes I used it to benefit me and fuel me and motivate me, but I really noticed it broke me down in my last fight.  I accepted defeat because I wasn’t 100 percent into it, and my heart and soul weren’t in that fight.  I realized why.  I’ve made some changes, I’m seeing how things play out, but so far I feel great.”

To keep the momentum going with her newfound outlook on life, Namajunas was presented with a surreal phone call at a time it was most needed.

Namajunas’ MMA career in Invicta FC was flourishing, even though she fell short in her last outing against Tecia Torres.  She had her own life challenges as we all do and, like many of us, she spoke to a friend about it.  While staying strong and trying to make sense of her day-to-day problems, Namajunas received a life-altering call people often dream of.

“I was texting with my friend about things that were going on in my life and I said, ‘Everything happens for a reason,’” Namajunas said.  “As soon as I wrote that, not a minute later I looked at my phone and it said Las Vegas.  I pick up the phone and guess who it is?  It’s (UFC president) Dana White calling me.  I was like holy crap, dreams do come true, things do happen for a reason.  Everything in your life, good or bad, things do happen for a reason.  You may not know it at that time, but you just got to keep going.”

It’s an attitude like that that separates Namajunas and others like her from an ordinary person.  Her will to succeed, yet stay true to who she is and not be afraid to show her feelings.  It’s a personality that will translate well on “The Ultimate Fighter 20.”  And being yourself is something she believes people, especially mixed martial artists, have a difficult time portraying.

“When you express yourself and your true emotions, because everybody has them, I feel like fighters feel like they have to suppress them because we have to be tough,” Namajunas said.  “It’s not tough, we don’t have to be tough.  Fighters always act like they’re tough, like they’re fine, like, “Yeah, I’m ready, I’m in the best shape ever.’  No, you actually feel like (expletive).  You probably have 10 injuries on you, you probably shouldn’t be taking this fight, you probably aren’t going to get paid that much, you are freaking out.  It’s OK to admit that, but I think people are afraid to be honest with themselves and they’re vulnerable because they think people are going to laugh at them.  Which, actually, people are only going to gravitate towards you because it actually makes you real.  It makes you stronger to be able to admit that.”

UFC on Fox 9: Wallets to fatten Sam Stout’s pockets; bonuses to fatten his wallet

Sam Stout knocks out Yves Edwards (Photo courtesy of Tracy Lee)

Sam Stout used wallets to fatten up, but now seeks a bonus to fatten his wallet.

Stout (Twitter: @SammyJstout) meets Cody McKenzie at UFC on Fox 9 on Dec. 14 at the Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento, Calif., in a lightweight bout.  The match will mark the 17th time Stout has competed in the Octagon, but putting his skills on display on the grandest stage MMA has to offer isn’t where “Hand of Stone” always showcased his talents.

Stout was fortunate to be a frequent contender in TKO, an organization located in Quebec, when he first began making the crossover from kickboxing to MMA.  However, the Ontarian’s experiences when competing in kickboxing were not so glamorous as his intro to mixed martial arts.

“I remember having to do kickboxing shows, showing up and the guy was 20 pounds overweight,” Stout told Jason Kelly and Trevor Airdrie on MMA Cypher Radio on the MMA DieHards Radio Network.  “One time I had to weigh-in for the fight and I had to put every guys’ wallet on the team in my pocket, and all their loose change just to make weight.  I had protein bars and power bars in there so the commission would let us do the fight.  I had, like, 15 wallets in my pockets.”

Stout has not competed outside of the UFC since January 2008.  Needless to say it’s been a number of years since the Team Tompkins product has been provided with nothing but top notch treatment when heading into battle.

Out of Stout’s 13 bouts outside the UFC, 11 of them were under the TKO banner.  TKO, where Stout remains the lightweight champion, was one of the few Canadian promotions that housed elite competitors, such as Georges St-Pierre, Mark Hominick, T.J. Grant and plenty more before the boom of the UFC caused for an influx in regional shows throughout central and eastern Canada.

Ontario, Stout’s home province, underwent a drought of MMA until recently when Substance Cage Combat and Provincial Fighting Championship filling the void.  Stout has been present at each of the organizations’ inaugural events and thinks taking a page out of TKO’s business model may the best idea to have continued success in these new promotions.

“It’s good to build local talent, but you’re not going to have local guys fighting local guys,” Stout explained.  “You want to have local guys and bring in out-of-town opponents for them.  That’s what people want to see, they want to see the home team against the away team.

“It’s kind of like what TKO had back in the old days with me and Hominick and GSP.  There were the staple guys, then the promoter would bring in guys from the U.S. or different parts of Canada to fight the guys who had a fan-following with the promotion.  I think that’s the way to put on a successful show.”

Stout has witnessed enough inside and outside of the cage to provide a valued opinion on MMA promoting, not that he intends on taking on that role in the future.  Stout can’t even say for sure if he will be involved in coaching or managing once his gloves are hung up either, as he said those occupations can be more difficult than fighting.

One thing he can clarify is his current field of employment and training, which took place with Mark DellaGrotte and in Las Vegas at Syndicate MMA, for the less experienced McKenzie has been great.

McKenzie, a combatant with about a third of the Octagon appearances as Stout, was not an easy opponent to get motivated for.  But one of the many things “Hands of Stone” learned in his years of competing in combat sports is to properly ready himself for each counterpart.

