Posts Tagged ‘highlight’

UFC 158: Mike Ricci’s a fighter first, reality star second

UFC lightweight and TUF 16 finalist Mike "The Martian" Ricci (Photo courtesy of ufc.com)


UFC lightweight Mike Ricci is done with people doubting his combat skills.

“The Martian” first made waves as a finalist in last year’s “The Ultimate Fighter 16″ welterweight tournament. Since then, he’s courted controversy by slamming the TUF experience as ultimately unpleasant for its participants. It’s a criticism Ricci (Twitter: @MikeyRicci) still stands by, and one he says doesn’t affect his fighting abilities.

“For me the problem with TUF was being away from home,” he told MMADiehards’ Punch Drunk Radio last Tuesday. “It had nothing to do with fighting or making weight.”

Now in its 17th season, TUF is the UFC’s reality TV series for recruiting and signing new fighters. Though Ricci revealed he’s grateful for the exposure, he said the star-making program too often focuses on trivialities rather than actual talent. The end result is entertainment first and elite athletics second.

“The Martian,” for example, found viewers were often distracted by his distinct hairstyle. Rather than watch his exploits in the cage, he said they’d discuss his fashion sense instead.

“I’d rather have people talking than not talking,” Ricci admitted. “But it’s been three years now since I first got this haircut. I’ve been fighting for a while now, and I’ve won fights – sometimes in devastating fashion – and lost others too. I’ve proved I’m a fighter regardless of my haircut.”

Ricci said such misplaced priorities are frustrating given that MMA is more competitive than ever before. The sport’s mainstream success is attracting more talent, he said, and it’s now a booming battlefield for new fighters.

“I think the challenge of competing on TUF is still high,” Ricci said. “The playing field is leveling out. Everybody’s getting good at everything. I think that’s why there’s a lot less finishes on the show now.”

“The Martian” confronted this phenomenon firsthand during the TUF 16 Finale last December. Facing off with Colton Smith, Ricci lost via unanimous decision. At day’s end, both men were too evenly matched for a decisive finish.

That meeting’s result ensured Ricci made his UFC debut in defeat. He’s now trying to bounce back with a victory over “Freakshow” Colin Fletcher at UFC 158 in March. It’s a tough challenge given Fletcher’s penchant for pre-fight mind games. “Freakshow” is notorious for wearing elaborate walkout costumes and insulting his foes.

“Some guys are good at getting into other guys’ heads and some guys aren’t,” Ricci said of Fletcher’s psychological warfare. “It’s not really my thing. Fletcher is actually a nice guy, though, and I’ve seen some of his interviews. He’s an intelligent dude, and he markets himself very well.”

Ricci said he’s convinced he has the tools for overcoming Fletcher’s antics. Even if he doesn’t, “The Martian” revealed one final weapon. A proud native of Montreal, Canada, Ricci’s fight with Fletcher will take place at his hometown’s Bell Centre.

“The crowds here are incredible,” Ricci said of the support he’ll receive at home. “Whether it’s boxing or MMA, the fight roots run real deep here. I went to a UFC event once in Toronto with 60,000 other people and it wasn’t as loud as the last time Georges St-Pierre fought in Montreal.”

Mark Hensch is an avid MMA fan who became interested in the sport through wrestling and karate. When not covering the hurt business, he writes about heavy metal for the Washington Times at his blog Heavy Metal Hensch in Washington D.C.

An act of randomness leads Chad George to “Occupation Fighter”

When Chad George moved dwellings, becoming the center of an MMA film and sharing his life wasn’t something he expected.

George (Twitter: @savage135) is the subject of Bavayou Films’ new documentary entitled “Occupation Fighter.”  The former WEC fighter claims 2013 is “The Year of the Savage” and he will debut in the UFC.   After finally be healed from nagging injuries, coupled being the star of “Occupation Fighter”, his chances stand to improve.

The making of the film came about in the strangest of ways.  George didn’t come up with the idea of the movie and cast himself as the center of attention.  He was in fact sought out through a beautiful black eye that attracted the attention of a filmmaker which birthed “Occupation Fighter.”

