Archive for the ‘Features’ Category

Twitter MMA: Best of the Week for Sept. 19-26

Alistairovereem Alistair Overeem

I would like to make a statement regarding the recent news of the separation from my long-time management Golden Glory. As with any relationship, there are good times and bad times – you have your common ground and your differences. As with any relationship, you have trust. When differences lead to a breach of trust, there’s no turning back and no way to continue a positive, working relationship. I don’t air my dirty laundry. I would appreciate the respect regarding my privacy to not disclose any further details on this matter.
Again, I would like to thank team Golden Glory for all the years we worked together and wish them success for the future.

GilbertMelendez Gilbert Melendez

Nick diaz vs bj penn should b the first 5rd none title fight @UFC

StephanBonnar Stephan Bonnar

Everyone congratulate @ForrestGriffin on his new baby before I beat your ass!!! Oh, and check out my baby gift! Pic- ow.ly/i/hSwu

StephanBonnar Stephan Bonnar

Be sure to say your prayers everyone! “Dear God, please give Matt Hughes the strength to bludgeon & maim stupid koscheck tomorrow”

StephanBonnar Stephan Bonnar

I Hated him before he was born RT @Craig_Boucher Did u hate Kos before or after you, him, Mitrione and the octagon girls were in Australia?

MightyMouseUFC Demetrious Johnson

Little (expletive) yfrog.com/g0h60ocj

ForrestGriffin Forrest Griffin

Two wrongs don’t make a right….. Sometimes it takes 3 or 4

colemillerATT Cole Miller

Listen girl…I play football for the Cleveland cavaliers

BasRuttenMMA Bas Rutten

Now that’s a great beer, good taste yfrog.com/hw3t9faj

vitorbelfort Vitor Belfort

Hey Chael, if you couldn’t see Nate’s hands touch your face, what do you think is going to happen when we square off?youtube.com/watch?v=9DU1af…

sonnench chael sonnen

Hey Vitor, take my name out of your mouth until you show up for half as many fights as you pullout of.

sonnench chael sonnen

You keep using the phrase, “pound him out.” I don’t think it means what you think it means, but you’re a dead man either way.

vitorbelfort Vitor Belfort

@sonnench “dead man”…lol, you’ve been playing too much video game…let’s make it real in the cage!

bisping michael

@mayhemmiller @danawhite new drinking game for tonight, everytime miller looks like a dick u take a shot, you guys are gonna be wasted!!

bisping michael

1st episode of last nights ultimate fighter was the most watched show on cable television last night! That’s what I’m (expletive) talking about

mayhemmiller Jason Mayhem Miller

Thanks to everyone for the support on #TUF14. This will be the best season ever.

Rampage4real Quinton Jackson

Good news,we found the spy in our camp! Will tell u more after the fight

Rampage4real Quinton Jackson

I just outed the spy on Sport Center,its come on top who he is but out of respect 2 #mucslepharm I won’t tweet his name,he’s done (expletive) em!

Jonnybones Jon Bones Jones

Sucks some poor guy at musclepharm got fired over rampages paranoia

Rampage4real Quinton Jackson

Just got back 2 @MusclePharm and I just found out that Bones does know the spy,cause he was spotted out at the club together,liar!

mayhemmiller Jason Mayhem Miller

I have a confession to make. It was me. I’m John Jones’ spy.

Jonnybones Jon Bones Jones

14-1

Kingsbu Kyle Kingsbury

All the credit in the world to the champ for his win tonight but Rashad is goin to win and win big.

vitorbelfort Vitor Belfort

I think Anderson. Should fight Jon jones and I think Anderson will have a bigger chance

patmiletich Pat Miletich

@arielhelwani It’s like when someone is insane, but doesn’t know it. Seagal is on pluto. I wonder what it’s like in his head?

UFC vets Kendall Grove, Jay Silva meet at theScore in Ontario on Oct. 14

Jay Silva

UFC veterans Kendall Grove and Jay Silva will square off in a middleweight bout on Oct. 14 at theScore Fighting Series at the Hamilton Place Theatre in Hamilton, Ont., MMADieHards.com has learned.

Score Media previously said the fight between Joe Doerksen and Brett Cooper would be the main event for the card, which will be shown live on theScore.com and air on theScore Television Network via tape delay.  Fights also scheduled are Lyndon Whitlock against Tristan Johnson, and Eric Moon against Rory McDonell.

After a five-year, 13-fight run in the UFC Grove (13-9, 1 NC) jumped at the chance to fight in his home state at the ProElite card in Honolulu on Aug. 27 and finished Joe Riggs in 59 seconds with a guillotine.  Grove had lost two straight and four of his previous seven fights.

Grove beat Ed Herman to win the third season of The Ultimate Fighter reality show in June 2006.  He won his first three UFC fights, but went 5-6 thereafter in the promotion.

Silva earned a UFC call-up by starting his career 5-1, with a loss only to good friend Plinio Cruz.  After going the distance in losses to C.B. Dollaway and Chris Leben, Silva was released from the organization.  He jumped at the chance to fight Bellator middleweight champion Hector Lombard on very short notice at Bellator 18 in May 2010, taking the fight at a catch weight of 190 pounds, and was knocked out in six seconds for his third straight loss.

