Posts Tagged ‘MMA’
The new year already has been a great one in the world of mixed martial arts.
A title fight on New Year’s Day quickly put itself in contention for Fight of the Year despite the lack of a winner. Additionally, the UFC and Strikeforce have both already held two shows a piece in just one month. Jens Pulver snapped a six-fight losing streak and Abe Wagner possibly put the final nail in the coffin of former UFC heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia’s career.
That’s a lot to consider, but how does it all shake out in The Gauge rankings? Let’s find out:
1. (tie) Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard – Both men met with disappointment in the end, with their UFC 125 fight resulting in a draw, but fans were treated to an exciting back-and-forth war to kick off the New Year. Edgar battled back after nearly getting knocked out in the opening frame to retain his title when the judges decided there was not a winner. “The Answer” looked better the second time around in championship action against both B.J. Penn and Maynard, who will really have his work cut out for him at UFC 130 in May in an immediate rematch with Edgar. Maynard won the first match between the pair.
2. Nick Diaz – Diaz’s relentless standup has taken him to the top of the Strikeforce welterweight division and now it’s keeping him there. After a round-and-a-half of standing toe-to-toe with Diaz at “Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Cyborg” in an exciting striking battle, Evangelista “Cyborg” Santos opted to take the fight to the ground instead. Even that didn’t allow him an escape from Diaz’s attack, as the Cesar Gracie black belt quickly snagged Cyborg’s arm for a fight-ending armbar submission.
3. Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza – Souza was the other champion to successfully defend a belt on the “Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Cyborg” card. Souza demonstrated his expertise on the ground, attacking opponent Robbie Lawler’s biggest weakness in the process. Strikeforce’s text message poll results show that fans would most like to see Strikeforce showcase middleweights in its next tournament, which suggests a strong interest in the division’s roster and in “Jacare.”
4. Herschel Walker – Walker is Strikeforce’s sure thing when it comes to drawing mainstream media attention and fight fan interest. The former NFL and USFL running back made the media rounds, including a spot on ESPN’s “Pardon the Interruption.” Walker also reigned supreme again when he stepped into the cage at “Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Cyborg.” The question regarding how skilled Walker really is as a mixed martial artist will remain until he fights a legitimate fighter, but in reality it might not be a bad thing for Strikeforce to bring along Walker as it has so far, despite his advanced age of 48. Pushing a non-MMA superstar as an elite fighter is a lot more likely to backfire, just ask EliteXC and Kimbo Slice. The only thing that Strikeforce needs to do is remind its broadcast team to stick with the program, too.
5. Jacob Volkmann – It’s not always positive publicity that vaults a fighter into The Gauge. Volkmann drew the national spotlight, not to mention the attention of the United States Secret Service, following his comments about President Barack Obama in a UFC 125 post-fight interview with Ariel Helwani. Volkmann wasn’t even on the main card and barely squeaked by with a split decision win over Antonio McKee, so challenging Obama to a fight might be the most significant thing the lightweight has done in his MMA career.
6. Melvin Guillard – Melvin Guillard’s move to Albuquerque to train under Greg Jackson has paid off for the long-time UFC veteran. At only 27 years old, Guillard already has a ton of fights under his belt, but it wasn’t until recently that “The Young Assassin” finally put everything together. His improved takedown and submission defense has allowed him to climb up the lightweight ladder over the past year. His most recent performance, in the headlining contest of UFC Fight for the Troops 2, was his most impressive, as he stopped rising star Evan Dunham via TKO in the first round. Dunham was on the brink of being a top contender, but now Guillard throws his name into the mix instead.
7. Mark Hominick – Hominick was promised a shot at UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo if he defeated George Roop at UFC Fight for the Troops 2. The Team Tompkins fighter didn’t let the opportunity pass him by, as he took out Roop by way of a first-round TKO. Hominick is a top striker, but does he have what it takes to beat Aldo? It won’t be long until we find out.
