UFC 120 takes place in England on October 16, 2010
Created by StevePro on Oct 8, 2010
Last updated: 08/05/11 at 01:05 AM
MMAjunkie.comOfficial MMA Partner ofMMAjunkie.comPaul Taylor (11-6-1 MMA, 4-5 UFC). Pickett and Taylor both are British fighters. The UFC hasn't host a show in the UK since October 2010. The event, UFC 120, took place in London and also aired via same-day delay on Spike TV. ...and more »
Bleacher ReportUFC 133 Fight Card: Eleven Epic Perspectives of Saturday's Fight CardBleacher ReportMeanwhile, Mike Pyle was widely seen as a stepping stone for Hathaway, but he spent all three rounds of their UFC 120 bout making Hathaway look like he did not know what he was doing. Against Ricardo Almeida, the same thing that was supposed to happen ...and more »
Yahoo! Sports (blog)John Hathaway Faces Pascal Krauss at "UFC 138: Leben vs. Munoz"5thRound.comThe Brit's sole professional blemish came against Mike Pyle at UFC 120. Krauss owns a perfect 10-0 resume, with seven of his victories coming by way of submission. He posted a unanimous decision win over Mark Scanlon in his Octagon debut at UFC 122. ...Official MMA Partner ofMMAjunkie.comJohn Hathaway Faces Pascal Krauss at UFC 138Heavy.comUFC 138 Headed to England with Leben-Munoz 5-RounderSherdog.comTucson Citizen -MMAFighting.comall 41 news articles »
5thRound.comUFC Live 6 Draws Sass-Johnson Showdown at 155Sherdog.comSass (11-0, 1-0 UFC) made his promotional debut at UFC 120 in October, when he submitted Mark Holst with his trademark maneuver -- the triangle choke, hence the nickname “Sassangle” -- in the first round at the O2 Arena in London; he has secured eight ...Paul Sass Faces Michael Johnson at UFC on Versus 6Heavy.comUFC on Versus 6 Fight Card: Paul Sass vs. Michael Johnson in Washington, DCYahoo! SportsPaul Sass vs. Michael Johnson set for UFC on Versus 6 in Washington, DCMMAjunkie.comMMAFighting.com -5thRound.com -MMATorchall 11 news articles »
Fight Round-Up: Hathaway Vs. Krauss, Escovedo Vs. Mizugaki, Nunes Vs. GamburyanFightLine.comSince scoring an upset unanimous decision victory over Diego Sanchez at UFC 114 in May of 2010, Hathaway has split decisions, losing a unanimous decision to Mike Pyle at UFC 120 last October, while winning a split-decision in his last outing at UFC ...and more »
UFC 132: A Glimpse Of Old And NewPress BoxDuring his first match since knocking out Dan Hardy last year at UFC 120, Condit re-entered the octagon July 2 with more to prove in order to seal a future shot at the welterweight title. Condit faced a tough opponent in Dong Hyun Kim, who was unbeaten ...and more »
ESPN.co.ukMotivated Hardy ready to reignite faltering UFC careerESPN.co.ukWith inferior wrestling abilities, Hardy was always going to struggle against the bigger names and was found wanting once again when Carlos Condit knocked him out at UFC 120 and Anthony Johnson got the better of him in March at UFC Fight Night 24. ...and more »
Yahoo! Eurosport UKMike Pyle Ready To End MacDonald's RunHeavy.comMike Pyle may be the best kept secret in the UFC welterweight division. He has climbed slowly up the ranks on the strength of a three-fight win streak, halting the progress of prospect John Hathaway at UFC 120 and then earning a decision victory over ...Pyle out to spoil another prospect with upset at UFC 133Vancouver Sunall 41 news articles »
Hathaway to fight Krauss at UFC 138 in the UKESPN.co.ukHowever, his last appearance in England resulted in defeat to Mike Pyle at UFC 120. Krauss already has one English scalp to his name after he beat Mark Scanlon on UFC debut. The German took home Fight of the Night honours for his efforts in that bout. ...John Hathaway meets undefeated German welterweight Pascal Krauss at UFC 138 in ...MMATorchall 4 news articles »
FightLine.comGoal hasn't changed for UFC 133's Vitor BelfortLas Vegas SunAkiyama hasn't appeared since a UFC 120 loss to Michael Bisping last October. He was scheduled to face Nate Marquardt at UFC 128, but was a late cancelation after Japan endured a major earthquake and the resulting devastation. ...Despite Title Fight Loss, Vitor Belfort Harbors Championship DreamsMMAFighting.comUFC 133 Predictions: Vitor Belfort a Lock to Win at UFC 133Bleacher Reportall 45 news articles »
It was the wrestling equivalent of beating Georges St-Pierre, BJ Penn, Jon Fitch, Nick Diaz, Carlos Condit, Jake Shields, Josh Koscheck, and Thiago Alves in succession, but that was par for the course for two-time defending NCAA champion Johny Hendricks as he tore through the National duals in 2007.“I wrestled 10 matches, and out of those 10, I wrestled two through eight,” said Oklahoma State University standout. “I wrestled almost everybody in the top 10 and I won every match.” Needless to say, the spectacular run drained him, and he needed a break. But there are no breaks for wrestlers, especially during the season, so that was simply out of the question.“At that point, I was like ‘I have to get away.’ I needed to get away from wrestling for a couple days and clear my mind,” recalled Hendricks. “If they couldn’t beat me at that point, they’re not gonna beat me anywhere they want to. But I ended up not being able to take the time off that I needed because coach (John) Smith just couldn’t say ‘hey Johny, go away for two days,’ and then everybody else still has to practice. If I could have gotten a week off from everything, I think I might have done some things differently, but that was something that I learned from.”What he learned was that sometimes too much of a good thing can become a bad thing. Hendricks sailed to the finals of the NCAA tournament again that year, this time with a 56-0 record. But in match 57, he lost to Iowa’s Mark Perry, spoiling his perfect season and his quest for a third National title. When it was over, he was lost.“I prayed for like two weeks straight,” he said of the days after his defeat against Perry. “I was like ‘what am I gonna do with my life?’ So every night I prayed. I said ‘I’m too young to stop competing, just show me something that I can do.’ Within two weeks (Team Takedown’s) Ted Ehrhardt called me. I went out to Vegas, I got knocked out (in sparring by Phil Baroni), I woke up the next day, and I was like ‘I want to do it.’ (Laughs) Who gets knocked out completely cold, can’t remember the rest of their day, and you wake up the next morning and say ‘hey, I want to do this.’ That’s so weird.”At least he said it. But all joking aside, mixed martial arts was a natural for the native of Ada, Oklahoma, and by September of 2007 he was making his pro debut with a third round TKO of Victor Rackliff. It’s been practically all smooth sailing since then, with the only hiccup being a 2010 decision loss to Rick Story. But the most important thing for Hendricks thus far is that he took the lessons from his wrestling experience and applied them to MMA. And it had nothing to do with what happens in the gym.“There’s always times in my camp when I’m like ‘oh my gosh, I’ve done this (competing) for 23-24 years of my life and I’m tired of cutting weight,’” he said. “Of course those days hit me, and what I gotta do is come home and say (to my wife) ‘honey, we’re not gonna talk about fighting; let’s just go do something.’ And then after we go do something, I’m like ‘okay, let’s just talk about life.’ You’re constantly training, and when you’re constantly preparing for something, you need that kind of break, that mental lapse where you can say ‘today, we’re not gonna do anything. We’re gonna talk video games, we’re gonna talk hunting, we’re gonna talk about anything but what I’ve got coming up.’”“If you live and breathe fighting, and you do it on top of that, you’re gonna hit a point in your life where you’re like ‘oh my gosh, I gotta do something else,’” Hendricks continues. “You have to keep yourself in check. I love the sport so much, that if I eat, breathe, and think about it constantly, I know that you can get burned out.”Aiding him in his quest, Hendricks and his Team Takedown squadmates moved their homebase from Las Vegas to Dallas, putting the 27-year old close to his wife and daughter. It’s made a monumental difference in his life.“It’s everything,” he said. “I get to come home, my wife’s happy, my daughter’s happy, and it makes a better environment to come home to. In Vegas, we were excited to fight because that meant we got to come home and see our family. (Laughs) And as people know now, I’m an outdoorsman. I love hunting and fishing, and I love the country. And in Vegas, there’s none of that. Now, I can drive 10 minutes from where I live right now and be in the country. I can be out there and I don’t hear no cars, I don’t hear nothing. All I do is look at stars and I can space out. I like being out there in the middle of nowhere.”Hendricks’ latest passion is bow fishing, which, as you can probably tell by the name, requires shooting fish with a special bow and arrow. And yeah, you guessed it, it’s not easy.“I would say it’s 50 percent luck that you hit it and 50 percent that you’re a good shot,” laughs Hendricks, who nonetheless can find parallels between bow fishing and fighting.“There are a lot of sports out there that are like that,” he said. “On some of the better fighters, once you get up to where I’m starting to get, with the last couple of fighters that I fought, you have to really set up everything. In bow fishing, whenever you pull back on the bow, you gotta make sure everything’s lined up perfect to get the kill shot. And you might miss. You might set up a shot three or four times, but the more you try, the better you get and the more success that you’re gonna have. So in fighting, let’s say the hook’s just not landing. Well, I just can’t stop using the hook; I gotta set it up better.”The quest to continually learn, pick up new things, and figure out the best way to get the best performance out of himself is an admirable trait. It’s also one that forces you to take ego out of the equation, something many believed Hendricks would never be able to do. But as he points out, the path he’s always followed is to be one way in the gym and another in competition. And that one way in the gym was to be humble.“That’s the way I was in wrestling in the room,” he said. “I wasn’t that way out on the mat. And I’m also not that way when I fight. I’ve gotta walk in there with confidence and I’ve gotta believe that I can beat that guy across from me, and what better way to prove it than by being in his face from the start, and making him wish that he wasn’t in the ring with you or on the mat with you.”“My senior year, I couldn’t win a match,” he continues. “My senior year I would leave practice mad every day because I just couldn’t win. I could beat the lower level guys, but my backup, I couldn’t beat him. But that’s what keeps that drive. If you constantly win, what do you when you go home? Do I need to run? I keep winning, it’s not a big deal. But if you go home and you get beat every day, you’re gonna do a little bit extra because you’re getting your butt kicked. And you want that to stop.” Mixed martial arts is no different for him, so when he lost to Story last December, he didn’t brush it off as simply a bad night and hit the after party. He had more important matters to tend to.“I tell people all the time, what makes a champion? It’s not who holds the belt. A champion in my mind is somebody who comes in every day, they give 110 percent, and if they lose, how do they carry themselves? Of course they’re gonna be upset, but they’re gonna be humble and say ‘hey, he was the better fighter.’ But with saying that, you also have to be able to improve yourself. So my whole thought process was that as soon as that fight (with Story) was over, I went upstairs and watched that fight. And I watched the fight. And I watched the fight. I didn’t go to bed until like 2:30 in the morning because I watched that fight like nine times – stop, rewind, what happened here? So with that loss, Rick Story made me a better fighter. And that’s what I wanted. You can’t lose and think you’re gonna stay the same. Once you lose, you gotta find your flaws.”And to aid him in finding them, he invited Story to train with him. Story accepted. So did another past opponent, TJ Grant, who has helped Hendricks prepare for his UFC 133 bout with Mike Pierce this Saturday in Philadelphia. For the Oklahoman, it’s just part of the process. He bounced back from his lone loss with a Knockout of the Night win over TJ Waldburger in March, and now he’ll look to keep the momentum going against Pierce. But one thing’s for sure – win or lose, he won’t make the same mistake twice.“You gotta be able to adapt,” he said. “One thing Rick Story exploited on me is that I went in there with a striker mentality, instead of being able to adapt on the fly. I don’t know how Pierce is gonna come out. Is he gonna come out just trying to knock me out in the first round, or is gonna try to take me down? I gotta be able to adapt to whichever one he wants to do. If he wants to strike, I’m more than happy to strike with anybody. And if he wants to do the wrestling game, I’ve got to be able to adapt on the fly.”Just like shooting fish with an arrow.