Silva (7-4) has since rebounded nicely.  He knocked out Jaime Jara in 33 seconds at Tachi Palace Fights 7 in December, then took another fight with Bellator at event No. 44 in May and scored a dominant unanimous decision win over Gemiyale Adkins.

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

Dana White is excited about the future with Fox Sports (Hector Castro/MMADieHards.com photo)

“Yeah it will go away when the Fox deal starts, which is in January.  Because all that programming now, I mean the reason we did the Facebook fights was because nobody could see those fights.  So we put them up on Facebook as an option for fans, because we always love to give more fights.  But with the fact that Fox wants to pick up all these fights, they’ll be on television now.”
- UFC President Dana White says goodbye Facebook, hello to Fox in this interview.

“People ask me how MMA got big in Canada and I say, ‘Are you kidding?’  You actually think Georges St-Pierre is the one that made it big?’  I made it big!  There was no MMA before I was here.  I made it.  I.  Me, me, and me.  Me and my family.  That’s it.  And you know what?  Before, I’d never talk like this, but I swore starting today I’m gonna shove it in everybody’s face.  My family pioneered MMA in Canada.”
- MFC President Mark Pavelich told 5oz of Pain he started MMA in the Great White North.

“It was exactly as I told him it would be … I haven’t been wrong, yet.”
- Steven Seagal praised himself to mmafighting.com about coaching Anderson Silva.

“I still drink Budweiser — matter of fact, I drink two tall cans the night before the fight.  It’s my mental thing, it’s my little ritual I do.  It relaxes me, and it’s my way of saying (expletive) my opponent, ‘I’m gonna beat his ass regardless.’ ”
- Lavar Johnson spoke to MMA DieHards about being a Bud Man.

“One thing I experienced with Rampage, (he has) a very strong core.  Jon may take him down if he uses his leverage and a lot of his judo, I think that’s probably how he’s going to get him down.  But if he just tries to shoot in on him, Rampage may be pretty tough to take down off just a shot. … I think that Jon Jones uses his range and his speed to keep Rampage off balance and at the same time using his ability to take Rampage down to try to impose some of his will.  I think Jon tries to get it done, I think he does it standing up.”
- Rashad Evans predicted to mmainterviews.tv that Jon Jones would defeat Quinton “Rampage” Jackson at UFC 135.

“He’s always complaining about not having money enough, and he does a thing like this?  It really was upsetting to me.  I had to step away from it because I don’t like it. He wants to keep complaining about money?  It’s his own fault.”
- Bas Rutten spoke to mmafighting.com about Diaz messing up his lucrative UFC championship opportunity.

“I believe — and maybe I’m a little goofy — that I have a good rapport with this kid and we can work together.  Here’s the thing about Nick Diaz — he’s just a different guy. I’m going to have to handle him different than I do every other guy in the UFC.  But that’s cool.  I can do that.  I can figure this out where I can work with Nick and we can make this happen.  It’s very clear why he missed (the news conferences).  He didn’t want to go.  He’s fought in smaller organizations where the inmates run the asylum. When you come over here, it’s a whole other ballgame.  You don’t run the show.  I do.”
- White lays down the law with Nick Diaz via ESPN.

“I wasn’t really surprised, actually, after the last three months because he already had a lot of different ideas on how he would divide certain percentages which were normal in the past and, apparently, are not now.  I think the judge will decide on this issue that we have, and when that is decided we will see who was right and who was not.”
- Golden Glory owner Bas Boon spoke to MMAJunkie.com about Alistair Overeem’s decision to leave the company.

“I’m at that point where as soon as the bell rings I’m going back to my old style where I come at guys 100 miles an hour, basically non stop.  The mentality is to take these guys to the deep end and drown them.

“What I started to realize is that I don’t have a lot of fat to lose so I was losing strength and muscle and I started to fight weak and I don’t know if I wasn’t doing the weight cutting properly.  I’ve fought at 170 before and at catchweights like 160, 165, and then I started dieting to fight at 155 and did very well but it started tapering off so I wanted to try this out.  It’s like a trial run to see how I feel competing at this weight.  When I train, I am grappling with heavier guys and I’m as strong or stronger as the guys who fight at 170 pounds and I thought to myself, ‘I can still have the same strength at 170 pounds but I will have more speed.’ ”
- Roger Huerta spoke with MMA Mania about his return to welterweight.

“First of all, I congratulate Dana White for doing an amazing job.  My utmost respect to Dana White, I believe he’s a brilliant guy.  He’s a tremendous person to have in a combat sport.  I think they did an outstanding job in promoting the UFC, and look at where it’s at now.  They struck a deal with Fox, which is amazing for the UFC, for MMA, my hat’s off to him.  What Dana White has done has been amazing, outstanding.  I salute him, and keep on doing a great job.”
- Oscar De La Hoya commends White on his Fox deal via Fight Hub TV.

