Archive for the ‘Features’ Category

In Their Own Words: The Week’s Noteworthy MMA Quotes

UFC president Dana White.(photo: Hector Castro/MMADieHards.com)

“I think that the under card was awesome. These guys blew it out of the water. I said this the other day and it’s true: This company, we make money. I like breaking records. We broke the gate record here tonight and I’m embarrassed. I was excited when I heard, but now I’m embarrassed. The under card delivered — they were awesome. The main card did not [deliver]. I don’t think the Faber-Barao fight deserved the boos — you’re talking about two of the best guys in the world in a five-round title fight. It was very technical, everyone understands how good Urijah Faber is and Barao dominated him tonight. I think there were a lot of things that went wrong. I felt like I was at UFC 33 again. I think that Cheick Kongo and Shawn Jordan pressed against the fence for three rounds and I think the ref let him do it…. We’re at UFC 149. We can count on one hand how many shows actually sucked. And tonight is one more finger on the hand.”
- Dana White admitted at the UFC 149 post-fight press conference that the event was not one he was impressed with

“It just wasn’t what I thought it was going to be. Whether it was Boetsch or Lombard winning, I was expecting a real war. I thought this thing was going to be a war. You can’t be angry with [Lombard], but it just shows you guys, ranking guys who don’t fight in the UFC, it’s two different worlds. Guys that fight in other organizations that end up in top 10 rankings, it’s a whole other world over here. Lombard maybe should fight at 170. He made 185 easily. He’s short and wide, but I think he could make 170.”
- White addressed Hector Lombard’s UFC debut at the UFC 149 post-fight press conference.

“I’m down to fight anybody, anytime, anywhere. Dan Hardy has a lot of hype behind him and I know if I beat him it will put me on the map, for sure. That’s the only reason why, I have nothing personal against him, he has nothing personal against me. A win over Dan Hardy and I guarantee everybody knows my name afterward. A win over somebody else might not give me the same recognition. I will be completely honest. When I fought in Manchester, England, they were very cruel to me. One fan actually spit directly in my face, and he was lucky enough where it hit my mouth … to be disrespected like that … for some butter-toothed Brit to spit in my mouth, that was some bull. And honestly, it’s never been the same.”
- Matt Riddle told mmafighting.com he wants a bout with “The Outlaw.”

“Yeah, I guess (I did just send a big F you to all the haters out there). It looks more impressive, I think, because I used to be so boring, so, all the better. I visualized it for a long time. I knew this was coming. I don’t know how that sounds but I’ve seen this every day when I close my eyes, so it was not unexpected.”
- Ryan Jimmo told mmafighting.com his KO win over Anthony Perosh was a message to the naysayers.

“I’ve gotten all good responses about it.  The only thing I think people think was bad, it wasn’t really bad, it was one person in a forum or a blog said, ‘No grown man should ever get on his knees.’  Something like that.  Besides that I’ve only seen good feedback off of it.  I have heard nothing from Dana (White).

“There’s nothing bad you can really take from it.  I didn’t tell him, ‘You cheap ass.’  I just can’t think of a way somebody can construe that into something that was bad for me to be throwing out there.”
-  Lorenz Larkin talked Punch Drunk Radio on the MMA DieHards Radio Network about the response he received after requesting fighter bonuses in Strikeforce.  

“I don’t want to fight Cain Velasquez. He’s helped me so much to become a mixed martial artist. When I started, the dude opened himself up to me and showed me so much. He didn’t have to do that for me … As I’ve said time and time again, if Cain is champion, in my heart of hearts, I know I don’t want to fight that guy. Then I will go fight Jon Jones. I will fight Jon Jones if I have to. Imagine that: Me and Jones standing across the cage from one another. That would be crazy because you know I’m putting him on his back.”
- Daniel Cormier told ESPN he’s willing to drop to the light heavyweight division to avoid battling Cain Velasquez.

“I think Chael should keep his word and leave the UFC because that’s what he said he was gonna do if he lost,” Jackson said. “He lost horribly. Bad! Chael sucks. He should go somewhere where people like his interviews, the way he talks [expletive] on everybody. I can’t stand that boy. [Expletive] Chael.”
- Quinton RampageJackson told Lowkick that Chael Sonnen should exit the UFC after losing to Anderson Silva.

“If stupidity was a disease that was treatable by medicine, ‘Rampage’ would be the first one in line at the pharmacy, every morning. If ‘Rampage’ wants to fight with me, let’s fight! But, the reality is, he’s on a two-fight losing streak, he can’t make weight, nobody cares about him, he doesn’t keep his word, and he’s out of the company in a matter of months. If he wants to fight, I accept.”
- Sonnen joined “MMA Uncensored Live” and admitted he is willing to fight “Rampage.”

