Posts Tagged ‘Mark Bocek’
UFC 145 ended a long draught for the world’s premiere fight league by delivering a PPV of solid action headlined by a blood feud between two former friends.
Mark Bocek and John Alessio kick things off with a lopsided affair where Bocek smothered Alessio with his superior ground game. Bocek rinsed and repeated during the next round, with Alessio powerless to stop him. In round three, Bocek gets Alessio’s back, remaining dominant until he ekes out a unanimous decision win.
Mark Hominick vs. Eddie Yagin strikes next, with Yagin going big only to go home when splitting Hominick’s left eye doesn’t do anything. Hominick finds his range in round two, only for Yagin to drop him and lose control when the two begin trading strikes on the feet. Hominick goes for a home run after that, striking hard whenever he can, only for Yagin to survive before winning by split decision.
Michael McDonald clashes with Miguel Torres next, the two trading fierce combos before McDonald fells Torres. Once he downs him, he sends him to dreamland ASAP in round one.
“I can finally eat some pizza and ice cream.” McDonald joked. “It’s a party here tonight but not with alcohol.”
Ben Rothwell and Brandon Schaub blast off next, Schaub goes for the kill only for Rothwell to flatten him with a hook and wreck him with ground and pound. It’s over so fast, it almost doesn’t register Rory MacDonald vs. Che Mills is next.
When it happens, MacDonald takes down Mills after a brief moment of indecision and proceeds to rearrange his face with all manner of striking. Though Mills survives, he gives up his back in round two and MacDonald murders him with grounded strikes for the win.
After a long wait, Jon Jones and Rashad Evans deliver on their grudge match in the main event. The two trade hard strikes in the first round before Jones gets an advantage in round two with elbow strikes. Both men survive the round before trading blows in battle three with no clear victor emerging. Jones toys with Evans for a round just because he can. After that, he goes all out in the last minute but can’t finish Evans. It doesn’t matter though – Jones wins again by unanimous decision.
John Alessio’s return to the UFC should serve as inspiration to mixed martial artists considering exiting the sport.
Alessio(Twitter: @JohnAlessio79) made his Octagon debut at UFC 26 in June 2000, in a lightweight title bout against Pat Miletich. Alessio suffered defeat that night via armbar in the second round, and was released from the promotion. He went on to compete in organizations throughout the U.S. and his native Canada, and was welcomed back to the Octagon in 2006, but lost a decision to Diego Sanchez. The setback warranted another pink slip for Alessio.
Since 2006 Alessio fought in the WEC, DREAM, Tachi Palace Fights, Ring of Fire, MFC and other promotions around the world. “The Natural” strung together a few decent win streaks in that time and is making another return to the biggest stage in MMA.
On Saturday, April 21, Alessio will meet Mark Bocek at UFC 145 at Philips Arena in Atlanta, Ga., and he credits his return to not quitting on his dream.
“The feeling is pretty unexplainable,” Alessio told Michael Steczkowski on Darce Side Radio on the MMA DieHards Radio Network. “Years of hard work and persevering and just not giving up finally paid off. It’s just a truly great feeling.
“It’s been a really big journey, but it’s been fun trying to work my way back to the UFC. It’s been a great ride, but the ride doesn’t stop here for me, it keeps going for quite a long time.”
Next up on Alessio’s ride is Bocek.
Bocek is a fellow Canadian, but Alessio said that will not prevent him from punching his opponent in the face. The Torontonian excels at jiu-jitsu and utilizes his grappling abilities well to secure victories. Bocek’s two losses inside the Octagon have been against Jim Miller – a top five lightweight – and Ben Henderson, who is the current UFC 155-pound champ.
Alessio trains in Las Vegas at Xtreme Couture. The stable of training partners the facility provides are elite combatants, ranging from savvy veterans to rising stars. Alessio is content with the people who prepare him for battle, but with the help of Robert Drysdale he believes Bocek’s jiu-jitsu won’t be enough to win a true MMA match.
“This is a really big fight for me,” Alessio said. “He’s got great jiu-jitsu skills and likes to get on top of you and enforce his game plan form there. It’s going to be my job to shut his game down. I want to make this a fight as much as possible and really put it on him and let him know that he’s in an MMA fight and not a jiu-jitsu match.”
Alessio is concerned with winning the bout, but a lot can be said for a fighter that brings entertainment value to the cage. That will be something he keeps in mind when he meets Bocek on Saturday.
“I’m really looking to make this fight exciting,” Alessio said. “Obviously no matter what happens I’m going in for a victory, but no matter what happens, if I entertain the crowd there’s that value of being brought back because you’re an entertaining fighter. That is stressed upon us from the UFC, so that’s my main goal.”