“At first glance you think, ‘This guy’s not that good,’ but the more I watched him and more homework I did on him, the more I realize how dangerous he is,” Stout said.  “He’s got a couple holes in his game, but he’s hard to train for.  He’s tall, he’s left-handed, he’s very unorthodox when it comes to standing and he’s very unorthodox when he’s on the ground.  He uses flexibility, his strength and his dexterity to put you situations most guys can’t put you in.  He’s actually a dangerous opponent, but I think I’ve done my homework and I’m going to be prepared for him.”

Being equipped for an opponent has never been a problem for Stout.  As a matter of fact, he often goes above and beyond what is expected and locks in an event bonus with an added monetary bonus, as he has done on seven occasions inside the Octagon.  However, with a flyweight championship tilt between Demetrious Johnson and Joseph Benavidez, along with the other thrilling competitors on UFC on Fox 9, Stout will be hard pressed to collect a purse that exceeds show and win money.

“I’ve got my work cut out for me to win fight of the night,” Stout said.  “I’ve got one (knockout of the night) and I like those better.  They’re a lot easier on my body to get a quick finish than a 15-minute war.”

At the end of the day, a bonus of any kind makes for a fatter wallet.

Fear the Fighter and Charron battle into hip hop

Fear the Fighter is about to rap the game up.

As MMA grows, the UFC in particular, the mainstream crowd attracts to different things.  Fear the Fighter (Twitter: @Fearthefighter), a brand prominent in MMA apparel, notices that trend and is staying up on the times.

Fear the Fighter t-shirts can be spotted on the majority of MMA fighters entering the Octagon these days, but the brand was originally intended to step outside of that realm.  David Makdessi (@DavidMakdessi), owner of the clothing label, has dabbled in lacrosse and is venturing into hockey, but they are stepping on unchartered ground with their newest acquisition and signee.

Makdessi was turned onto battle rap, specifically MMA Cypher host and world top ranked battler Corey Charron (@charronkotd), and realized there was a correlation between what Fear the Fighter represents and what battle rap symbolizes.  Charron, or anyone of his sort, was not something Makdessi mulled over until the opportunity was presented to him, but it didn’t take long for him to make sense of the deal.

“Initially what went through my head is that these guys are battlers, they’re fighters, they’re another division of FTF,” Makdessi told  “Basically these guys go in there and they fight.  They give their all just like a fighter does in the ring and they do what it takes to win.”

And as for Charron, the MC thinks the company resonates with people in all walks of life and is proud to be a part of this landmark deal.

“I think it’s a good fit,” Charron told  “It’s a different fit because it’s an MMA brand with all the fighters, but then again Fear the Fighter is a brand that speaks to many people.  They have their cancer awareness shirts and their stop the bullying shirts, plus the international bloodline, so I think Fear the Fighter is a brand that you don’t have to be a fan of MMA to wear.

“I knew who Fear the Fighter was before I started doing (MMA Cypher).  When you see a brand so many times you start to recognize who they are.  I know who they are and respect what they’re about, so to be the first musician signed to the brand is awesome.  And I think it is fitting because a lot of musicians are not real fighters, I mean in the sense that they don’t fight for what they want.  I fought through the B.E.T. thing and other stuff in my career to get what I want.”

Charron is a respected MC, embarking on a career that is already beginning to flourish.  Aside from globally ripping apart battle rappers with a slick tongue and witty rebuttals, the Ottawa native released his first mixtape (Bath Salts and Vinegar Chips) in 2013  Also, this year, Charron toured with numerous musicians in the industry, including Wu-tang, and is currently producing his first music video.

Makdessi, a father of three, is aware that in today’s world, you have to be in tune with all aspects of marketability.  To limit a company to one demographic is an injustice to a business, therefore, Makdessi keeps and open mind when scouting new markets.

“(Charron’s) into hip hop, and nowadays there’s a crossover with everything,” Makdessi said.  “It’s with boxing and everything.  You see (Floyd) Mayweather has Justin Bieber around, and all these other guys around.  When you have that you get your message out and attract more people.”

Charron concurs with Makdessi.  The Canadian MC said he sees how the two business models blend, and the resemblance between competition in King of the Dot (KOTD) and the UFC are mirror images when broken down.

“Battle rap and MMA are two different subcultures, but I definitely think they have a similar core fan base,” Charron said.  “MMA is more popular, but I think a lot of MMA fans could enjoy battle rap because it’s a verbal combat.  It’s kind of verbal MMA.  You come into the match with a game plan, you study your opponent, you know their weaknesses and their strengths.  They’re both strategic sports that involve thinking, planning and straight, ruthless skill.”

After observing what Fear the Fighter has done it terms of helping MMA fighters, Charron is eagerly anticipating leading the way with the brand into the hip hop community.  Makdessi, likewise, is anxious to break into the battle rap scene and he has some immediate plans for Charron.

“Right now we’re just going to see how it goes and hopefully it goes well,” Makdessi said.  “He has his fans out there so obviously I want him to have his own line that can connect to his fans.  That’s something I am going to make sure he can have.”

That’s a wrap, folks.

“Rampage,” Bellator tournament involed in Beltran’s giant goal

Joey Beltran (R) vs. "Rampage" Jackson (L) at Bellator 108. (Photo courtesy of Sherdog)

Joey Beltran is looking for a big check.