“I don’t like being somebody’s teammate and being treated like I’m a groupie. I didn’t even want to go out of my way to say hello to that guy. Get over yourself. All you do is swim. If someone slapped you every time you jumped in the pool, I might have a little respect, but I was a swimmer before I did this stuff, and you can’t tell me that swimming is OH MY GOD, because it’s not.”
- Ronda Rousey gave her opinion on Michael Phelps to yahoo.com.

“F—. F— is my favorite word, period.”
- The UFC president told the edmontonjournal.com his favorite word, as if you didn’t know.

UFC on Fox 4: Ulysses Gomez makes the sub for Ian McCall

Flyweight fighter Ulysses Gomez gets his hand raised after a victory. (Photo courtesy of sherdog.com)


A major flyweight bout featured on next month’s UFC on Fox 4 card is getting a makeover.

MMADiehards.com has learned from sources close to the event that Ian “Uncle Creepy” McCall has withdrawn from his match with UFC newcomer John Moraga. Ulysses “Useless” Gomez will make his own Octagon debut against Moraga instead.

McCall was scheduled to face Moraga on Aug. 4 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. The popular 11-3-1 flyweight is fresh off a high-profile feud with Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson over a slot in the UFC’s inaugural flyweight title match. The pair met in a controversial draw at UFC on FX 2 in Sydney last March, only to main event last month’s UFC on FX 3 in Sunrise, Fla. for a conclusive victor. Johnson won that battle, besting “Uncle Creepy” in a unanimous decision victory.

MMADiehards’ source could not provide an explanation for McCall’s absence against the 10-1 Moraga. The latest addition to the UFC’s flyweight ranks has won three of his last four fights by submission. Moraga’s last bout, a unanimous decision victory over Maurice Senters, took place at Rage in the Cage 160 in Chandler, Ariz. last month.

Gomez, meanwhile, has gone 9-2 during his fight career. “Useless” has won two of his last three, and the Mexican fighter notched both his wins via submissions. His most recent match, a guillotine choke out of Cody Gibson, took place at Taichi Palace Fights 11 in Lemoore, Calif. last December.

Gomez makes a more even fight for Moraga, who was facing one of the world’s top-five flyweight fighters in McCall. He’ll go at it with Gomez at a card headlined by a light heavyweight brawl between Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and Brandon “The Truth” Vera.

Mark Hensch is an avid MMA fan who became interested in the sport through wrestling and karate. When not covering the hurt business, he serves as a digital editor for the Washington Times’ Times247.com in Washington D.C.

Fresh Faces UFC 149: Hector Lombard, Ryan Jimmo, and Mitch Gagnon

UFC middleweight fighter, Hector Lombard (Photo courtesy of Sherdog.com)

UFC 149 takes place July 21 and features a championship main event that pegs, Urijah Faber against Renan Barão for the interim bantamweight title.

Also making their way on to the card are long-awaited newcomers ready to continue their success with the UFC.  Learn more about Hector Lombard, Ryan Jimmo and Mitch Gagnon in this edition of Fresh Faces.

 

Name: Hector Lombard

Weight class: Middleweight

Record: 32-1-1

Recent body of work: Defeated Trevor Prangley via TKO at Bellator 58, Nov. 2011.

Who he is: Finally making his way to the UFC, the Cuban, Lombard, has been recognized as the only one left to dethrone the current UFC middleweight champion, Anderson Silva.  Originally slated to make his inaugural appearance at UFC 78, visa issues complicated the process and Lombard was forced back in line.  The last time Lombard tasted defeat was in 2006 when he was handed a unanimous decision loss by Gegard Mousasi at Pride 13.  Since then, Lombard has gone undefeated and claimed the CFC, Bellator, and most recently, the AFC middleweight championship titles.  Lombard is set to make his UFC debut against Tim Boetsch.

 

Name: Ryan Jimmo

Weight class: Light Heavyweight

Record: 16-1

Recent body of work: Defeated Thierry Sokoudjou via unanimous decision at MFC 31, Oct. 2011.

Who he is: One of Canada’s favorite fighters, Jimmo, will be taking his maiden voyage with the UFC on Canadian soil.  Currently on a 16-fight win streak, Jimmo has gone through names; such as, Rick Roufus, Marvin Eastman, and most recently, Thierry Sokoudjou.  Defending his MFC light heavyweight title twice in 2011, the Canadian was initially penciled in to fight at a January card, but now officially walks into the Octagon for the first time to face Anthony Perosh at UFC 149.

 

Name: Mitch Gagnon

Weight class: Bantamweight

Record: 8-1

Recent body of work: Defeated David Harris via guillotine-choke submission at Ringside MMA 12, Oct. 2011.

Who he is:  Originally set to make his first appearance with his new employers at UFC on FOX 2 card in January, Gagnon was forced to withdrawal because of visa issues. With no such concerns ahead at UFC 149, Gagnon is set to carry his six fight win streak in to the Octagon.   Seven of Gagnon’s eight wins have come by way of submission, with the Canadian only having to work past the first round twice.  Set for Gagnon’s Octagon debut, is bout with Bryan Caraway in Calagary, Alberta, Canada.