“I’ve seen him get pushed in practice and I’ve seen him be very human and not as good as he looks on TV.  I’ve seen that there’s times where he looks great in practice but there’s times where I’ve seen him quit in practice.”
-Evans stated to MMA Nation that Jones’ does have quit in him.

“I’m a fighter.  I’ve fought all my life.  You can listen to him or listen to me.  Maybe Joe Rogan knows more than me.”
- Seagal argued Joe Rogan’s stance on Jones’ impressive performance to mmafighting.com.

“The problem is this (light heavyweight) division is stacked.  He has a lot of fights ahead of him.  The guys who have been fighting at 205 have those slots and they deserve the respect of a title fight before any superfight.

“And, a lot of people don’t really think about this, (Silva) is 37 years old.”
- White killed the idea of Jones vs. Anderson Silva via ESPN.

“There’s a lot of times Rampage swung at me and instead of defending technically I ran like a little girl.”
- Jones talked about his style of evading Jackson’s punches at the UFC 135 post-fight press conference.

“When I went into the ring he grabbed me and said ‘Will you give me my pound-for-pound respect now?’ ”
- White reiterated at the UFC 135 post-fight press conference what Jones asked him following the UFC 135 main event.

UFC 135 Main Card: Jones submits Rampage, Koscheck KOs Hughes

Jones (L) had no problems with Jackson (R) (Tracy Lee/See full album at www.CombatLifestyle.com)

Jon Jones now has a successful light heavyweight title defense to add to his rapidly growing resume.

Jones outclassed Quinton “Rampage” Jackson on Saturday at the Pepsi Center in Denver in the main event at UFC 135, submitting him with a rear naked choke at 1:14 of the fourth round to retain the belt.

In the other main-event matches, Josh Koscheck knocked out UFC Hall of Famer Matt Hughes a minute before the end of the first round of their welterweight match, heavyweights Mark Hunt and Travis Browne earned lackluster decisions at high altitude, and Nate Diaz arm-barred Japanese legend Takanori Gomi late in the first round of a lightweight tilt.

Jones and Jackson each received a $75,000 bonus for fight of the night, Diaz got the bonus for submission of the night, and Koscheck earned it for knockout of the night. There were 16,344 at the Pepsi center for a live gate of $2 million.

As has become the norm, Jones was the worthy main event.  He was in complete control from the opening bell, and while Jackson was not pounded out the way former champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua was, he was nowhere near threatening Jones, whose 14-1 record will remain deceptive until he’s actually threatened in a contest.  The lone defeat was a disqualification against Matt Hamill during a fight Jones was winning handily.

“The game plan was to prove we can strike with Quinton Jackson, he insulted my striking, said I had no punching power,” Jones said.  ”I worked with Mike Winkeljohn to get that crisp.”

Jones came out with a hand on the mat, nearly crawling around.

“I had an epiphany last night,” Jones explained of the unorthodox start.  ”I was trying to shoot a really fast low single.”

He did not need to hit that takedown because standing up, Jones did not let Jackson get into range at all.  He nailed him with an elbow that opened a cut during a ground skirmish, but otherwise it was small pieces of damage until the final sequence.

“My coaches told me going into the fourth he was starting to break a little bit and that if I wanted to finish the fight that was the round to do it,” said Jones, who complied with their thoughts.

He got Jackson to the mat against the cage, took his back and sunk in the choke, to which Jackson eventually tapped.  It was the first time Jackson (32-9) has been finished in a UFC fight and the first time he has been submitted since falling to Kazushi Sakuraba at Pride 15 in July 2001.

“I’m in the best shape of my life, I was expecting to close the distance,” Jackson said.  ”But the guy is great, I thought it was hype.

“Jon Jones is a great wrestler, and you don’t want to take too many chances kicking a wrestler like that.  He keeps his hands in your face, it’s hard to get close to him.  Jon Jones is here to stay.  I feel bad for whoever is going to fight him next, he’s here to stay.”

Next up is Jones’ former teammate at Greg Jackson’s MMA and ex-friend Rashad Evans, who was in the cage after the fight, to Jones’ dismay.

“I thought Rampage brought it the best he can, and Jon Jones looked impressive,” Evans said.  ”It’s a good opportunity, I’m glad the UFC put it together, and I can’t wait to fight him.”

“When I went into the ring, he grabbed me and said, ‘Will you give me my pound for pound respect right now?’ ” UFC president Dana White said of Jones.  ”He beat the best Rampage.  Rampage cut six pounds for this fight.  Jon Jones is the man.”

Koscheck, according to White, most likely put Hughes (45-9) out to pasture.  Hughes came out with a crisp stand-up game that seemed to surprise Koscheck in the early going, and Koscheck (16-5) even said that Hughes’ first jab hit him squarely in the orbital bone that he just finished rehabbing after Georges St-Pierre broke it in December.

Koscheck’s right hand began to find its mark in the final stages of the opening round and once he got Hughes down, he started connecting with ground strikes for which Hughes, despite turning and scrambling, could find no defense.  It was called at 4:59.