Beltran (Twitter: @mexicutioner760), a combatant known for sheer grit and toughness, recently lost against Quinton “Rampage” Jackson at Bellator 108 in New Jersey.

The main event of the card, which took place at Revel Casino in Atlantic City, featured Beltran and Jackson slugging it out in what appeared to be a fairly even fight.  Nearing the end of Round 1, “Rampage” connected with a punch on Beltran’s chin that momentarily dropped him.  Beltran said he heard the 10-second warning bell to alert the fighters that the round is coming to a halt, fought off the former Pride FC fan-favorite’s onslaught and stood up as the frame ended to head to his corner for Round 2.

That’s when things went awry.

“Some idiots on Twitter said I looked confused,” Beltran told Jason Kelly and Corey Charron on MMA Cypher Radio on the MMA DieHards Radio Network.  “Yeah, I was (expletive) confused because I thought the round was over.  I thought (referee Dan) Miragliotta was just splitting us up because of the bell.  That’s why I started freaking out.  When I saw the doctors coming in I was like, ‘No, no, no.  What the (expletive)?’

“Up to that point I thought I was doing a really good job.  The game plan was to fight him all the way in or all the way out and I think it would’ve been a really good fight if that (expletive) idiot wouldn’t have stopped it.  All I’m saying is that it’s the main event of a big show and I’m a veteran who has shown time and time again in countless fights that I can take a serious amount of damage and keep coming, also it’s the main event.  Let me get put to sleep.  Let me earn my pay.”

“Rampage” agreed to give Beltran a rematch, and “The Mexicutioner” is up for it.  Besides, Beltran is sure if Jackson stays at light heavyweight the two mixed martial artists are bound to meet again.

Beltran is not privy to what Bellator is doing with Jackson next.  Since “Rampage” is such a big draw for the company they may have plans that don’t involve the former UFC heavyweight for Jackson’s next bout.  However, he does know what is going on with his own career, and he’s anxious to start working on it.

“I hope to fight in February for Bellator,” Beltran said.  “Depending on when they’re doing the light heavyweight tournament, my manager has to let me know if they’re doing it in the first or second half of 2014, I’m ready to get busy right away.”

Beltran said he is taking the positives from his match with Jackson, that being the fact that he was making a fight competitive against a former UFC champion until the match was prematurely stopped.  And even though Beltran hasn’t had things go his way as of late – 0-3-1 in the last four outings of his 25-fight career-, “The Mexicutioner” is optimistic and striving to turn things around in a big way next year.

“I’d love to be undefeated, but at the end of the day I’m fighting some of the best guys in the world and I’m doing alright,” Beltran said.  “I got to keep on pushing, keep on training and keep getting better.  I’m excited for this 205(-pound) tournament, I really do think I’m going to do some damage.  Win some money.  I want one of those giant cardboard checks with my picture on it, that’s the next goal for me.”

“King of the Cage: Out Cold” main card recap


King of the Cage graced Cold Lake, Alberta, Canada with a card that offered all aspects of MMA and non-stop action.

The main event featured Elmer Waterhen, a local favorite against Lindsey Hawkes of Winnipeg, Manitoba. An early back and forth battle led to these experienced fighters recognizing pacing themselves to go the distance was in their best interests.

Lindsey Hawkes pushes back against Elmer Waterhen

The first round displayed both fighters exchanging multiple leg and body strikes. Waterhen used his reach to keep his opponent at bay, but with little effect. Lindsey was stronger with his punches, mainly overhand rights.

Round 2 showed Waterhen seeming to struggle, but a bitter back and forth battle resumed and the round was any one’s call.

In the third frame, Waterhen put it all on the table, attacking and chasing Hawkes as much as he could. Hawkes held his ground and pulled out the decision victory, possibly sending Waterhen into retirement.

Curtis Demarce angers Tony Hervey into victory

Demarce started this fight smiling, but sadly did not end that way.

This show-stopper fight showed the heart of Demarce, and the persistence of Hervey, which led to his win this epic battle.

Demarce was the more fluid combatant in the first stanza. Hervey opted to take a slower pace, picking his shots as the round progressed. The two mixed martial artists exhibited a pitter patter, back and forth game, standing and on the ground. Both fighters showed promise, though, as the round continued, but Hervey picked up the pace and owned the ring.

Hervey showed promise in the second round. Demarce listened to his corner well and applied their advice, but the kicks and strikes of Hervey bloodied up Demarce, quickly. Deep cuts and a busted nose left Demarce bleeding heavy, often accidently spitting blood in his opponent’s face. Demarce complained but to the ref, although, it fell on deaf ears. Mid round presented a halt after a vicious groin kick from Hervey. The round continued with Hervey laying a vengeance upon Demarce’s face and body with various combos and kicks.

In the third round, Hervey,  who had already severely damaged Demarce, continued to apply more damage to the face of his opponent. After a spinning-heel kick and jumping front-kick, Demarce refused to give up, finishing on top of Hervey. It was not enough to take the fight.

Hervey edged it out with a split-decision victory.

Steve Dubeck’s life drained by the ju-jitsu of Marlusz Ksiazkiewicz

Dubeck started off strong with more technical and aggressive boxing in the match.

Ksiazkiewicz’s superior ju-jitsu showed early, with him hanging off the back off Dubeck for much of the fight.