UFC 149: Hector Lombard looks to continue his dominance in the UFC

Hector Lombard (31-2-1-1) has proven himself to be one of the most explosive middleweights outside of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

Lombard (Twitter: @HectorLombard) left Bellator as the promotion’s first and only middleweight champion to date.  His impressive record only has two blemishes, which came in the form of decision losses to Akihiro Gono at Pride Bushido 11 and Gegard Mousasi at Pride Bushido 13.

The Cuban trains out of American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Fla. His martial arts acumen extends far past his abilities in the cage as he is a fourth degree black-belt in Judo and a black-belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.  Lombard has won bronze, silver, and gold medal multiple times while competing in the International Judo Federation tournaments.  Winning a gold medal at his last Judo competition in 2004 might have been foreshadowing his success to come in world of mixed martial arts.

Lombard has been dominant in various organizations, Bellator being the most recognized, but now he is looking to make his UFC debut against Tim Boetsch (15-4) at UFC 149 on July 21 at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta.  Originally, Lombard was to face Brian Stann at UFC on Fox 4 in August, but the former Marine had to pull out of the fight because of a shoulder injury.

The UFC debut of Lombard will be against a tough and talented Boetsch who is looking to prove himself an elite contender, but this might be Boetsch’s most difficult test to date. Lombard is a skilled grappler and possesses knockout power.  An impressive win will likely put Lombard next in line to face the current middleweight and pound-for-pound great Anderson Silva.

The advantage in this fight goes to Lombard if you look at his highlight reels alone. The trope of he has not fought in the UFC might be silenced to a degree based on how dominant Lombard has been in his career. Having only two decision losses in 36 fights is an accomplishment that immediately puts Lombard in the top portion of the UFC’s middleweight division especially with some of his best performances happened while in the largest non-Zuffa promotion, Bellator, where he went 8-0.

Boetsch entered the UFC in 2008 and was released in 2010 after going 2-2 at light heavyweight.  He made his way back and notched a decision win over Todd Brown before falling victim to Phil Davis’ modified one-handed kimura at UFC 123.  Boetsch then made the drop to middleweight defeating Kendall Grove in his debut to kick of a three-fight win streak that claimed Nick Ring and Yushin Okami as victims.

It cannot be denied that recent Boetsch’s run is impressive, and he is one step from becoming a contender.  Still, Lombard just seems to have a leg up on every aspect of the game.  Boetsch makes a pretty large weight cut and has the strength of a 205-pound athlete. Lombard is strong as well, and his Judo abilities might help him use his opponent’s strength as a negative.

So, what is at stake for both of these athletes besides a desired shot at the title? A loss for Lombard could put detractors in a frenzy claiming he was never that great anyway based on the level of competition he faced. A loss for Boetsch would mean a little rebuilding at middleweight, but his job would most likely be secure and he would have a chance to rebound. If Lombard wins, he will probably get a title shot sooner than many would like.  Boetsch on the other hand might not get the title shot right away, but if he does it would be a true Cinderella story.

This fight looks like it is Lombard’s to take.  He has displayed a level of dominance and confidence that may prove overwhelming for most of the division.  Lombard will most likely be looking for a knockout or submission in the first round to let everyone in the 185-pound division know that he has arrived, but Boetsch is probably aware he is the underdog and is prepared to make a statement of his own.  Lombard’s history of dominance will meet Boetsch’s history of perseverance on Saturday in what should be a bout full of fireworks.

Lorenz Larkin found a new place in a familiar spot, and now he’s looking to take it over

Larkin weighs in (Strikeforce.com photo)

After coming so close to a Strikeforce light heavyweight title match, undefeated Lorenz Larkin knows what he’s looking for in the middleweight division.

Larkin (Twitter: da_MONSOON) defeated Robbie Lawler on Saturday at “Strikeforce: Rockhold vs. Kennedy” at the Rose Garden Arena in Portland, Ore.  Lawler is the highest profile fighter Larkin has defeated in his 13-0-1 stint as a mixed martial artist.  The bout also marked Larkin’s debut in the middleweight division after dropping down from the 205-lb. weight class where he spent the first 13 matches of his MMA career.

The contest was Larkin’s fifth consecutive fight under the promotion.  He put together a three-fight win streak in the organization and then met Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal in a 205-pound eliminator match to declare a light heavyweight No. 1 contender.  Larkin lost the bout via TKO, but the loss was overturned following Lawal’s positive test results for the illegal performance enhancing drug Drostanolone.

Larkin returned to the cage in a new division after the fiasco with “King Mo,” but he’s feeling like it’s a familiar place.