Vitor Belfort isn’t going anywhere. Despite his UFC 126 loss to Anderson Silva in their middleweight championship bout this past February, “The Phenom” is not about to let the longtime titleholder off the hook just yet. He’s still shooting for Silva, and that’s not just the word from the UFC vet, it comes from the whole family.“In my house, we don’t accept the word ‘impossible,’” said Belfort. “If we want to do something, we’re gonna go to the end. We need to understand that losing and winning is part of life, but giving up is not a part of our lives. ‘What’s next dad, when are you going to have a chance to fight him again?’ That’s the question my son (Davi) asked me. That’s the way we see life here, as a positive. We recognize that he was the better man on that night, and the only thing he landed, he landed pretty good, and he won the fight.”One of the most highly-anticipated title fights in years, Silva vs. Belfort matched up two countrymen with dynamic styles, long histories of excellence, and a little bit of heat. It made for an explosive encounter, but it was Silva who detonated the bomb, catching Belfort with a front kick that has earned plenty of consideration for 2011’s Knockout of the Year. It was a crushing end to Belfort’s five fight winning streak and his attempt to join BJ Penn and Randy Couture as the only fighters in UFC history to hold titles in more than one weight class. But the former light heavyweight champion has no sour grapes about the defeat.“I went there to knock him out and he knows that, but he caught me with a very strange kick, and I believe it was the best knockout of his life,” said Belfort. “He knows the pressure was on his shoulders and the night shined for him. What can I say? I just have to recognize that and go back and work hard to have another shot. That’s the only thing you can do. No regrets, I did my best, I corrected the mistakes that I made and I try to improve myself every day in the gym.”Now 34, Belfort is a far cry from the precocious 19-year old he was when he made his UFC debut back in 1997. He was a self-admitted “hot head” back then, a kid who believed his newspaper clippings until he started to get dealt some heavy doses of MMA reality. Some don’t come back from that tough love the fight game likes to issue out, but Belfort survived, dusted himself off, and while he has had erratic moments over the years, his recent run, which included first round knockouts of Matt Lindland and Rich Franklin, has rejuvenated his career. As for life outside the Octagon, that has changed considerably as well. Belfort is a family man, married with three children, and his faith has taken precedence for him in his life. That’s not to say he’s perfect.“I’m real, I make mistakes, I make bad decisions sometimes, but the key is to always try to live what you preach,” he said. “One day I’m gonna finish my career, but I don’t want to be like the leaders today in politics and sports. They shine on the field, and it doesn’t matter if it’s in golf, or American football, or on the soccer field, they have millions of followers but miserable lives. They’re not faithful with their own families, they’re not faithful with their own convictions, so they’re a bunch of liars. I don’t want to be that way. I want to succeed in my private life so then it can be a reflection on my public life.”That public life continues this Saturday in Philadelphia, when he takes on Yoshihiro Akiyama in the UFC 133 co-main event. It’s a pivotal battle, not just to see who moves forward in the division, but to see how Belfort reacts to what may be considered the first true knockout defeat of his career (his TKO losses to Randy Couture were more due to an accumulation of strikes and then from a doctor’s stoppage in their third bout). He is saying all the right things though, so it appears that he’s put the loss in the rearview mirror. And the way he sees it, there’s no point in wondering what might have been. You have to live with what was.“You cannot live by expecting things that were meant to go a different way,” he said. “You have to live according to the things that happened. If I knocked him out, it would have been totally different. If I connected my punch, he would be out. So the key is to be focused and deal with the things in your life. Don’t ever let the mind defeat you. In my mind, I’m unbeatable. It doesn’t matter the situation, I’m always going to have the mentality that nothing is impossible for myself.” In Akiyama, Belfort has the perfect foil for a memorable return. The Japanese contender is aggressive, he refuses to take a backward step, and he has an undeniable will to win. If Belfort is on, it could be a short night for Akiyama. If the Brazilian is not on top of his game, expect a 15 minute war that could go either way. Belfort, while respectful of his foe, knows which way he expects the bout to go. “He’s a very tough fighter,” said Belfort of Akiyama. “He’s well-rounded, he can take a punch, he can exchange, and he’s really dynamic. But my mind is tougher than ever. It’s so strong that no man can stop me. I’m focused on what I have to do to win, and I’m looking to finish. That’s how I’m stepping into the Octagon that night – I’m looking to finish him.”Even if you ask Belfort about a possible return to 205 pounds in the future, he’s adamant that the only goal is another shot at the middleweight belt. And to get on the road back there, he has to get by Akiyama first.“We have a goal,” he said. “We’re gonna go to the end. Nothing can stop me. I have Akiyama now, he’s my next opponent, and I’m looking at him as being in front of my goal.” There are usually doubts in a fighter’s mind, words, or actions in the period between a devastating loss and a return to the Octagon. Belfort has no such questions to answer for himself. The way he sees it, when he’s firing on all cylinders, he can’t be stopped, and he’s not shy about letting the world know it.“I’m always climbing a mountain and I’m not giving up,” he said. “I want to reach higher and nothing can stop a man when he puts in his mind and his heart that he wants to do it. I’m on my way right now.”
Mike Swick's long-awaited comeback to the Octagon will have to wait a little longer after he was forced to withdraw from his UFC 134 bout against Erick Silva due to injury. A replacement opponent for the debuting Silva will be announced shortly.Brazilian Prospects Meet in Rio Next MonthWith UFC 134 in Rio fast approaching, two local favorites will make their Octagon debuts at home. “Antonio Carvalho is out of his scheduled UFC 134 bout due to injury," said UFC President Dana White. "Felipe Arantes has stepped in his place to face Yuri Alcantara. Now, two of Brazil’s most exciting featherweight prospects will go head-to-head in Rio de Janeiro on August 27th.” Miller Rio-Bound to Fight Toquinho
“Dan Miller lives up to his motto of 'anyone, anyplace, anytime' by stepping up against Rousimar Palhares at UFC 134 after original opponent Alexandre Ferreira pulled out of the fight,” said UFC president Dana White today. Miller last fought at UFC 128, where he faced Nate Marquardt on less than a week's notice when Marquardt's original opponent, Yoshihiro Akiyama, was unable to make the trip due to the earthquake in Japan. Last month, Miller's teammate Charlie Brenneman fought Rick Story on less than a day's notice when Story's original opponent - Marquardt - was not medically cleared to fight.Alcantara vs. Carvalho in Rio updated June 28“Canadian featherweight fighter, Antonio Carvalho will be making his UFC debut against one of Brazil’s best prospects, Yuri Alcantara at UFC 134," confirmed UFC president Dana White. Jabouin vs. Loveland Added to UFC 134 Card updated June 10A Canadian and an American will meet in Brazil on August 27th, as bantamweights Yves Jabouin and Ian Loveland square off in a UFC 134 bout."Ian Loveland and Yves Jabouin have verbally agreed to fight on August 27 in Rio De Janeiro," said UFC President Dana White. "Both are exceptionally tough competitors and this will be Jabouin’s first bout in the bantamweight division." Swick Returns in Brazil Against Newcomer Silva
Following a year and a half long layoff, welterweight star Mike "Quick" Swick will return to the Octagon in search of his 10th UFC win when he takes on highly touted newcomer Erick Silva at UFC 134 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on August 27th.Schaub vs. Big Nog Confirmed for RioThe UFC 134 fight card has added a high-profile heavyweight battle, Dana White confirmed today. The 8-1 Brendan "The Hybrid" Schaub and former Pride and UFC champion Minotauro Nogueria have verbally agreed to the August 27 bout in Rio. Schaub is coming off a UFC 128 knockout of the night performance against another Pride legend, Mirko Cro Cop. The summer bout will be Nogueira's first return to the Octagon in 18 months after an injury took him out of his planned headlining bout last October.It's Official - Silva vs. Okami in Rio on August 27 updated May 9It's official. UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva will look to successfully defend his title for the ninth time when he faces the last man to beat him, number one contender Yushin Okami, at UFC 134 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on August 27th.Barboza to Face Pearson in RioVerbal agreements are in for another big bout on the Brazil card. "Undefeated 8-0 Brazilian sensation Edson Barboza takes on Ultimate Fighter 9 winner Ross 'The Real Deal' Pearson," said Dana White. Barboza is coming off a Fight of the Night win in his second UFC outing at UFC 128; Brit Pearson last defeated Spencer Fisher at UFC 127 in Sydney. UFC 134 in Rio Fight Card Takes Shape updated April 17After months of anticipation and speculation, the fight card for UFC 134 - the UFC's first return to Brazil since 1998 - has begun to take shape, featuring several of the country's most talented fighters. Dana White today announced several bouts that have been verbally agreed upon for the momentous event.Forrest Griffin shocked the world when he spoiled the heavily-favored Pride legend Mauricio “Shogun” Rua's UFC debut in 2007. Now Shogun will have the chance for revenge in his home country as the two will rematch August 27. "These two former world champions always give it their all and this could be one of the most exciting fights of the year," said White.In a dynamic lightweight matchup, Spencer Fisher is slated to take on Thiago Tavares. In light-heavyweight news, undefeated Stanislav Nedkov will take on devastating Brazilian striker Luiz “Banha” Cane.
Be on the lookout for a new beauty sitting cageside Saturday night -- Chrissy Hubbard will be a Guest Octagon Girl at UFC 133: Evans vs. Ortiz on Saturday, August 6.The blonde, beach-loving Hubbard was chosen from among thousands of entrants in the annual Miss TransWorld Motocross modeling search. The Floridian will not only grace the cage during UFC 133 but will also receive an extended spread in the pages of TransWorld Motocross magazine.
In an instant, Yoshihiro Akiyama found out that there are more important things than fighting. As a horrific earthquake assaulted his home country of Japan in March, the last thing the middleweight contender from Osaka was thinking about was his UFC 128 bout with Nate Marquardt.“I was at home,” said Akiyama, who was on the 41st floor when the earthquake hit. “I dashed out of my home by the emergency stairs.”Thankfully, Akiyama and his family were safe. So many others were not so lucky. Akiyama, obviously in no condition mentally to fight, withdrew from the Marquardt bout and instead focused on helping his nation rebuild, participating in a number of fundraising efforts to raise money for those affected by the tragedy.Eventually though, it was time for Akiyama to get back to fighting, and he chose not to ease back into his day job; instead, he agreed to face Vitor Belfort in this Saturday’s UFC 133 co-main event. It’s a fight he’s unquestionably looking forward to.“I think that Mr. Belfort is very strong, a perfect fighter, and he is actually one of my icons,” said Akiyama through translator Takashi Iizuka. But it wasn’t exactly a smooth transition from dealing with the devastation in his country to getting back into the gym.“Immediately after the earthquake, it was difficult,” he admits. “But after a while, I could concentrate on training and think about the bout.”And this one may be the most important of his UFC career. Three fights in thus far, Akiyama only holds a 1-2 record, but if you look closely, those three fights were against Alan Belcher (win), Chris Leben and Michael Bisping (losses), and all three earned Fight of the Night bonuses. So there’s no question that Akiyama is putting on memorable performances, but three losses in a row should he lose to Belfort isn’t a good thing, and he knows it.“It is always important to make the fans excited, but more important is to be heading for victory,” he said. “It is hard to deal with losses. But at the same time, a new bout is a new challenge.”For Akiyama, the real challenge is to get to a point where he’s still putting on compelling fights, but not dropping his hands and getting into wild slugfests which have allowed opponents like Leben and Bisping to capitalize. Against the hard-hitting Belfort, if you let him crack you one too many times, it’s game over. Akiyama realizes this, and it’s been on his mind from before the Marquardt fight, when he said, “I've been specifically focusing on how I can score enough points to win. From the past three matches I experienced in the UFC, I was too stuck in my own way and I wasn’t thinking about the result of the match.”So how has he progressed in that area?“My punching has made progress, thanks to a lot of practice and experience.”That’s a positive development, both for Saturday’s bout and for the 36-year old Akiyama’s longevity in the game. Then again, he is a warrior in the Octagon, so you get the impression that the first time he gets hit, it’s on. It’s just his way, one he says comes from his “nationality and judo experiences.” No one who has seen him fight is complaining, whether it’s in his home country, or in the United States and England, the two countries that have been treated to a dose of the man his fans have dubbed “Sexyama.”“I’m very grateful to have such fans,” said Akiyama. But is it still worth it to put up with all the rigors of the fight game after all these years?“Yes, I enjoy it, but the bout is always tense.”Saturday night’s meeting with Belfort will be no different, but tense drama and excitement is what we’ve come to expect from Akiyama, and this time, there’s even more meaning, as he’s fighting not just for himself, but for Japan.“I hope that the people in Japan will be brave during these difficulties, that they will see a good fight from me and hopefully a victory on August 6th.”