“Matt looked awesome in that first round,” White said.  ”His stand-up was awesome and it looked like Josh was thrown off.”

Hunt (7-7) won his second straight after a four-year, six-fight losing streak, outlasting a completely gassed Ben Rothwell to the final bell.

Hunt, a noted K-1 kickboxer who moved over from Pride and begged his way into the UFC instead of taking the money to stay home, nearly hit an arm bar on Rothwell (31-8), who somehow withstood many heavy punches from the notably iron-fisted Aussie.

While Browne did not exactly have his way with Broughton, he was never in trouble.  Browne landed continuous shots and controlled the grappling en route to winning every round on all the judges’ scorecards.

“People thought it was a step down in competition from Stefan Struve,” Brown said. “But that guy took my best and he was still standing.”

Browne improved to 12-0-1, including a 3-0-1 mark since joining the UFC.  Broughton had his five-fight winning streak stopped and fell to 15-6-1.

Diaz finished the legendary Gomi at 4:27 of the first round, completing perhaps the best performance of his career in the lightweight match.  Diaz had Gomi in trouble from the opening bell, with the former Pride champ unable to figure out how to slow down the onslaught of fists.

“Nate looked awesome tonight,” said White.  ”You know Gomi can take your head off at any time.  That was (Diaz’s) best performance in the UFC.”

Diaz got Gomi’s back, then spun for a triangle, eventually getting an arm bar that forced the tap.

“I’m happy to get the win,” said Diaz, who was quick to compliment the Cesar Gracie camp and call his brother, Nick, the best in the world.  ”He’s dangerous. Takanori Gomi was a Pride champ for years, was one of my favorite fighters and still is.  I knew he wasn’t going to get out of my triangle, hopefully, and I was just trying to work something there.”

Bellator 51: Vila KOs Warren, Dantas, Galvao, West advance

Vila KO'd Warren and added a right hand for good measure (Bellator.com photo)

Alexis Vila showed exactly how much he dislikes Joe Warren.

The 40-year-old Vila scored a stunning 64-second knockout of the 145-pound champion in their Season 5 bantamweight tournament quarterfinal on Saturday at Bellator 51 at the Canton Civic Center in Canton, Ohio.

The others who advanced to the semifinals were Eduardo Dantas, Marcos Galvao and Ed West.  The main card was televised in regular definition on MTV2 and commerical-free in high-def on Epix2.

Vila (10-0) is a Cuban who won the bronze medal in freestyle wrestling in the 1996 Atlanta Summer Games but only took up professional MMA in 2007.  His trash-talking with the brash Warren, a 2012 Olympic wrestling hopeful, leading up to the fight led to what Vila characterized as a true dislike for the American.

When Vila rocked Warren in the opening moments of the fight and Warren recovered, it appeared the featherweight champ might be in for another one of his iron-chinned comebacks.  Instead, it turned out to be an indicator of what was coming a few moments later.

Vila knocked Warren cold with a left hook, and the back of Warren’s head slammed to the mat.  Similar to the way Dan Henderson smashed a down-and-out- Michael Bisping at UFC 100, Vila got in a right hand before the referee could knock him away.

“This is what MMA is about,” Vila said.  ”I think everybody’s happy with my performance, so let’s go.  I’m looking for the title, and that’s why I am here.”

Vila will take on Galvao, who scored a split-decision win over former WEC champion Chase Beebe.  In an action-packed fight, Galvao was the aggressor, and controlled the action.  Beebe’s best chances appeared to be a pair of guillotines which were tight but turned out to have little effect on the patient Galvao.

When the decision was being read, Galvao figured to have flashbacks of loss at Bellator 41 to Warren, who many observers felt lost handily that evening. That performance, at a catch weight of 137, earned Galvao a spot in this bantamweight tournament and was the first test at 135 for Warren, who retains the 145-pound belt despite the loss at the lighter class.

In the other semifinal, Galvao’s Nova Uniao teammate, Dantas, will meet West, who made it to the finals of the first Bellator bantamweight tournament.

Dantas was having his way with Wilson Reis through six minutes when he exploded across the cage and connected with a flying knee to earn a knockout.  Reis took a couple of more shots on the ground before it was stopped.

The lanky West, who lost to champion Zach Makovsky in the match for the bantamweight belt at Bellator 32, cruised to a unanimous decision victory over Luis Nogueira, who charged him in an odd scene at Friday’s weigh-in at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton.

“Kids, that’s why they say it doesn’t pay to be a bully,” West quipped after the fight.

On the undercard, which was streamed by Spike.com while Spike TV aired the UFC 135 prelims, Jessica Eye played to a raucous home-crowd advantage to pull out a split-decision win over Casey Noland, who came in overweight and made the bout a catch-weight affair at 128 pounds instead of at 125.

Eye got the 29-28 nod on two judges’ cards and Noland got the same score on the other.  It might have been the first test run for a possible women’s 125-pound tournament in Season 6, with 115-pound champ Zoila Gurgel (nee Frausto) preparing for an upcoming fight with Carina Damm in the heavier weight class.