“Feels good,” Larkin told Amy Barton, Alex Donno and Lloyd Woodard on Punch Drunk Radio on the MMA DieHards Radio Network.  “I feel like I’m finally breaking that freshman mold.  I’m starting to feel like I’m part of the Strikeforce crew now.  I walk down the aisles and it’s like, ‘Hey, what’s going on?’  I feel like I’m settling in and I’m starting to get used to it and know the whole process.”

Larkin’s comfortableness must have been at an all-time high for him to take a knee and make a grand request from the UFC president after “The Monsoon’s” victory.

As Larkin was doing his post-fight interview being conducted by Mauro Ranallo, he asked the cageside commentator to get down on his knees with him.  Larkin then proceeded to request Dana White reward Strikeforce fighters with event bonuses in the same fashion as UFC combatants do for phenomenal performances.  He even included in his argument that Strikeforce competitors are White’s children too.

The exhibition put on by Larkin sparked lots of commentary in the MMA world.  Larkin has gotten reactions from fans and fellow mixed martial artists, all positive for the most part.  However, one important person hasn’t said a thing.

“I’ve gotten all good responses about it,” Larkin said.  “The only thing I think people think was bad, it wasn’t really bad, it was one person in a forum or a blog said, ‘No grown man should ever get on his knees.’  Something like that.  Besides that I’ve only seen good feedback off of it.  I have heard nothing from Dana (White).

“There’s nothing bad you can really take from it.  I didn’t tell him, ‘You cheap ass.’  I just can’t think of a way somebody can construe that into something that was bad for me to be throwing out there.”

Larkin’s request may fall on deaf ears for the time being, but another wish of his may become a reality in the near future.

Larkin’s success in the light heavyweight division, along with an undefeated career, brought him within one fight of a title shot.  Considering the loss to Lawal was overturned, he won’t be placed at the bottom of the ranks for that setback.  His debut at 185 lbs. had him take out a UFC veteran and extremely dangerous puncher in Lawler.

Given his performances in the Strikeforce cage and never seeing defeat, legitimately, a middleweight title match could be a contract Larkin soon signs.

“At first I wasn’t in a rush when I first got to Strikeforce,” Larkin said.  “Part of that Mo (Lawal) fight was for title implications for the No. 1 contender spot.  That’s the goal now.  I’m already here, so that’s what I’m looking for now.”

Ronda Rousey’s ready for superstar status

Ronda Rousey appears at the weigh-ins for "Strikeforce: Tate vs. Rousey" in March 2012. (Photo courtesy of mmamania.com)


Ronda Rousey (Twitter: @RondaRousey) is making the biggest waves women’s MMA has seen in years.

There’s no denying that 2012 is the year of “Rowdy.” In mere months, Rousey’s won female fighting’s top title and become its pound-for-pound best combatant. Along the way, she’s won over legions of fans by mixing character with masterful combat. With each and every punch, she’s made the paradigm shift – women’s MMA isn’t foxy boxing, but some of the best competition the sport offers.

The slow death of Strikeforce is directly responsible for Rousey’s meteoric rise. Following the UFC’s purchase of the league, its roster has dwindled as Strikeforce fighters increasingly take off for the big time. Given the UFC lacks female fighting, the stage was set for a breakthrough. In a wasteland as barren as 2012 Strikeforce, it’s only natural Rousey’s such a revelation.

She’s already catching the greater sports community’s eye. Last week “ESPN Magazine” revealed Rousey as the cover model for this year’s “Body Issue,” an annual edition that features athletes in the nude. Her pictorial will likely pose as the initial introduction many have to women’s MMA. For anyone picking up the issue, they’ll find a woman who’s fit, confident, beautiful and most importantly, tough.

“ESPN Magazine” readers inspired to dig deeper will find Rousey’s the real deal. A judo prodigy, “Rowdy” won multiple world championships en route to a bronze medal at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. Her win there cemented her as the first American to win a women’s Olympic judo event since 1992.

Rousey’s ripped through the competition in similar fashion since entering MMA in 2010. Undefeated at 5-0, she’s used her judo to trip up opponents and tap them out in dominating fashion. Against her division’s top talent, Rousey’s submitted every single foe with an armbar in one round.

The best example of this trend is Rousey’s women’s bantamweight title win over then-champion Miesha “Takedown” Tate. Prior to the fight, the two talked trash at levels unheard of in women’s MMA. Tate mocked Rousey as a lucky rookie, and Rousey insulted Tate as a big fish in a small pond. When “Strikeforce: Tate vs. Rousey” finally unfolded in Columbus last March, it did so as both the card’s main event and one of the most exciting women’s MMA matches in recent memory.

Out of both women, only Rousey put her money where her mouth is. Hurling Tate to the mat in less than five minutes, Rousey took her title with a brutal armbar. The limb wrenching left Tate with a dislocated elbow and a permanent place in MMA highlight reels.