“It was really kind of random,” George told MMADiehards.com.  “My girlfriend and I moved into a condo and our next door neighbor happened to be an independent documentary film maker from Germany.  He really didn’t know anything about the sport and I was walking around the neighborhood with a nice little shiner.  He asked, ‘What’s that all about?’  And his wife became friends with my girlfriend and they started talking and my girlfriend told her what I do, so she Googled my name because she was interested and wanted to find out more.  We sat down and talked more about my story and it opened his eyes a little more to the sport.”

George said the producer was so intrigued by the mixed martial artist’s training that he continued to delve deeper into the life of a fighter.  The film turned into a research project for the filmmaker, which not only focused on training, but more so on George’s lifestyle outside the cage.

“It’s not just about the fighting and training,” George said.  “It actually goes into really make us go through what we go through to be fighters’.  The family side, the relationship side of things, the financial, the injuries, the medical insurance, the ups and downs, all of that.  The fighting and training is there, but it’s secondary.  This shows the public what we really go through mentally and emotionally before the fight even happens.”

What George wants to accomplish with “Occupation Fighter,” is show the similarities between a professional mixed martial artist’s life and that of most people.  George said the thought of fighter being considered a meathead is not something that sits well with him.  He wants viewers to realize we all have a fighter instinct in us.  It’s about making a decision.

“I look at this documentary as an extension of everyone else’s story,” George said.  “We’ve all done something in our lives where we just came up short and have a choice to make.  Do you let it end there or do you keep going with it?  That’s a choice that each one of us has to make.”

MMA DieHards Radio: Douglas Lima, Ulysses Gomez

A permanent addition to MMA DieHards Radio on Wednesday’s will begin tonight at 9pm ET.

Let’s welcome Mark Hensch, who will co-host MMA DieHards Radio on Wednesdays with Jason Kelly, and in his debut we have a guest from each the world’s top two promotions.

Bellator Season 8 welterweight tournament semifinalist Douglas Lima (Twitter: @PhenomLima) will be first join the show this evening.  Lima has won back-to-back fights since being defeated by Ben Askren in February 2012, most recently stopping Michail Tsarev via TKO from leg kicks.  The victory over Tsarev matches Lima up against Brent Weedman in the Bellator Season 8 welterweight semifinals.

Ulysses Gomez (Twitter: @uselessgomez) came up short in his UFC debut against John Moraga, but is looking to get back in the win column on Feb. 16 when he faces Phil Harris at “UFC on Fuel TV: Barao vs. McDonald” in London, England.  We’ll find out how training went for Gomez, as well as hear hit thoughts of competing abroad.

Kelly and Hensch will also recap the last week of MMA, and preview what’s to come.

Click here to join the chat room

Listen to internet radio with MMA DieHards Radio on Blog Talk Radio

Punch Drunk Radio: Mike Ricci, Danny Castillo

Punch Drunk Radio

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Tonight, PDR’s Amy Barton will have co-hosts John Petit and Jason Kelly in the house.  The trio will be joined by Danny Castillo and “The Ultimate Fighter 16” finalist Mike Ricci.

Castillo (Twitter: @lastcall155) is a Team Alpha Male member and is preparing for a bout on Feb. 16 at “UFC on Fuel TV: Barao vs. McDonald” against Paul Sass.  We’ll get Castillo’s thoughts on his opponent and talk to “Last Call” about his training leading into the fight.

Ricci (Twitter: @MikeyRicci) is coming off a defeat against Colton Smith at “The Ultimate Fighter 16 Finale.”  The Tristar teammate is slated to face Colin Fletcher at UFC 158 on March 13 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  We’ll talk to Ricci about his journey through the TUF house and how anxious he is to get his first UFC win.

Join us every Tuesday night at 9pm ET for MMA news & views, interviews, opinions, giveaways and more! Visit www.mmadiehards.com for show recaps, news, videos, and all of our archives.

UFC on Fox 6 recap: Johnson defends belt, ‘Rampage’ loses in final UFC bout, Pettis asks for title shot

UFC flyweight champ Demetrious-Johnson (L) John-Dodson (R). (Photo courtesy of MMA Weekly)

UFC on Fox 6 took place tonight at the United Center in Chicago, and it presented a championship bout, the end of famed fighter’s UFC career, theatrical “Showtime” tricks and a record was set for the history books.