When in Rome, do as the Romans do. Or, in deference to Cyprus native Costa Philippou’s heritage, when in Greece, do as the Greeks do. So when the former boxer answered the bell for his first mixed martial arts match against future UFC fighter Ricardo Romero in May of 2008, he didn’t want to be rude or act like a rookie.He threw a leg kick. It didn’t go so well.“The guy picked me up and threw me on my head,” he laughs. “I got up and started punching and I don’t think I threw another kick the rest of the fight.”That was a good thing, as he dropped Romero twice in the bout, only to lose a split decision. It wasn’t a bad showing for someone who just a few months earlier was ready to start going after Wladimir Klitschko, not Anderson Silva.“After that I showed that I was actually a fighter, and they paid attention to me,” he said. “They started training me as an MMA fighter. But I went into that fight not even knowing what an armbar was or what takedown defense was.”A native of Limassol, Philippou’s love was always boxing, and he was good at it, winning a Bronze medal in the European championships and just missing a spot on the Olympic team. Eventually, he moved to the United States to chase glory in the squared circle, and was encouraged to enter the prestigious New York Golden Gloves tournament in 1996, just two months after arriving in the States. Philippou made it to the finals at Madison Square Garden in the super heavyweight division, losing a decision to Nagy Aguilera, who went on to a decent pro career that included fights with Antonio Tarver, Chris Arreola, and Samuel Peter. Following the tournament, Philippou turned pro, decisioning Butterbean conqueror Mitchell Rose over four rounds, and following it up with a 53 second knockout of James Toto. But it was in his third fight, an ESPN-televised bout in February of 2007 that things got interesting.“I fought a last minute opponent, on two days notice, and the guy was 6-5 with five, six inches longer reach than me,” said Philippou of his bout with Rodney Ray. “It wasn’t a great fight, but I won a unanimous decision, and instead of my coach getting back to the gym, seeing whatever we did wrong and fixing it, he was complaining about me not knocking out the guy.”The two developed some irreconcilable differences at this point, and that normally wouldn’t have been the end of the world. But in this case, Philippou’s coach was also his manager, and he had two years left on a three year contract with him.“I couldn’t box without giving him his percentage, and I didn’t want to do that, so I decided to try MMA, thinking a fight is a fight,” said Philippou. “I had no idea how to wrestle or do jiu-jitsu. I knew how to kickbox, but that was about it.”Well, he at least had the boxing part, since that kicking thing obviously didn’t work out that well against Romero. But when he accepted the fight just four months after he decided he was going to become a mixed martial artist, he earned a measure of respect.“I wanted to show them that I was willing to fight,” he said. “They didn’t know me. They thought that I was just all talk.”He wasn’t, and in addition to his striking prowess, he had a willingness to work and to learn. “I liked training jiu-jitsu,” he said. “I hated training with the gi because of the heat. So I used the gi for a year and then put it away. Wrestling was even harder than jiu-jitsu because in jiu-jitsu you’ve got time to think and come up with a couple of moves. In wrestling, you’ve got to react, just like in boxing, and a lot of things are different.”That goes for transitioning his boxing into MMA striking as well.“You can’t use the same technique that you use in a boxing fight,” said Philippou. “You won’t be able to stay up close and bob and weave and exchange five, six punch combinations because they’ll take you down. It took me a while to get used to that because my whole boxing career, they were telling me to throw a minimum of four, five punches and stay in the pocket because I’m a short guy. They wanted me to fight kind of like (Mike) Tyson. With MMA that doesn’t work. You’ve got to be light on your feet and you gotta move. A great example is James Toney. He’s a great boxer, but he’ll never be a great MMA fighter. He’s flat on his feet, he’s moving and bobbing and weaving and two seconds later he’s going to be on his back and boxing is over.” “All the boxers say ‘oh, MMA fighters, they don’t really know how to box,” he continues. “It looks different, and it looks like we don’t know how to box. Every time I go to a boxing gym to spar and I tell them that I’m an MMA fighter, they say ‘ah, okay,’ and they just walk away. After the first round they realize ‘ooh, you really know how to box.’ It’s impossible for us to use the same techniques in an MMA fight.”As time went on though, he began picking up the game and picking up wins. In 2010, he made it to the elimination round on the 11th season of The Ultimate Fighter, but was ousted by Joe Henle after a strong start to their bout, yet he got right back to business, eventually compiling a 7-1, 1 NC record when he got the call from the UFC to step in on a week’s notice to face Nick Catone at UFC 128 in March. Little had changed in his mindset from the first time he began in the sport, so he accepted the fight, even though he had just taken the previous three weeks off after his three round win over Uriah Hall in February.The result was predictable, with Catone taking Philippou down to the mat and keeping him there en route to a clear-cut three round decision win.“I proved I could take a beating, that’s about it,” chuckled Philippou, who wouldn’t mind a shot at redemption someday. “Hopefully in the future I get another match with Catone. I would like to fight him again just to prove a point that I’m not such an easy opponent. He had his way with me and walked right through me. Hopefully in this fight I get to prove that I’m a different fighter than what everybody saw.”“This fight” is a UFC 133 main card battle with Jorge Rivera. Technically, it’s another late notice match considering that Philippou was originally scheduled to face Rafael Natal on the Philadelphia card, but when Alessio Sakara was forced out of the Rivera bout due to injury, what better replacement would there be for the former pro boxer than another pro boxer? Philippou agrees.“Nothing really changed,” he said. “They switched the opponent and I gladly accepted the challenge when they asked me, but it was actually good news for me to get a new opponent. He’s mostly a striker, so I’ll be more comfortable to strike with him, and it’s the main card, so it’s a win-win situation for me.”He also comes into the bout having been a key training partner for members of his camp, including UFC vet Pete Sell and Strikeforce prospect Gian Villante, and since he’s not facing Natal, a member of the Renzo Gracie camp, he will have Matt Serra joining Ray Longo in his corner. That sounds like a win-win-win-win. But then there’s Rivera, a hard-nosed veteran with knockout power and the experience to gut through a tough fight. Philippou is looking forward to the challenge of facing “El Conquistador,” but he believes he has the edge he needs to secure his first UFC win.“I think my technique will be way, way better than him and I’ll be more powerful than him and have more speed,” he said. “He has the longer reach and he’s a bigger opponent, but I don’t really think he’s gonna try and take me down, so if he decides that he’s gonna stay on his feet I think I’m gonna have the advantage and I think I’m gonna get the better of him.”
Coach Bruce Robnett didn’t pull any punches when sophomore Mike Pierce walked into the Barlow High School wrestling room to prepare for his second year on the mat. “This year,” he said. “You’re gonna learn how to lose.”Not exactly the rah-rah, you can do it, stuff you hear on afterschool specials, but wrestlers and their coaches never were the sentimental type. And after what he described as a “fun” freshman year, the teenage Pierce did get a particularly harsh dash of tough love that second season.“I really got beat on sophomore year,” said Pierce with a chuckle. “It was frustrating because I was losing, but at the same time I could see the progress I was making, and then after that year I stuck it in my head ‘okay, this is my year.’ And I went from not placing at State the previous year to winning the State title the next year, so that made me feel good.”In all, Pierce took home two Oregon State championships during his high school career, in 1998 and 1999, and in addition to his own determination and talent on the mat, he can also thank Robnett and a teammate who remains a training partner in his current gig as a mixed martial artist, WEC vet Dave Jansen.“He was the guy I had the biggest rivalry with and he would kick my butt,” said Pierce of Jansen. “I would literally challenge him every single week for the varsity spot and he would beat me every single time. But then that junior year, we were in different weight classes and I ended up doing really well and winning state. It was us two pushing each other and beating on each other that made us better.”Pierce went on to wrestle briefly at Portland State University before eventually settling into the world of pro MMA in 2007. He has since won 12 of 15 bouts, including nine of his last 10, with his only loss in that stretch coming to top welterweight contender Jon Fitch. But despite his success, Pierce is still seen as being in the prospect stage of his career, something he would like to change with Saturday’s UFC 133 bout against fellow wrestler Johny Hendricks.“Facing another wrestler is always fun,” said Pierce. “We kinda know each other’s game, we’ve been doing it since we were kids, and so it’s the other facets of the game that become a little more interesting. I see Johny Hendricks and me being an exciting fight. I don’t think this is gonna be a fight you’re gonna see ground out on the floor. I don’t see that happening. I see us being more on the feet, in the clinch, working in the open or maybe against the cage, but I think it’s gonna be more of a standup battle than anything, and I’m looking forward to that.”And even though the 30-year old Pierce is far removed from his high school days, in recent months he’s realized the wisdom of Robnett’s words to him before his sophomore wrestling season, and he has learned the value of patience. Don’t mix that up with content though.“I want to hurry up because like (UFC President) Dana (White) says, your window of opportunity in this business is only so long,” said Pierce. “Nobody can do this forever unless you’re Randy Couture. (Laughs) Everybody’s got a finite amount of time in this business, so my goals are what they are and I’d like to get there as soon as possible. But at the same time I know I can only do it at a particular rate.”But given the limited amount of time each fighter can realistically compete in the Octagon each year, every trip from the locker room has to count, and Pierce, a UFC vet since 2009, has grasped on to that reality with both hands. Winner of three in a row, the Portland native has finished his last two fights, submitting Amilcar Alves and knocking out Kenny Robertson. It’s a stark contrast to his decision wins over Brock Larson and Julio Paulino, which got fans up in arms about his inability to decisively end fights. But after the last two, he’s suddenly in their good graces again. Welcome to the fickle world of pro sports.“I’ve read all the good stuff and all the bad stuff and something that people always complained about before was ‘oh, he just does decisions, there’s nothing exciting going on,’ but at the same time, some of the guys that I was fighting were tough guys,” said Pierce. “Jon Fitch was my second fight in the UFC, and I came close. I tried to finish the guy – everybody saw that, but it still came out a decision not in my favor. I like to finish, I don’t like leaving things up to the referee or the judges, and I don’t think any fighter does. But I’ve been on a little bit of a roll lately, finishing my last two guys, and the last one was a knockout, and that’s something I’d like to continue. I think I have the capability to do it, and that’s what I’m looking to do in this fight.”What makes Pierce scary and a legitimate threat to his fellow welterweights is that even though he comes from a wrestling background, he has shown the ability to handle himself wherever the fight goes, and to do it with an ease that’s impressive. You don’t see him winging wild shots or shooting for takedowns from 20 feet away. If he can take you down to the mat and beat you there, he will; if he has to stand for 15 minutes or less, he won’t get flustered. In other words, he’s hard to decipher simply because he’s adaptable. “You just have to be open minded in the training room, listen to your coaches, and try to put something together that is mixed martial arts,” said Pierce. “There are guys that go into the training room and they learn boxing or Muay Thai and they forget how to mix that up and transition into an MMA fighter. Instead, they’re in boxing mode or Muay Thai mode and then they go to wrestling mode. There’s a fine line in there where you gotta learn how to mix all that together and make it mesh and flow. That’s what I’ve always been trying to achieve – finding a style that meshes really well and where I can transition really well from one to the other.”He seems to have found that style, even if the old Mike Tyson line that everyone has a plan until they get hit still applies at times. The trick is trying to reduce the percentage of times it does happen.“It takes a long time and a lot of repetition to get it burned into your head to where it doesn’t even become a thought process, it’s just a reaction,” he said. “And what Tyson says is true; there are a lot of times when even the best of us get smacked pretty hard and we revert back to what we know. We go into that survival, freak out mode (Laughs), and you know what you do best, so you try and hang on to that. But there are times when you gotta just think for a moment about what you need to do instead of what you’ve always done.”Aiding in this process are a couple of pretty fair fighters in their own right, Pierce’s training partners for the Hendricks bout, Chael Sonnen and Nate Quarry, who have had plenty of good advice for their gym mate about MMA in and out of the Octagon.“These guys have been my training partners for this whole camp and even at this tail end I’ve been working with (middleweight contender) Yushin Okami because he’s in town getting ready for his fight,” he said. “Between all those guys, they have a wealth of experience and they have pointers here and there about what you should do on the business side of things or what might help, so you’ve got to take all those things into consideration and hopefully it pays off in the end.”If he keeps winning, it’s about to. Pierce’s record speaks for itself: 12-3 with three UFC wins as well as victories over Paul Bradley, Justin Haskins, Mark Miller, and Mike Dolce. Plus, he’s on a two fight finishing streak and he gave Fitch a tough scrap in his lone Octagon loss. As Bruce Buffer would say, “It’s time.”“I hope so,” he said. “They sent me Jon Fitch in my second fight, which is a huge honor and not very common that they’d throw a newcomer one of the top contenders in the weight class. I think I handled myself pretty well. I did better than probably 99 percent of the people thought I would do, and I really only improved since that fight. So I think after this fight I’d really like to get a little deeper into the mix and work my way to the top. That’s really what I want to do.”And when a wrestler puts his mind to something, it’s hard to break him loose from it.“There’s something about wrestlers,” said Pierce. “They have a mental toughness to them that’s just inherent to the sport. You’ve got so many levels of discipline – you have to maintain a particular weight, you’ve got to watch your diet and you’ve got to work out a lot, and learn different techniques - so I think the amount of discipline that’s involved in this sport by nature makes these people tougher if they really want to be serious about it.”Mike Pierce is serious.