All of these factors have fight fans clamoring for Rousey’s first title defense next month. Rousey will clash with Sarah Kaufmann on Aug. 18 in San Diego. When the two meet in the main event of “Strikeforce: Rousey vs. Kaufman,” it’ll mark a battle between MMA’s top two female fighters.

Rousey’s earned lasting fame regardless of where she ranks after that bout. The spotlight shone on “Rowdy” has shown that the Rouseys, Tates and Kaufmans of the sport are every bit as spectacular as their male counterparts. When she isn’t tossing her opponent’s bodies, the Olympic judoka’s throwing out MMA’s gender barrier instead. Like it or not, Rousey’s revealed that MMA isn’t just a man’s sport anymore.

Mark Hensch is an avid MMA fan who became interested in the sport through wrestling and karate. When not covering the hurt business, he serves as a digital editor for the Washington Times’ Times247.com in Washington D.C.

The Gracie legacy lives on in Roger Gracie

Roger Gracie clutches a bloody Keith Jardine at "Strikeforce: Rockhold vs. Kennedy." (Photo courtesy of sbnation.com)


The first family of mixed martial arts was born on Nov. 12, 1993.

No one could anticipate what they’d see that fateful day when UFC 1 took place at Denver’s McNichols Sports Arena. The UFC’s debut was an eight-man tournament tasked with proving which martial art was the strongest in regulated combat. Few fight fans predicted that out of all the participants, the stoic Royce Gracie would have the best showing.

Gracie’s sweep of the tournament is now a significant part of MMA lore. The Rio de Janeiro native’s Brazilian jiu-jitsu went off like a bomb in the competition, changing the sport forever. Over three fights, Gracie out-grappled larger opponents and earned a string of submission wins. In less than six minutes combined, he tapped out a trio of top fighters at the time.

The performance put Gracie and his family’s jiu-jitsu on the martial arts map. Nearly two decades later, it’s a fighting style that still strikes fear into the toughest fighters. Fluid and unpredictable, the Gracie way has ruled MMA’s ground-game ever since Royce scored his first chokehold.

Strikeforce middleweight Roger Gracie (Twitter: @rogergracie) made the case for the style’s continuing supremacy last Saturday night. In a masterful display at “Strikeforce: Rockhold vs. Kennedy,” Gracie dominated Keith Jardine for three rounds. Through it all, he smothered “The Dean of Mean” with the calm born of complete control.

Heading into last Saturday’s matchup, many analysts picked Jardine as the superior striker. Gracie ended that argument by making it utterly irrelevant. Taking Jardine down in round one, Gracie proceeded to destroy him with nary a punch thrown.

What followed was textbook Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Gracie got Jardine to the ground and ceaselessly dictated what happened there. Threatening Jardine with a series of submissions, Gracie effortlessly achieved full-mount on his bewildered foe. Once there, he threw short, slicing elbows that left “The Dean of Mean” bloodied and broken.

In a single round, Gracie revealed why his family’s style is so respected. Repeating the same process in round two, he wiped Jardine across the mat for most of the second stanza. Saved solely by his endurance, “The Dean of Mean” went the distance with Gracie without ever executing a game plan of his own.

It’s this shutdown that scares combatants facing the Gracie style. On the ground, fighters like Roger Gracie grapple with claustrophobic control. Gracie showed this firsthand, sticking to Jardine like glue and outsmarting his every escape attempt.

It’s a testament to Jardine’s courage that he didn’t panic when placed in such a trap. Gracie jiu-jitsu is calm and patient, flowing with an opponent’s actions and overwhelming them at every turn. Ironically, it works best when fighters become frantic under such constant pressure. Nervous foes leave themselves exposed, and Brazilian jiu-jitsu excels at exploiting such openings.

Gracie’s win Saturday evening shows MMA hasn’t solved the jiu-jitsu puzzle just yet. While fighting constantly evolves, it’ll never eliminate human error. Until it does, the Gracie family will continue showing MMA is a sport that demands perfection.

Mark Hensch is an avid MMA fan who became interested in the sport through wrestling and karate. When not covering the hurt business, he serves as a digital editor for the Washington Times’ Times247.com in Washington D.C.

Stevenson vs. Pellegrino Superfight Plus $14,250 in Prizes at Grapplers Quest U.S. Nationals July 21-22 in New Jersey

Grapplers Quest is proud to announce its official Superfight, featuring New Jersey native and veteran of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, Kurt “Batman” Pellegrino versus Ultimate Fighter® Season 2winner, Joe “Daddy” Stevenson, as well as $14,250 in cash and prizes for the 2012 U.S. National Championships, sponsored by Gaspari Nutrition, on Saturday, July 21 and Sunday, July 22 at the William G. Mennen Sports Arena (located at 161 E. Hanover Avenue) in Morristown, New Jersey.

