Posts Tagged ‘MMA’

MFC 37: Jason Zentgraf: ‘It hurts when people say (I’m) just a jiu-jitsu guy’

MFC middleweight Jason Zentgraf

When a mixed martial artist has all of their wins come via submission, they get labeled, but don’t be so quick to judge Jason Zentgraf.

Zentgraf (Twitter: @JasonZentgraf) is a Maximum Fighting Championship middleweight, sporting a 7-1 record, with all his victories coming by way of submission.  His next visit to the ring is Friday at “MFC 37: True Grit” against Luke Harris at the Shaw Centre in Edmonton, Alberta.

Zentgraf trains at Dogpound Fight Team in Missoula, Mont., alongside the likes of Bellator Season 6 lightweight semifinalist Lloyd Woodard, amongst many other talents.  He said his jiu-jitsu is feeling crisp from working with Woodard and heavyweights like John Ragsdale, who weighs approximately 300 pounds, but that’s not to say his striking isn’t just as fluent as his ground game.

“It hurts when people say, ‘He’s just a jiu-jitsu guy,’” Zentgraf said.  “I’m like, ‘Nah, not really.’  It’s frustrating, it doesn’t really affect me that much, but it’s kind of annoying to keep hearing it.  I want to go out there and put on a good show, and for fans that aren’t as well educated, they think the ground is boring.  When someone doesn’t understand the ground, they look at it as two dudes just rolling around on the ground, and they want to see strikes.  Even if you don’t know anything about the sport, a fan can understand what’s going on when they see striking.”

Ironically, Zentgraf’s opponent, Harris (9-2), is also a mixed martial artist that earned all his wins via submission.

When two combatants square off with recorded victories or backgrounds that are similar, such as, wrestling, jiu-jitsu, judo; the fighters cancel each other’s strongest attribute.  This forces them to utilize what striking techniques they have in their arsenal.  Therefore, a match with Harris could be the perfect bout for Zentgraf to demonstrate his stand-up abilities that have caught everyone’s eye in the gym.

“It could very easily go to a submission, but hopefully I am able to keep it standing,” Zentgraf said.  “I’d like to work some of the striking that I am so good at and hopefully put him on his butt.  I’m disappointed in my last two performances.  I won, they were pretty decisive, but I wasn’t able to showcase my striking in either of the fights, and a lot of people don’t think I have striking, especially when you look at my record-all submissions.  But most people that train with me, they remember my striking over my jiu-jitsu.  My jiu-jitsu is very good, but it’s my striking that usually gives people more problems, so that’s what I’m hoping to implement.  But if he does want to clinch and go to the ground, obviously I am very prepared for it.”

Providing he gets a victory over Harris, Zentgraf will be on a five-fight win streak, with his most recent three triumphs occurring under the MFC banner.  In that instance, there could be a case made that the Big Fight Management signee deserves a title match.

Being granted a chance to win one of the few coveted belts in MMA, the MFC middleweight title, also brings more face time with the media and fans.  Their broadcast partnerships with AXS TV and TSN result in garnering new fans all the time.  It would be a big commitment, but one Zentgraf is ready for.

“I love interacting with the fans,” Zentgraf said.  “When I talk to the fans, they remember who I am when I fight.  It helps to build my name a little bit and fans remember who I am when they see my fight, then  want to see me in a title fight.  Actually, if I can put Luke Harris away, which, if I am on point I know I can, and make it an entertaining fight, I hope to get a title shot.

“There were talks if I put Clay Davidson away decisively, I would get a title fight; unfortunately that didn’t happen.  It wasn’t a very exciting fight, second round was alright, first (round) was kind of boring, a lot of clinch and stuff.  When I watched it, Michael Schiavello could appreciate the technique I was using, but there wasn’t much action besides a few liver shots I landed.  I’m hoping this fight will be more action, more blood, more punches in the face, more excitement, and then I get a title shot.”

Zentgraf isn’t a grappler, or a striker, he’s a mixed martial artist seeking a world title.

ONE FC: Rise to Power card finalized with three preliminary card bouts

Punch Drunk Radio: Mike Rio, Zach Makovsky

Punch Drunk Radio


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Tonight’s episode of Punch Drunk Radio has hosts Amy Barton (Twitter: @amesbelle) and Alex Donno (Twitter: @AlexDonno) coming at you with a pair of guests in Mike Rio and Zach Makovsky.

