Posts Tagged ‘highlight’

MMA DieHards Counterpunch: UFC 168

MMA DieHards focuses on UFC 168 in this week’s session of Counterpunch, for the bouts that take place Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

UFC 168 is co-headlined with two title matches.  Middleweight champion Chris Weidman takes on Anderson Silva in a highly anticipated rematch.  The co-main event delivers an equally intriguing bout, as women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey puts her title on the line in a rematch against Miesha Tate, following a heated battle as opposite coaches on “TUF 18.”

MMADieHards.com selected some of their finest 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 this week is Joe Rizzo, Corey Charron, Nick Hammar, Trevor Airdrie and myself, Jason Kelly.  However, Charron picked with the majority in each case and will not be defending any of his selections.

Fighters unanimously selected were Jim Miller and Dustin Poirier.

Below, we list the match and the defender’s write-up:


Chris Weidman vs. Anderson Silva

Defending Weidman: Joe Rizzo

My esteemed colleagues, I thank you for not monitoring history.  The lesson is that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Heck, even Vegas is ready to take advantage, making Silva a slight favorite.

Time to take money from your friends.

In case you were not paying attention, Weidman beat Silva the first time they met. Call it a fluke at your own risk. Think all you want that Silva is not going to appear to showboat in this fight.  It’s not showboating, it’s part of his mental and physical game to make his opponents swing and miss early, then take themselves mentally out of the match, opening the door for Silva, the deadliest striker in MMA history.

When you’re advancing in your 30s (Silva is now 38), combat skills decline some days by millimeters, and that is what happened to Silva in the first fights with Chael Sonnen and Weidman.  Weidman connected with the feigning Silva where everyone else in the past missed.  The chances of Silva’s skills being off by a margin otherwise not noticeable are increasing every day.  It’s a matter of the opponent being able to take advantage.

Weidman is the guy.  It would be easy to predict a five-round decision, but I’ll get fancy and say a fourth-round TKO.


Ronda Rousey vs. Meisha Tate

Defending Tate: Trevor Airdrie

At UFC 168, Tate will finally dethrone the “Queen of the Armbar,” Rousey, and cap off the 2013 UFC calendar with a colossal upset (odds as high as 15-1). I believe Tate will win due to the fact that this was no normal training camp. This was an extended camp because of “The Ultimate Fighter.” On the series, what we witnessed was Tate  staking out her camp in Rousey’s head and staying there ever since.

When these two met back on March 3, 2012, there was very little footage on the patented Rousey armbar. After experiencing it first hand, Tate will go in to the cage Saturday with the training to avoid it.

Nobody knows if Rousey has the cardio of a five-round fight, but we know Tate does after the three-round war with Cat Zingano.

I am certain on Saturday we will hear Bruce Buffer’s famous call, ”And NEW UFC women bantamweight champion, Meisha Tate.”

Prediction – Tate via second-round submission.


Travis Browne vs. Josh Barnett
Defending Browne: Joe Rizzo

Sometimes Vegas throws us a bone if we’re willing to read between the lines a little bit, and this is one of those cases.  Barnett should be a bigger favorite than minus-190 (wager $190 to win back $100), and Browne a bigger underdog than plus-165 (wager $100 to win back $165).  When those numbers are off, I take it as a red flag that we have a live underdog.

Under most circumstances, I would not go against the War Master, for fear of retaliation from Shayna “The Queen of Spades” Baszler.  But this pick makes sense.  Barnett does not lose often, but neither does Browne. Vegas is putting them into the same class, and it’s worth taking a shot on the underdog here because of it.

Browne’s best chance is a KO-TKO, simply because Barnett is so dangerous on the ground and the more difficult route would be to grind out a decision.


Chris Leben vs. Uriah Hall
Defending Leben: Jason Kelly

UFC president Dana White publicly called out Hall for not having a killer instinct and not being a real fighter.  So in Hall’s do-or-die bout, what does the UFC do?  They match him up with Chris Leben, a gentleman who is nothing but a fighter.