The July 21-22 event begins each day at 10:00 a.m. ET. Discounted spectator tickets and Fighter Registration are available online at http://grapplersquest.com./

All Advanced Division Champions (including Children, Teen, Men, Women, Executive and Masters Advanced Divisions) and All Absolute Divisions will be awarded custom made Championship Belts, in addition to the largest medallions in the sport of grappling, sponsored by Gaspari Nutrition, Zebra Mats and TapouT, plus a full color Champion Certificate.

Grapplers Quest’s massive event growth, especially in the Youth Grappling, has expanded Children and Teen Divisions to include Beginner (less than 9 months training), Intermediate (9-18 months of training) and Advanced (18 months or more of training) skill levels to allow for fairer matches.  In 2010, Grapplers Quest added age categories for Grappling and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu to include Under 6 years, 7-9 years, 10-12 years and Teens separately into two groups, as well 13-15 years and 16-17 years, plus any divisions that have two or more girls will branch out and become a Bonus division to allow female athletes extra matches as well.
The two-day tournament will feature all Adult (18+) No-Gi Submission Grappling and Wrestling divisions on Sat., (July 21), doors open at 8:00 a.m. / ET, followed Sunday (July 22) with the U.S. Nationals for All Children and Teens Divisions, plus All Adult Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Judo Divisions.

The mega-Superfight on Sat., an exciting Submission-Only rematch from UFC® 74 between Pelligrino and Stevenson, starts at 1:00 p/m. / ET. All featured Superfights will now showcase new “Grapplers Quest Professional Rules,” which include a 10-minute Submission Only Round, if necessary, followed by a five-minute overtime round using Grapplers Quest rules.
“This is the evolution of the sport of grappling and I’m honored to have two UFC veterans take the stage,” Grapplers Quest owner Brian Cimins commented. “We just debuted this at UFC Fan Expo ® in Las Vegas and it yielded the most exciting superfights in grappling history.  Grappling is now ready for the highest sports television.

More than 10 million fans on YouTube at LiveGrappling.com want more submissions and this event nearly guarantees that. It’s going to be the best Superfight tournament, featuring the highest level of exciting talent to date.”

$14,250 in Cash and Prizes:

Special Championship Awards for All Advanced & All Absolute divisions:   

● All Men, Women, Teen, Children and Executive and Masters No-Gi Advanced Weight Classes receive these and Custom Medallions for 1st-3rd Place for All other Divisions
● $3,000 Prize Package Value for No-Gi Men’s Advanced Absolute: $1,000 cash Absolute plus Compete Free for Life
● $2,750 Prize Package Value for No-Gi Women’s No-Gi Advanced Absolute: $250 cash plus plus Compete Free for Life
● $2,750 Prize Package Value for No-Gi Men’s Intermediate Absolute: $250 cash plus Compete Free for Life
● $2,650 Prize Package Value for No-Gi Men’s Beginner Absolute: $150 cash plus Compete Free for Life
● $2,600 Prize Package Value for No-Gi Men’s Novice Absolute: $100 cash plus Compete Free for Life

Discount Competitor registration starting at just $99 (ends Wednesday, July 18 includes:

● Free Seminar with Joe “Daddy” Stevenson (Sunday, July 22 from 10:00-11:00 a.m. / ET – $100.00 value)
● Full Access to U.S. National Championships and Superfight ($15.00 value)
● Free Grapplers Quest at UFC Fan Expo Fighter T-Shirt by TapouT ($35.00)
● $20.00 off at-the-door pricing
● $1.00 donated to http://AutismRadio.org per Pre-Registered Competitor
● Free XBOX Kinect Raffle for ALL Children and Teen Competitors

Registration Savings End: Wednesday, July 18 at 11:59 p.m. / PST. Space is limited – register today at

http://www.grapplersquest.com/products/fighter-registration-2012-grapplers-quest-us-national-championships-free-tapout-shirt-and-s

- Fighter Registration and tickets will also be available at the door.

Two-Day Passes are now available for only $15.00 ($7.50 per day). Spectators may save $25.00 off at-the-door ticket prices ($20.00 per day) for the Grapplers Quest® U.S. National Championships, featuring the Joe Stevenson vs. Kurt Pellegrino Submission Superfight, and are on sale NOW at http://www.grapplersquest.com/products/2-day-pass-2012-grapplers-quest-usa-grappling-championships-save-5-door-pricing.

Nate Marquardt’s road to redemption starts now

Nate Marquardt delivers a massive hook to Tyron Woodley at "Strikeforce: Rockhold vs. Kennedy." (Photo courtesy of showtimesports.com)

Here’s the brutal truth about MMA – once that cage door closes, a man’s past disappears.

In the ring, a fighter’s wins, losses, virtues and vices no longer matter. All that matters is beating his opponent. Off the mat he exists as the sum total of his own successes and failures; on it, he’s either the guy who gets his hand raised or the guy hitting the canvas. There’s no in-between when the punches fly.