If things seem a little bit different for Jorge Rivera this time around, days before his UFC 133 bout with Costa Philippou on Saturday in Philadelphia, that would be an accurate assessment. There’s no trash talk, no bad blood, no tempers flaring like there was in February, when Rivera and Michael Bisping went to war before, during, and even after their UFC 127 match. It was almost out of character for the always affable Rivera, leading to the question, had he ever been in a fight quite like that?“Not professionally,” he laughs. And he keeps laughing, because when you think about it, bad blood or not, at the end of the day, you put on the gloves and settle your business in the Octagon.“It’s a fight,” he agrees. “Whether I love you or hate you, I’m going to go in there and punch you in the face, and vice versa. We’re not gonna always like one another.”And when it was all over at Acer Arena in Sydney, Bisping was the one who emerged victorious via second round TKO. It wasn’t the way Rivera, who brought a three fight winning streak into the bout, wanted or expected things to end, but that’s the fight game, and if anyone knows that game, it’s the 39-year old native of Framingham, Massachusetts. And hey, they say you learn more from your losses than your wins, right? So were there any positives that he took home to New England?“I’m sure there is,” he chuckles. He just hasn’t found them yet. And more than any of his previous defeats, this one hit home the hardest, and even had him contemplating retirement.“Just how the whole thing unfolded, I was like what the f**k?” he said. “But it is what it is. I can’t sit there and cry about it, I gotta keep moving on.” So how do fighters move on? They fight. And Rivera is back this weekend doing what he does best, and in Philippou he’s got a dance partner willing to give him the standup war he wants. That’s the good part. The bad? He only got his new opponent on short notice after Alessio Sakara suffered a knee injury and was forced from the bout.“It doesn’t really affect me too much,” admits Rivera, 18-8. “The only thing that’s kinda bothering me this time is that I only have a week to study and prepare for my next opponent. But at the same time, he (Philippou) is similar to Sakara in the fact that he’s a banger. I think he has a little more power in his hands, but whatever, it’s a fight. This is what we do. If we were in the streets fighting, I wouldn’t get to pick and choose who I fight – it’s whoever I had the problem with.”And stylistically, Philippou may be the better matchup simply because the Greek bomber is almost guaranteed to keep the fight standing.“I didn’t think Sakara was gonna take it to the ground either,” counters Rivera. “I think he’s in the business of entertaining fight fans and he knows what he’s good at, and that’s what I think that fight was gonna look like. But with Costa, I think it’s a little more secure that this is what he does and this is what he likes to do. This is his strength and his bread and butter; this is how he makes his money.”It’s how Rivera makes his money as well, and whether he’s won or lost, he’s never been afraid to step up to the mark and fight the best in the business. From Anderson Silva and Rich Franklin to Chris Leben and Martin Kampmann, Rivera has been in with them all, and with a decade in the game, he’s seen plenty of changes. One of them is the advent of technology to scout opponents, and he took full advantage of that tool when he was given the name of his new UFC 133 foe.“I’ve been youtubing everything I can find on anybody named Costa Philippou,” he laughed. “There’s more information about your opponent, you can study him better, you can see what you can do with him – what his strengths are, what his weaknesses may be, what you can exploit and what you can look out for. It’s right there in front of you. But there’s also a million things on all of us out there that people can look up. There’s so much information on the internet it’s ridiculous.” So how does he feel about that?“It all depends on what they’re doing with me.”When Rivera is relaxed like this it usually means that a solid performance is coming around the corner, and he hopes that’s the case this time. But another reason for his confidence that Saturday night will be a good night comes from a few weeks with Greg Jackson and company in Albuquerque. It was a change for the diehard New Englander, but a welcome one.“I needed to freshen up,” he said. “The last fight took a little bit out of me, and going out there was the best thing I’ve ever done. I learned a lot, I got re-energized, re-focused, and I got a lot out of that experience. I’m really, really grateful to the people at Ranger Up, Tim Kennedy, Greg Jackson and everybody over at Jackson’s MMA. They helped me get my head straight, and I’m focused and charged up.”Charged up for a title run? If he wins, that’s four wins in his last five bouts. Well?“One day at a time,” he smiles. “One fight at a time.”That’s probably the best way to approach it. One thing’s for sure though. Whether Rivera carries on for another five fights or calls it quits after the next one, the fighting life has left an indelible mark on him that goes beyond mere wins and losses. So he won’t ever forget what the game has meant to him.“(Early UFC vet) Jason DeLucia was my first teacher,” recalled Rivera. “He said ‘you’re never gonna be as good as people say you are, but you’ll never be as bad as they say you are either.’ That never, ever left me. And it goes beyond that. I used to be a knucklehead and I was a troublemaker. This has saved me. I know the clichés and whatever, but this has been very, very good to me and I love it. I went from being an embarrassment to my family to something that they could be proud of. I love my parents dearly and I’m very happy with the fact that they don’t have to hang their heads when they talk about me.”
Brian Ebersole probably laughs a little, or maybe a lot, when the phrase “overnight sensation” gets attached to his name. Sure, the difference in attention on a mainstream level is night and day from where it was before he stunned Chris Lytle at UFC 127 in February and became one of the most visible rookies on the UFC roster. But nothing that took more than 11 years and 66 professional fights, in addition to countless more years and matches on the wrestling mat, could ever be called overnight.So don’t get offended if Ebersole smirks at such a description of his sudden arrival on the UFC stage. If anything, the most surprised party of the bunch is the man himself, who when asked what his reaction would be if someone told him a few years back that in 2011 he would be coming off a win over Lytle and preparing for an August 6th bout against Dennis Hallman on the UFC 133 main card in Philadelphia, he simply says, “I would have probably partied a little bit more. I was too busy working myself to death to try to get here.”Fate has funny ways of intervening though, and despite his years of toil in the game and a seven fight win streak compiled in his adopted country of Australia, he didn’t get his call to the big show until Carlos Condit got injured and Lytle needed a legit opponent in Sydney. Ebersole was legit, and he just happened to be living and training in Australia. Deal done. Who would have thought that was the way to get in the UFC? Not Ebersole.“I figured I would fight for the UFC before I was done,” he said, “I just didn’t know what I was gonna have to do to get there, whether it would be diplomatic, be ignorant, pull a Chael Sonnen and talk s**t about everybody, I didn’t know was I was gonna have to do to get attention. I figured as long as I kept winning, I’d be all right. I’m in the gym two, three times a day, every day, so I was doing everything I could to do everything proper. I told them two years in a row that I was in Australia, ready to go to Sydney, and the way I got in was the way I got in. Now I’m just hoping to get some traction and stick.”If he fights the way he did against Lytle, that shouldn’t be an issue. Unorthodox, quirky, relaxed, yet brutally effective, Ebersole fought as if he had been in the Octagon for years, and after walking away with a unanimous decision win and a Fight of the Night award, the fans embraced him as one of their favorites almost immediately. Was it the “hairow” he shaved into his chest?“I think it’s the almost 70 fight thing and not being in the UFC,” said Ebersole. “I think a lot of people wondered why I never got a shot earlier, and once I did get a shot, they went ‘man, this guy’s gonna be fun to watch because he knows what he’s doing. He’s always gonna give a fairly tough fight.’ And from the looks of it in my first fight, I think a lot of people realized that I’m not afraid to take five seconds from the heat of battle and entertain and have a bit of a laugh before I step back into the fire.”You would think that to be a risky strategy, especially in the UFC, where a loss or two can lead to an ouster from the organization. And after fighting for so long to get here, you almost couldn’t blame Ebersole if he wanted to play it safe and grind out a win over Lytle. But he didn’t. Or did he?“I was absolutely cautious,” he said. “That was a cautious fight from Brian Ebersole. I kept my distance from the dangerous Chris Lytle. Heck, I tried to wear headgear in the ring, that’s how cautious I was.”He doesn’t even chuckle at first, but then can’t help himself before continuing.“I think I can open up a lot more, but I think that’s the case for a lot of guys in the UFC. Some guys open up almost ignorant with their hands, but as a wrestling-based guy, there’s a lot more I can do wrestling wise to be entertaining and to try to gain positions and things like that or to even make the pace of the fight faster. That was a pretty slow paced fight for me.”It’s almost hard to fathom another fighter quite like Ebersole, whose age (30) doesn’t seem to fit with his experience level. And while he jokes about it, he has certainly earned each year on his fighting calendar the hard way.“Especially when I haven’t shaved, people definitely think I’m a bit older than I am,” he said. “I assume people think I’m nearing 40, but the truth is, my first three years of fighting, I had 36 fights. I averaged a fight a month, so the Midwest scene definitely allowed me to jump in and have a play a lot, and that came with both good and bad. The bad is that I saw the worst side of a lot of promotions, and the things that could go wrong with a promotion definitely did, and I took losses where I shouldn’t have even took the fight. Not that I physically couldn’t compete, but I probably wasn’t training right. When I first started I was just wrestling. I wasn’t fighting, so it really was my style versus whatever style they brought, and I didn’t have much violence in me and I didn’t have very many submissions.”He toughed it out though, and those that survived that circuit learned plenty about themselves. Ebersole was no different, but then again, he already knew that he was tough. He can thank wrestling for that. “I went to a college wrestling room where Matt Hughes was the assistant coach and got my ass beat,” said Ebersole, who wrestled at Eastern Illinois University, Hughes’ alma mater. “If that wasn’t the way to earn my scholarship and get my education, who knows if I would have pitched a fit or not. I just realized that I have to be here, so I’m gonna make the best of it.”Ebersole didn’t graduate from EIU, but while he was there, he began to develop a style that would eventually become familiar to fight fans.“When it came to wrestling, I was never the really, really strong guy that just stood in the middle of the mat and pushed people around,” he said. “I was always that guy that was kinda dancing on the outside looking for openings, and I kinda used that in and out game with level changes to open up my shots. So I’m definitely not the physically strongest guy; I don’t have that gymnast power where they can make themselves into a really small ball and they’re an immovable object. There are a few guys who are a bit like that. Matt Hughes and (Josh) Koscheck both come to mind where they can make themselves really small and just push in and you can’t do anything about it. But if I do that, I get walked over. So I need to use that timing mechanism, that element of surprise, and that’s very much integrated into my striking game as well. I’m not gonna go out there like Mike Tyson or a Matt Hughes type wrestler. I’m definitely gonna have to keep myself moving, and I’ll entertain myself and I hope I can entertain the fans with some things that they haven’t quite seen before.”Not everyone is entertained by Ebersole though, and after his win over Lytle, UFC heavyweight Matt Mitrione had some words with his fellow Midwesterner.