Posts Tagged ‘MMA’
Sara McMann’s experiences in combative sports allow her to know what she’s capable of, and when she won’t be proficiently able to do it anymore.
McMann (Twitter: @Sara_McMann) makes her Octagon debut against fellow UFC newcomer Sheila Gaff at UFC 159 on Saturday at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. While Gaff doesn’t bring the attention a bout with UFC women’s bantamweight champ Ronda Rousey would, the match still gives McMann a chance to do what she loves most; compete.
McMann, a 32-year-old former Strikeforce combatant and 2004 Olympic silver medalist wrestler, is competing against the upper echelon of female mixed martial artists. McMann said she enjoys testing her mettle against other athletes in MMA, just as she did for so many years in wrestling, but fighting in the UFC was never ultimate goal her goal.
“I look at things a little bit different,” McMann told MMADiehards.com. “I want to be the best in the word. The best in the world is the best in the world, whether or not they’re in the UFC doesn’t matter. It’s the same fighters. If Strikeforce wasn’t owned by Zuffa when Strikeforce folded I’d just be in some other promotion trying to be the best. I just want to be the best.”
Not only did wrestling prepare McMann for a grueling MMA training regiment, it’s also the reason that at 6-0, she is confident stepping up against an opponent that has more appearances in the cage.
Along with McMann’s Olympic medal, she won gold twice in the Pan American Games, as well as gold in the FILA Grappling World Championships. Her years of dedication to the wrestling mats have brought her multiple accolades and readied McMann for MMA battle.
Even though, Gaff, who sports a 10-4-1 record, has showcased her skills in MMA competition more than McMann, the Olympian has more overall experience.
“I count a ton of wrestling experience as my experience,” McMann said. “I view myself far more experienced than a lot of girls that are fighting. Some of them may have been doing it longer than me, but I have been doing a combative sport that is essential to MMA for a long time. I’ve had thousands of competitions in my life, but only six MMA fights. Now, if I had only six competitions in my life, I would be nervous. I may be a little less seasoned, but as far as competing, I couldn’t tell you how many competitions I’ve had. I started when I was 14-years-old and I’m 32 (-years-old) now, so over the course of 18 years I have been through a lot of competitions.”
Though, the nearly two decades of combative sports participation have primed McMann for tough training and competition, it also took a toll on her body. The wear and tear, coupled with the fact that women peak earlier than men, suggests a typical WMMA fighter’s career can begin to dwindle at a younger age than most of their male counterparts. However, a positive attribute that comes with McMann’s extensive wrestling background is that MMA training is a load lessened.
“If you were to ask me at 23 (-years-old) if I’d still be competing at this level now, the answer would’ve been no,” McMann said. “I don’t think I could wrestle at the highest level anymore because wrestling is so hard on your body, especially in the tournaments, you compete six or seven times in one day. It takes more out of you than a one-time competition in a night.”
The age factor is always the biggest hindrance on an athlete’s longevity. Often, a competitive person will keep testing their will, yet get defeated by an opponent they would’ve crushed in their prime. For McMann, who meets a foe nine years younger at UFC 159, age is not a burden in the least as she approaches her UFC debut.
“If I couldn’t go out there at the age I’m at and not put it on people younger than me, I would retire,” McMann said. “I’d say to myself, ‘You had your time to compete and the sun has set,’ but it hasn’t. I’m fortunate, but I’m keeping my eyes open for when the time comes and I can’t train like I used to. If I don’t have the same power and same stamina and I go out there and get beat by someone I would’ve beat three years ago; I’m not about that. I like to finish when I’m on top.”
Jim Miller is welcoming all competitors, unfamiliar or well-known, on his path to a UFC championship.
Miller (Twitter: @JimMiller_155) fights Pat Healy on Saturday at UFC 159 at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. While Miller is a UFC veteran, and Healy is a UFC newcomer, they both have fought the top names in the sport.
