Posts Tagged ‘UFC’
George Roop has to be better than the plan to stop him.
When the featherweight sets foot inside the Octagon on Saturday night at UFC Fight Night 23: Fight for the Troops 2 at Fort Hood, outside of Killeen, Tex., he will not only have to overcome his opponent, Mark Hominick, but also a strategy devised by a trainer with inside knowledge of his abilities.
“Without a doubt, Shawn Tompkins is one of the greatest coaches in the world,” Roop told host Joe Rizzo of Rear Naked Choke Radio on the MMA DieHards Radio Network. “He’s going to be able to put together a great gameplan for Hominick in order to try to beat me at everything.
“On the other hand, I have great coaches here in Tucson as well. We’ve put together a great gameplan as well. You’re a different animal when you’re in there in the cage. It’s not training. You become a different animal when you step in there to fight. It’s a whole different level, and I plan on taking it to a whole nother level.”
Once upon a time, Roop trained under Tompkins and alongside Hominick. Now, he’ll stand opposite his former teammates and try to play the spoiler. With a win at Fort Hood, Hominick has been guaranteed a title shot against the UFC’s first ever featherweight champion, Jose Aldo, but a win for Roop does not come with the same assurances. Roop’s plan is to change that.
“They’re not going to have any choice after this fight but to give me the title shot,” said Roop. “Really, who else are they going to give the title shot to? I’m not going to give them a choice in the matter.”
The ride to this stage in Roop’s career has seen a roller-coaster’s worth of ups and downs, both in weight and fight outcomes. He began his career as a 145-pounder, competing primarily for the Arizona-based Rage in the Cage promotion and capturing the organization’s featherweight crown. However, a move to the bright lights of the UFC also meant a move up in weight, and so Roop went to 155 pounds to compete on season eight of The Ultimate Fighter.
“The Ultimate Fighter changed my life completely,” Roop said. “It really showed me what I needed to do to get to that next level and become a mixed martial arts fighter. I was fighting at 155 pounds – I was walking around at 155 pounds at that time, so it was a tough weight class to compete in, especially with those bigger stronger guys.
“When you get an opportunity, whether it be at 185 pound weight class, I’d have been fighting at that. You get an opportunity, you run with it.”
Despite fighting larger men, he advanced to the semifinals of the reality series before being eliminated by Phillipe Nover. He then competed on the TUF 8 Finale, losing his official lightweight debut to Shane Nelson. Roop fought twice more at 155 under the UFC banner, defeating Dave Kaplan and losing to George Sotiropoulos, before receiving his walking papers from the promotion.
The Tucson native returned to his roots – and the featherweight division – by defeating Matt Dell in front of a hometown crowd at Rage in the Cage 137. The win earned him another shot with a Zuffa-owned company, World Extreme Cagefighting.
Roop again shifted weight classes, cutting down to 135 pounds for an unsuccessful bantamweight debut against Eddie Wineland.
“I tried to drop down and flirt with 135 pounds,” he said. “It’s definitely not something I’ll ever do again.
“You know, 145 pounds, I feel very comfortable at. It’s my natural fight weight. I feel like I can dominate the 145-pound division.”
That was it, Roop had finally pinned down his ideal competitive weight after changing divisions four times. He returned to the featherweight ranks at WEC 47, fighting to a draw with Leonard Garcia. The contest might not have produced a clear winner, but it did earn both fighters “Fight of the Night” bonuses.
The bonus money didn’t stop there, as Roop’s next outing delivered a “Knockout of the Night” check and put him back in the win column. His victim was “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung, and his weapon of choice was a head kick – after all, how else would you drop a zombie than with a headshot?
The lighter weight divisions come with a reputation for delivering consistently entertaining action, and the arrival of these legions of 135- and 145-pounders in the UFC could spell a decrease in bonuses for the bigger guys. As for the featherweights and bantamweights, the letters U-F-C spell bigger bonus money than what was available in the WEC.
“It would be big money,” Roop said. “I’m definitely shooting for the bonuses. My main goal is to win the fight. Hopefully I can walk away with two bonus checks – Knockout of the Night and Fight of the Night bonuses.”
While Roop hopes to take home multiple bonuses on Saturday, his goals do not end there. He’s also seeking to insert his name into the featherweight contender conversation. However, his former teammate and training partner, Mark Hominick, stands between him and that objective. Their history won’t deter Roop on Saturday, as his focus remains clear.
“Friends aside, I’m going in there to take him out,” Roop stated. “It doesn’t matter to me, at the end of the day it’s a job and I’m going to get paid.”
Rear Naked Choke Radio went live from LA Boxing in Paramus, N.J. as Joe Rizzo and Jeremy Fullerton welcomed in ESPN’s Jon Anik and renowned agent-promoter Monte Cox.
Joe, Jeremy, Jon and Monte broke break down what it means from many different angles for MMA to become legal in New York. Jon and Monte gave their expert takes from the mass media, agent and promoter points of view.
Rear Naked Choke on the MMA DieHards Radio Network streams live on MMADieHards.com Wednesday evenings at 6:45 p.m. ET (unless otherwise noted).
Bouncing back from a loss to long-time idol Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic is the obvious goal for UFC heavyweight Pat Barry this Saturday, but even he admits he’ll have a little something else on his mind when he steps into the Octagon at Fort Hood for UFC Fight Night 23: Fight for the Troops 2.
