Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Of course the most prevalent story/injury on this card was that Dominick Cruz, the bantamweight champion who had been our for two years after double reconstructive surgery on his ACL, was scheduled to fight interim champion Renan Barao to determine the true champion. Cruz, however, tore his groin and was forced out of the bout. He was replaced by Urijah Faber, who previously fought Barao to determine the interim champion at UFC 149.
Abel Trujillo was expected to face Bobby Green at this event but was forced out with an injury and was replaced by Jamie Varner.
RENAN BARAO(31-1) VS URIJAH FABER(30-6)
Current betting line: Barao(-325) Faber(+250)
It seems like after the last fight we questioned whether or not Faber would ever get another title shot, yet here he is after rattling off four dominant wins over Ivan Menjivar, Scott Jorgensen, Iuri Alcantara, and Michael McDonald.
Faber has a serious problem with taking a ton of damage to his lead leg. Aldo completely destroyed Faber's leg with kicks and Barao didn't do much less. Faber will want to get on the inside, but the problem is that Barao is a majorly defensive fighter and controls the distance extremely well. If Faber can't get inside, stands in the pocket and takes a heavy volume of leg kicks, it could be a short night.
Going back to Barao's defensive style, his defensive wrestling is excellent. Faber is great on the mat, but it won't do much help if he can't get there. And, again, if Faber has trouble getting on the inside, matwork won't do much help.
The X-factor for this one is Faber's speed. Barao has a bit of a plodding style, and if Faber can utilize his speed to frustrate Barao, get on the inside, shoot for takedowns, he could take this.
In the end, I think Barao is a bit more complete fighter. He has a great way of keeping opponents on the outside and that's why he's been so successful. Faber definitely has a shot, especially if he comes in looking like he did against Michael McDonald, but I think Barao takes this one to retain the belt, and I think it'll happen by TKO.
PREDICTION: Barao via 3rd round TKO
JOSE ALDO(23-1) VS RICARDO LAMAS(13-2)
Current betting line: Aldo(-570) Lamas(+430)
Ricardo Lamas has been on fire since dropping down to Featherweight. In this fight, however, he's going to have a very tough time. I want to pick him so bad but it's just a terrible matchup. Aldo will light him up on the feet with punches and kicks, so Lamas is going to want to put him on his back.
Putting Aldo on his back is going to be near-impossible, however, because Aldo has such an uncanny ability to push opponents back constantly. If you look at the Zombie fight, even when Aldo was shooting for takedowns because of his inability to throw kicks he was still pushing Jung back against the fence.
Lamas is an excellent counter-puncher and likes to keep the pace with his jab. He needs to throw caution to the wind here. Anyone who fights a cautious fight against Jose Aldo is going to get demolished, plain and simple. The reason for that is Aldo is so good at keeping up the pressure.
The X-factor in this fight is going to be Lamas's ability to swarm his opponent when they're in danger. We saw in the Koch fight that Lamas performs so well when he smells blood in the water. If Lamas can catch Aldo with a big punch, maybe knock him down, it could be lights out for Jose Aldo.
PREDICTION: Jose Aldo via 2nd round TKO
ALISTAIR OVEREEM(36-13) VS FRANK MIR(16-8)
Current betting line: Alistair Overeem(-325) Frank Mir(+250)
The loser of this fight could easily be getting their walking papers, but I honestly think these two are at entirely different points in their careers. Overeem is just on the bad side of a few losses, but Mir is on his way out of MMA entirely. Immediately that bodes well for Overeem.
The outcome of this fight comes down to the first few minutes of the first round in my mind. If Frank Mir can weather an early storm by Overeem, he could take it to the ground and submit Overeem. But I think Overeem is gonna come out swinging. He knows Mir has a suspect chin and was downed by knees against Josh Barnett.
Can the X-factor in this fight be anything but Overeem's motivation/attitude? We've seen Overeem get cocky in his last two fights and get knocked out in both of them, and obviously Frank Mir has a chance to do the same.