When Alessio reflects on his first UFC bout and compares it to his UFC 145 bout he has no regrets. To be able to compete against Miletich for a title was a once in a lifetime opportunity and at the time Alessio was unable to predict that he would have a substantially lengthy career in MMA.
For a fighter that has competed worldwide and had two previous stints in the UFC, it surprises Alessio how many fans are unfamiliar with him. Now that he is back on the big stage it is his time to do more than just win fights.
“I was pretty much a baby getting offered a UFC lightweight championship,” Alessio said. “That wouldn’t happen now; they would never just bring in somebody making their debut and give them a title shot. There’s a real pecking order now. But, I was given that great opportunity, and who would turn it down? I would’ve been stupid to turn it down. There’s a chance that if I win I’m the lightweight champion of the world.
“A lot of fans don’t know who I am for how long I’ve been in the game. I call those (people) UFC fans over MMA fans. A lot of guys only watch the UFC and don’t realize there are so many circuits out there. Now it’s my time to be here and show who I am and be a positive role model and to do the best I can to portray a good image for fighters. Yes, I’m a fighter, but I’m a professional athlete first.”
Alessio has ambitions of grasping a UFC title and finishing his career in the world’s largest promotion. However, he wants to be known for more than just a fighter, yet simply John Alessio.
“I’m just John Alessio, the positive guy that worked hard for years, five years out of the UFC, 21 fights to get back,” Alessio explained. “I feel like I’m a good story for other fighters thinking about hanging it up. If you really want this you can do it, you just got to work really hard. I hope I’m motivation to other fighters out there that are thinking about hanging it up.”
Call it the Karate Kid Kick. Call it the Steven Seagal move. Call it the end of perhaps the most revered career in MMA history.
Lyoto Machida took a page out of the books of Daniel “Karate Kid” Larusso and Seagal, knocking out Randy Couture with a crane-technique front kick at UFC 129 in Toronto’s Rogers Centre on Saturday.
As the legend grows, it’s certain that more than the 55,000 people that were in the building will have claimed to be in attendance for the milestone match, which was not even one of the main events. Machida, the former light heavyweight champion, faked a kick with his left leg and, before putting his foot back down, kicked Couture in the face with his right foot.
“I trained with this kick a lot,” Machida said. “My daddy told me, Steven Seagal told me.”
While it was similar to the front kick Anderson Silva used to knock out Vitor Belfort earlier this year, Machida’s KO kick looked significantly more like that of Ralph Macchio’s character from the blockbuster 1980′s movie with his move.
Once he was deemed OK, save for the need for dental work, the spotlight turned to the retiring Couture.
“You’re not going to see me again. This is it,” Couture, 47, confirmed. “I came to this decision for a while. I fought James Toney, and then they offered me Lyoto, and I wanted that fight. I think I had all my teeth the last time we had this discussion.
“I felt like I was standing still out there. He’s an incredible athlete.”
Both are former UFC light heavyweight champions, and Couture also held the heavyweight belt. Couture, as a beloved figure in the sport, was cheered wildly despite the loss and his opponent showed him respect after the KO.
“Its an honor for me to fight this guy,” said Machida, who talked without an interpreter. “It was a dream. He’s a hero, he’s the hero. This is the man.”
In the first two pay-per-view matches, Vladimir Matyushenko needed just 20 seconds to knock out Jason Brilz, while Ben Henderson was impressive going the distance in a successful UFC debut against Mark Bocek, taking every round en route to a unanimous decision.
Matyushenko clocked Brilz with a right to stun him, then blasted him with a hard left. Matyushenko hit Brilz with another right on the way to the canvas, and delivered a couple of more blows before the fight was waved off.
“Feeling great, thanks to the 55,000 people,” said Matyushenko, 40. “Sometimes I do what I promise. I’ve been working on my striking skills a lot. I want to prove to my fans and all of you that I am capable of much more.”
Matyushenko has had a pair of quick and impressive knockouts since losing to now-UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones.
Henderson looked like the former WEC lightweight champion in battering around the Canadian. Henderson won every round in the minds of each judge.
“I just go out there, work every day, go hard,” said Henderson, who lost his title to Anthony Pettis in the final fight in WEC history. “I want more. I’m ready for anything.”
Henderson’s offense took the danger out of Bocek’s submission game. It was a solid first test in the UFC, and should push Henderson into the hierarchy of the deep lightweight division of the UFC.
Finally, we come to a weekend with no fight predictions for The Closing Bell. We still have plenty to talk about though, so let’s get started:
WEC 53 Thoughts
What a way to bid the blue mat farewell!
Anthony Pettis was already considered a flashy fighter, but he really made his star-turn on Thursday evening with an amazing performance in an epic fight against Ben Henderson for the WEC lightweight belt.