8. Brian Stann – The “All-American” put an end to Chris Leben’s recent hot streak when he TKO’d “The Crippler” at UFC 125. A former WEC light heavyweight champion, Stann has fared better at middleweight inside the Octagon. He wants Wanderlei Silva next, and a win over such a legend would push him toward title contention.
9. (tie) Jens Pulver and Abe Wagner – Jens Pulver has the personality and background that makes it easy to want to see him succeed. A recent six-fight skid, part of which was chronicled in the Gregory Bayne documentary “Driven,” seemed to spell the end for the former UFC lightweight champion. At XFO 38, Pulver finally snapped the losing streak with a victory over Mike Lindquist. Perhaps Team Curran will resurrect Pulver’s career. Wagner, meanwhile, quite possibly closed the door on another former UFC champion’s career. The TUF 10 alum needed a mere 32 seconds to TKO an out-of-shape Tim Sylvia, who weighed in at 311 pounds for the fight, at Titan Fighting Championships 16.
10. Ovince St. Preux – “OSP” is staying busy and it’s resulted in great things for his career. The former University of Tennessee football player went 3-4 over his first seven professional bouts, but turned things around to win his next seven outings. His three most recent fights have taken place under the Strikeforce banner, all within a span of two months. After surprising Antwain Britt and Benji Radach, OSP returned in January at Strikeforce Challengers 13 with a unanimous decision victory over Ron “Abongo” Humphrey. His recent busy schedule has kept the light heavyweight fresh in everyone’s mind and has made him a rising star in Strikeforce’s 205-pound division.
As Ryan Bader prepares for the biggest fight of his career on Saturday at UFC 126 against Jon Jones, his personal projects have been forced to the backburner.
Along with longtime training partners C.B. Dollaway and Aaron Simpson, Bader will soon be opening Power MMA in Arizona.
“The gym is getting done,” explained Bader. “The pros are there training now. But I’m only worried about the fight. Afterward, I’ll get the gym up and running.”
The undefeated light heavyweight contender took a breather from training to join host Joe Rizzo for Rear Naked Choke Radio on the MMA DieHards Radio Network. The pair discussed Bader’s explosive opponent and what Ryan thinks separates him from Jones’ previous opponents.
The bout with Jones is one of the rare instances where two rising contenders will cross paths on their way to a title shot. The humble Bader is approaching this fight just like every other in his career.
“I put a lot of pressure on myself to go out and win every fight. I’ve done that since I was a collegiate wrestler. Every fight is the same for me,” proclaimed Bader.
Despite the potential title shot that may be at stake in the fight, Bader isn’t concerning himself with what a victory will bring.
“I put in so much hard work in training camp, I don’t want to let myself, my trainers, or my training partners down. It’s cliché, but if you wait until the fight is in front of you and you go out, keep your head down, and win it, everything will take care of itself,” declared Bader.
“Sooner or later a title shot will come, but you get there taking it one fight at a time. You have to go out and beat tough guys like Jon Jones. It’s going to be tough fight no matter what when you’re facing the upper echelon guys. You can’t look past anybody.”
The collision course with Jones stems from impressive victories within the last year over Keith Jardine at UFC 110 and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira at UFC 119. Those bouts provided Bader with the necessary experience to know that he can compete at the highest level of the sport.
“The turning point of my career was the Jardine fight,” Bader said. “Up to that point I had fought a lot of good fighters, but I hadn’t fought that big name; someone that had been in there with Chuck Liddell and Rampage Jackson. Being young in the sport, the whole thing was an unknown for me. After the first combination I felt a lot better, knowing he wasn’t better than me.”
Although the impressive victories have propelled Bader into the title picture, he is not taking Jones lightly. Jones brings a unique skill set to the Octagon, something that Bader admits is difficult to prepare for in camp.
“I prepared for unorthodox striking when I faced Jardine, so Jones is similar in that aspect, but his reach is not something you find everyday,” Bader said. “It forces you to find ways to train specifically for the fighter in front of you. I’m looking to go in there and do what I do and not worry so much about what he’s trying to do.”