“It’s great that I’m going to be part of a group of people that can give them a day off, just a release,” Barry told MMA DieHards’ Hector Castro in a recent interview.
“I don’t know what it’s like, but the life of a solider has got to be intense. There’s men and women out there fighting a lot harder than we are in a totally different scenario every day. They’re putting their lives on the line for us, so for the UFC to give them a break, to give them one night of entertainment, and for me to be a part of that, is an honor.”
That kind of approach seems to be shared by most fighters on Saturday’s card, and when the Octagon door closes at Fort Hood just outside Killeen, Tex., Barry will be looking to give the soldiers a night to remember by delivering a swift and brutal beating to opponent Joey Beltran.
Beltran, colorfully nicknamed “The Mexicutioner,” is a 6-foot-1, 240-pound fighter that specializes in boxing and wrestling. The 29-year old also holds a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and has 16 professional fights under his belt since making his debut in 2007. He has participated in events for Strikeforce and Bellator, but has been with the UFC since debuting with a TKO victory over Rolles Gracie at UFC 109. Since then, he has a victory over Tim Hague at UFC 113 and a loss to Matt Mitrione at UFC 119. Beltran will be looking to push his record inside the Octagon to 3-1 when he squares off against Barry.
“He’s the kind of guy who is not necessarily great at one particular thing, but is pretty evenly distributed between striking, wrestling and jiu-jitsu,” said Barry, offering a brief scouting report on his opponent. “He’s extremely dangerous and he’s had a lot of fights go the distance, so he has a lot of ring time.”
Beltran was a stoppage machine early in his career, but since being defeated by nemesis Tony Lopez for the King of the Cage heavyweight title in October of 2009 – a fight that went all five rounds – he has fought to at least the six-minute mark, with an average of around 13 minutes per fight.
On the other side is Barry, who has seen the third round just once in his MMA career.
“When I fought ‘Cro Cop’ that’s the longest I’ve been in a ring in my life,” Barry said. “He knows what it’s like in Minute 12, 13, 14, but he’s also been hit a lot, which I haven’t.
“The guy is weathered. He can take a punch and a kick and he just keeps on coming forward. He has the will to win at all costs. A lot of people would have taken the shots that he has and just folded and turned around and said no more, but he keeps walking tall.”
Barry is hoping he gets the chance to put Beltran’s toughness to the test in a stand-up brawl, but he is also resigned to the fact the fight will probably end up elsewhere.
Barry made a name for himself as a pro kickboxer in a career that spanned five years and saw him win several titles while sporting an 18-6 record (9 TKOs). He is arguably the best striker in the heavyweight division, and is revered enough for his stand-up game that he was brought in by Team DeathClutch to work with former heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar as he trained for his UFC 121 fight with Cain Velasquez.
Barry’s strength is on his feet, and because of that he is prepared for his opponents to want to take the fight to the ground.
“I’m expecting Joey Beltran to come in there wanting to punch and kick with me and for him to instantly turn into a wrestler after the first time I hit him,” Barry said. “You wouldn’t want to get into the ring with Mike Tyson and try to box him. Randy Couture didn’t get in there with James Toney and try to bang with him, he took him to the ground and beat him where he was weakest.
“Standing and punching and kicking with me is not the best idea. They might start out like that, but I should have the upper hand on people when it comes to striking.”
To adjust, Barry has spent less time striking during training camp while focusing more on wrestling and jiu-jitsu. In fact, he entered into several jiu-jitsu tournaments since the “Cro Cop” fight to get more comfortable on the mat.
“The very first time I did live jiu-jitsu was in a UFC fight that determined the future of my career, and I don’t think that’s such a good idea,” Barry said. “I wanted to get in as many jiu-jitsu tournaments as I could far away from the fight for more experience. Going live versus going in practice, I’m not trying to end somebody’s career in training. I wanted to see what it’s like to try to pull somebody’s head off their body the way I will in a fight.”
Barry trains with Team Roufusport in Milwaukee and was able to enlist the services of teammate Mitrione in preparation for Saturday’s fight. Mitrione, who will fight Hague on Saturday, defeated Beltran via unanimous decision at UFC 119.
“I didn’t train with Mitrione specifically for this fight, but I was out there and we watched some film and definitely brainstormed a gameplan for Joey Beltran,” Barry stated. “There were things Matt felt like he capitalized on and some things he felt were his weaknesses. We came up with a pretty solid idea of what to do when I get in the Octagon.”
With the UFC seemingly cutting more and more fighters after each event, fans might think Barry, with his 2-2 record in the promotion, would be a little nervous.
“I’m not worried about losing my job,” he said. “Every fighter knows in the back of their head they can get cut any day, any time. I also know that I’m totally confident in my ability and preparation.”
Translation: don’t expect Barry to change his style and attempt to eke out a victory. He’s going to bring the same fire that saw him devastate the knees of Dan Evensen at UFC 92 and win Fight of the Night and Knockout of the Night against Antoni Hardonk at UFC 104.
“I’m coming in to win a fight,” assured Barry. “I’m coming in to punch him in the neck as hard as I can and go home with my job.”
Sounds like the troops are going to have one heck of a day off.