PREDICTION: Alistair Overeem via 1st round KO
JOHN LINEKER(23-6) VS ALI BAGAUTINOV(12-2)
Current betting line: Ali Bagautinov(-135) John Lineker(+105)
I love this fight so much. Two flyweights with huge power is sure to provide fireworks. I'm also a big fan of Bagautinov, and think he poses and interesting threat to most flyweights in the division.
Despite his love for punching, Bagautinov can't rely on it too much and get into a boxing match with Lineker, because he'll have a really tough time. People often forget that Bagautinov is a world-class grappler and that's a huge advantage for him. Lineker has been submitted in three of his six losses, notably to Louis Gaudinot and Felipe Arantes.
If Bagautinov can take this fight to the ground it can be the difference maker. He'll be able to keep himself out of Lineker's huge power and be able to submit him.
The X-factor here is Lineker's ability to make weight. If Lineker misses weight again, he'll probably come into the fight a bit demotivated, considering he'll probably get cut if he misses weight again or be forced to move up to 135.
PREDICTION: Bagautinov via third round submission
ABEL TRUJILLO(11-5) VS JAMIE VARNER(21-8-1)
Current betting line: Abel Trujillo(+125) Jamie Varner(-155)
Tough fight to pick. Varner should look to Khabib Nurmagomedov's strategy and use his wrestling to wear down Trujillo, but we've seen in the past that Varner would much rather go for broke and look to knock someone out or submit them.
You wouldn't know it if you looked at his fight with Nurmagomedov, but Trujillo loves to take the fight to the mat and submit people, something Varner has been susceptible to.
The X-factor here is Trujillo's defensive wrestling. If he takes control of the wrestling it could be a short night for Varner, but I don't think it will go that way. I still like Trujillo to take it, but it'll probably be a snoozefest.
PREDICTION: Trujillo via unanimous decision
John Makdessi def. Alan Patrick
Chris Cariaso def. Danny Martinez
Nick Catone def. Tom Watson
Al Iaquinta def. Kevin Lee
Clint Hester def. Andy Enz
Rashid Magomedov def. Tony Martin
Neil Magny def. Gasan Umalatov
Tuesday, January 21, 2014
It's that time again folks: time for my preview and predictions of UFC on Fox 10. My current record for main card predictions through 3 events is 12-3. Headlined by a key matchup in the 155-pound division, former champion Benson "Smooth" Henderson takes on gritty veteran Josh "The Punk" Thomson. Henderson lost his title back at UFC 164 in August to Anthony Pettis after defending the belt 3 times against Frankie Edgar, Nate Diaz, and Gilbert Melendez. Pettis was the supposed to take on Thomson at UFC on Fox 9, but Pettis pulled out of the fight requiring knee surgery, so this matchup between "Smooth" and "The Punk" was set up. Who knows what this fight will lead to, as Pettis is still injured, we have TJ Grant(who was promised a title shot way back in May before suffering a concussion, which he has still not been cleared to come back from), no one seems to want to fight Russian wrestler Khabib Nurmagomedov, and our ole favorite Nate Diaz seems to want to sit around waiting for a title shot. Needless to say, the lightweight division is definitely interesting.
In the co-main event, rising heavyweight Stipe Miocic, who's coming off a huge win over fan favorite Roy Nelson, takes on Brazilian veteran Gabriel Gonzaga. Gonzaga has won two straight, a 17-second knockout of Dave Herman at UFC 162 and another quick knockout of Shawn Jordan at UFC 166. Also on this card is a strangely-booked lightweight bout between Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone and Adriano Martins, and a featherweight bout between Darren "The Damage" Elkins and Jeremy "Lil Heathen" Stephens.
Jared Rosholt was expected to face Oleksiy Oliynyk at this event, but Oliynyk was injured and Rosholt was pulled from the card.
A bout between Adam Khaliev and Pascal Krauss was expected to take place here, but both men were injured and forced off the card.
BENSON HENDERSON VS JOSH THOMSON
Both of these men are BJJ black belts. Both of them have excellent stats in the wrestling department. Both of them have experience going 25 minutes. This is definitely going to be a tightly contested matchup. My only concern is whether or not Thomson can handle the volume of strikes that Henderson will throw at him. Thomson did fight Gilbert Melendez three times and in their third fight he took a staggering 132 total strikes(77 of them significant). So I believe he'll be able to hang with Henderson's striking capacity. Thus, this fight is about split down the middle.