Despite the obvious power of Dubeck, Ksiazkiewicz was able to survive his attacks, scramble and easily dominate the back of Dubeck. Dubeck tried to finish the battle in both the first and second round with strong combos, but Ksiazkiewicz remained resilient and persistent.

Much of the Round 2 composed of dirty boxing exchanges against the cage, but it was obvious that Dubeck had weakened. Ksiazkiewicz took full advantage and slipped in the rear-naked choke at 3:53 in the second round to secure the win.

David Evans too fast for the outmatched Johnny Tomaino

Evans made quick work of Tomaino in their match.

The speed of Evans was amazing. A swift jab followed up with lightning-quick hooks stunned Tomaino and left him dazed and confused like a movie based on stoners of the ’70s.

Evans applied pressure and pushed the slower fighter against the cage and rained down vicious body shots until Tomaino dropped 39 seconds into the first round.

Lynell House lands a swift knockout versus Sarah McRann

Both fighters spent the first 30 seconds of the round mulling about and finding their range. Soon, thereafter, House stuck McRann with a left hook which was consistently landing the remaining time her opponent was on her feet.

McRann failed at attempts to keep her combatant at bay with straight punches down the middle, which led to a perfectly landed, and final, left hook from House. McRann fell to the floor and the match was deemed finished.

UFC 167 happened, now what?

UFC 167 was a night of questionable futures and judging.

UFC 167 took place Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, and the event was headlined with a UFC welterweight championship bout between title holder Georges St-Pierre and No. 1 contender Johny Hendricks.

St-Pierre won a highly controversial decision.  Following the event, UFC president Dana White referred to the judges, Tony Weeks and Sal D’Amato,  as “incompetent” for rewarding St-Pierre with a split-decision victory, and the Nevada State Athletic Commission as “atrocious” for continuously incorrectly scoring MMA bouts.

Whether the judges screwed up the results or not, that’s a topic that is always up for debate, the victory was recorded as a win for St-Pierre and, according to, he broke and extended UFC records.

St-Pierre won his 19th UFC bout, the most of any fighter in organizational history.  He extended his UFC winning streak to 12, the longest active streak of any fighter currently on the roster.  St-Pierre’s 12-fight UFC winning streak is the second longest of any fighter in UFC history. with Anderson Silva being in the No. 1 spot.  The victory was also St-Pierre’s ninth straight welterweight title defense, the most in the division’s history.  St-Pierre passed B.J. Penn for the most total fight time in UFC history with 5:28:12 spent inside the octagon during Round 1.  St-Pierre has won seven consecutive fights by decision for a total of 175 minutes of fighting without a stoppage.  St-Pierre fought to a decision for the 12th time in his UFC career, the second most of any fighter in history behind Jon Fitch and Sam Stout (13). His 12 decision victories are a UFC record, and St-Pierre has never lost a fight decided by the judges.  St-Pierre completed three takedowns in the fight, giving him a total of 87 in his UFC career, an all-time company record.  St-Pierre added to his tally for most total strikes landed in UFC history and has now landed a total of 2,523.  St-Pierre added to his tally for most significant strikes landed in UFC history and has now landed a total of 1,254.  St-Pierre absorbed 85 significant strikes in the fight, the most he has ever absorbed in a UFC bout.

Still, though, the controversial decision will go on to mar the significance of St-Pierre’s night in which many people believe Hendricks won.

Simple solution to an outcome like that is an instantaneous rematch, right?

Well, not when St-Pierre announced in a post-fight interview that he is taking a “step back from MMA.”  It appeared as if “Rush” was trying to express that he was retiring, but couldn’t commit to saying it, so no one really knows if he will fight again or not.

Regardless, Hendricks is left in limbo, as is the rest of the welterweight division until things with GSP become clear as to what his intentions are.  Also, to raise more questions on the near future of the UFC 170-pound weight class, the division was shook up earlier in the evening.

Leave up to Robbie Lawler to throw a monkey wrench up in any organization’s plans.

Prior to UFC 167, there was plenty of talk about St-Pierre’s teammate, Rory MacDonald, defeating Lawler and the two Tristar combatants facing one another.  However, Lawler, a 32-fight veteran at 29 years old, dominated in two of their three-round bout and elevated one rung on the divisional ladder.

MacDonald, who was expected to be a belt contender in a short time, is completely out of the title picture.  Throughout Lawler’s career he has been that fighter who derails the promotion’s up-and-coming talent en route to securing his own title shot.  And he does it without talking to hype fight, but establishing his rank with exceptional performance in combat.

Chael Sonnen, though, is a mixed marital artist who does live off the hype talk.  And that is something he failed to do leading up to his UFC 167 co-main event against Rashad Evans.

Evans defeated Sonnen via TKO in Round 1 of their light heavyweight affair, but unlike a typical bout featuring the former UFC middleweight No. 1 contender, the match flew under the radar.  A reason for that could be that it was revealed by White weeks before their fight that Sonnen will be coaching opposite Wanderlei Silva on “The Ultimate Fighter Brazil” and meet “The Axe Murderer” at a later date.