“I need to have fun when I fight,” said Ebersole. “I told Matt Mitrione after he yelled at me at the UFC hotel after the fight about being disrespectful that I wasn’t trying to show anybody up or be disrespectful; that’s just the way I fight. It keeps me loose, and if I can keep myself entertained and happy, I keep on rhythm. I don’t see too many people that go to a dance club and have a crazy, serious look on their face, and that’s kinda how I feel – that’s me dancing, that’s my art. So I’m always gonna be fairly loose and playful, even if I’m getting hit or losing a fight by decision at the time. That’s how I keep my rhythm and myself going. When I tighten up and I look like I’m nervous or being reserved, there’s probably a reason for that; it’s probably because I’m worried about the guy or I felt something, whether it was power in his hands or the wrestling that he has that slowed me down.”But as entertaining as a fighter can be, eventually, you have to put together enough wins where the big show will take a look at you. By the time Ebersole was two years into his pro career, he was just 11-6, and while he wanted to hit the UFC, he had no idea how to do it.“I didn’t have a definition of what success was or a path set for me,” he said. “I was just doing it to do it. I didn’t know how to get into the UFC, I didn’t have a manager, I just did my own thing, and it was a way for me to compete. I had my wrestling career cut short due to an incident that got cleared up about nine months later, but I missed the whole wrestling season and that kept me from going back to the team. So I felt cheated out of part of my career, and I took blame as well knowing that I caused myself a bit of an issue. So I found a way to make up for that, and competing in MMA was that way.” Eventually though, the losses began getting outnumbered by the wins in bigger and bigger numbers, and when he went out to California to train with the American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) in 2003, Ebersole didn’t just have a competitive outlet anymore; he has a career.“I was drifting for a long time, and then I got the chance to move out to California, and I guess I had the delusions of grandeur and things like that, hoping for two and three thousand dollar paydays and maybe the UFC thing, and I went on faith and went and did it,” he said. “It didn’t all go smooth and I messed up in California a bit and didn’t take advantages of all the opportunities that I had, but it came good in the end and I had great training and some awesome experiences as far as fights go.”Australia would be where he truly made his mark though, and his residence down under was the catalyst for his entrance into the UFC. So much for an overnight success, right? But Ebersole isn’t one to dwell on what could have beens. He doesn’t even resent seeing some fighters who had just a fraction of his experience get Octagon shots before him. But that doesn’t mean he wasn’t watching everything that went on in the sport since The Ultimate Fighter helped launch the UFC into the mainstream in 2005.“I don’t compare it (his story) with anybody else’s story,” said Ebersole. “But when I do look at other kids that have five, six, seven fights and it’s almost like they’re entitled to something, they think they’re owed by the sport. To put it in Aussie terms, that’s when I crack the s**t. That bothers me. They don’t know what people really had to do to get in the game and I hear fans and other people say, ‘well, Brock Lesnar only had two fights (in the UFC) before he got a title shot.’ Well, they’re taking a lot out of the fact that Brock Lesnar was one of the best high school and college wrestlers there was, and then he did the pro wrestling thing, which earned him a lot of fans, so then there’s the business side. You can’t put a value on something like that. But it’s a little bit different. I know that these wrestlers have had hundreds of matches and won dozens of tournaments, they put their time in. But the kids from the boxing or jiu-jitsu background that haven’t quite put it in like that, and they feel entitled, it’s a bit interesting.”Few fighters coming into the sport these days will have stories like Ebersole’s. They will walk into a gym and learn mixed martial arts as a whole, and by the time they’re ready to turn pro, a few impressive wins on the local circuit will likely get them a fight with some sort of television exposure, and after a few more fights like that, they may get that UFC call that a lot of veterans waited close to a decade for. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as it marks a prosperous time for the fighters and the sport. But there’s something to be said for those fighters who came up the way Ebersole did, in an era where if you had talent and five fights, you were cleaning the spit buckets, not hawking your latest t-shirt.“The guys that had the superstar attitude or that attitude of entitlement, they got that beaten out of them pretty quick back then,” he laughs. “Now you get guys with that attitude and they go to a gym and they get touched up in sparring and they don’t return. They’ll just find another gym and become the bully of that gym.”Ebersole recalls his days at AKA.“We sparred three times a week and wrestled five rounds after that,” he said. “It was probably my fault for being the 200-205 pound mark all the time as a middleweight, and I had to spar with the heavyweights sometimes and they don’t exactly tone it down on you. (Laughs) Especially if you’re competing with guys that big, if you’re actually hitting them and stinging them, you can’t complain when they whack you back, even if they’re bigger than you.”Yet as crazy as these stories are, they made Brian Ebersole a fighter. This Saturday, he will fight in the United States for the first time since March of 2007, and he will do so as a UFC fighter. It’s been a long time coming, but it’s also been worth the wait.“It’s gonna be a bit emotional because I have a lot of people coming out there,” he said. “I got three wrestling coaches from my youth coming out there, one of them’s gonna corner me, and I’ve got some family members and some friends coming up. I embarked on this journey a long time ago when I left college without graduating to go chase a career in this sport, so to be able to come back to the US in a big show like this gives me that level of success and it validates my career, not just to me, but more so to my family and friends that thought I was crazy for going out and fighting every month.”
UFC President Dana White announced a change to next week's UFC on Versus card today.“Leonard Garcia is out with an injury, so newly signed prospect Jim Hettes is taking his place vs Alex “Bruce Leroy” Caceres on August 14 in Milwaukee," said White. "Hettes is undefeated as a pro and has finished all opponents by submission. Caceres has also never gone the distance. Both fighters have verbally agreed to the bout.” Herman in for Injured Lawlor vs. Noke
Coming off of his blitzkrieg victory over Tim Credeur in June, Ed "Short Fuse" Herman will return to action in August. Herman has agreed to replace the injured Tom Lawlor against Aussie Kyle Noke August 14 in Milwaukee, Dana White confirmed today. The middleweight bout will pit Herman, a TUF 3 standout, against TUF 11's Noke, who's gone 3-0 in the UFC since the show ended.Makdessi vs. Taylor Off; Now Cerrone vs. Oliveira updated July 6Days after Donald Cerrone replaced an injured John Makdessi on the Milwaukee fight card, Makdessi's original opponent Paul Taylor has also been injured.Charles Oliveira, fresh off his Fight of the Night performance June 26, will step in to fight Donald Cerrone on August 14. Cerrone - no stranger to Fight of the Night bonuses himself - also turned in a dominant win in June, his at UFC 131 over Vagner Rocha.Cerrone in for Makdessi vs. Taylor updated June 27Due to injury, John Makdessi has been forced to withdraw from his upcoming bout against Brit Paul Taylor. Stepping in for “The Bull” will be Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone, who’s coming off a one-sided win over Wagner Rocha at UFC 131. Dana White confirmed today that verbal agreements are in for the new lightweight bout. Newcomer Markes Steps in for Bonnar against Vemola updated June 17With Stephan Bonnar sidelined by injury, 11-1 Brazilian newcomer Ronny Markes has verbally agreed to step up to the plate to face Karlos Vemola on August 14th's UFC on Versus card in Milwaukee.Kyle Noke vs. Filthy Tom in Milwaukee updated June 1Two fan favorites from TUF seasons past will face off in a middleweight bout this summer. Dana White confirmed today that Aussie Kyle Noke and "Filthy" Tom Lawlor have agreed to meet at UFC on Versus 5. Both men are coming off solid wins - Lawlor decisioned Patrick Cote last fall at UFC 121, while Noke scored Submission of the Night at UFC 127 in Sydney."Bruce Leroy" Gets Garcia in Milwaukee updated May 25The Ultimate Fighter 12's Alex "Bruce Leroy" Caceres will look for his first UFC win on August 14th in Milwaukee, when he faces veteran action hero Leonard "Bad Boy" Garcia in a bout verbally agreed to late Tuesday night.Benavidez vs. Wineland On Two bantamweight powerhouses will go at it as Joseph Benavidez and Eddie Wineland have verbally agreed to face each other at the UFC on Versus show, confirmed Dana White today. Both WEC vets are coming off three-round battles at UFC 128 and recently sat next to one another at the UFC Fighter Summit. Hamman Debuts at 185 Against Dollaway this August updated May 23After back-to-back Fight of the Night awards, Jared Hamman will test the waters at 185 pounds this August 14th against former Ultimate Fighter finalist CB Dollaway.“Two time Fight of the Night winner Jared ‘The Messenger’ Hamman has verbally agreed to face two time Submission of the Night winner CB ‘The Doberman’ Dollaway in his middleweight debut August 14 in Milwaukee,” said UFC President Dana White.Reinhardt makes Bantam debut against FigueroaVeteran Jason Reinhardt will test bantamweight waters this summer when he battles 135-pound prospect Edwin Figueroa on the UFC on Versus card in Milwaukee.“Jason Reinhardt and Edwin Figueroa have verbally agreed to face each other in a bantamweight bout, August 14th in Milwaukee," said UFC President Dana White. "With 20 wins, Reinhardt has never gone the distance and Figueroa is coming off a sensational “Fight of The Night” performance against Michael McDonald.”Bombs Away as Lytle Faces Hardy in Milwaukee Welterweight sluggers Dan "The Outlaw" Hardy and Chris "Lights Out" Lytle will go to war in the main event of August 14th's UFC on Versus card in Milwaukee. The bout was verbally agreed to by both parties and is likely to be one of the most exciting of 2011.Castillo vs. Volkmann on its way to Milwaukee UFC President Dana White has announced another intriguing matchup for the August 14th event in Milwaukee, as two lightweight up and comers collide.“In a battle between two top notch wrestlers, Danny “Last Call” Castillo will face Jacob “Christmas” Volkmann August 14 in Milwaukee,” said White.Miller/Bendo, Bonnar/Vemola Coming in AugustVerbal agreements are in for an August matchup between two of the top lightweights in the UFC as former WEC champion Ben Henderson takes on highly ranked Jim Miller, who is currently riding a seven-fight win streak.Earlier in the day, White confirmed that Stephan Bonnar will try to score his third win in a row against when he battles European standout Karlos Vemola at the same event, taking place August 14 in Milwaukee.“Verbal agreements are in for an August matchup between Karlos Vemola and Stephan Bonnar," said UFC President Dana White. "Vemola is an extremely powerful wrestler with heavy hands while Bonnar is very well rounded and known for his incredible ability to take punishment and keep coming forward.”Two Announced for UFC on VS Event in AugustThis August’s UFC on Versus event is starting to take shape, with UFC President Dana White announcing two bouts that have been verbally agreed to for the show, which will take place on a date and at a venue to be announced.“A match that has a shot at being ‘Fight of the Night’ has been verbally agreed to for UFC On Versus this August, as Duane ‘Bang’ Ludwig and Ultimate Fighter winner Amir Sadollah will throw down,” said White. “Verbal agreements are also in for a battle of submission specialists as ‘The Spider’ TJ O’Brien will face Cole ‘Magrinho’ Miller.”