Rio (Twitter: @MikeRioMMA) is a UFC lightweight on a three-fight win streak, who is about to make his second appearance in the Octagon.  Rio, a product of “The Ultimate Fighter 15,” is set to face Francisco Trinaldo on May 18 at UFC on FX 8 at the Arena Jaraguá in Jaraguá do Sul, Brazil.

Makovsky (Twitter: @ZachFunSize) is the former Bellator bantamweight champion.  He recently left the promotion and made the drop down to featherweight.  Makovsky will make his 125-pound debut against Claudio Ledesma at CFFC 24 on May 11 at the Borgata Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, N.J.

Tune in to Punch Drunk Radio every Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET for exclusive fighter interviews, special guests, breaking news, contests, event recaps and much more – only on the MMA DieHards Radio Network. If you can’t be here live, catch the archive on demand right HERE following the broadcast – or on iTunes!

Chris Barnett out of MFC 37 title fight with eye injury

MFC 37: Rematches or not, Mukai Maromo is all about progression

MFC lightweight Mukai Maromo

As long as he is evolving as a fighter, it doesn’t matter if it’s rematches or fresh faces for Mukai Maromo.

On May 10, Maromo (Twitter @AfrikanAssassin) meets a familiar face in Kurt Southern at “MFC 37: True Grit” at the Shaw Conference Centre in Edmonton, Alberta.  The two mixed martial artists squared off at AMMA 5 in 2010, with Southern walking away the victor via submission in the opening frame.

Maromo, who resides in Alberta, kept training close to home for the match, instead of enduring his usual travels to Tristar in Montreal, Quebec, to prepare for a bout.  Working with some pro level boxers and accomplished grapplers readied the “Afrikan Assassin” for Southern.  Revenge fueled Maromo through his training camp, however, not in a sense of bitterness for his upcoming rival.

“I’ve seen Kurt at different shows and he’s a great guy,” Maromo told  “I wouldn’t see him and call him a jerk or anything, he’s a nice guy.  Under different circumstances we could probably hang out and have a casual conversation about fighting and training, even have a drink, but this is war.  I don’t have any animosity towards him, but for that 15 minutes in the ring it’s do or die.  I’m coming to do, not to die.”

Sure, avenging a loss is at the top of any defeated fighter’s to-do-list, but the Kimurawear combatant enjoys this rematch for other reasons, a well.

Maromo, perhaps the MFC’s most elite striker in any weight class, said he has been improving his skill set on the ground.  Meanwhile, Southern, a combatant with six submission wins including a triangle-choke victory over Maromo, shines in the grappling department.  Being that is the case; Maromo said he would like to use this rematch to gauge where his ground game is at in terms of takedown and submission defense.

Finding reasons to make rematches intriguing to himself is becoming a regular thing for Maromo, as this bout with Southern marks his third rematch with three different opponents in nine fights.  He met Adam Lynn in two consecutive matches, winning them both.  Most recently, the Edmonton Rush fighter  lost in a vacant lightweight title match against Graham Spencer, who also defeated Maromo in 2010 at Awada CC.   Although, he admitted it’s not the most attractive part of being a professional mixed martial artist, he accepts that it’s a part of the sport at every level and rematches do serve a purpose.

“In my opinion, the one thing you can’t do is fight poor opposition because then you don’t get better as a fighter,” Maromo said.  “I mean, it sucks having to fight the same fighter, but if you’re at the top of the proverbial pyramid and there’s just a few people at the top, you’re going to fight those people a number of times.  Rematches are not the most exciting thing to do, but it’s a part of the game.”

Whether or not Maromo is meeting new opponents or old foes, he simply requests that they be formidable competition.  Meeting Southern again and having the opportunity to verify that he is a better mixed martial artist than first time the two fighters competed is a reward in itself to Maromo.

“Kurt is one of the best fighters in Canada, in the lightweight division,” Maromo said.  “When you talk about the Canadian lightweight division you can’t talk about it without mentioning him or me.  It’s a good fight, whether it’s happening in the MFC, or on this show or that show.  It’s a tough fight for me and it kind of goes to prove that I’m progressing as a fighter.”