The main event of UFC on Fox 6 was a UFC flyweight title match between champion Demetrious Johnson and the challenger, John Dodson.

Both combatants came out of their respective corner with all the speed that was expected.  Johnson withstood several solid left-handed punches from Dodson, which found a home through Rounds 2 and 3.  Dodson, however, was the victim of an illegal knee to the head, as well as a groin strike.

The championship Rounds are what defined the bout.  After both mixed martial arts persevered through punishment, it was a battle of stamina.  Johnson was able to keep the pace up, which led to “Mighty Mouse” having the agility to utilize the muay thai clinch and hammer Dodson with knees and draw blood.  Johnson dominated Dodson until the match materialized and won a unanimous decision; defending his flyweight belt.

In the night’s co-main event, Glover Teixeira spoiled Quinton “Rampage” Jackson’s UFC exiting party via brutality.  Teixeira continuously had “Rampage” on the defensive due to punches and takedowns.  Jackson was dizzied a number of times, which provoked him to verbally taunt Teixeira, but that made no difference in the flow of the fight.  Teixeira battered the former UFC light heavyweight champion from start to finish and won a unanimous decision victory.  Teixeira is now on an 18-fight winning streak.

Anthony “Showtime” Pettis initiated his bout against Donald Cerrone with sort of cartwheel-kick, which was impressive, yet ineffective.  That’s where the fun had just begun.  Pettis used pinpoint accuracy with his kicks and punches to cripple Cerrone immediately.  “Showtime” continued to live up to his moniker, as he hit Cerrone with an off the cage knee.  After toying with “Cowboy” for a couple of minutes, Pettis slammed Cerrone with a liver-kick.  Cerrone crumpled to the canvas and the match was stopped midway through Round 1.

Pettis, who was the final WEC lightweight champ, addressed UFC president Dana White following his victory.

“Dana White,” Pettis called out in a post-fight interview with Joe Rogan.  “What do I have to do to get this title shot?”

Ricardo Lamas, the underdog heading into the fight, took out Erick Koch in the opening bout on the Fox televised portion of the card.  Koch was getting outclassed, but wasn’t out of the match a totally.  During Round 2, Koch made a critical error on the ground and Lamas landed in mount position.  Lamas punished Koch with punches and elbows, opening a deep gash on the American’s head.  The referee halted the bout before Koch could take any excessive damage.

Canadian T.J. Grant exhibited his finest performance in the Octagon to date.  Grant was paired against Matt Wiman at UFC on Fox 8.  Early into the contest Grant wobbled his opponent, but Wiman briefly recovered.  Nearing the end of Round 1, Grant and Wiman were tied up in a clinch.  Grant planted an elbow flush on “Handsome’s” temple that stunned him.  Grant followed up as his counterpart fell to the canvas and landed a few more blows to secure the Round 1 victory.

Ryan Bader was efficient in victory.  The TUF 8 winner accomplished the quickest submission victory in the history of the UFC light heavyweight division against Vladimir Matyushenko.  The win puts Bader back in the win column; meanwhile, Matyushenko has now dropped back-to-back bouts.

Clay Guida and Hatsu Hioki competed in a match that would’ve been a nightmare to judge.  Guida’s wrestling polarized the fight at times, but Hioki was proactive from the bottom; landing strikes as well as attempting transitions.  Hioki was quick to figure out the unorthodox movements of Guida, as he connected with several solid uppercuts and one clean head kick.

For the majority of the match, it was a back and forth battle of wits on the mat, which went to the judges’ scorecards.  Guida was awarded a split decision (30-27, 29-28, 28-29) victory in his featherweight debut, not to mention his first win in three matches.  Hioki is now on a two-fight losing skid.