Everyone, Sonnen included, has been focused on the ongoing feud between him and Silva.  And given that Sonnen is Evans’ colleague on Fox Sports 1, it wasn’t a total shock that “Suga” didn’t receive the tongue thrashing “Chael P.” is capable of.  Nonetheless, Sonnen was pummeled in the opening frame, didn’t stay in the spotlight by utilizing is slick wit and is now coming off a loss as he heads into his coaching stint against Silva.  It takes some meaning away from the match when the American and Brazilian do square off.

Former Strikeforce welterweight Tyron Woodley caused a “TUF 1″ alumni to visit the same thoughts St-Pierre is entertaining.

Woodley blasted Josh Koscheck with a accurately placed right hand to the chin in the first round of their UFC 167 meeting that ended the fight.  Woodley is back in the win column after losing a split decision to Jake Shields at UFC 161 in June, but has numerous competitors between him and a title shot.  He isn’t ranked in the UFC top 10 welterweights, however, the win over Koscheck could help him crack the list.

Koscheck, on the other hand, is on a three-fight losing streak, with the most recent two ending in TKO/KO.  The four-time NCAA Division I All-American wrestler reportedly texted White alluding to the fact the he might hang his gloves up.  Considering he is far removed from a title match and consecutive knockouts are a good way ensure brain trauma, it isn’t the worst idea if Koscheck does retire.

Ali Bagautinov, who is just beginning his UFC career, racked up his 10th straight victory in the opening fight of the UFC `167 main card.

Bagautinov outlasted Tim Elliot, winning a unanimous decision and halting the American’s two-fight win streak.  Elliot’s awkward style and high pace was something Bagautinov evidently had never dealt with.  Elliot was able to take advantage of the Russian’s lesser cardio in Round 3, but Bagautinov already had the victory locked in by winning the first two frames with a higher volume of strikes.

Donald Cerrone, who submitted Evan Dunham via triangle choke in Round 1 on the preliminary card, earned the submission of the night bonus.  Woodley won knockout of the night, and St-Pierre and Hendricks picked up fight of the night honors.  All winners received $50,000.

The event drew an attendance of 14,856 and a live gate of $5.7 million.

Something the event did offer is a variety of quandaries.  Such as what happens with the welterweight division?  And, what is to be done about judging in MMA?

UFC stars predict Hendricks over St-Pierre

In July, at UFC 162, Chris Weidman scored one of the biggest upsets of all time when he knocked out Anderson Silva to win the UFC middleweight championship. Fans Octagonside at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas were stunned when a Weidman left hook laid out “The Spider” in the second round. But not everyone was surprised by the result. Now, some of the sport’s best athletes are predicting another long championship reign to end when welterweight king Georges St-Pierre collides with No.1 contender Johny Hendricks this Saturday.

The fight is the most eagerly-anticipated UFC welterweight title fight in years, with Las Vegas oddsmakers giving the Ada, Oklahoma-born Hendricks the best shot to take the title away from “GSP” in years. The No.1 ranked challenger is currently listed as +205 (or a little over 2-1) to snatch the title away, the narrowest odds offered on any GSP opponent since BJ Penn challenged the Canadian half a decade ago at UFC 94.


UFC president Dana White said: “Just like when Chris Weidman was challenging Anderson Silva, everywhere I go, I’ve got fighters telling me that they think the upset is happening in this fight. All the pros think Johny Hendricks is the biggest challenge that GSP has faced in his entire UFC career. Almost every fighter I’ve spoken to and every fighter we’ve interviewed thinks Hendricks is going to shock the world.”


Here, some of the biggest names in the UFC weigh in on what could be the upset of the year.


Carlos Condit (No.2 ranked welterweight contender, former interim UFC welterweight champion; has fought both St-Pierre and Hendricks)

“If I were a betting man, I’d take Johny Hendricks for the upset. You have to give Johny a huge chance in this fight. I’m most excited to see how their wrestling matches up. If Johny can stop the takedown, like a lot of people think he will, it is going to be very interesting.”


Chael Sonnen (No.6 ranked light heavyweight contender, three-time UFC title challenger)

“Johny is by far the biggest threat to GSP’s title, that’s obvious. Hendricks could be the guy to end GSP’s reign, we all get that. What’s getting missed here is the bigger story: If GSP wins this fight, he is the greatest fighter in the history of the UFC, the number one guy of the UFC’s first two decades. Hendricks will be the UFC champion in the future – I think we can all agree on that – so if GSP can beat him now he will not only be the greatest fighter of his era, but also of the Hendricks era. Every win Hendricks gets after losing to GSP would be a win for GSP, too. So this is an even bigger stakes match than people realize. I think GSP will show up in the form of his life – but I also think Hendricks wins this.”


Tim Kennedy (No.10 ranked middleweight contender)

“I think Johny Hendricks is the better fighter across the board. Better wrestler, better striker, takes a shot better – everything. But I think GSP, he’s just a freak, he will find a game plan to win on points. I really think that Hendricks should win this fight, but I won’t bet against GSP.”


Robbie Lawler (No.10 ranked welterweight contender)

“It’s going to be a tense first round for sure. I think whoever imposes their will and can get the ball rolling early will take it. Cardio is going to be the key and you know Georges will be ready to go the full five. Hendricks needs to come in shape and, if he does, he’s got a great chance to take the title.”


Matt Serra (former UFC welterweight champion, last man to defeat St-Pierre)

“Johny has been taking out a lot of tough guys, knocking guys out, so he has a huge puncher’s chance. Koscheck had a great right hand and a puncher’s chance against GSP, but nothing like this guy. GSP does fight safe, so the opportunities for Hendricks to land the shot are going to be few and far between, but he will get the chance and he has to be ready to take it. That’s what I did.”