However, Henderson has shown in the past the he has the uncanny ability to do just enough to take home a decision, especially in the second Edgar fight and in the Melendez fight. And I think he'll do it again Saturday, based solely on the absence of intangibles that push the fight in either direction.
PREDICTION: Henderson via unanimous decision
STIPE MIOCIC VS GABRIEL GONZAGA
Gabriel Gonzaga obviously has the capacity to knock anyone out. And he is very decorated with his jiu jitsu. But Stipe Miocic is such a talented wrestler that it'll be tough for Gonzaga to do anything on the mat. Miocic is also significantly younger, has a better gas tank, and isn't known for his capacity to get knocked out.
PREDICTION: Miocic via unanimous decision
DONALD CERRONE VS ADRIANO MARTINS
Am I the only one who thinks this is a very strange matchup? Cerrone, a perennial top-ten guy, against a relative unknown in Martins. Martins may have an extensive record, but it's mostly against nobodies in Brazil. And he only has two wins in any major promotions, one against Jorge Gurgel in Strikeforce and most recently to Daron Cruikshank at UFC Fight Night 32 back in November. Despite this, Cerrone is much more experienced and a way better striker. I don't see any way Cerrone doesn't win this fight.
PREDICTION: Cerrone via 2nd round (T)KO
DARREN ELKINS VS JEREMY STEPHENS
Interesting fight. This is a typical grappler vs striker matchup. It's simple: if Elkins wants to erase his KO loss to Chad Mendes and all the criticism about his chin that came with it, he needs to use his wrestling to stop Stephens from landing that big KO punch. However, if he's going to be wrestling at all he needs to be willing to take shots in the clinch and on the outside. He can't stand and trade with Stephens or it will end bad. Stephens is no slouch on the ground, though, with a black belt in jiu-jitsu, "Lil Heathen" could surprise us with his overall game. Still, based on Stephens's inconsistency, I like Elkins to weather the storm and take home a decision
PREDICTION: Elkins via split decision
Sergio Pettis def. Alex Caceres
Eddie Wineland def. Yves Jabouin
Chico Camus def. Yaotzin Meza
Hugo Viana def. Junior Hernandez
Daron Cruikshank def. Mike Rio
Mike Rhodes def. George Sullivan
Walt Harris def. Nikita Krylov
Tuesday, January 14, 2014
Photo credit to MMAFighting.com
It wasn't too big of a shocker that long-time welterweight champion and future UFC hall of famer Georges St-Pierre left the sport back in early December for "personal reasons". He stated after UFC 167 that he needed time away, and prior to his bout at UFC 167 rumors were flying around, in addition to statements from his managers and mentors, that St-Pierre would be retiring in the cage if he won. Surely enough, St-Pierre announced after the fight that he would be "taking some time away" before officially vacating the belt and walking away from the sport in early December.
Now, a month later, St-Pierre claims that it wasn't only personal reasons that forced him into walking away from the sport.
Prior to his fight against Johny Hendricks back at UFC 167, Hendricks and St-Pierre both claimed they had interest in doing extra drug testing leading up to their fight. Hendricks proposed they use VADA, or the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association. St-Pierre agreed and even offered to pay for Hendricks' testing. Hendricks backed off however, stating he had questions about VADA's impartiality.
Today, in an interview with RDS.ca, St-Pierre fired off at the UFC for not supporting him in extra testing for his fight against Hendricks.
"I tried to change the sport." he said. "Unfortunately, there were other people, for different reasons, maybe for money, maybe in fear of losing money, because if you cancelled the fight because someone tested positive there are millions of dollars [lost]. Also, the sport's image. If you start testing everyone, how many will get caught? I don't want to say in public because I don't want to accuse anyone, but the sport's image will be hurt.
"Don't forget, I have internal information. I am an athlete. I know what goes on, so that disappointed me greatly." St-Pierre said.