Healy owns a 29-16 record with notable wins over Carlos Condit and Paul Daley. The experienced mixed martial artist is well-versed in all facets of MMA, but shines in the grappling department, as 15 of his victories came via submission. Making his Octagon entrance by way of the UFC/ Strikeforce merger, Healy is riding a five-fight win streak.
Though, relatively unknown to casual fans, Healy is a combatant Miller views as a serious threat.
“The way I approach it, he’s a very dangerous fighter with some great wins and a lot of experience,” Miller told MMADiehards.com. “He’s a talented guy, so that’s where the danger lies. I don’t really take into account what people think of my opponent. I’m the fighter, I’m the professional and I have respect for him. I know what he’s capable of and that’s what matters to me.”
While Healy has slugged it out with some of today’s stars several years ago, Miller has been fighting the world’s best 155-pound mixed martial artist in recent times.
Miller is coming off an unforgettable performance against Joe Lauzon at UFC 155; however, prior to that the AMA Fight Club teammate lost a title eliminator match against Nate Diaz. The other three losses in Miller’s 26-fight career were at the hands of Gray Maynard, Frankie Edgar and current UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson.
Edgar has abandoned the division for a fresh start in the 145-pound weight class. Diaz was recently defeated by Josh Thomson at “UFC on Fox 7,” but still sits sixth in the UFC.com rankings. Maynard occupies the No. 3 slot in the ranks, Miller is fourth and Henderson is the champ.
The outcome against Healy, win or lose, could set up one of numerous, inevitable rematches for Miller.
“Any of those guys are very good fighters,” Miller said. “They’re talented guys, but this sport comes down to little things that happen inside the cage. I know I could’ve beat any one of them on that night had some little things gone my way. I’m looking for the opportunity to avenge something, but I’m not the type of guy that dreams about it.
“None of us are going anywhere. They’re going to be around, there will be rematches and the fights are going to be different. It’s just the way it is. We’re all improving, we’re all human beings and sometimes we all make mistakes. It’ll show in the fights, you just got to be the better guy. I’m sure I’ll meet every one of them again.”
Miller preeminently would like a rematch against the champion, but would not shy away from the opportunity to compete against any combatant that caused a blemish on his record.
Though, Miller is not one to spend his days dreaming about a title shot, he said he hopes a win at UFC 159 will bring him close to it. With the No 1 contender, Anthony Pettis, vacating the division for a chance at UFC featherweight kingpin Jose Aldo, the next challenger for the belt is undecided.
Considering the circumstances, the right performance on Miller’s end and a title fight may come sooner than later.
“It all comes down to leaving an imprint on people’s minds,” Miller said. “That’s what I aim to do. I aim to go in there and be violent, take it to him and put him away. If I can do that and some of the other fights are lackluster, the right guys win and the right guys lose, then who knows? I could be next in line.”
Whether he’s next or only advancing in line, Miller will meet familiar faces in due time.
UFC lightweight kingpin Benson Henderson narrowly defended his belt in a champion vs. champion match involving former Strikeforce champ Gilbert Melendez in the “UFC on Fox 7” main event.
If there were any doubters Melendez proved he was more than an over-hyped champion of a debunked promotion by the end of Round 1. He was doing reasonably better in the exchanges on their feet, Melendez managed to time Henderson’s well-known leg kick and catch it or disrupt it to lessen the impact, and he accomplished a takedown on the champ in the first five minutes of the contest.
Melendez made it clear he was a legitimate contestant for the UFC lightweight belt, but that didn’t force Henderson to quit and let his title go without a fight.
Henderson increased his volume of strikes in Round 2, but was hesitant to throw the leg kick he so often does. The former WEC lightweight champion was also less accurate with his punches than in the opening frame and was unsuccessful on a takedown he attempted. Meanwhile, Melendez improved his output and accuracy of strikes in Round 2, as well as his defensive abilities as he avoided more of Henderson’s punches and stopped his takedown.
Still adjusting to Melendez’s offensive skills, “Smooth” picked his strikes in the third frame. Though only six were attempted, Henderson landed every leg kick he threw, and he worked more body shots into his strategy. Melendez was not completely outclassed in Round 3, but it was evident he was slowing and Henderson was determining what tactics were effective against the UFC newcomer.