Mike Brown had been down this road before and it worked out for him. Take a hard loss, jump right back into the fray as soon as possible and get that bad taste out of his mouth with a win. It happened in 2004 when he came back 28 days after a loss to Joe Lauzon with a win over Renato Tavares. Anthony Morrison was the victim less than two months following Brown’s defeat to Jose Aldo in 2009. So when the former WEC featherweight champion lost a heartbreaking split decision to Diego Nunes on New Year’s Day, and Chan Sung Jung was forced out of his bout three weeks later against Rani Yahya, Brown saw his opportunity to get back into the win column immediately and he took it.This time, the strategy backfired, and a flat Brown lost a three round decision to Yahya. “Obviously looking back now, I followed the wrong choice,” said Brown. “I was really depressed after the Nunes defeat, and they called me up and I was like ‘this will make me feel better, just getting a win.’ I’ve done it before, I’ve done it a bunch of times. A lot of times I’ve tried to come back quick after a loss, I fought again and I won. So it had worked in the past. The good thing about it is that usually, you just did a camp so you don’t have to go through the long, grueling eight to ten weeks of training. The work was already done. So I thought it would make me feel better, but I doubled my problems.”Now having lost three of his previous four bouts (a 2010 loss to Manny Gamburyan came in the WEC), Brown has his back against the wall as he approaches Saturday’s UFC 133 bout against Nam Phan in Philadelphia, but you wouldn’t know it from talking to the always affable featherweight, who believes the break he’s had since January has done nothing but help him.“I’m good,” he said. “I’m getting healthy and I took some time off, which I hadn’t done in a while. I was really active for a while, and I took a little time to regroup, to take care of my body a little bit and try to fix up the ol’ machine and get it running again. It feels like it’s going pretty good. The engine sounds all right, the tires have air in ‘em, and I think we’re ready to race.” The air conditioning is working too, which wasn’t the case a couple weeks back, when fans on Facebook and Twitter suffered along with Brown as he went over a week without AC in his Florida home during one of the more oppressive summers in recent history. Thankfully, everything got back in working order for the tail end of his training camp.“It cut out on me for half a day, but I’m golden right now,” laughed Brown. “The only thing that’s tough (when it was out) is that it’s hard to sleep. I would break a sweat just sitting around the house, but as long as I kept hydrated I would be all right. But at night, it would be hard to fall asleep.”The way things were going, you might have seen Brown show up in Philly as a bantamweight, but that’s not happening, says the former lightweight.“I think I’m at my optimal weight,” he said. “I know guys that have cut too much and gone down a weight class. I usually tell them that I can make 125 (flyweight) if I want to. If I don’t want to eat and I want to run all the time (Laughs), I can make 125, but I would change my body dramatically and I think I’m more effective at this weight with the muscle that I’m carrying. I would have to lose a lot of muscle to get down there and I would be a worse fighter, so going down is not always the answer.”For a lot of fighters these days, the answer to a couple losses in the UFC has been to drop a weight class, and Brown admits that he has not only pondered a drop to 135, but a return to 155, only to come to the same conclusion – the division where he became a world champion in 2008 is where he belongs.“I’ve thought both ways,” he said. “I think ’45, for the amount of muscle that I’m carrying and my height and everything, it’s probably the perfect weight for me. I’m not too big, I’m not too short. At ’55 I’m starting to get a little short for those guys and they’ve got a lot of reach on me, and at ’35 I’d be a little too skinny. I like the amount of muscle that I have now for using the power, and I don’t want to have to lose that.”That’s a good thing to hear from Brown, because what it means is that he’s not looking for excuses for his defeats. As far as he’s concerned, he lost because it wasn’t his night, not because he was physically at a disadvantage. And as a veteran of the sport who has weathered ups and downs before, he knows that if he’s still on point fighting-wise, ups usually follow the downs. Of course that doesn’t mean he takes the losses well.“There’s no excuse for the loss, I’m just bummed out,” said the 35-year old. “That’s why I think every fight is so important. They all go on your permanent record and people don’t look at the details, they just look at that record and see wins and losses, who you beat and who you lost to. It never goes away, and it’s there forever. I’m bummed about it, but there’s no excuse for it. I can just try not to let it happen again.”Luckily, in good times and bad, he’s got a solid support system behind him at the American Top Team gym in Coconut Creek. “It’s great because they (his teammates and coaches) have all had the same experiences you’ve had – the same highs, the same lows, and they know what’s going on. For instance, my wrestling coach, Kami (Barzini), he’s a guy who knows how to talk to people. If you’re having a bad day at practice or you lost a fight, he treats it like its history, and we move on and we talk about good things and good times and try not to dwell on the past. You study the tape a little bit and try to learn some things, but don’t dwell on it. You gotta move on and it’s a great support team.” And ever since relocating to South Florida from Maine, it’s become home.“When some people move, it’s really hard, but when you’re on a team like this, it’s so easy,” said Brown. “You immediately have 30-40 new buddies, new friends, and it’s almost like a new family, without having the long process of being lonely in a new place.”On Saturday, family and friends old and new will cheer him on in Philadelphia, with a bunch of supporters traveling from Maine and Florida to the Wells Fargo Center. They will most certainly be entertained, considering the styles of both Brown and Phan.“He’s tough,” said Brown of the Ultimate Fighter alum. “He’s been around the game as long as I have, so I know he’s well-rounded. You don’t play the game that long without getting good at everything, and he’s got solid striking and solid jiu-jitsu. He also seems like a really nice guy, and I look forward to the challenge of putting him in my record book and log of where I’ve been.”When looking back at his decade long pro career, he calls it “a little bit of an outline of my adult life,” and that’s a perfect description of any fighter’s life in the sport. Each fight doesn’t just represent a win or a loss, but where you were at that particular time. At this moment, Mike Brown is in a good place, but he’s not content. He wants to wear a featherweight world championship belt around his waist again, this time with the letters UFC on it.“The belt is the goal for sure, without a doubt,” he said. “But on the way there, I just want memorable fights. I want to make it exciting and have people remember me and enjoy what I’m doing, and not do it for nothing.”
THURSDAY, AUGUST 45:30 - 7:30 pmAutograph Session with UFC welterweight Charlie Brenneman and Lightweight Champion Frankie EdgarLucky Strike Lanes1336 Chestnut StreetPhiladelphia, PA 19107FRIDAY, AUGUST 512:30-6 pmUFC Octagon Nation Interactive Fan Experienceautograph sessions include Bantamweight Champion Dominick Cruz from 1-3 and welterweight Charlie Brenneman and UFC Lightweight Champion Frankie Edgar from 4:30-5:30Wells Fargo CenterTeam Store Entrance, West Lot3601 South Broad St.
Philadelphia, PA 191482 pmUFC Fight Club Q&A with Chael SonnenWells Fargo Center
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Philadelphia, PA 19148*Must be a UFC Fight Club member to attend - memberships available on-site or at UFCFightClub.com4 pmUFC 133 Weigh-InWells Fargo Center
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Philadelphia, PA 191484:30-5:30 pmAutograph session with Chael SonnenBoost Mobile Store4038 Lancaster Ave Philadelphia, PA 19104 7-9 pmAutograph session with UFC Lightweight Champion Frankie EdgarDave & Busters325 N ColumbusPhiladelphia , PA 191067-9 pm Autograph session with UFC Bantamweight Champion Dominick CruzHattricks64 E. Lincoln AveHatfield, PA 194407-9 pmAutograph session with Chael SonnenFox & Hound1501 Spruce StreetPhiladelphia, PA 19102-45049 pmTapout & Warrior Pre-Fight Party with Anthony JohnsonCheerleaders Sports Bar2740 South Front StreetPhiladelphia, PA*cover charge appliesSATURDAY, AUGUST 612-2Autograph Session with Charlie Brenneman and UFC Bantamweight Champion Dominick CruzBest Buy2300 S. Christopher Columbus Blvd.Philadelphia, PA 191484 pmPhillies vs. Giants Viewing Party with Phil DavisWatch the game, meet Phil Davis, enjoy free Bud Light and get exclusive merch with the UFC Loves Philly ticket package *to attend, enter the code SOCIAL with your purchase of a $100 UFC 133 ticket - ticketholders who've already purchased can RSVP to @KA23A4-5:30 pmXyience autograph signing with Matt "the Terror" Serra Sunoco APlus2601 Penrose AvenuePhiladelphia, Pennsylvania 191454-7:30 pmUFC Octagon Nation Interactive Fan Experience
autograph sessions run from 4-6 and will include Bantamweight Champion Dominick Cruz, Lightweight Champion Frankie Edgar and middleweight Chael SonnenWells Fargo CenterTeam Store Entrance, West Lot3601 South Broad St.
Philadelphia, PA 191484:45 pmUFC 133: Evans vs. OrtizWells Fargo Center3601 South Broad St.Philadelphia, PA 19148Doors at 4:45, first bout at 5:50 pm. *tickets available at ComCastTix.com5-7 pmCharlie Brenneman autograph sessionBud Light Bar on the Main ConcourseWells Fargo Center3601 South Broad St.Philadelphia, PA 19148Doors at 4:45, first bout at 5:50 pm. 10 pmRashad Evans AfterpartyCheerleaders Sports Bar
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You could say it’s Groundhog Day for Mike Pyle. A veteran welterweight fighting the hot prospect looking to leap to the next level, that’s old hat for the Tennessee native. So is this scenario a good thing or bad thing for the man trying to keep young gun Rory MacDonald from using him as a stepping stone?“It’s a good thing for me,” said Pyle, “bad thing for him.”You wouldn’t expect any other answer from Dresden’s finest, a 35-year old who pinned the first loss on unbeaten Brit John Hathaway’s perfect record last October, and who would like nothing more than to be the spoiler for 22-year old Canadian MacDonald, one of the most promising youngsters in the sport. Pyle doesn’t necessarily agree with that notion though.“He had his chance against (Carlos) Condit (at UFC 115) and he dropped the ball and got beat up real bad,” said Pyle of MacDonald’s lone pro loss. “Obviously that’s what happens to him when he steps up in competition and gets hold of an experienced fighter – he kinda crumbles under the pressure and the experience. Hathaway had beaten some very good names and very tough opponents, and developed some pretty good hype about himself. On the other hand, MacDonald, I don’t feel like he’s really done anything in the UFC and I don’t understand where the hype’s come from. He subbed Mike Guymon, he came in and had somewhat of a close fight until Condit beat the hell out of him, and then he fought a 155-pound fighter (Nate Diaz) and suplexed him a couple of times and still wasn’t able to finish him. So I don’t know what all the talk’s about.”“The kid hasn’t done anything,” he continues. “He doesn’t even have a win streak in UFC; I got three in a row. Is this kid dangerous? Yes. Those are four ounce gloves. You can get knocked down super easy in this sport; that’s what it’s all about. Does he have the talent? Yeah, he has the talent and potential, but he’s gonna learn from this fight. He’s just learning right now. He’s in the game learning, he’s young, and this is gonna be a learning lesson for him. This kid ain’t using me to keep building this make believe hype he’s got going around. That’s for damn sure.”When you talk about veterans giving it to you straight, no filter, Pyle’s your man. And he’s not one of those guys talking about the good ol’ days with nothing to back it up. If you recall, when Pyle made his pro MMA debut in 1999, it was against Quinton Jackson. Yeah, that Quinton Jackson, and he went 15 minutes with him, losing a decision. His next fight was Jon Fitch, who he submitted in the first round, so you sorta get the picture now.“I’ve been around the block, I’m world-traveled in fighting, I’ve been in (opponents’) hometowns, I’ve been in my own hometown fighting, I’ve done it all and seen it all, and I feel there’s nothing the kid can throw at me that I’ve never seen or be able to deal with,” he said. “On the other hand, I think it can work in reverse on him. One thing he’s gonna feel is just a ton of experience on top of him, and that’s the plan.”The plan is also to make sure MacDonald relives round three of the Condit fight as soon as the opening bell rings. In that bout in June of 2010, MacDonald roared out to a two rounds to none lead before Condit came back and stopped his foe with less than 10 seconds left. MacDonald made no bones about the fact that he was crushed by the loss and that it was his lack of experience that did him in. But in his next match, MacDonald didn’t look any worse for wear as he dominated Nate Diaz over three rounds at UFC 129 in April. Pyle isn’t convinced, and he’s going to make that clear in Philadelphia this weekend.“Oh, he’ll feel it,” said Pyle. “He’s gonna know immediately that despite being real eager to come out and get me and get after me, his young eagerness is gonna fall right into my old, salty vet experienced hands perfectly. Let him come out aggressive and try to redeem himself and make himself feel better about the Condit fight. Please come out there and be overaggressive, please do so. I invite you.”Pyle is just warming up now. Even an observation from outside the cage that his most recent win (at UFC 128) over Ricardo Almeida wasn’t his best performance, but instead a mature one that showed he could still get the win without being spectacular, drew his ire a bit.“You might feel like I didn’t perform at my best, but I still beat Almeida, who’s been around, been in PRIDE and fought some really good fights in UFC, and I beat him on a night I didn’t perform well, so thank you for that,” he said. “Secondly, I felt like it was a good performance, and I did exactly what I needed to do. It was Almeida who kept crowding me and trying to just take me down and hug me against the fence. I was the one working the strikes, so I guess we won’t see eye to eye on that.”What we did agree on was that styles make fights, and a mix of Pyle and Almeida was never going to be World War III. But the point is that while Pyle didn’t impress from start to finish like he did against Hathaway or turn up the heat in the third round and finish like he did with Jesse Lennox, he found a groove against a tough opponent in Almeida and he found a way to win. In the process, he added to his longest win streak since 2008, and with four victories in his last five bouts, if he gets his hand raised, you have to look at him as a 170-pound contender. But here’s the problem – if he keeps saying how MacDonald isn’t ready for him, if he beats MacDonald, will he get the credit that he deserves?“I’m not the one building him up like he’s done something,” he said. “That’s not my fault. I’m just saying I don’t believe his skill level is up there where they put him. And that’s just what’s going on in my head. It doesn’t matter what anybody thinks when I beat him. All I know is that I’m training my ass off to beat him, and wherever the UFC wants to put me and whoever they want to put me against, let’s do it.”Yet as fired up as Pyle is for this UFC 133 bout, don’t expect to see him snarling at his foe or jumping around before being called to fight. That’s just not his style, and the way he sees it, if you’re a veteran, you act like one.“In my head, I’m not thinking ‘how can I jump up and down and look all crazy to this guy and maybe intimidate him,’” he said. “If that’s on your mind, then you’re probably not straight on what you need to, which is staying focused. That guy is just as nervous as you are, and if they say they’re not, they’re lying. So you just try to keep that all in and save that energy for fighting. I don’t like jumping up and down and trying to give him dirty looks and all that. For me, it’s just a waste of time. Let the fighting do the talking.”That’s what Pyle has done since 1999, and he doesn’t feel like the end of this ride is coming anytime soon. In fact, he feels better than ever heading into this pivotal meeting with MacDonald.“I feel like I’ve got a good five years left in this game,” he said. “I’m a hundred percent healthy, I’ve got no wear and tear on my body, and I literally don’t have a scar on my face from fighting. Any scar that I do have, it’s from the gym, and it’s only one scar. I’m not an in your face, rock ‘em sock ‘em robot fighter, so I don’t have any years put on me, and I feel like I did when I was 20, and maybe even better because I smoked cigarettes when I was 20. (Laughs) I feel like I’ve got more years left and that I’ve finally settled in to the UFC, but I’ll never be satisfied or happy with a performance. I’ve got to get better each time because the UFC is the place to be, and I want to make sure I stay here.”As for Rory MacDonald, Pyle knows that in this sport anything can happen, so, playing Devil’s Advocate, can he even fathom the idea that experience may not always be enough against a talented phenom?He chuckles, and you know the answer before it even comes out of his mouth.“Anything’s possible,” said Pyle, “but not against me.”