St-Pierre ended up being the only one tested by VADA and hinted at his feelings regarding the matter in his conference call announcing his vacating if the belt. Many speculated this was part of the reason that St-Pierre walked away, and several media members asked UFC president Dana White about it on the conference call. White simply responded "no."
"The only thing I want to say is, I wanted to do something to help those who are honest in this sport. Believe me or not, I never did drugs in my life. I'll take a lie detector test, I don't care. I'm for anti-doping tests. I think it's a big problem in the sport.
"This is a relatively new sport. There's only one organization that has a monopoly, so the fighters don't have much power. They can't really talk because if one says what he thinks, he will get punished.
"If we want the sport to be accepted worldwide, like baseball, hockey, football, soccer, I believe it's the thing to do. I think it's a matter of time before it happens, it's just that I tried to make it happen now. Maybe they didn't like the idea because if I did it now, it would lead to others doing it and that's not something they wanted to happen.
"It disappointed me. You know there are things I can't say. I'm holding back. I'm a public person."
St-Pierre says his family was very supportive of his decision to walk away from the sport, but St-Pierre still left the possibility of a return open, depending on what happens with drugs in the sport in the next few years or so.
"No one wants to talk about it, but I think we need to talk about it. It's a problem." St-Pierre said in regards to drugs in MMA.
"I wanted to remain diplomatic, but unfortunately there were people who weren't ready to change things. I'm certain it's a question of time. And maybe if things change one day, I'll return."
Monday, January 13, 2014
Thiago Silva was expected to face Ovince St. Preux at this event, but pulled out for undisclosed reasons and the bout was rescheduled for UFC 171.
Deadly Russian striker Adlan Amagov was expected to fight Jason High at this event, but pulled out and was replaced by Beneil Dariush. High then pulled out of the bout after having appendicitis and was replaced by veteran Charlie Brenneman.
LUKE ROCKHOLD VS COSTA PHILIPPOU
This is a really great middleweight matchup. Rockhold has a big advantage in a few areas: He's got a longer reach, he's taller, and he's a bit younger, generally considered to be in his prime. But Costa needs a win here bad. He was just beaten by Francis Carmont, a fight he had the tools to win. He needs to come out here with that killer instinct. Philippou's loss to Carmont was way worse than Rockhold's loss to Vitor. Costa has something to prove, and I think he'll go out there and get it done.
PREDICTION: Philippou via unanimous decision
BRAD TAVARES VS LORENZ LARKIN
Tough fight to pick. Tavares is definitely a live dog here, he's agressive but smart at the same time. Larkin is coming off a win over Chris Camozzi at Fight for the Troops 3 while Tavares is coming off a win over Bubba McDaniel. Neither of these guys have big KO power and I think this one will be contested mostly on the ground, and therefore this one, in my mind, comes down to who can defend the takedown better and take control when on the mat. I think Tavares has the wrestling to get it done in this one.
PREDICTION: Tavares via unanimous decision
TJ DILLASHAW VS MIKE EASTON
Easton is another guy on this card who really needs a win bad. He's coming off two straight losses to Rafael Assuncao and Brad Pickett. Dillashaw is coming off one loss to Rafael Assuncao, a fight many thought he did enough to win. Dillashaw has great power in his hands and has devastating knees, but Easton has shown his resiliency when taking hard shots. Tough to pick, but I'll go with Dillashaw here.
PREDICTION: Dillashaw via split decision
YOEL ROMERO VS DEREK BRUNSON
Both of these men are wrestling standouts, but Romero has shown his striking power before, especially in the Ronny Markes fight. Brunson would be wise to look for the takedown in this one, but needs to be careful in doing so as Romero has been known to land some brutal combinations to stagger his opponent and keep them from securing the takedown. Based on the striking x-factor, I like Romero in this one.
PREDICTION: Yoel Romero via 2nd round TKO
JOHN MORAGA VS DUSTIN ORTIZ
This fight is a mismatch in my mind. Moraga, coming off a title fight loss to Demetrious Johnson, is better everywhere, especially on the mat. Moraga has never been finished by strikes, something Ortiz favors heavily. I don't see any way Moraga doesn't win this fight, and I think he'll do it fairly quickly.