Few know this better than Nate “The Great” Marquardt (Twitter: @NathanMarquardt). He’s a combatant who’s seen his share of peaks and valleys. At one point a top-five middleweight, at others he’s been labeled a cheater. Love him or loathe him, there’s no denying Marquardt’s a mixed martial artist with his share of sins.

All that vanished last Saturday night at “Strikeforce: Rockhold vs. Kennedy.” Over the course of four rounds, Marquardt battered and bullied Tyron “T-Wood” Woodley with singular focus. It was total war turned into nearly 20 minutes of combat sports. More importantly, it was also the point where Marquardt showed he’s still capable of making waves in MMA.

Two days later, it’s hard re-watching Saturday’s fight without praising Marquardt’s intense concentration. For each and every second of the fight, Marquardt stalked Woodley for the kill. When he finally found it, unleashing a flurry of elbows and uppercuts against the cage, he did so with a surgeon’s calm and precision. So great was Marquardt’s tunnel vision, in fact, fight fans can imagine him forgetting Strikeforce’s vacant welterweight title was even on the line.

It’s a victory all the more impressive in context. For starters, Woodley entered the cage Saturday night with a flawless 10-0 record. Though he lacked Marquardt’s experience, he wasn’t the kind of foe fighters simply walk through. A decorated grappler, he’s smothered more than one opponent who underestimated his wrestling credentials.

None of that mattered when Marquardt and Woodley met last weekend. Though Woodley fought hard, “The Great” gave it his all and never surrendered. He may have gotten rocked eating power punches along the way, but by night’s end Marquardt made a statement with his devastating knockout of Woodley. It’s the kind of face-erasing finish that’ll live on in highlight reels for years to come.

It also makes the case that Marquardt still belongs in the MMA elite. Only a few years ago, Marquardt fought at middleweight and convincingly faced the Martin Kampmanns, Demian Maias and Chael Sonnens of the world. All that changed when the UFC discovered Marquardt was taking testosterone-replacement therapy last year without its knowledge. Charging him with an unfair competitive advantage, the UFC fired Marquardt and marked him as a possible cheater.

For better or worse, Marquardt’s wandered the MMA wilderness ever since. Signing on with the British Association of Mixed Martial Arts (BAMMA) after his firing, Marquardt languished on the sidelines settling contract issues with the promotion. Though advertised to face Yoshiyuki “Zenko” Yoshida, Marquardt never actually fought him or anyone else in BAMMA. His Strikeforce debut on Saturday against Woodley was his first fight since March 2011.

Winning Strikeforce’s vacant welterweight title is quite the welcome back. For Marquardt, it’s a championship that could make the difference between a solid and a stellar career. Though the UFC and Marquardt haven’t always seen eye-to-eye, “The Great” now has Zuffa gold around his waist whether Dana White likes it or not.

Though some fight fans criticize Strikeforce for existing on its last legs, some fight fans are short-sighted. Marquardt’s victory Saturday night could be the springboard he needs for an Octagon return. When and if he’s there, there’ll be so much blood in the welterweight waters Marquardt’s troubled past will finally seem like ancient history.

Mark Hensch is an avid MMA fan who became interested in the sport through wrestling and karate. When not covering the hurt business, he serves as a digital editor for the Washington Times’ Times247.com in Washington D.C.

In Their Own Words: The Week’s Noteworthy MMA Quotes

UFC president Dana White.(photo: Hector Castro/MMADieHards.com)

“I’d say this one wins.  This is the winner. We lost nine to injury and we had to move two other fights. So I would say, yes, this was the craziest card of all time.”
- UFC president Dana White admitted to mmajunkie.com that UFC 149 was the craziest card in all his years running the organization.

“We had an excellent camp down here, we have an excellent strategy and obviously we benefitted from Aldo’s input.  Aldo knows how Urijah fights, and he was also able to help us devise our strategy going in to make this camp, so thank God we had an excellent camp and we’ll be very ready for this fight.”
- Renan Barao talked on the UFC 149 conference call about the assistance UFC featherweight champ Jose Aldo has given in the Brazilian’s training camp for his UFC 149 bout against Urijah Faber.

“Is he going to bring Jose in there to help fight me? If so, then yes, but we’re all individuals. I feel like Renan, although he has a lot of similarities to Jose Aldo, he is a very different fighter. They’re different sized fighters. They’re different skill sets. It’s a different fight. Same with me and my camp. I don’t think that having Aldo’s input is going to change too much for me. He’s probably going to tell him to kick me in the leg, but I’m sure Barao was planning to kick me in the leg anyway. I’m stoked for a great fight. I really like the camp I’m fighting against. It’s kind of a fight pitting the two best lightweight camps in the world against each other, so I think we’ll take extra pride in that for sure.”
- Faber said on the UFC 149 conference call that Aldo helping Barao won’t make a difference in their UFC 149 bantamweight interim championship bout.