Leben is one of the few modern fighter that still employees a grittiness similar to the tough pioneers of the sport.  “The Crippler’s” durability and powerful punches, partnered with Hall’s alleged lack of warrior spirit, will be the deciding factor in this bout.

While Hall has exhibited a happy-go-lucky attitude in his UFC fights, Leben has displayed a violent, angry approach in his bouts.  Leben will be looking for Hall’s head from the moment the match begins, and seeing as Hall likes to keep fights standing, the chances of “The Crippler” improve greatly.

At some point throughout the fight, Hall will attempt to set up one of his video-game kicks and Leben will answer with a thunderous punch to end the “TUF 17″ finalist’s evening.


Gleison Tibau  vs. Michael Johnson

Defending Tibau: Jason Kelly

You could say Tibau will make this match a drag.

As athletic as Johnson is, and as incredible as his wrestling is, Tibau’s ability latch on to his opponents and drag them to the canvas is exceptionally better.  Johnson may avoid the first few takedowns, but Tibau’s relentlessness will earn him a takedown at some point and trigger Johnson’s frustration.

Johnson has been emotional in past fights that weren’t going his way.  To be under a combatant like Tibau that excels at controlling an opponent, Johnson’s potential loss of focus will lead to long night on the defense.  Tibau will undoubtedly attempt submissions if the opportunities present themselves, but I think Johnson’s submission defense will hold up and the bout will make it to the judges’ scorecards with the Brazilian dragging out  split-decision victory.


Manny Gamburyan vs. Denis Siver

Defending Gamburyan: Joe Rizzo

If you think there is any way that Manny Gamburyan is going to lose on a card on which his training partner Rousey is co-headlining, well then we’re just going to have to disagree.

Gamburyan is a significant underdog (plus-210) and I think the reason is because of Diego Nunes, who beat Gamburyan but lost to Siver.  However, the last time we saw Siver, he was getting knocked out in the middle of the third round in July against Cub Swanson.

Siver seems to thrive when he has the strength advantage, but it says here Gamburyan is going to keep him off balance and scramble to a decision victory.


John Howard vs. Siyar Bahadurzada
Defending Howard: Jason Kelly

Sometimes for fighters there are factors outside of the fight that couple with skill to play a key role in winning.

Howard was released from the UFC in June 2011, following a three-fight losing streak.  “Doomsday” immediately made the move from welterweight up to middleweight and has compiled a 7-1 record since, including a defeat of Hall in Howard’s return to the Octagon.

Howard’s confidence and momentum is in a special place as he heads into his UFC 168 match against Bahadurzada.  Howard’s proven toughness and striking capabilities in addition to his recent adjustments outside the cage should provide him with the victory.  Given he’ll take some punishment from the superior striker, Bahadurzada, everything else is aligning for Howard to be successful against the Afghan.


William Macario vs. Bobby Voelker

Defending Macario: Nick Hammar

Macario is hungry welterweight with ambition and youth on his side.  Some may point out that Voelker has a wealth of experience over the 22-year-old Macario, but the American has taken up his new found position as gate keeper for younger fighters to step on, after losses against the likes of Patrick Cote and Robbie Lawler.

Voelker fully expects the Brazilian fighter to gas out mid-fight, allowing him to creep up and secure the win. This may have been the case against Macario during his last bout against Leonardo Santos, but I suspect it won’t be the case this time. We will see a more fully rounded Macario with better cardio.

Macario will pace himself better to pull off a second-round win via TKO.


Estevan Payan vs. Robbie Peralta

Defending Payan: Nick Hammar

The first fight of the night on the preliminary card should not disappoint.  Both fighters are primarily strikers with a lot of energy behind them. Payan should be able to keep Peralta at bay with his slightly better stand-up ability. I suspect Peralta’s smaller stature will make him easier to drag to the ground and give Payan a second advantage.

Peralta tested positive for marijuana after his last bout, which he lost against Akira Corassani in Sweden.  If you can’t keep off the pipe you can’t win fights.

This battle may stretch out to a full three rounds, with Payan edging out the decision.