PREDICTION: Moraga via 1st round submission
COLE MILLER VS SAM SICILIA
The first fight on the main card here is a featherweight matchup between renowned grappler and jiu-jitsu black belt Cole Miller vs heavy-handed Sam Sicilia. If this fight goes to the ground, expect Miller to dominate. But if it stays standing, it plays right into Sicilia's strengths. Tough fight to pick, but I think Miller has the ability to take some shots and get the fight to the ground in order to get the victory. I'm expecting a war between these two though.
PREDICTION: Miller via split decision
Ramsey Nijem def. Justin Edwards
Elias Silverio def. Isaac Vallie-Flagg
Trevor Smith def. Brian Houston
Alptekin Ozkilic def. Louis Smolka
Vinc Pichel def. Garrett Whiteley
Charlie Brenneman def. Beneil Dariush
Tuesday, January 7, 2014
UFC Middleweight champion Chris Weidman's previous run-ins with Anderson Silva were full of respect, dignity, and class. It looks like his fight with #1 contender Vitor Belfort, who has rattled off three straight head kick knockouts, will be totally different.
Weidman appeared on Ariel Helwani's show The MMA Hour Monday to discuss his bout with Belfort, amongst other things, and had plenty to say about Belfort's use of Testosterone Replacement Therapy(TRT). Belfort has drawn massive criticism for his use of TRT because of his past steroid bust in 2006 after his fight with Dan Henderson.
"How old is Vitor now, 36? And he's allowed to have the testosterone of a 17-year old? I don't think TRT belongs in the sport, where it's a combat sport." Weidman said.
The champ knows he's going to have to face these questions about TRT and steroids over and over again leading up to this massive fight with Belfort, but the way he sees it, he's got nothing to worry about.
"It's more of a cloud for him." Weidman said. "He's the one who got cheating once. Now he's taking TRT and I don't think it's right. I did hear from other TRT users, not to mention names, but I've heard TRT is a good way to cover up other things. I don't know much about the business these guys are in, but that doesn't seem cool to me, for a guy who's not taking anything."
Weidman also had some strong words on how he feels about this fight.
"I feel like I'm on another level." Weidman said. "I think it's a great fight for me, but I think I can beat him no matter what he's on. I actually take more privilege if I'm beating up a juicehead, if that's what you consider him."
Weidman and Belfort's bout is tentatively scheduled to take place in Vegas, where Nevada State Athletic Commision president Keith Kizer has stated Belfort will not be given a therapeutic use exemption(TUE) for continued use of his TRT. The fight is supposed to take place sometime in May or July.
Monday, January 6, 2014
UFC president Dana White announced today during an afternoon edition of Sportscenter that UFC Brantamweight champion Dominick Cruz, who has been out of action since October 2011 after double ACL surgery, had torn his groin and would vacate the UFC Bantamweight champion. Interim champion Renan Barao, who is undefeated in his past 32 fights and has not lost in close to nine years, will be promoted to the official Bantamweight champion.
With Cruz out of the matchup, perennial 135 pound contender Urijah Faber will fight Barao for the second time. The two previously met at UFC 149 in July of 2012, with Barao winning a unanimous decision. Since then, Faber has rattled of four dominating wins again Ivan Menjivar, Scott Jorgensen, Iuri Alcantara, and most recently Michael McDonald.
Barao has two defenses of his interim title, a submission victory over Michael McDonald in February of 2013 and a brutal head kick KO of Eddie Wineland at UFC 165 in September.
In the co-main event, a Featherweight championship bout between long-reigning champion Jose Aldo and top contender Ricardo Lamas will take place. The UFC has stated that Barao/Faber II will remain in the main event slot, with Aldo-Lamas staying the co-main event. Both fights will be five round bouts.
Also on the card is what's being called a "loser leaves town match" between former heavyweight interim champion Frank Mir and former Strikeforce, Dream, and K-1 Kickboxing heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem. A key clash in the 125 pound division between surging Russian prospect Ali Bagautinov and oft-criticized Brazilian John Lineker will also take place, with the winner possibly getting a shot at the belt.