Shawn Jordan canceled Mike Russow’s homecoming party at UFC on Fox 6.  Russow, a Chicago police officer, opened up a cut on Jordan in the early going and went for the finish.  Jordan seemed to be in trouble, but composed himself and made it to the Round 2.  In the second frame it was apparent Russow had overexerted himself trying to finish Jordan at the beginning of that match.  Jordan took advantage of the fatigued Illinois native and applied the pressure.  Jordan was successful and walked away with a TKO victory.  Russow, on the other hand, has now suffered back-to-back losses for the first time in his career.

Pascal Krauss outpointed Mike Stumpf with technical striking for 15 minutes and earned a decision from the judges.  The outcome put Krauss back on the winning side of the sport after coming off his first career loss at “UFC on Fox: Diaz vs. Miller.”  Stumpf, though proved his resiliency, is still winless in the Octagon.

On the Facebook portion of the event, David Mitchell edged out a decision victory against Simeon Thoresen in the sole match on the social media platform.

Hammerfisting MMA Podcast: Amateur Studio Hours! Plus: Bjorn Rebney, Brent Weedman

140 – Amateur Hour Studios! – Bjorn Rebney / Brent Weedman

 

Luis J. Gomez (Twitter: @luisjgomez), Kris Tinkle (Twitter: @kristinkle), and Vic Mysterio (Twitter: @MrVicGarcia) talk MMA news and rumors! On this episode they interview Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney (Twitter: @BjornRebney) and welterweight fighter Brent Weedman (Twitter: @brent_weedman)! They discuss UFC on FX 7, UFC on FOX 6, Rashad on Anderson, changes at Fox, and more!

 

 

Having trouble loading the player?  You can download Hammerfisting from iTunes, listen on Stitcher Radio, or pay a visit to where the magic begins - RiotCast.

UFC on Fox 6: Defending Demetrious Johnson vs. John Dodson

UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson appears with his first challenger John Dodson at the UFC on Fox 6 weigh-ins. (Photo courtesy of mmafighting.com)


Let’s face it fight fans – reaching MMA matchmaking nirvana’s no easy task.

It takes a special blend of factors creating a perfect bout on paper. We MMA aficionados crave action, drama, intensity and memorable moments with implications on the bigger picture of our sport. When these elements come together in the cage, they rank among the finest moments in athletics.

It’s thus puzzling why UFC viewers aren’t more excited about tomorrow night’s UFC on Fox 6 main event. Demetrious Johnson vs. John Dodson is a potentially epic fight. Despite this, anticipation for their clash seems low heading into Chicago, Ill.’s United Center. Perhaps it’s the equally entertaining undercard, or maybe fight fans still aren’t that familiar with the flyweight division’s addition last year to the UFC.

Either way, tomorrow’s headliner is criminally underrated. MMA matchmaking nirvana’s rare, but Johnson’s dust-up with Dodson fits the bill. Still not sold? MMADiehards is here to show you why:

1.) Speed kills – The flyweight division’s 125 lb. ceiling turns all its matchups into high-speed collisions. It’s a weight class where quickness reigns supreme, and faster fighters than Dodson and Johnson don’t exist. Both men are also extremely active, so tomorrow’s fight will feature kinetic fury that’s off the charts. The end result is the first UFC title fight capable of breaking the proverbial sound barrier.

2.) Demetrious Johnson, UFC champ next door – Few UFC champions are as relatable as Johnson. Yes, “Mighty Mouse” is athletically gifted, but he’s mainly a normal guy who’s worked hard at achieving success. Humble and easy-going, he still mops the floor at his first gym and recently married his long-time sweetheart. A self-made man, Johnson was still working his day job when he received his first title shot against bantamweight kingpin Dominick Cruz in 2011. As if that’s not everyman enough, “Mighty Mouse” is an avid gamer on XBOX 360. His success story is proof that with dedication, luck and a little natural ability, even the most average Joe can achieve greatness.

3.) John Dodson has knockout magic – A frequent criticism against flyweight fighters is that they lack punching power. When it comes to Dodson, nothing’s further from the truth. “The Magician” is already his division’s resident knockout wizard, having won two of his last three by KO. Brash and heavy-handed, he’s capable of staggering whoever’s standing across from him even without a finish. Though Johnson’s rightfully favored tomorrow night, Dodson’s the most dangerous striker he’s faced yet.