Elsewhere, Dan Spohn scored a spectacular nine-second knockout of Dane Bonnigson, missing middleweight champion Hector Lombard’s Bellator record by three seconds. John Hawk won when a badly battered Allan Weickert quit on his stool after the second round, Joey Holt scored a KO of Clint Musser with a flying knee at 4:06 of the first round, and Jesse Riggleman earned a split-decision win over Farkhad Sharipov.  Also, Frank Caraballo beat Dustin Kempf, who suffered a knee injury 79 seconds in.

UFC 135 Prelims: Ferguson, Boetsch, Assuncao, Mizugaki, Te Huna win

Te Huna (L) never gave Romero (R) a chance (Tracy Lee/See full album at www.CombatLifestyle.com)

James Te Huna brought some old-school power pack to the birthplace of the UFC to kick off the undercard Saturday night at UFC 135 in the Pepsi Center in Denver,

Te Huna scored a 47-second knockout of Ricardo Romero in their light heavyweight bout in the city where UFC 1 took place, kicking off the event.  The other prelim winners were Tim Boetsch, Ultimate Fighter season 13 winner Tony Ferguson, Takeya Mizugaki and Junior Assuncao.

Te Huna blasted Romero with an uppercut in the early going and watched him struggle for takedowns from long range for the next few seconds.  When Romero tried to hold a leg, Te Huna blasted him to the side of the head, and Romero went face-down to the canvas.  Te Huna delivered a couple more shots while Romero was out before the bout was called.

Te Huna, Mizugaki and Assuncao’s fights were streamed live on Facebook, while the Spike TV audience got to see Boestch and Ferguson.

Boestsch took Nick Ring from the ranks of the unbeaten by scoring a unanimous decision victory, using a takedown just outside the final minute to seal the win, his second in as many tries since moving down to middleweight.

Ferguson improved to 2-0 in the UFC, including his win over Ramsey Nijem to win TUF 13.  He clubbed Aaron Riley with a right hand that broke Riley’s jaw and left the veteran to be counted out after the first round as blood poured from Riley’s mouth.

Mizugaki continued his streak of following a loss with a win since joining Zuffa, as he finished off Cole Escovedo with an array of punches at 4:30 of the second round. Mizugaki is now 4-4 in Zuffa, going 1-4 in matches against fighters who have held a UFC or WEC belt.  Escovedo was the WEC featherweight champ from 2002-06 before losing the belt to Urijah Faber.

Assuncao made a successful return to the UFC after four years away by earning a unanimous decision victory over debutante Eddie Yagin.  Assuncao was never threatened, even by what appeared for a moment to be a deep guillotine, but he was giving the thumbs-up vehemently to the referee and popped out.  Assuncao won 30-26 on two judges’ scorecards and 30-27 on the other.

UFC 135 Counterpunch: Defending Rampage, Hughes, Riley, Ring, Yagin, Mizugaki

Rampage on the pads (Tracy Lee photo/See full album at www.CombatLifestyle.com)

UFC 135 is here and the crack staffers at MMADieHards.com has made their picks.

UFC 135 offers a light-heavyweight title match between champion Jon Jones and former belt-holder Quinton Jackson at the Pepsi Center in Denver.  The co-main event offers a showdown between Josh Koscheck and former UFC welterweight champion Matt Hughes.  The rest of the card is littered with intriguing matchups.

MMADieHards.com put together a team of our finest writers to bring you Counterpunch for the event.  The group independently makes its selections for each fight. Minority picks will be defended by one of the panelists making that selection.

Joining us this week are Joe Rizzo, Mark Daniels, Robert G. Reynolds, Bob Badders and me, Jason Kelly.

Travis Browne, Nate Diaz, Ben Rothwell and Ricardo Romero were unanimously selected and, therefore, not defended.

Below we list the match, the fighter being defended and the author of the defense.


Takeya Mizugaki vs.  Cole Escovedo

Defending Mizugaki: Joe Rizzo

My colleagues are asleep at the wheel.  Mizugaki is actually a significant betting favorite.  He has alternated losses with wins in each of his seven fights in Zuffa.  By that measure, he is on pattern for a win, since he is coming off a defeat to Brian Bowles at UFC 132.  There is no shame in losing to Bowles, who is the fourth champion or former champion to hand Mizugaki a defeat in Zuffa.

While Escovedo is also a former champion — he held the featherweight belt in the WEC from 2002 to 2006, when he lost it to Urijah Faber, he has not been the same fighter since climbing the ranks again following a staph infection that led him to spinal surgery.  Escovedo has lost three of his last four, including his UFC debut, and Mizugaki will make it four out of five in earning a hard-fought decision.
Junior Assunção vs.  Eddie Yagin
Defending Yagin: Joe Rizzo

What’s in a name? My colleagues apparently think there is an awful lot, because that’s the best reason to pick Assuncaso over Yagin.  I cannot find another reason, so Yagin’s my selection.