Jones, meanwhile, has claimed that he immerses himself in his opponents as he prepares; breaking down interviews and listening to the inflection in his opponent’s voice. This is hardly something that concerns Bader.
“He can do what he wants. If that’s his thing, he can spy on my Facebook, my Twitter, sniff around my underwear drawer,” Bader said with a laugh. “In the end, we’re going to fight. I watch tape on him, but I don’t go to that extent. I don’t believe in that sort of stuff. We’re going to get in there and throw punches at each other.”
So how does Bader think he’ll fare after watching tape on his opponent?
“All fighters are different from one another. We all have our strengths and weaknesses,” acknowledged Bader. “I feel like I have the ability to get back to my feet if I get taken down. No one has seen Jones on his back. I also have a lot of power in my hands. We haven’t seen him take a shot or be in trouble, so we don’t know how he’ll react. You can talk about it all you want, but until you get in the fight, you just never know.”
Asked how the pair feel about one another, Bader is quick to point out the level of respect between the two fighters.
“I’m not much of a smack talker,” revealed Bader. “I have respect for my opponents and anyone that steps into the cage. I have no animosity towards him whatsoever.”
Respect or not, Bader is clearly focused on the task at hand.
“My No. 1 goal is to go out there, put on a good show, and try to win this fight. I’m going to give it all I have.”
Patricio “Pitbull” Freire has but one blemish on his record. Now he will get a chance to avenge that loss.
Bellator Fighting Championships announced Monday that Freire has been cast to the promotion’s upcoming Season 4 featherweight tournament. He joins Wilson Reis, Daniel Strauss, Georgi Karakhanyan, Zac George, Kenny Foster, Eric Larkin and Nazareno “Naza” Malegariein a battle for a title shot against featherweight champion Joe Warren.
Malegarie was announced later Monday as the tournament’s eighth and final participant.
Freire’s only loss of his mixed martial arts career came in a split-decision defeat at the hands of Warren in the Bellator Season 2 featherweight tournament final in June. Freire had posted a 13-0 mark leading up to that fight, including 11 wins by stoppage. He defeated William Romero in the quarterfinals at Bellator 15 with a first-round heel hook and then won a unanimous decision over Reis in the semifinals at Bellator 18.
Warren captured the featherweight title when he defeated Joe Soto via second-round knockout at Bellator 27.
Freire resides and trains out of Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil, and has been involved in MMA since he was a teen. He and his brother, Patricky “Pitbull” Freire, are commonly known in MMA as “The Pitbull Brothers.” Before entering into MMA competition, Patricio Freire was a two-time international kickboxing champion and a Brazilian Cup jiu-jitsu champ. He is a BJJ black belt and trains regularly with such stars as Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Anderson Silva and Junior dos Santos.
“I have no interest besides fighting as a professional,” Freire said in a release. “It’s the only thing I really want to do. Every day in my life I am looking to overcome myself and evolve into a better fighter. I never believe that I am good enough. It’s all about improvement, every single day.
“The time to show what I am all about is coming. To win this tournament would mean a dream coming true. I can honestly say that I am more confident for this season than I was last year. Last year I got close, this year it’s mine.”
Malegarie is an undefeated Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt with a 19-fight winning streak to open his career.
A former Brazilian National Jiu-Jitsu Champion, Malegarie has trained with Thiago Tavares. The 24-year-old has finished 17 contests.
“I’m just very excited to finally have the chance to show fans in the United States what I’m capable of,” said Malegarie, via release. “Signing with Bellator was very important for me, and I’m ready to prove myself.
“I’m looking forward to testing myself in this upcoming Bellator Featherweight Tournament. I’ve worked really hard to get to this spot, and I want to let people know who I am.”
“Nazareno has had tremendous success in Brazil, and is ready for this world class featherweight tournament,” Bellator boss Bjorn Rebney said. “Our team’s done a spectacular job finding fighters from around the world that can compete at the highest level and Nazareno is one of those fighters.” Bellator’s fourth season kicks off this March and will air live on MTV2 for the first time.