4.) History in the making – The flyweight division’s youth offers fight fans a chance of witnessing UFC lore unfold firsthand. Johnson is its first champion, and his duel with Dodson marks his inaugural defense. It’s a rare set of circumstances, and one that will anchor the division’s depth years from now. When that happens, people who caught tomorrow’s card will remember what the division was like long before it established its eventual lineage.

5.) The future is now – Speaking of which, UFC on Fox 6 dictates where the entire flyweight division heads next. If Johnson wins, he starts cementing a long reign for himself like those dominating other divisions. If he doesn’t, Dodson has an ever-expanding stable of worthy contenders hungry for title gold.

Either way, fight fans are watching top fighters built their division’s foundations from the ground up. The most interesting aspect, then, is seeing what heights they’ll reach next.

Mark Hensch is an avid MMA fan who became interested in the sport through wrestling and karate. When not covering the hurt business, he writes about heavy metal for the Washington Times at his blog Heavy Metal Hensch in Washington D.C.

UFC on Fox 6: Demetrious Johnson’s crown doesn’t weigh him down

UFC flyweight champion Demetrious "Mighty Mouse" Johnson walks to the Octagon with his fight team. (Photo courtesy of sherdog.com)


UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson isn’t intimidated by other fighters gunning for his title gold.

It’s not that “Mighty Mouse” (Twitter: @MightyMouseUFC) is cocky – quite the opposite. It’s just that having fought professionally for six years, he’s confident in his own abilities as a mixed martial artist. As Johnson sees it, winning his first championship last September is physical proof of where he stands as a fighter.

“I’m focusing on beating people rather than defending my title,” Johnson told MMADiehards’ Punch Drunk Radio on Jan. 15. “I’m not worried about losing it or hanging on to it. It’s just a token or achievement I’ve earned in my MMA career. I’ve already made history and they can never take that away from me.”

“Mighty Mouse” initially made his way into the record books by besting Joseph Benavidez for the flyweight belt in September 2012. Scoring a split decision victory over “Joe B-Wan Kenobi” at UFC 152 in Toronto, Canada, Johnson can now call himself the first-ever UFC flyweight champion.

It’s an honor Johnson isn’t taking lightly. As the face of the UFC’s newest weight class, “Mighty Mouse” plans on making 125 lbs. one of its most entertaining divisions.

“With the flyweights being so new and the fans not understanding the division yet, it’s going to take time for them to get educated about us,” Johnson said. “We bring a lot of different skill sets to display in the UFC. There are a thousand guys out there. Just because they’re not known doesn’t mean they’re not out there.”

So far, Johnson has caught fight fans’ attention with a trio of electrifying bouts. He started by dueling “Uncle Creepy” Ian McCall to a draw last March at UFC on FX 2, then completely shutting him down with a unanimous decision rout at UFC on FX 3 in June. After that, “Mighty Mouse” completed the trifecta by defeating Benavidez during September’s nail-biting, back-and-forth contest for the title.

“2012 was a great year,” Johnson said. “I got married, won the belt and had a great string of fights. I’m looking forward to bringing that momentum over to 2013.”

A new year brings new challenges, and Johnson will face a dangerous one in John Dodson at UFC on Fox 6 on Saturday in Chicago, Ill. “The Magician” has cast a powerful spell over his division by knocking out two of his last three foes. He’s now feared for hitting like a car crash at blistering speeds.

“Dodson is absolutely a threat to me,” Johnson admitted. “He’s super-athletic and that right there poses a threat as he has great balance and good footwork.”

It’s a pairing Johnson expects will push his division to the next level. Airing on Fox, “Mighty Mouse” vs. “The Magician” marks the flyweights’ debut on national television.

“With Fox, anyone in the world can watch it,” Johnson said of his standoff with Dodson Saturday night. “I’m just happy to go out there and fight for the UFC, especially in the main event. Fighting on Fox is just icing on the cake.”

Given the extra exposure, Johnson said he’s not resting on his laurels as flyweight champion. Rather, he intends on delivering Dodson an unquestionable defeat Saturday night.