Yagin has been through the wars, and the Hawaiian’s recent win over former Bellator featherweight champ Joe Soto by guillotine shows he’s at the top of his game right now, following a two-year layoff.  Assuncaso has made it back to the UFC after a 1-2 stint got him his walking papers from the promotion as a lightweight in 2007.  It’s a feel-good story for both featherweight veterans, each of whom have reached their 30s.

While Assuncao has run off six straight wins, Yagin’s body of work is more impressive.  Plus, he’s from BJ Penn’s hometown of Hilo, and that ought to mean something.  It’s not just me that thinks highly of Yagin, it’s the Las Vegas oddsmakers, too.  Once again, my colleagues have decided to take the gambling underdog unanimously, so my voice of reason is here to set them straight — and collect the pretzel sticks I might lay down in a wager.


Nick Ring vs.  Tim Boetsch
Defending Ring: Mark Daniels

Yes, Tim Boetsch is big and strong. Yes, he has knockout power.

But no, he’s not going to beat Nick Ring.

In fact, the only thing to ever beat Ring (12-0) has been injuries.  If you remember, the 32-year-old Iowa native beat the eventual Ultimate Fighter 11th season winner Court McGee during his time on TUF before bowing out of the competition with a knee injury.

Ring is former professional kick boxer and boxing.  His striking is much more technical than that of Boetsch.  And get this, half of his wins have come via submission. Boetsch’s only hope is to ride out a decision, but he won’t get that chance as Ring, who now trains with Georges St-Pierre at TriStar, has the advantage on the ground, as well.


Tony Ferguson vs.  Aaron Riley

Defending Riley: Jason Kelly

These is a classic match between a newcomer and an veteran. I am siding with Riley in this bout for a couple of reasons.

First, Riley has an enormous amount of experience in multiple promotions.  He will not be fazed by anything Ferguson brings to the cage.  His preparations at Greg Jackson’s MMA have taken place alongside Jon Jones and Brian Stann, not to mention that Riley admitted to MMA DieHards.com that coaches Jackson and Mike Winkeljon have constructed an outstanding game plan for this bout.

With all the high-level training the Indiana native has done for this fight, I don’t see how a developing fighter like Ferguson can stop a crafty veteran like Riley.  In my eyes this is Riley’s match to lose.  If he follows the strategy his coaches have laid out for him the only things I believe that can defeat Riley are himself or getting caught.

I am going with Riley via unanimous decision.


Matt Hughes vs.  Josh Koscheck

Defending Hughes: Jason Kelly

In the famous word of Roy Jones Jr., “Y’all must have forgot.”

As the lone sole that selected Hughes to be victorious in this bout I have to wonder  if everybody forgot who the former champ is and what Koscheck is returning from.

Hughes is an outstanding wrestler and so is Koscheck, but the former H.I.T. Squad owner is a decorated veteran who will couple his intelligence with his grappling to control the fight.  While Koscheck is known for dropping people with his right hand, Hughes has been displaying much improved boxing in recent outings.  I believe Hughes will use technical boxing skills and nullify take downs to stand up and beat up Koscheck.

Another factor I see playing into this fight is that of Koscheck’s injury sustained from Georges St-Pierre.  A lot of fighters are hesitant to engage after a knockout, and even though Koscheck was not knocked out, his face was broken.  The thought of how durable that reconstructed orbital socket is will be prominent is Koscheck’s mind and may hinder his performance.

Hughes will pick apart Koscheck on the feet and secure a takedown which will lead to a ground and pound, referee stoppage in the third round of this welterweight feature.

Jon Jones vs. Quinton Jackson
Defending Jackson: Robert G. Reynolds

Quinton “Rampage” Jackson is a name that resonates throughout the MMA world and beyond.

At the ripe age of 33, Jackson has spent one-third of his life fighting professionally, with the last four years being a part of the UFC organization.

Coming into the UFC, Rampage made a statement by taking the light heavyweight belt from Hall of Famer Chuck Liddell, coincidentally beating Liddell for the second time in his second appearance in the octagon.  Not only did Rampage successfully defend his strap against Dan Henderson in his next bout, but he also unified both the UFC light heavyweight and Pride middleweight titles, making history.

Compiling a record of 32-8 over 12 years, Jackson has a wealth of experience that  Jones lacks.  Jones is comparatively new to the sport and is running off a media high of being the next great hype.  Mind you, Jones is a very talented fighter, but what makes his talented recognized is his unorthodox style of fighting.

While that style may work on most, the counterattack of Rampage will power through charade and make Jones realize what he is up against.

Jones has what Rampage wants, and Rampage will get what he wants in Denver.

UFC 135: Ricardo Romero credits his readiness to Ring of Combat

Romero got in his kicks at Ring of Combat, prepping him for the UFC (Tom DeFazio/FCFighter.com photo)

Like most former Ring of Combat title holders, Ricardo Romero intends to carry on the tradition.

Romero was a belt-holder in the light heavyweight and heavyweight divisions when he competed in ROC.  Out of 11 bouts in the promotion, Romero only came up short one time, against Glen Sandull.  These outstanding performances caught the eye of the UFC, and New Jersey native was proposed an opportunity to perform in the Octagon.