Pablo Garza, Antonio Carvalho released from UFC

UFC and BT Sport strike broadcast deal in UK and Ireland

Anderson Silva fined $50,000 by UFC for neglecting media duties

MMA Cypher Radio: Tommy Toe Hold


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It’s the debut of the Monday version of MMA DieHards Radio!

Jason Kelly (Twitter: @JayMMADieHards), host of Wednesday’s MMA DieHards Radio, will be coming at you live every Monday at 6pm ET with co-host Corey Charron (Twitter: @charronkotd).

In our first episode, we are joined by MMA cartoon and entertainer Tommy Toe Hold (Twitter: @TommyToeHold).  Tommy will be gracing the show as the creator, not the character, which will be a pleasure as we get a peek into the mind that produced the cartoon we all love.

And, of course, we’ll break down what’s new in the MMA world.

MFC 37: Anthony Birchak and the past, present, future of his fighting family

Bantamweight Anthony Birchak. (Photo courtesy of

Anthony Birchak is carrying family tradition and passing it down en route to accomplishing his next goal.

Birchak (Twitter: @abirchakMMA) is making his first trip to Canada, as he is set to scrap Ryan Benoit on May 10 at MFC 37 at the Shaw Conference Centre in Edmonton, Alberta.  Aside from a terrific training camp, Birchak was given some other great news during preparations.

He and his fiancé Mercedes White, who is also a mixed martial artist, are about to have their first child.  Birchak already has one boy, while White has two girls, so he said now the house will be evened out with three males and three females.  After all, equality is required when your home resembles an MMA gym.

“I’m building a little fight camp,” Birchak told  “I’ve got my wrestlers, my little strikers, my jiu-jitsu camp; every one of the kids takes a liking to a different martial art.  It’s pretty cool to see.  My first son, I wanted him to be a wrestler like me, but he’s gravitating more towards muay thai or boxing.  It’s cool to see what he personally likes.  It’s awesome.

“And Mercedes, she is the CEO of Luta Elite Sports Management.  She manages fighters, she fights, she runs the household, she’s the mother for the kids, I mean this girl is superwoman.  She’s been chomping at the bit seeing as she can’t do anything, so I let her throw on some 16 ounce gloves and I put some head gear on.  I went on defense while she threw her wing dingers and I let her get her aggression out.”

While White is one tough woman, Birchak still needed some training with opponents of the same gender.  The Kimurawear fighter’s day-to-day training takes place at Apex Mixed Martial Arts in Tucson, Arizona, where he worked with the owner, Joey Rivera, who competed on TUF 16.  Other notable training partners included Chris Cariaso, Freddie Lux, George Roop, Ed West, Michael Parker and an athlete by the name of Casey Kenney, who Birchak proclaims is a stud that was essential to his grappling practice.

Furthermore, Birchak made a trip to Las Vegas in order to get some work in with a few outside sources, but it just so happened he picked the perfect time to go.

“I went to Xtreme Couture the week of The Ultimate Fighter tryouts,” Birchak said.  “I don’t go to tryout; I go with teammates who were trying out.  I usually just go there to train with striking coach Tim Lane, but this time I couldn’t have timed it any better.  I got to train with the best bantamweight guys in the world; they were all there, so it was great.  I bonded with a few guys from Pat Barry’s gym; they knew I had a fight coming up so they kept me busy.”

Birchak is constantly surrounded by fighters, whether it is at home or the gym, and that’s only going to prove beneficial to his success.  Being around so many combatants isn’t new to Birchak, though.  It’s a family tradition that he is instilling in his own children while he makes his way to the top of the MFC.

“I come from a long line of wrestlers,” Birchak said.  “One of my uncles is the first state champion for his high school back in 1960-something.  My other uncle, my wrestling coach, was a two-time state champ for my high school in ’82 and ’83.  My brothers, cousins, everyone else wrestled too.  It’s kind of sucks because I’m the only one without a high school state title.  All these other bastards got one except me.  I made it up by winning four Greco- Roman state championships, three freestyle state championships and a Greco-Roman All-American.  Now I’m on the quest for an MMA world championship.”

Based on history, it is likely that 20 years from now Birchak’s son will be on that same quest.

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