The reality of being a rising star in the UFC began to set in for Rory MacDonald in his native province of British Columbia a little over a year ago, as he prepped for his UFC 115 bout with Carlos Condit.“It was like a mob and I really didn’t expect it,” he said of the fan reaction to him in Vancouver. But things really hit home when strangers began calling him by the nickname his gym buddies had given him years earlier – “The Waterboy.”“‘The Waterboy’ was a nickname given to me when I was 14, and I kinda just went with it,” he explains. “It was something my friends used to call me around the gym and it followed me to my fights, but I never thought it really represented who I was when I fought. So it always came across weird to me that people who I didn’t know started calling me ‘The Waterboy.’”This is life when you’re 22 years old with a pile of high expectations put on your shoulders, and when you go from the local scene to the big show, these are the adjustments that happen outside the Octagon and beyond the reach of camera lights. For MacDonald, June of 2010 might as well be 10 years ago; that’s how far he’s come. In the Condit fight, the then-unbeaten Kelowna resident got out to a fast start, building a solid lead on the scorecards entering the third and final round. But then Condit turned up the heat and showed why he is one of the best welterweights in the world, as he took advantage of MacDonald’s inexperience and stopped him with less than 10 seconds remaining in the fight.That was lesson number one. And two. And three. And four.MacDonald now knew what it took to compete on the elite level and it wasn’t just a physical game, it was a mental one. MacDonald knew he had the physical tools to compete with anyone; now he had to compete in a battle of wits as well. In the UFC, with everything else being equal, this is what separates the haves from the have nots.“When you’re young and you’re undefeated, you feel like you need things fast and you want everything now,” he said. “And it makes those ‘what ifs’, and you start thinking past the fight and you get all these things in your head, and yeah, you’ve got a lot of pressure from fans and yourself because it’s a big test and a big step up. I knew I was more skilled than him; it was a matter of going in there and getting it done and I wasn’t able to do it, so it was a big defeat for me.”But he wasn’t going to make the same mistake twice, and in his next fight against Nate Diaz at UFC 129 in April, the nickname “The Waterboy” disappeared from his life, both literally and figuratively. In the Diaz bout, MacDonald grew up, dominating the talented Stockton native from bell to bell, and punctuating his three round decision win with a series of thudding suplexes that thrilled fans at Rogers Centre in Toronto.“I didn’t plan for the suplexes,” he admits. “It was a move that’s in my arsenal and it happened to be there at the time, so I did it. I knew I had a strength advantage since he was coming up from 155, and I was able to use that. I wasn’t really planning on that in particular though.”MacDonald’s throws of Diaz remain the lasting image of the bout, and when it comes to his nickname, you can just call MacDonald “Ares” these days. Yeah, that Ares, the God of War.“I liked the character Ares and his traits, so I thought it was a good fit,” said MacDonald of his new moniker. “I felt like I outgrew that name (The Waterboy), and I just didn’t like it.”Let’s not mince words – those suplexes were Ares-esque, making it perfect timing for the switch in nicknames. But now he’ll have to continue to back it up in the Octagon, beginning with Saturday’s UFC 133 bout against Mike Pyle. MacDonald is aware of what the Tennessee native brings to the table, and in taking his next big step up to a veteran opponent, he is confident that he will not repeat the mistakes he made in the Condit fight.“I have to be aware of sticking to my gameplan,” he said. “I have to establish what I want the pace to be in the fight and I need the fight to go the way I want it to, and if it doesn’t, and it starts to go in a different way, I need to adjust and be able to keep a calm, cool, and collected thought process so I can change in there. If things aren’t going right and if the gameplan has to change, it has to change. But you have to be ready for all things. If one thing fails, you can’t pull the plug. With these more experienced guys that want to grind out a fight because they’re not as skilled, you’ve got to be careful.”MacDonald also has to make sure he doesn’t get caught up in the verbal battle Pyle has kicked off in recent days, where the vet has made it clear that he doesn’t believe the young Canadian has earned the hype swirling around him since his Octagon debut. In Pyle’s eyes, this is a fight pitting man against boy, but such talk hasn’t rattled MacDonald, who despite his age, has been fighting professionally since the age of 16. So he’s heard comments like that before, and from his point a view, experience is not something to be scoffed at, but you can’t knock talent and desire either.“This is my passion,” he said. “I’m in the gym twice a day, it’s what I do, and my mind is on it constantly. I’ve dedicated my entire life to this since I was 14, and the fire’s still going. What I do in there feels very natural to me, and it’s natural for me to adapt and perform at my best. This is what I was meant to do. Sometimes experience is very important, but there’s also a thing of a natural gift, and I believe I have that.”And as far as this being a replay of Pyle’s defeat of then-unbeaten prospect John Hathaway last year, MacDonald says he hasn’t even looked at that UFC 120 fight.“I didn’t really go back and look,” he said of Pyle-Hathaway. “I don’t really like to watch footage on guys I fight anymore. I worry about my own thing when I train and when I fight. I’ve got a basic idea of his style and what his movements are like, but I’m not worrying about what he does.”No worries. It’s the calm every fighter needs to let everything else go and simply perform. Despite appearances to the contrary, Rory MacDonald didn’t always have that, and he’s still not the finished product. But he’s getting there, and if he defeats Mike Pyle in spectacular fashion, it may be time to start putting him in the conversation about contenders in the 170-pound weight class. “Ares” agrees, but he’s not putting too much thought into that possibility until he takes care of the task at hand first.“This is entertainment as much as it’s a sport, and you have to win, but you have to do it in exciting fashion,” said MacDonald. “I’m able to do that and I think if I continue to gain popularity and be exciting when I win my fights, I’m definitely gonna be in the mix. But I’m not looking past Pyle. All I know is that he’s in front of me, I trained my ass off for this fight, I’m gonna be the best I can be on that night, and I’m gonna do the best that I can in there. Everything that comes afterwards, I’ll deal with it then.”
With 82 professional fights under his belt, you might assume that Dennis Hallman has seen it all when it comes to what an opponent can show him in a mixed martial arts match. Then again, he’s never faced someone like 63 fight veteran Brian Ebersole, who brings a new meaning to the word orthodox in the Octagon.Point taken by Hallman, but that doesn’t mean he’s losing any sleep over it in the days leading up to the welterweights’ August 6th battle in Philadelphia.“I think that he definitely brings some new aspects, but I’ve seen the things that he does,” he said. “You practice for 15 years, you got guys that do the same kind of thing.”Even like Ebersole?“I got a really talented guy names Joey Guel and he does a real good job doing the same stuff that Ebersole does.”That’s the type of response you expect from the 35-year old Hallman, someone who has been doing this sort of thing since the late-90s, when there were no UFC action figures or trading cards, and certainly no Twitter or Facebook. So how is “Superman” dealing with this brave, new world?“It’s different,” he chuckles. “You get to hear everybody’s opinions now, whether they’re good or bad. But I guess that’s the way it is in all sports. The people that do the sport know about it, and the fans, it’s a learning process for them as they go along.”And despite being in the sport for 15 years, Hallman has not yet reached the masses like some of his peers have, despite his two wins over Matt Hughes, his UFC 33 title fight with Jens Pulver, and his current two fight winning streak in the Octagon. “Anybody that’s not hardcore still hasn’t caught on,” said Hallman. “I think you have to be on Spike or the main card to get more recognition. The fight with (Karo) Parisyan got aired, but only a few people got to see that. The more exposure I get, the more I’ll get to see how the new fans are.” So, in other words, after his main card bout with Ebersole.“On August 7th, we’ll see.”Odd as it may sound, that might be the best case scenario for Hallman because in a lot of ways, he’s a brand new fighter. After years of toil both in the UFC and outside of it, Hallman had seemingly hit a fighting plateau. He was a tough fight for anyone, and he had the potential to pull off a submission on anyone on any given night, but the consistency just wasn’t there for him to compile a lengthy winning streak in the big show and make a title run in the modern game. In fact, until his recent streak, he was just 1-4 in the Octagon.Yet the problem wasn’t with Hallman’s skill level or with an inability to win the big one. It was his body letting him know that something was wrong, and that something was celiac disease, which is caused by an adverse reaction to gluten and that crippled his ability to fight into the late rounds of fights with any semblance of cardio. And all it takes is one look at his record to bear that fact out. Hallman finished 36 of his 64 wins before the diagnosis in the first round, and in bouts going the distance, he was a paltry 4-8-2.“I used to fight all out from the first second and that’s why I finished so many fights in the first round, just because I would push it a hundred percent,” he said. “I’m almost to the point where I’m confident I can just go in there and push it a hundred percent like I did and know that I have 15 minutes of it.”Following the ordeal of cutting gluten from his diet, Hallman decisioned Ben Saunders at UFC 117 in August of 2010, and then three months later he stopped Karo Parisyan in less than two minutes at UFC 123. It’s as if his career has been resurrected, but he admits, “It hasn’t really clicked for me yet. The Ben Saunders fight, I held back a little bit just because I was nervous that I was gonna gas out, but I didn’t. I went about 85% for that whole fight, and the Parisyan fight was over quick. But I’m pretty confident now.”Just don’t ask him about his new diet. “For 80-something fights, right after weigh-ins I would carb load with pasta, which is my favorite, and bread, and what I was doing was poisoning my body the night before the fight,” he explains. “Now I eat a lot of vegetables and meat, which is great, but…” He pauses.“I can’t even handle talking about it,” he laughs. “I love pasta so much and I can’t eat it.”Not even gluten-free pasta?“They have rice pasta, but it’s not as good.”Okay, we’ll change the subject, but all kidding aside, you won’t hear Hallman complaining about the lack of pasta when you consider that now he can seriously make a run for the belt again, this time at 170 pounds. And though more casual fans might snicker at the idea of Hallman trading blows with current champ Georges St-Pierre, if you ever talk to the fighters who have passed through his training camp, you’ll hear high praise for the Washington state native, who has worked with dozens over the years, including UFC up and comer Cody McKenzie, Strikeforce prospect Sterling Ford, and newly crowned Strikeforce women’s champion Miesha Tate.“They’re all self-made fighters,” said Hallman of the aforementioned trio. “They just happened to be in our area and they wanted to train with other quality guys. I appreciate the kind words that they have to say, but as with it is with any fighter, it really takes the fighter to become good. The coach can only do so much.”Coaching has been a part of his life for as long as he’s been training though, and strangely enough, it wasn’t just to teach, but to have someone to train with.“I started out as a coach so I could make training partners for myself,” he said. “(Longtime MMA standout) Benji Radach was a raw and phenomenal athlete and I kinda molded him to become a better training partner for myself. And it’s always been that way, probably because I started at the infancy of the sport, so half the job is working on yourself and half is making training partners better so that you can have a good camp.”When he sat down for this interview last week, camp was going as well as it could be in the days leading up to the bout, and especially now, he feels like he has a new lease on his fighting life.“It’s awesome,” he said. “I just got done training five fives earlier today and I can go with a fresh guy in the fifth round and have cardio. It’s night and day for me. I used to only be able to train at half speed, so it’s a blessing, and now I can see how far it will take me.”And he’s not aiming just for some wins; he’s shooting for the stars, “Superman” style.“I got a family and I want to make money,” said Hallman, “but at the same time, I feel like it’s a new career for me and I want to see what I can do. I think I can beat all the top guys. Even when I had my gluten allergy, on any given day I thought I could beat any one of those guys. Now it’s a level playing field, so let’s see what I can do on a consistent basis.”