Romero’s stint in ROC prepared him for what lied ahead.

“I’ll probably be biased because I only fought for Ring of Combat, but it is a good organization and I had a hell of an experience,” Romero admitted to MMADieHards.com.  “It was good because it gets you into the glitz and glamour, so to speak.  When I came out to Vegas, I wasn’t in awe over the whole situation and that got me over the hump.

“They always had good competition in Ring of Combat.  Lou Neglia owns it and he is always looking for new talent.  He puts on good shows and the place is always sold out.  I hope to keep the streak going of guys who held titles in (ROC) and had success in the UFC.”

Romero has been a team member at Advanced Martial Arts in North Brunswick, N.J. since his career began.  He put time in at that facility while training for his bout Saturday night at UFC 135 in Denver’s Pepsi Center against James Te Huna, but the level of altitude in Colorado is much greater than the Garden State.

This called for a unique instrument to be utilized during this training camp.

“I’ve been a few different places and also spent time at the gym I have always been a part of,” Romero explained.  “I have strength and conditioning coach and he’s been doing great things with me.  I’ve been getting my core stronger and getting faster and even used a high-altitude mask.  It seems like it worked because I don’t notice a difference up here in Denver.”

Along with Advanced Martial Arts comes a different AMA Romero frequents.

Mike Constantino provides a world-class facility in Whippany, N.J. known as American Martial Arts — better known in the industry as AMA Fight Club.  The gym houses Jim and Dan Miller, Charlie Brenneman and Jamie Varner.  Romero finds the difference between the two training centers is in the numbers.

“Every time you show up there it’s very competitive,” Romero explained.  “Whenever you go against better competition it pushes you and makes you better.  At my other gym in North Brunswick I have one or two guys pushing me there, whereas at AMA I have 12 to 15 guys pushing me.  It makes a big difference.”

Romero is prepared to do battle against Te Huna, but admitted there was not a lot to study.

Te Huna is an Australian who, despite two UFC bouts under his belt, has never fought outside his native country.  This made finding tape on Te Huna difficult.  However, Romero has caught wind of a few things he thinks will assist him in being victorious.

“I wish I did know his strengths and weaknesses,” Romero admitted.  “From what I’ve seen and from what people tell me, our styles are very similar.  He might have an edge in the stand-up, we’ll see, but he’s a guy that I can take down and ground and pound.  That’s the word I’m getting.”

With a win over Te Huna, Romero will be back in the win column and continue to validate his position in the UFC.

Just like so many Ring of Combat fighters before him.

Bellator 51: Chase Beebe’s journey with Clay Guida lands him in Canton

Beebe flips after his win at Bellator 43 (Bellator.com photo)

When embarking on a journey, sometimes it is best to travel where the journeyman takes you.

Chase Beebe (Twitter: @ChaseBeebeMMA) has been spending a lot of time learning from UFC veteran Clay “The Carpenter” Guida.  In doing so, they made the travel together in an RV to Albuquerque to train with the cerebral Greg Jackson.

With the Bellator Season 5 bantamweight tournament about to get under way Saturday night, Beebe is well prepared for the challenge as he has recently captured the WFC bantamweight strap.  By quickly submitting Ralph Acosta via guillotine choke 41 seconds into the first round, Beebe swept up the title and increased his win streak to five.

The memories of 2007 when Beebe was the WEC bantamweight champ are still fresh in the fighter’s mind and he now craves to restate his place in the world of MMA.

“I think that it’s the biggest fight of my career up to this point,” Beebe confessed to Hector Castro and Manny Rodriguez on Bellator Beat Radio on the MMADieHards Radio Network.  “Obviously you’re only as good as your last fight, but this is the opportunity that I’ve been waiting around for from back in the day when I was champ.  This is my chance to remake my mark on the MMA world.”

Not paying attention to what the media and critics say, Beebe believes that he is one of the top competitors coming into the fifth Season of Bellator and all will be proven in due time.  Beebe knows that in order to be the best, you have to beat the best.

This tournament is his time to prove it.

“I know in my heart that I’m the best in this tournament,” Beebe said.  “I know that I have the most experience and I’ve worked harder and more intelligently then everybody else out there.  People can speculate and make predictions all they want, but all that matters is when that cage closes and that’s my focus right now, one fight at a time.”

Preparing and gaining experience for tournament-style fighting is not something easily obtained.  Beebe however, had the benefit of wrestling for most of his life and participated in a record-breaking event when he entered an 80-man tournament called the “Tournament of Champions.”

In order to make it to the finals, Beebe endured 12 matches in one day, lasting until 3 a.m.

“I would always be up to three or four in the morning because I would always make it to the finals, so it’s just what I’m used to,” said Beebe.  “That’s how wrestling tournaments work and I love that kind of format.”

In the first round of the less populated Bellator tournament, Beebe will be facing the experienced Brazilian jiu-jitsu champion Marcos “Loro” Galvao (9-4-1).  Hearing that Galvao has trained with UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo has no effect on Beebe.