Dan Hardy (UFC welterweight contender, former title contender who faced St-Pierre)

“The upset can happen. We all know GSP is the best problem-solver in the sport, but he’s got a hell of a problem in this fight. Johny Hendricks presents a different kind of danger than anyone else Georges has ever fought. GSP has beaten fighters with good power before, but Hendricks, to my mind, is the hardest single-shot puncher in the division. Johny Hendricks needs to hit you once, and that’s it. GSP has beaten great wrestlers – before, but no one anywhere near as decorated as Hendricks. Even if Johny’s wrestling enables him to stay standing for 10 minutes out of the scheduled 25, that’s still a hell of a long time for him to land one shot.”


Alexander Gustafsson (No.1 ranked light heavyweight contender)

“I definitely believe Hendricks has a chance to beat GSP. He’s a hard hitter with excellent wrestling skills, so anything can happen.”


Chad Mendes (No.1 ranked featherweight contender)

“I think Johny is gonna get this. GSP is super athletic, a great champion, but Johny’s wrestling and power gives him the advantage. GSP doesn’t have the best chin in the world, and actually I think he can’t take a shot even as well as he did a few years ago. I can see a second-round KO.”


Brian Stann (former middleweight contender, FOX Sports commentator)

“Georges is the all-round better fighter, but I think Johny is winning this fight. I think the years of being champion, fighting the best of the best, fight after fight, year after year, have taken a toll on GSP. His chin isn’t what it was and I think Johny’s takedown defense is so good that he will spend enough time on his feet to land the knockout shot. Johny is happy to take a few to land one, and I think that will happen. Carlos Condit did a lot of damage to Georges in their fight, and if Johny catches him like that it is over.”


Cat Zingano (No.1 ranked women’s bantamweight contender)

“GSP knows how not to lose fights, and I can see him not losing the fight. But, I have this feeling that Johny Hendricks is so wild, so unpredictable, that he will catch GSP. Hendricks is like a wind-up doll with a chainsaw and I don’t know how you can prepare for that. GSP will have had a hard time preparing for this style. I wouldn’t be shocked at all if Hendricks wins the title.”


Michael Bisping (No.4 ranked middleweight contender)

“I’m going with Hendricks to put him to sleep in one round with a left hook. Hendricks has the capabilities of stopping GSP’s takedowns and, quite honestly, it is going to be a murder on the feet. Hendricks hits too hard and he can take a hell of a shot himself. Hendricks’ left hook is the most dangerous weapon in the entire welterweight division, and it will win him the UFC championship on November 16. Also, I’m just not sure if GSP really wants to do this anymore. He is the best welterweight of all time, perhaps the best UFC fighter of all time, period.”


Jake Shields (No.7 ranked welterweight contender, former welterweight title challenger)

“If I had to bet a lot of money on it, I’d go with GSP on points, but I think Johny has a real good chance because GSP doesn’t like getting hit. I’m excited to see two things happen in this fight. First, I want to see how GSP reacts to getting hit by someone who hits like Hendricks. Second, I’m really interested in how Hendricks deals with getting put on his back. Hendricks is a four-time NCAA Division I wrestling All-American, he’s not used to getting taken down, but it will happen fighting Georges. It will happen in the first round. If Johny can mentally deal with that, keep cool, get up and throw, he can win this fight.”


Matt Hughes (UFC Hall of Famer, former welterweight champion, fought GSP three times)

“I really think Hendricks has the tools to get his hand raised. He’s obviously got the wrestling, and along with the wrestling he’s got that big left hand. I don’t think Georges’ jab is going to be as effective against a southpaw, and he’s always going to know that when he’s close enough to throw that jab, Johny’s gonna be close enough to land that left. So I think that may play into Georges’ mind just a little bit and I think mentally Georges has some obstacles because he doesn’t like to get hit.”


Gray Maynard (No.5 ranked lightweight contender, two-time UFC lightweight title challenger)

“I’m going with Johny. He’s got the wrestling, the power and the more I hear from him, he just sounds confident, like he knows he’s got this. I’m calling the upset.”


Daniel Cormier (No.2 ranked heavyweight contender)

“I was able to work with Johny in the past and no one performs better when the lights are brightest. I pick Hendricks.”


Forrest Griffin (UFC Hall of Famer, former light heavyweight champion)

“Johny Hendricks is a way better wrestler than GSP, Johny Hendricks has way, way more power than GSP, and Johny Hendricks has a far, far, far better chin than GSP. Clearly, Johny Hendricks doesn’t stand a chance of pulling off the upset against GSP…”


Chuck Liddell (UFC Hall of Famer, former light heavyweight champion)

“I think Hendricks is really going to make GSP fight. GSP is a great, great fighter. And he really can fight, but he prefers not to and to think his way to victory. Johny won’t allow that to happen. I will say I thought all this before the last fight GSP fought Josh Koscheck, but I think the pace Johny fights at, how hard he hits with each shot, and how much he seems to want this makes this the most interesting GSP fight in years.”