Video: UFC 168 weigh-ins replay

Main Card (Pay-per-view, 10 p.m. ET)

Chris Weidman (185) vs. Anderson Silva (185) for UFC middleweight championship
Ronda Rousey (135) vs. Miesha Tate (135)  for UFC women’s bantamweight championship
Josh Barnett (252) vs. Travis Browne (242)
Fabricio Camoes (156) vs. Jim Miller (156)
Diego Brandao (153)* vs. Dustin Poirier (146)

Prelim Card  (FOX Sports 1, 8 p.m. ET)
Uriah Hall (185) vs. Chris Leben (185.5)
Michael Johnson (156) vs. Gleison Tibau (156)
Manny Gamburyan (146) vs. Dennis Siver (145)
Siyar Bahadurzada (171) vs. John Howard (171)

Prelim Card  (7 p.m. ET)
William Macario (171) vs. Bobby Voelker (171)
Estevan Payan (145) vs. Robert Peralta (145.5)

*Fighter surrenders 20 percent of their purse

Video: UFC 168 Q and A: Bruce Buffer and Vitor Belfort


Before the UFC 168 weigh-ins, the Q and A session with the Octagon announcer Bruce Buffer and UFC middleweight Vitor Belfort, which takes place  at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, can be viewed here.

UFC 168: Jim Miller’s Garden State of mind

UFC lightweight Jim Miller. (MMADiehards.com)

Jim Miller is spending this holiday season over 2,500 miles away from family and friends.

The UFC lightweight fights three nights from now at UFC 168 in Vegas. But Nevada isn’t where Miller (Twitter: @JimMiller_155) calls home; that honor’s reserved for New Jersey. Given he’s cross-country this year, Miller’s thus grappling with two challenges before Saturday’s battle – defeating his next opponent and isolation from his loved ones.

“I’ve fought around New Year’s in Las Vegas before and it’s quite the atmosphere,” the 22-4 (1) MMA veteran said on MMADiehards’ Dec. 9 MMA Cypher Radio. “It’s always crowded. It’s crazy even before Christmas and New Year’s Day.”

Such endless neon lights and tireless nightlife couldn’t differ more from Miller’s current residence in Whippany, N.J. The pro athlete lives and trains there, honing his skills at AMA Fight Club before coming home to his wife of over five years and their two daughters. Jersey isn’t just a line on Miller’s income tax forms, however – it’s the springboard which launched him into the Octagon.

“I feel that one of the reasons I am where I am and can succeed at the highest level is from fighting in New Jersey,” said Miller, a native of Sparta Township, N.J. “Coming up under the athletic commission here, my fights made sense and were against guys at an equal level. It really helped me.”

Miller entered professional MMA at Reality Fighting 10 in November 2005. Facing Eddie Fyvie in Atlantic City, he won his debut via unanimous decision. Repeatedly ranked among MMA’s top ten lightweights since, Miller’s success is a testament to New Jersey’s vibrant fight game. In addition to Miller and his older brother Dan, the state has helped toughen such MMA standouts as former UFC lightweight champion Frankie “The Answer” Edgar and current middleweight kingpin Chris Weidman.

“You see guys coming in with padded records and they don’t do so well when they get to the highest levels,” Miller said of elite MMA. “You need to build experience and comfort in big fights.”

“Our athletic commission here always had fights pushing me to evolve to that next level,” he continued. “You had the right path. You were nurtured when you needed to be nurtured and pushed when you needed to be pushed.”

Garden State combat sports forged Miller into the well-rounded threat he presents today. Come Saturday, he’ll need every weapon in his arsenal against Fabricio “Morangò” Camões. The 14-7-1 Brazilian jiu-jitsu artist is feared for his craftiness and airtight submission holds.

“I’m always looking for the toughest opponent and Camões is a very tough opponent,” Miller admitted. “He’s very experienced and has been around for awhile.”

Chief among Camões’ attacks are suffocating, vice-like chokes. They’re a daunting obstacle for Miller, who’s fallen to similar holds in two of his last three fights. Though one of those – an April tilt at UFC 159 where Pat “Bam Bam” Healy won the bout, but then lost a post-fight drug test – was later ruled a no contest, Miller’s eager to prove submissions aren’t a weakness.