“He’s training with some of the best guys and doing the right things and he’s been around the sport a long time and a jiu-jitsu world champion, so I know I’ll have my hands full,” Beebe said.  “Right now, where I’m at mentally, it doesn’t matter who they put in front of me.  I don’t care if it’s the best guy in the tournament or the worst, it doesn’t matter.  I plan on doing what I’m going to do either way and really focusing on imposing my will.”

With Beebe contributing his recent string of success to the training obtained with Guida at the Jackson camp, he seems to have found a place to develop the skills required to be a champion once more.

Living in a confined space with Guida could prove to be a challenge and with Beebe admitting to having a case of ADHD, both of these fighters in an RV may be a recipe for disaster.

Is that ever the wrong impression.

“I stay with him in an amazing RV and the guy likes to keep everything as clean as can be,” Beebe revealed.  “We’re two peas in a pod, we’re little psychos when we wake up in the morning and all we do all day long is train.  We go work out, relax and eat, then go work out.

“I’ve always tried to mimic him as a fighter mentally, and the way that he approaches things inside and outside of the cage.”

Let the journey begin.

Strikeforce Challengers 19: Look out for Lavar Johnson, the Bud Man

Johnson hit the scales at 249 pounds (Strikeforce.com photo)

While taking a break from MMA to recover from a knee injury five years ago, Lavar Johnson became one of the most important and well-respected men in the Fresno, Calif. area.

In order to pay the bills for surgery to repair the knee he injured in a loss to Brian Olsen at WEC 18, Johnson had to get a “real” job.  With the referral of a friend, Johnson took gainful employment with the King of Beers.

“Yeah,” the Strikeforce heavyweight told MMADieHards.com, “I used to be the Bud Man.”

Johnson quickly earned himself a delivery route, trucking Budweiser beer from the distributor to its points of sale.  He began most of his long days at 6 a.m., which is well before he hits the gym these days when training for a fight.

Speaking of fights, Johnson has one Friday night at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas against Shawn Jordan at Strikeforce Challengers 19, which will be aired on Showtime.  It is Johnson’s first time stepping back into the cage since February, when he lost to Shane del Rosario on the main card of the Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Silva event.

Relegated back to the Challengers series after the loss to del Rosario, Johnson was slated to fight Devin Cole in the July event.  He was hampered by a groin injury at the time, but that was not going to keep him out of the cage.  Instead it turned out to be a tweak in his knee that cost him the two-month delay in his comeback.  At least he did not have to don the Bud Man uniform again to get by.

“I was very close (to not pulling out),” Johnson said.  ”I need the (ability to make) money, for one thing.  If I fight every six months there’s only so much you can do with your paycheck.  It comes down to if you can afford it or not.  You’re always going to have some type of injury.”

A member of American Kickboxing Academy, Johnson limited his training at AKA this time around in order to maintain his physical well-being.  The attrition rate of preparing at one of the top camps in the sport kept him stationed mostly at the Thrive MMA locations in Fresno and Madera.

“I didn’t go up there that much because of the injuries,” Johnson said.  ”Every time I go there, it’s like a fight itself.  I only went there like two times this (camp).”

The idea is to get back into the win column, because Johnson fears second straight loss could get him released from Strikeforce.

That was the reasoning behind eschewing the fight with Cole, no matter how counter-intuitive it was to pull out of a match when he needed the money.  It was the mature thing to do, especially since Johnson believes he has at least 10 fights left in him.  He was thinking about his long-term ability to make it as a prizefighter.

That fight, like this one, was slated for Las Vegas, making it Johnson’s first fight in Sin City.  After building a career out of fighting close to home, which he says he prefers to do, Johnson figures there’s a lot less pressure on him fighting away from Northern California.  His girlfriend, younger brothers Brandon  and Anthony Morris, older brother Damon Johnson, and parents made the trip to Las Vegas for the fight, but the usually large contingent of his hometown supporters will not be in the stands.

Sponsorship money for this fight was lean for Johnson, so there’s more pressure than usual to earn his win bonus.

If he loses?

“Maybe I’ll be going back to Budweiser driving a truck, delivering beer,” he said with a perhaps half-serious laugh.  ”I still have one of (my uniforms).”

Johnson is reticent to seek financial capitalization on the opportunity to walk out for his fight in that old deliveryman’s getup.

“I wish it was like that, but I don’t think the UFC of Zuffa is going to allow any of that,” Johnson said.

Johnson found a unique way to be part of the groups he has helped serve: Bud drinkers and MMA fans.  Most fighters would be unwilling to go through with the small tradition he was prepared for Thursday night after weigh-ins.

“I still drink Budweiser — matter of fact, I drink two tall cans the night before the fight,” he admitted.  ”It’s my mental thing, it’s my little ritual I do.  It relaxes me, and it’s my way of saying (expletive) my opponent, “I’m gonna beat his ass regardless.”

Johnson drove the Budweiser route for about 2 1/2 years.  As long as MMA pays the bills, he’s not headed back to the truck any time soon, although one thing remains clear: Fighter or not, Lavar Johnson will always be a Bud Man.

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