“I’m training hard and looking forward to getting in there and doing my thing,” Johnson said. “When I train for a fight, I’m not just training for John Dodson or anyone else. I’m training to make myself a better mixed martial artist. I take care of business and I know what needs to be done.”

Mark Hensch is an avid MMA fan who became interested in the sport through wrestling and karate. When not covering the hurt business, he writes about heavy metal for the Washington Times at his blog Heavy Metal Hensch in Washington D.C.

MMA DieHards Radio: Charron of KOTD

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MMA DieHards Radio has been absent, but don’t get used to it!

Tonight, host Jason Kelly rolls solo and brings you a fighter and a fan, but both men battle in their own right.

A fan of mixed martial arts for years, Charron (Twitter: @charronkotd) will join the panel.  Charron is one of the world’s elite battle rappers, and when he isn’t getting his Chael Sonnen on inside the hip hop cypher, he’s at home watching people like Chael Sonnen do battle.  Charron has a battle coming up on Jan. 27 at King of the Dot’s Blackout 3 at Guvernment in Toronto.  We’ll talk to the Ottawa native about his opponent, HFK, and grab his opinion on the latest of MMA.

As usual, Kelly will preview what’s ahead in MMA, plus recent events in the sport.

Jon Anik: Proves passion for MMA through actions, not words

If ESPN was the pinnacle of success, Jon Anik has surpassed his apex.

An ESPN-turned-UFC commentator, Anik (Twitter: @Jon_Anik) began his sports media career in Boston, as a sports radio personality.  His talents led him to a position at the prestigious ESPN; the world’s grand sports media outlet.

Anik covered all sports on ESPN, which he enjoyed immensely, but his passion was in MMA.  After several years with the company, ESPN launched a program entitled “ESPN MMA Live,” and Anik was the host.  The show proved successful, yet Anik still wasn’t doing what he truly wanted to in MMA, which was play-by-play commentating.

“I did primarily studio stuff, and it wasn’t for a lack of trying,” Anik told Amy Barton and Alex Donno on Punch Drunk Radio on the MMA DieHards Radio Network.  “For one reason or the other, things just didn’t materialize until I was on my out.  I ended up doing about 10 boxing fights or so for them.

“I think it takes both things to find out what makes you happy.  I found that being in a studio six nights a week wasn’t doing it for me.  It’s great to be on the road; I wish there were more domestic shows than international when it comes to the UFC.  But it’s great to be on the road and get the best seat in the house in front of the sport that I love.”

Anik joined the UFC family in October 2011, as former UFC competitor Kenny Florian’s partner in the booth on the FX and Fuel TV broadcasts, as well as TUF Live.  Anik relishes the opportunity to work with “Kenflo,” but like any successful human, the former ESPN analyst longed for a chance to shine at the top.

After cutting his teeth on televised UFC cards for just over a year, Anik got the chance to work alongside Joe Rogan on a pay-per-view event for UFC 155.

“I got the call on Christmas eve,” Anik said.  “It was very exciting.  A lot of the things I would normally do to get ready, there just wasn’t time to do.  It was sort of a nutty week, but certainly an experience of a lifetime and one that I hope to do again.  It was a pleasure and an honor to work with Joe Rogan, I’m happy we were able to develop some chemistry despite the fact that we had never worked together and haven’t had too many conversations off the air either.”

Anik got his crack at UFC 155 commentating duties after Rogan’s usual partner, Mike Goldberg, got bit by the flu bug.  Anik said he wishes Goldberg a speedy return, but won’t pass up another chance to work alongside Rogan if the UFC calls upon him.

Commentating for the UFC and covering mixed martial arts isn’t what Anik set out to do in the world of sports, but his passion drove him to be a part of MMA, not just a part-time reporter on the subject.

And if anyone questions his passion, well, actions speak louder than words.

“The passion is always there, that’s the thing,” Anik said.  “When I got to ESPN, I thought I’d never leave.  That was the always the goal for me, to get to ESPN.  I don’t know that there could be any greater statement about my passion for the UFC and mixed martial arts than to leave ESPN so I could do this full-time.”

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