Luke Barnatt (undefeated UFC middleweight)

“My money is on the upset. GSP is the greatest ever, but Hendricks is the most dangerous opponent GSP has faced in years. Hendricks has the best wrestling credentials in the UFC on paper, and has that one-punch KO power. GSP has the advantage over five rounds, but I see Hendricks finishing the fight early.”


Jimi Manuwa (undefeated UFC light heavyweight)

“I’d definitely give Hendricks a shot against GSP – he’s a great wrestler with powerful striking. I’m really looking forward to seeing this fight.”


Nik Lentz (No.8 ranked featherweight contender)

“GSP is the better fighter, overall, but Johny is the biggest puncher, pound-for-pound, in the sport. Maybe it is because we have the same nutritionist, Mike Dolce, but I think Johny wins the belt by knockout in the second round. Johny is going to get taken down, right away, but if Johny keeps calm, keeps going for the knockout and doesn’t get frustrated, he will land that shot.”


Jason High (UFC welterweight contender)

I hate to go against my wrestling brother Johny Hendricks, but I think GSP might get him. Hendricks is definitely a tough nut to crack for him, but I think in a five-round fight, those fourth and fifth rounds could be a problem for Johny. Georges is always in shape and he’s fought five rounds a bunch of times, so I’ve got to go with the champ on this one.”


Ross Pearson (UFC lightweight contender)

“For this fight I would tell Hendricks to go out and take the fight to Georges, don’t wait for him, be first to do everything. I definitely think Hendricks can defeat Georges. He has scary power; he just has to make sure he uses it early in the fight.”


Brad Pickett (UFC flyweight contender)

“If I was a betting man I’d put my money on Hendricks. He has the finishing power that we’ve seen has caught GSP out before when he fought Matt Serra. We could be in for another Matt Serra upset. When it comes to tactics, GSP is the best he studies his opponents in so much detail. If Hendricks can keep unpredictable then he could outsmart GSP. My prediction would be GSP decision or Hendricks KO.”

T.J. Laramie: Canada’s future MMA star

MMA prospect T.J. Laramie

In order to be the best of the best, T.J. Laramie knows where he has to be.

Laramie (Twitter: @AOBLARAMIE) is a budding star from Windsor, Ontario, Canada.  Training since the age of 13, Laramie began learning primarily kickboxing at Mady’s Martial Arts, but made the switch to Maximum Training Centre in an effort to learn more of an all-around MMA game.

R-L: Don Wilson, T.j. Laramie, Manny Mann, Paul Rousseau at IKF

His accomplishments thus far are, but not limited to: 3X Grapplers Quest winner (No-Gi and Gi), Ontario Open (No-Gi and Gi), 2X runner up in All-Ontario Wrestling, runner up in Absolute Grappling, Under-17 153-pound IKF Kickboxing World Champion.

Now, at 16 years old, Laramie is on a meteoric rise to a professional MMA career and has a goal in mind.

“I put everything I have into this sport,” Laramie Jason Kelly (@JayMMADieHards) on MMA Cypher Radio on the MMA DieHards Radio Network.  “Eventually (the UFC) is where i want to be.”

Laramie envisions his UFC career taking place in the bantamweight or featherweight division.  He credits his shortness to his parents, who he said aren’t very tall either, which makes the Windsor native believe he grow past five-foot-eight.

It’s fitting that Laramie, with his size and stature, said he could see a camp like Team Alpha Male being a place he’d jive with.  The Ontarian likens his fight style to Chad Mendes, a solid wrestling base with equally strong boxing skills, but looks up to other fighters for encouragement to gain something that can’t be taught.

R-L" Todd Laramie, Frankie Edgar, T.J. Laramie

“The biggest one for sure is Frankie Edgar,” Laramie said.  “I think he was a great champion and his style is exciting and technical.  He wasn’t wild, and I’m not much for the brawling style or anything like that.  He was technical, he won fights and has an amazing heart too.

“Cain Velasquez, too.  He has heart, a hard worker and he just shows that hard work beats natural ability.  He came back off the knock out from Junior (dos Santos) and beat him twice.  It’s people like that that are able to come back off losses that really inspire me.”

A large portion of teenagers today, especially ones training in MMA, are up to date on the stars of the UFC.  Laramie, though, is such a student of the game that he studies greats from other combat sports.

“Boxing was a huge part of my style and how I fight,” Laramie said.  “All the old fights, Muhammad Ali is one of my greatest inspirations, I have one of his quotes tattooed on me.  The old boxing is huge, huge to me.”

Given his accomplishments so far, and Laramie’s dedication to coming a professional mixed martial artist, it’s only a matter of time before promotions start knocking on his door with a contract.  Sure, he’s most likely compete in a regional circuit somewhere, but with success wherever those bouts may be, Laramie is bound to hear from the UFC or Bellator.

“If the opportunity (with Bellator) presents itself I’ll take it, but we all know the best fighters in the world come from the UFC.” Laramie said.  “If you look at Bellator, the first pay-per-view was two UFC dropouts, so right there, that just proves the UFC is the Mecca where everyone wants to be.  Those are where the best in the world are right now, and that’s where I want to be.

“I want to be known as the best of the best, and that’s where it happens.  At the UFC.”

Provincial Fighting Championship 1 main card recap

Provincial Fighting Championship 1 took place in the Western Fair District in London, Ontario, on Saturday, and every bout delivered.

The main event of PFC 1 had a London favorite, Chris Horodecki, defeating Frank Caraballo in a three-round clash.