The bout turned out to be an instant classic and Pettis’ near-knockout of Henderson, via a spectacular move where “Showtime” launched himself off the fence and used the launching foot to kick the defending champion in the head, was one of those moments where I was anticipating a “Holy shit!” chant from the crowd.
The first UFC bout for Pettis will be a title fight against the winner of the Jan. 1 UFC lightweight championship bout between Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard. The newly crowned WEC champ will get a chance to show us if he has anymore crazy moves in his arsenal and also prove that the top tier WEC 155ers can hang with the best the UFC has to offer. I’m already looking forward to it.
The UFC also crowned its first bantamweight champion at the event, as Dominick Cruz took a decision over Scott Jorgensen. It wasn’t entertaining on the same level as Pettis-Henderson, but the fight once again put on display Cruz’s solid skills as a dominant bantamweight. It also set up a perfect first bantamweight championship bout for UFC television between Cruz and Urijah Faber with the possibility of the two appearing as coaches on The Ultimate Fighter before they meet.
Kamal Shalorus has such great wrestling, but he really needs to use it early and often and learn how to finish fights utilizing his strengths rather than just trying to land one of those big knockout punches. He snuck out with the win over Bart Palaszewski, but he was fading in the third round. More wrestling, less trying to knock his foe’s head into the back row of the stadium seats might benefit Shalorus as he transitions to the Octagon.
Donald Cerrone didn’t let me down against Horodecki. Horodecki was the top of the ladder in the IFL, but the holes in his game have become much more apparent in the WEC. Meanwhile, Cerrone continues to look improved and should be an entertaining addition to the UFC’s lightweight ranks.
UFC 124 Thoughts
Georges St-Pierre might not be leaving UFC president Dana White with many choices other than a superfight with Anderson Silva. The top welterweight challengers at this point are probably Carlos Condit, Jake Shields and Martin Kampmann. Now I’d love to see Condit or Shields in a UFC title fight, but I don’t think they would fare much better against GSP than the guys the champ has already topped. There are also possible rematches against Jon Fitch, BJ Penn or Thiago Alves, but none of those seem very intriguing either.
The call-outs at the event definitely could set up some interesting fights in the coming months. Mark Bocek wants George Sotiropoulos and Jim Miller wants a title shot. I can’t say I’m against either of these proposals. Bocek-Sotiropoulos would be an entertaining grappling affair and Miller definitely deserves to move toward a title shot. I see the Bocek-Sotiropoulos fight as a real possibility, but Miller will have to wait for a while since Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard will vie for the title and the winner will then face Anthony Pettis.
Mac Danzig surprised me and found a way to stick around in the UFC while Joe Stevenson really disappointed me. Stevenson sure has fallen since his days as a lightweight title contender.
Stefan Struve should have a bright future as he grows into his lanky frame. He has to worry about getting knocked out by the heavy hitters, but as he gets better at using his height advantage he should be able to avoid taking those big knockout blows. He’s still extremely young at age 22 and is still growing, both physically and in his skill set.
The Nemesis Fighting Fiasco
Wow, what a crazy mess the Nemesis Fighting event turned out to be.
It seems like Tropical Storm Tomas was trying to tell everybody something last month about MMA events in the Caribbean: They’re not a good idea.
Remember, Nemesis Fighting wasn’t the only event in that part of the world that was rescheduled due to the storm. There was also the Caribbean Gladiators event, set to feature Olympic silver medalist wrestler Sara McMann’s pro debut, in Jamaica.
And what happened to that show? The fighters arrived, only to have the event canceled when the cage was deemed unsafe for fighting. While inconsequential due to the cancellation of the event, McMann also suffered an opponent change, with her new foe weighing in outrageously over the limit.
Now, the Nemesis event is behind us and it turned out to be an even bigger disaster.
The card itself was reportedly full of great fights, but the story detailed by MMA Weekly makes it sound like the only thing that could have been worse for the fighters involved – guys like Keith Jardine, Paul Buentello and Eliot Marshall, to name a few – would be if they had been jumped in a dark alley while in the Dominican Republic.
Bounced checks, allegations of cheating, no time keeper, no judges, no commission, no doctor and some fighters kicked out of the hotel. What a mess.
Something that sounds too good to be true often turns out to be a scam. That’s exactly the case here. The promoter of this event was offering UFC-level money and that should have been the first red flag for these fighters.
When an event is held in a location where there is not a commission to protect the athletes, those athletes really should insist on getting paid at least a portion of their purse in advance. They are risking their health and well-being, sometimes without even medical staff on hand, and they should never have to do that for free.
The Closing Bell will be taking a one week break for Christmas, but it will return on Jan. 1 with a UFC 125 preview. Merry Christmas and happy holidays to everyone!