“A few guys have submitted me recently and they earned it,” Miller confessed. “I game-plan a little bit but I try not to focus on anything too specifically for any of my opponents. My main goal is to show up physically prepared and ready for a hard fight.”

New Jersey is already celebrating Miller’s performance regardless of Saturday’s outcome. Its Martial Arts Hall of Fame selected him as one of its 2013 inductees. One of 2012′s inaugural members – Mike Constantino – also trains Miller at AMA Fight Club.

“It’s a great honor and pretty cool,” Miller said of his award. “I just got notice in the mail a few months ago that I’m this year’s male MMA Fighter of the Year.”

It’s an honor he isn’t taking lightly. Much like the warriors of old, mixed martial artists defend their kingdoms every time they battle. Miller’s no different, and the Jersey native hopes he’ll do right by his birthplace Saturday night. For now, he’s feeling dangerous before showtime in Vegas, nearly a continent away from home.

“My time off recently was to try and fix some of the health problems I’ve been having,” Miller said of a nagging shoulder injury. “It’s given me time to heal up and it actually worked. I feel better than I have in a year.”

Video: Fight Flashback: A behind-the-scenes look at Anderson Silva vs. Chris Weidman at UFC 162

An in depth look at the UFC 162 main event, which featured Anderson Silva vs. Chris Weidman, that shows never before seen footage of the occurrences that took place surrounding the bout.  Silva and Weidman meet again at UFC 168 on Dec. 28 in Las Vegas.

MMA Cypher’s Charron freestyles with Rashad Evans

(L) UFC light heavyweight Rashad Evans (R) MMA Cypher's Charron

 

 

MMA Cypher’s Charron, a top ranked battle rapper and exceptional MC, had the privilege of meeting fellow Fear the Fighter  teammate Rashad Evans.  When Evans asked Charron to spit, the Ontarian used his hip hop talents and MMA knowledge to impress the UFC light heavyweight.

Interview conducted by Chis Olech with Evans, plus Charron freestyle below.

MMA DieHards Radio: Julie Kedzie, Sam Stout

 

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This is it, the final episode of MMA DieHards Radio for 2013.

Hosts Jason Kelly (Twitter: @JayMMADieHards) and Joe Rizzo (@rearnakedchoke) are joined by Invicta FC matchmaker Julie Kedzie (@julesk_fighter) and UFC lightweight Sam Stout (@SammyJstout) to cap off an exhilarating year in mixed martial arts.

Kedzie, a pioneer in WMMA, recently retired from competing in the UFC’s female bantamweight division and immediately took on the role of matchmaker for Invicta FC.  A former Invicta competitor herself. Kedzie is undoubtedly the right woman fir the job.

Stout is coming off a decision victory against Cody McKenzie at UFC on Fox 9.  The Canadian lightweight finished the year on a high note, and we’ll get his thoughts on what’s next year for the 17-fight UFC veteran.

MMA Cypher Radio: Josh Hill, Tom DeBlass, Joe Rizzo, Alex Gasson, Trevor Airdrie

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As we come to end of 2013, MMA Cypher is broadcasting their last live show of the year.

Hosts Jason Kelly (Twitter: @JayMMADieHards) and Corey Charron (@charronkotd) will discuss the year’s highlights in MMA, and be joined by a panel of stellar guests to close out the year.

MMA Cypher wraps up 2013 with the company of Pecker’d Promotions owner Alex Gasson (@Pecker17), Josh Hill (@gentlemanjhill), Bellator’s Tom DeBlass (@TomDeBlass), MMA DieHards Radio co-host Joe Rizzo (@rearnakedchoke), Trevor Airdrie (@MnATrevor) and more as the show goes on

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

UFC strawweight Rose Namajunas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

UFC on Fox 9 post-fight media scrum with Dana White

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

To wrap up an eventful UFC on Fox 9, UFC president Dana White gave time to the media to discuss Georges St-Pierre’s hiatus from MMA, Demetrious Johnson’s KO victory against Joseph Benavidez, Nick Diaz, Cody McKenzie’s shorts issues  and more.

 

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