Horodecki was te controller of the fight for the most part, but showed his ground game in the third round.  After slamming his shin into Caraballo’s thigh over and over again for two rounds, Horodecki switched up the game plan and took the American down in final frame.

Horodecki ket busy on the canvas and showed an evolved skill set in winning a unanimous decision.

Mike Karkula edged out a split-decision win over Jesse Gross, but not without enduring punishment.

The better jiu-jitsu player in the match, Karkula, accomplished mount in the first round and put fists on Gross’ face with intent to finish.  Gross, although, showed a strong will and withstood the punches.

In Round 2, Gross displayed much better takedown defense and hit Karkula with hard punches.  As Karkula attempted for any sort of a knee or ankle  lock, Gross made his opponent pay by bashing him with punches that sounded like a soccer ball being kicked.  Karkula showed durability while trying to latch on to a submission, but Gross certainly hurt submission master.

Round 3 was a tilt that teetered in Karkula’s favor.  He slightly got the better of Gross and went on to secure a victory.

Kyle Prepolec beat Adam Assenza is a high paced, back and forth rumble.

Both Prepolec and Assenza came out throwing caution to the wind and fists at each other.  Prepolec took a blow below the belt which caused a lengthy pause in the match, however, the bout, once again, ensued.  Lacking the action the match initially had, the combatants locked up against the cage in a stalemate position for most of the remainder of the round.

Round 2 showed glimpses of how the match began, but Assenza was on the wrong end of the stand-up fight and took Prepolec down.  Once the match got back to stand the two combatants went for broke again.  Trading punches and elbows for the majority, and once Assenza fell to the canvas, Prepolec was relentless with punches and knees to the body until the referee had seen enough.

Prepolec won via TKO at 4:40 of Round 2.

In the only females’ bout on the main card, Lynell House battered Shannon Ludlow en route to a TKO win.

The two combatants kept the action flowing , but threw technique out the window in their slugfest.  Ludlow took what she could, but was finally overworked by House and ate far to many punches.  The referee stepped in to check on Ludlow and she admitted she could not continue.

House won via TKO at 4:17 of Round 1.

Hector Garcia took Joel Paquette out of consciousness in their match to kick off the PFC 1 main card.

The two mixed martial artists traded leather, but when Paquette got clipped he would use his superior wrestling to take Garcia down.  Paquette came close to stopping the bout in the first round, however, Garcia lasted through the punches and made it to the second frame.

Garcia kept backing Paquette up with stiff punches to the center of his face.  Paquette did nothing to defend to oncoming strikes and eventually got hit with a single punch that knocked him completely out.  Paquette collapsed to the ground, and Garcia saw there was no need to follow up with any more punches.

Garcia won the bout at 0:42 of Round 2.


Provincial Fighting Championship 1 preliminary card recap

The Provincial Fighting Championship 1 preliminary card, which included four first-round finishes, set a high benchmark for the main card

Malcolm Gordon made it through adversity to finish Lloyd Reyes.

Gordon landed harder strike to begin the bout, especially a leg kick that sounded like a bat hitting a tree, but Reyes dropped the ATC fighter.  Gordon used his elite grappling skills to regain dominant position.  Reyes got the fight back to its feet, but that turned out to be a mistake.

Gordon hit Reyes with a punch that stumbled his opponent, and followed up with another that dropped him.  Gordon jumped on Reyes to finish him off, but the referee was not far behind to halt the match at 3:38 on Round 1.

Darryl Marin  withstood a powerful slam to defeat Ryan Thomson in the first round.

Marin, a muay thai specialist, was tied up in an effort to nullify his strikes after the opening bell sounded.  Thomson slammed Marin thunderously to the canvas, which took the wind out of his opponent.  However, Marin kept his wits about himself and reacted properly as he sunk in a rear-naked choke to finish the match.

Randa Marcos grinded out a decision victory against Kara Kirsh   in the evening’s first female bout.

With a change in pace for the card, Marcos and Kirish handled their business on the ground.  A technical grappling match, Marcos held top position and landed flurries of punches on two separate occasions.  Kirish did a good job of preventing Marcos to advance position, but eventually got mounted.  Marcos dropped elbows until the first frame expired.

With the succes Marcos had in Round 1 in the grappling department, she immediately clinched with Kirish and pinned her against the fence.  IN an attempted takedown on Marcos’ behalf, Kirish reversed it and secured back mount.  Marcos turned, but became mounted.  With another reversal, Marcos mounted Kirish and the round ended.

Round 3 offered similar action to the previous frame.  Marcos clinched with Kirish and neither combatant attempted much offense in the way of striking.

Woodrow James took out hometown fighter Kyle Stephenson in under two minutes.

James dropped Stephenson with a straight right and pounced on him.  Stephenson got  up, but James kept the onslaught pouring, hitting his opponent with knees and punches until the referee intervened and called a stop to the bout in the opening frame at 1:45.

Chris Watson knocked out Ryan Waterman in the night’s first bout.

Watson was clearly the more polished boxer, as he threw combinations, working Waterman’s body and head.  Watson mimicked the same flurry (head, body head) and finishing with an uppercut.  After stunning Waterman with an uppercut, it took one last head shot to collapse the middleweight midway through Round 1 and secure the victory.

*Editor’s note: Ben Rose was the author of this story.

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