“I didn’t see myself losing against Nate. I didn’t necessarily try to protect my undefeated record. I didn’t see myself going undefeated for my entire career. That would have been great, but for me, I just thought I was faster. I thought that using my timing, using my hands, using my speed and using my wrestling, you know I didn’t want to do a whole lot of taking down and wrestling. He was waiting on that, he was ready for that. I got a fat lip, my legs are a little sore; he got a couple leg kicks in. Just frustrated. No pain in my body takes away from the fact that I look at him and I feel like he’s wearing my belt. Kudos to the guy, he came out hard. He took some good shots as well. We went out there and fought hard, he came out on top today so there’s nothing you can take from the guy.”
- Tyron Woodley told Sherdog that the only pain he suffered in a loss to Nate Marquardt in the Strikeforce welterweight title match is seeing “The Great” sport a belt he feel he could’ve won.

“I really felt good, basically, in the first round. He was a very tough opponent; he’s a very tough guy. That’s why we were fighting for the belt. But, I thought I just came prepared. I really feel like it’s my time. I’m one of the best in the world. Actually, I feel like I am the best in the world.”
- Marquardt said at the Strikeforce: “Rockhold vs. Kennedy” post-fight press conference that at this point in his career he is the world’s finest fighter.

This will be the first time in my adult life that I won’t be working. I will just be focusing on developing a team to win the show and focusing on preparing to knock Roy Nelson out. That is my new job and my new passion. I know Roy likes to be the UFC’s Jester but he better know this is not a joke for me. He can keep striving for being average; I am pushing myself and those around me to find the American Dream. The dream that comes from lots of hard work and sacrifice, no gimmicks necessary.
- Shane Carwin wrote in his blog that he is taking his coaching role on TUF 16 against Roy Nelson very serious.

“Why is everyone slipping it under the cover now? “Oh yeah, she’s selling Skechers to thirteen year olds.” I don’t want some girl whose entire fame is based on a sex video to be selling Skechers to my thirteen year old sister. That’s the horrible kind of role model that I really do not want to be around, why I’m doing things like this: Because girls like Kim Kardashian are being pushed in my sister’s face, and it’s just not healthy. She shouldn’t even have role models like this. And that’s why I’m doing stuff like ESPN Body, because someone needs to do it, for god sakes.”
- Ronda Rousey talked about reality show star Kim Kardashian at the ESPN Body Issue wrap-up party.

“I don’t know if I can export that. How do you guys see him? He is what he is and I enjoy fighting guys like that, that are a little bit cocky. It’s funny to put them in their place.”
- Dan Henderson spoke to Tatame about the opportunity he is getting to knockout a “cocky” Jon Jones at UFC 151.

“I came home and I watched it, and I was kind of like you know, if I was sitting here, watching this on the couch, I probably would have been talking smack about myself.  I always say accountability is a huge part of the sport, and you are accountable for your actions.

“I feel like I was just a little slow on the trigger. I don’t want to see guys take unnecessary punishment. It’s a rough sport. Everyone knows what they sign in for, but it’s a millisecond-basis game. You’re making choices right there on the spot, and in the heat of the moment, I felt like I was seeing some stuff.

“In hindsight, I have to step my game up and make sure I’m on point for the next guys.”
- Referee Josh Rosenthal commented on siriusxmsports.posterous.com about his late stoppage when Chris Weidman defeated Mark Munoz at UFC on FUEL TV 4.

“I want Anderson Silva.  Every time I’ve had a full training camp I’ve gotten a finish. I want a chance at Anderson Silva.
- Weidman said in a UFC on FUEL TV 4 post-fight interview after he defeated Munoz that wants a shot at the UFC middleweight kingpin.

“There is no way to deny what we just saw. Weidman is on a roll, he is tapping guys out, getting Fight of the Night, and doing everything he needs to do. Now he is playing with the big boys. Now he is in the main event. The test was passed with flying colors. Chris Weidman, present company included, you are the best middleweight in the UFC.”
- Sonnen stated on UFC Tonight that Weidman is the best UFC 185-pound competitor.

“Chael is an amazing guy, an amazing athlete, a class act – I think every fighter on the planet could learn from Chael Sonnen, he built the fight and he chose the fight against the baddest man on the planet, we all know that you don’t pick a fight with Anderson Silva unless you’re crazy or really talented and Chael is really talented.”
- Mike Dolce, Sonnen’s nutritionist, spoke to MMASucka about his client’s most recent bout, which he lost to Anderson Silva in the UFC 148 main event.

“The knee got me in the face … and when he hit me with it I remember thinking for an instant, ‘oh, ref’s going to step in and probably take a point or do something,’” Sonnen carefully explained. “But this is not my message, I want to pick my words very carefully. This is not my message to say this. The knee landed where the knee landed. The result is the same, and I do not dispute the result.
­- Sonnen joined UFC Tonight and talked about the controversial knee Silva landed in their UFC 148 middleweight title match.

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