Every Monday, MMA DieHards takes a look at the upcoming week’s schedule of small regional and international shows with a focus on UFC and Pride veterans as well as consensus-ranked fighters. Here’s what’s going down between Jan. 31 and Feb. 6:
Spotlight Event: Fight Festival 29 (Helsinki, Finland; Jan. 31)
Marcus Vanttinen (18-2) locks horns with UFC veteran Ron Faircloth (33-18). Faircloth steps in as a late replacement for Maro Perak…TUF 5 alum Brian Geraghty (24-14-1) is slated to face Juha-Pekka Vainikainen (14-5).
King of the Cage: Empire (Highland, Calif.; Feb. 3)
Neil Cooke (6-0) puts his KOTC super heavyweight title on the line against Esteves Jones (5-1)…Bellator veteran Jimmie Rivera (7-1) defends his KOTC flyweight (135 lb.) belt against Jared Papazian (11-5-1)…Affliction veteran Bobby Green (14-4) battles Bellator vet Saad Awad (8-3).
Showdown at the Sheraton (Bloomington, Minn.; Feb. 4)
TUF 12 alum Dane Sayers (8-1) takes on Marcus LeVesseur (14-5).
Full Contact Promotions: Bakken Blizzard Brawl (Minot, N.D.; Feb. 5)
WEC veteran Joe Benoit (11-4) meets Indalecio Tat Romero (16-3).
Ultimate Challenge MMA: Face Off (London; Feb. 5)
TUF 9 alum Dean Amasinger (7-2) squares off with John Maguire (13-3) in a welterweight title bout.
Pancrase: Impressive Tour 1 (Tokyo; Feb. 6)
WEC veteran Kengo Ura (9-5-1) defends his welterweight King of Pancrase crown against Sengoku vet Takenori Sato (11-8-5)…UFC and Pride veteran Yuki Kondo (52-25-8) scraps with Hiroki Nagaoka (15-16-9)…Sengoku veteran Seiya Kawahara (9-2) fights Takumi Murata (10-13-6)…UFC and Sengoku veteran Keiichiro Yamamiya (38-27-9) goes up against Kosei Kubota (25-34-12)…Sengoku veteran Shoko Sato (11-4) meets Tashiro Nishiuchi (15-7-10).
Zst 27 (Tokyo; Feb. 6)
Dream veteran Keisuke Fujiwara (10-2-4) puts his Zst bantamweight title on the line against Toshihiro Shimizu (10-8-8)…UFC and Pride veteran Naoyuki Kotani (21-10-7) fights Keigo Hirayama (10-9-5).
Martial Arts Festival 21 (Lima, Peru)
Las Vegas MMA: Hawaii vs. Mainland (Las Vegas, Nev.)
Massacre at the Marina (Arlington, Tex.)
Proving Ground III (Laramie, Wyo.)
Ring of Combat XXXIV (Atlantic City, N.J.)
RMMA 19 (New Orleans)
Ultimate Glory Championship Fight (New Braunfels, Tex.)
The Academy: Rockin the Cage (Fayetteville, N.C.)
Battle at the Blast 7 (Carbondale, Ill.)
Brutaal: Olmeca (Burnsville, Minn.)
Cage Fighting Fury Championships 6: The Return (Atlantic City, N.J.)
Cage Time 2 (Plymouth, Pa.)
Cross the Line MMA: Junior World Grand Prix (Hays, Kan.)
Goshin Ryu MMA Championships: Total Combat 38 (Sunderland, England)
Hardrock MMA 2 (Shepherdsville, Ky.)
MMA Big Show 21: New Blood (Cincinnati, Ohio)
Premier FC IV (Springfield, Mass.)
Super Brawl Bash (South Bend, Ind.)
Xtreme Cagefighting Federation 14 (Springfield, Mo.)
Deep: Shizuoka Impact 2011 (Shizuoka, Japan)
Zst: Swat! In Face 7 (Tokyo)