Saturday, January 4, 2014
The UFC's first foray into Singapore and the first event on it's brand new UFC Fight Pass network provided for a great night(morning i you're in the US), as the final Strikeforce welterweight Tarec Saffeidine snagged a unanimous decision victory over Korean fan favorite and rising prospect Hyun Gyu Lim in the main event of UFC Fight Night 34 at the Marina Bay Sands Hotel in Singapore.
The two spent the first little bit feeling each other out, with Saffeidine frequently changing stances and angles, focusing his infamous leg kicks on Lim's left leg. Saffeidine lost his balance and quickly got up, but not without a few knees from Lim. Lim then focused on going to the body, throwing some hard driving knees and then landed a hard right hand to end the round.
Lim came out in the second round hard and applied a ton of pressure, forcing Saffeidine to work from the outside. Saffeidine quickly turned the tables, however, and hit Lim with three nasty right hands that nearly dropped the Korean. Saffeidine also continued to apply pressure with the leg kicks to Lim's lead left leg, and Lim had no answer to it.
Saffeidine dropped Lim with a mean two-punch combo to start the third. Lim got up quickly, but Saffeidine almost immediately got him to the ground after landing another hard right hand and shooting a double-leg. The two scrambled and Saffeidine hit the mat, but managed to get back to his feet. Saffeidine continued to pursue the lead leg kick, and dropped Lim twice with them. Saffeidine celebrated prematurely after the second leg kick that dropped Lim, but referee Leon Roberts did not stop the fight.
Round four was all Saffeidine, as Lim looked visibly tired and was on wobbly legs due to the continued abuse his legs were taking. Saffeidine continued to apply pressure to the lead left leg, with Lim almost crumbling after every punishing blow. Saffeidine landed a hard knee to the body that dropped Lim. Following that, Saffeidine tried a few submissions with no success.
The fifth round began much the same as the previous, with Saffedine continuing to apply pressure to the lead left leg and almost dropping Lim with them. He dropped the Korean twice in the round with leg kicks, but didn't want anything to do with fighting Lim on the ground, allowing Lim to stand up each time he dropped him. Lim landed a flurry of shots toward the end of the round, giving everything he had into the last few seconds, but couldn't get it done that late in the fight.
The judges scored the contest 49-46, 48-47, and 48-47, all for Saffeidine.
"I was pretty hurt." Saffeidine said, speaking of Lim's efforts late in the fifth. "He caught me with a good punch. I got a bit dizzy, but was able to recover. He was really tough. He got prepared for me. He's a great fighter."
Saffeidine, in the post-fight presser, also spoke a bit on who he'd like to fight next. "I want to fight the top fighters, top 10 in the UFC." Saffeidine said. "I want to fight those guys. I can't wait to get back in the gym and train for those guys."
Also on the card was a bout between fan favorite Tatsuya Kawajiri and American fighter Sean Soriano.
Soriano effectively withstood the takedown in the first until Kawajiri managed to get a trip against the cage, where the decorated Japanese submission artist went to work. Kawajiri took his back and tried a few chokes, but was unsuccessful. Following this, Kawajiri used a body triangle to set up indefensible strikes from his back.
The second was much different than the first, as Kawajiri immediately got the takedown and locked in a choke. Soriano tapped, but the ref didn't see it, and Soriano passed out. The choke came at :50 of the 2nd round.
Take a look at the rest of the UFC Fight Night 32 results here:
Tarec Saffiedine def. Hyun Gyu Lim via unanimous decision (49-46, 48-47, 48-47)
Tatsuya Kawajiri def. Sean Soriano via submission (rear naked choke) at :50 of round 2
def. via DQ (illegal elbows) at 2:57 of round 1
Kyung-Ho Kang def. via submission (head and arm triangle) at 3:53 of round 3
Max Holloway def. Will Chope via TKO (strikes) at 2:27 of round 2
Katsunori Kikuno def. Quinn Mulhern via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Royston Wee def. Dave Galera via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-26, 30-26)
Mairbek Taisumov def. Tae Hyun Bang via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Dustin Kimura def. Jon Delos Reyes via submission (armbar) at 2:13 of round 1
Russell Doane def. via submission (triangle choke) at 4:59 of round 2