Henderson found his rhythm when the championship rounds began. The champion managed to crack Melendez’s boxing defense with punches, and his leg kicks found their range, which gave “El Nino” the most trouble he encountered until that point in the bout. Though, Henderson kept Melendez guessing with two attempted takedowns, the former Strikeforce champ denied both efforts.
The fight didn’t appear to have a clear-cut front runner and eventuated to a fifth and final round.
Melendez brought a high-level of aggression into the final frame, but Henderson was prepared for the intensity. The champ and the Strikeforce derivative embraced standing in the Octagon and throwing combinations while trying their best to evade one another’s blows. Henderson kept the leg kicks to a minimal and neglected takedown attempts, while Melendez obliged and tried to land a fight-ending punch that would crown him champion of the UFC.
The match finalized and it was up to the judges to declare a winner of a relatively equal match. Walking away with a split decision (48-47×2, 47-48) victory, Henderson defended his title for the third time in the UFC.
The win makes for seven consecutive victories for Henderson, not to mention he is undefeated in the UFC. “Smooth” would have next been set to compete against the last person to defeat him, Anthony Pettis, but “Showtime” dropped to featherweight for a title bout against Jose Aldo. There isn’t an established No. 1 contender for the UFC lightweight division currently, but Henderson will be busy with his soon-to-be-wife that he proposed to in the Octagon following his “UFC on Fox 7” win.
Melendez, though unsuccessful in his UFC debut, will hover around the top of the weight class. He had a seven-fight win streak brought to a halt, but with a couple decisive wins and impressive outings, Melendez could easily be back in the title scene.
Matt Brown adapted to an opponent replacement just four week s away from fight night and defeated a foe, Jordan Mein, that “The Immortal” claimed was a tougher test than his original.
Mein replaced Dan Hardy at “UFC on Fox 7,” and the bout marked the Canadian’s second UFC match since making his Octagon debut at UFC 158 in March.
Brown brought his relentless, violent style to the Octagon, while Mein looked to impress his bosses and catapult to the middle of the welterweight division with a second win since becoming a UFC employee just over a month ago.
Brown quickly brought the fight to Mein, as he crossed the center of the cage and applied the pressure to the Canadian. They traded blows, taking turns tagging each other with fists, but it was Brown’s left hook which found a home early in the bout. Mein’s right eye had a slight blemish from the punch his American counterpart continuously landed, but also appeared slightly dazed from the strikes.
Mein was able to regain composure and start firing back at Brown. The former Strikeforce combatant landed a few effective punches of his own before clinching with Brown and planting a knee in the TUF 7’s midsection. Brown dropped to his knees with a look of agony on his face, and then Mein attempted a standing guillotine-choke, which was unsuccessful.
Mein opted to stand above the downed Brown and utilize his ground and pound, but put himself in a worse position. Brown was able to latch on a triangle-choke, which Mein defended, but it still allowed “The Immortal” time to recover and make it to the second round.
In Round 2, similar to a finalist on “Hell’s Kitchen,” Brown turned up the heat and decided he was going to walk away as the victor.
Brown immediately struck Mien with three precise punches that found their way through “Young Gun’s” defense, and followed up with a knees and elbows to his opponent’s forehead. Mein was bleeding quite profusely when Brown took the fight to the ground off a failed standing guillotine-choke. Brown stayed relentless with his strikes, hitting Mein in the kidneys and head, until referee John McCarthy halted the bout.
The victory places Brown on a five-fight win streak; four of which he stopped his opponent. As of recent, Brown has been more verbal than ever about his desires to compete for a UFC title. While defeating Mein won’t warrant him such a request, the win presumptively grants Brown a Top 10 opponent in his next outing.
Mein came up short at “UFC on Fox 7” and his three-fight win streak was snapped, but shouldn’t fall too far down the ranks from it. After taking Hardy’s place on short notice and then putting on a “Fight of the Night” performance with Brown, Mein’s position within the division should remain.