Rashad Evans and Tito Ortiz will dance for the second time this Saturday night. Forty-nine months ago, Evans and Ortiz squared off in what was a turning point for each of their careers. Evans was taking a major step up in quality of competition. The then-undefeated prospect seemed like he had all the tools to be great, but nobody knew for certain whether he could take his game to the next level. After 15 minutes in the cage with Ortiz, there was no doubt that “Suga” was the real deal.Ortiz was in a very different place in his career back on July 7, 2007. The former champion was seven months removed from his second technical knockout loss to Chuck Liddell. A bout with Evans was a way of getting back on the championship trail—if he won, of course.Ortiz neither won nor lost the fight. He suffered an anti-climatic draw, thanks to a point deduction from illegally grabbing the fence in an attempt to prevent a takedown. But for that deduction, the judges would have awarded Ortiz the decision. Yet, it was Evans who likely left the cage that night with the edge in confidence. He knew that he could hang with Ortiz, once he settled down and actually engaged the “Huntington Beach Bad Boy” in a fight.More than four years later, Evans is the former champion still in his fighting prime looking to get back to the top of the mountain. A win over Ortiz likely puts him at the front of the line for the winner of the upcoming battle between two of his arch enemies, Jon Jones and Quinton Jackson. Ortiz, by contrast, is looking to make one final title push. Keep in mind that Ortiz was in a must-win situation, if he wanted to continue competing in the UFC, heading into his UFC 132 fight last month. His submission win over Ryan Bader was the first mixed martial arts bout that Ortiz has won since defeating Ken Shamrock back in October 2006.So, what will happen this time around? The rematch between Evans and Ortiz will be decided by one factor: takedowns.If Ortiz is able to take down Evans with any sort of regularity, he wins the fight. If Evans is able to avoid being taken down for two of the three rounds or take down Ortiz with some regularity, he wins the fight. It really is that simple.How can I be so sure? Easy. Evans is much better in the standup realm. He is an expert counterstriker who has the speed and power to knock out just about anyone in the division, assuming he has the confidence to sit down and commit to his punches. In fact, I’ll go so far as to argue that Evans has the fastest hands in the division, bar none. Suga’s hand speed gives him a tremendous advantage against just about anyone. Unlike most counterpunchers, Suga doesn’t like to slip punches and fire back. His forte is countering before his opponent completes a strike. In other words, he fires a counter off of his opponent’s tell sign, and his blazing hand speed allows him to land first in those instances.The perfect example is when Evans fought Liddell. Evans noticed during pre-fight film study that Liddell’s expression changed or his face curled up with determination milliseconds before he fired a lead power punch, so he sat back and waited for that moment to arrive. Evans fired a fully committed right hand the instant Liddell tipped his hand with his tell sign, and the punch landed right on the button, immediately ending the fight.If Evans had the juice to knock out Liddell when he was still near the prime of his career, he certainly has the juice to stop a 36-year-old Ortiz. If the two engage in a firefight or any sort of contest that unfolds largely on the feet, then Evans winning by knockout seems like the most likely outcome. His standup skills are that much better.Similarly, if Evans can put his fellow former champion on his back and keep him there for significant portions of the fight, he should be able to walk away with a victory. Granted, Ortiz has excellent Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu skills, including a grossly underrated offensive guard. Yet, there is very little chance that Ortiz scores a submission win over Evans. Not unless he first rocks Evans with some sort of strike, resulting in him making a rudimentary mistake. Evans probably shouldn’t worry too much about searching for a submission, if he is able to score a takedown. Fans must remember that Ortiz has not been submitted in more than a decade. The last time it happened he was so exhausted that he could hardly move— a situation that a cardio machine like Ortiz is not likely to face again. Evans won’t be the one to break that streak. Not on Saturday night anyway.Yet, if Evans can put Ortiz on his back and grind away with conservative ground and pound, he should be able to score a judges’ decision, just like Couture did against Ortiz back in 2003. Again, Ortiz’s ground skills are much better today than they were in 2003, but he isn’t going to be the first man to score a submission victory over Evans. Not from his guard, at least. What if Ortiz is able to turn the table and put Evans on his back? Well, if he can keep him there, then Ortiz wins the fight. Evans has never shown a great ability to defend from his guard. This guy is a lifelong wrestler, just like Ortiz, only he competed at a much higher level than Ortiz in the amateur ranks. Thus, like with many lifelong wrestlers, Evans is like a cockroach or a large tortoise on his back—basically harmless. And Ortiz is one of the best in the business at grinding out victories from the top position, if he is fortunate enough to score a takedown. What about Ortiz scoring a knockout on the feet? No chance. Ortiz has shown better and better striking skills in each of his last several fights, including rocking and dropping Ryan Bader with a punch last month. I certainly acknowledge that fact. I will also acknowledge that anything can happen with those little vale tudo gloves. It’s also accurate that Evans is viewed by many as being a bit “chinny.” Lyoto Machida left him in a heap in their 2009 bout. Thiago Silva and Quinton Jackson both rocked him badly in the final round of their losses by judges’ decision. But Ortiz doesn’t have the stand up juice of Machida, Silva or Rampage. So what about Ortiz outpointing Evans on the feet?Again, no chance at all. Evans’ hand speed and technique will be too much for Ortiz, assuming he fights with confidence. In the first round of their last bout, Evans was hesitant in pulling the trigger. Shortly after the draw, Evans turned into one of the game’s elite sluggers. Of course, that came to an end when he got separated from consciousness by Machida. Since that time, Evans has shown less and less faith in his standup game. That may make him susceptible to dropping the first round. But that should be the only thing his tentativeness impacts. If Evans returns to his corner and hears that he lost the first round, he will begin to let his hands go, and that spells disaster for Ortiz.So, how do I see the action unfolding? This fight seems to have Evans written all over it, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he will win. A perfectly healthy, well-prepared Ortiz performing at the top of his game is pretty darn difficult to defeat. The fact that Evans is coming off the longest layoff of his career is also extremely significant. Cage rust may be a very real factor in the outcome of the fight. Another question is whether he is finally in a good place about getting knocked out by Machida. On the other side of the Octagon, Ortiz is a complete unknown at this stage in his career, despite his win over Bader. How will he perform after a month-long layoff? Will he still have the same legendary cardiovascular conditioning? Has he continued to develop his game to compete with the new breed of elite fighters?Honestly, I don’t know the answers to any of those questions, and neither does anyone else.I could easily write another 1,500 words stating a case in favor of either man winning. That is what makes this fight so intriguing. Instead, I’ll just sit back, relax and enjoy the action as it unfolds.Quick Facts:Rashad Evans• 31 years old• 5’11, 205 lbs• 74.5-inch reach• 20-1-1 overall (10-1-1 UFC)• 4-1 in last 5 fights• 8-1-1 in last 10 fights• 3-1-1 against 5 current or former UFC champions• Former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion• 147-day reign as champion; no successful title defenses• Former heavyweight winner on The Ultimate Fighter• Current layoff of 434 days is the longest of his careerTito Ortiz• 36 yrs old• 6’3, 205 lbs• 74-inch reach• 17-8-1 overall (15-8-1 UFC)• 1-3-1 in last 5 fights• 5-4-1 in last 10• 5-7-1 against 10 current or former champions, including UFC/PRIDE tournament champions• Former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion• Record for longest 205-lb title reign in UFC (1,260 days)• Record for most consecutive successful defenses of 205-lb title (5)• Current layoff of 35 days is the second shortest layoff of his professional career; shortest in more than a decade• 557 days is the longest layoff of his career
Determined to erase the picture of his first fight in the UFC - a decision defeat against Rich Attonito in September of 2010 - Rafael "Sapo" Natal stepped into his second fight for the organization prepared to impose his game, and against Jesse Bongfeldt at UFC 124 last December, we watched a fast-paced display in the first round that was unlike any virtually any middleweight fight inside the Octagon. Not only did Natal seem to be in “sprint” mode, but Bongfeldt was as well. Yet those first five minutes of intensity, with changes of position, constant pressure and scrambles everywhere from both men, would charge a heavy price if neither of them could finish the fight in the first stanza. And when the horn sounded, Natal's professor, Vinicius Magalhaes, said he was worried about the extension of energy without securing a position for more than seconds. Early in round number two, Bongfeldt seemed to be a little less fatigued than Natal, and he started a blitz that caused problems for the Brazilian. Even though Natal got the Canadian's back twice during the match, he took a beating from the mount as his opponent dominated the third and final round. For a man who wanted to make a second appearance different than his first one, Natal seemed to have lost the battle of conditioning as he couldn't keep the same rhythm of the first round. It was a bit ironic, since Natal was always known as a man with four lungs, and with a draw declared after 15 minutes against Bongfeldt, the Brazilian's empty fuel tank was later explained"I didn't pick up the win, but I think I fought well," Natal affirms. "I never had cardio problems in my fights - in fact, this is one of my strong points, you know. But 15 days prior to UFC 124 I took some medication to heal an infection, and I believe this was one of the reasons I didn't come across as the winner." So what was the other reason? "Lack of competence," he says firmly. With the UFC 124 bout behind him, the quest continues for Natal, because, after all, the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt is still pursuing that coveted first victory. His new chance, a fight against Alessio Sakara at UFC Live on March 3rd, was good news for the Brazilian, mainly because he wasn't originally scheduled to fight on the Versus card, only being called into service to replace countryman Maiquel Falcao against the Italian. Yet weeks later, the Minas Gerais native was sidelined from the fight with a knee injury. "I tried to carefully treat the knee for five days, but realized my effort wouldn't render a full recuperation. I stayed 15 days without any fight contact, and then trained some striking. BJJ and wrestling took a while, around 30 days. But now I'm 1000 percent." The number one thousand matches well with the Natal's intention to shine at UFC 133 on August 6th, where he will face Paul Bradley. His original opponent, Riki Fukuda, was removed from the card after a car accident, and the changes didn’t stop here, as the road of Natal was crossed many times until he ended up with Bradley. Like a soap opera unfolding, the Serra-Longo Fight Team’s Costa Philippou stepped in as a replacement for Fukuda, but the man who Natal was scheduled to fight in March, Sakara, left his main card bout against "El Conquistador" Jorge Rivera due to a knee injury, and Philippou was promoted to the main card to face Rivera, with Bradley filling the gap to take on the Brazilian. "Opponent changes are something we have to deal with and be ready for," he says. "Because the UFC is scheduling fights with a good advance notice, keeping yourself training hard for 3-4 months is normal in case someone else gets injured." But three changes usually mean three different plans. And even though fighters can be similar, they’re never equal in every aspect of their game. "Of course the tactics change, but basically we're working on fixing small gaps and finding holes in his [Bradley's] game," he said. And in terms of tacticians, Natal has two excellent ones taking charge of seeing what many don't and constructing a road where he can drive in the direction of victory. Those men are Magalhaes and the legendary Renzo Gracie. "Having masters at this level like Magalhaes and Renzo gives you a huge comfort," Natal says. "They and the whole team put me at peace, and they are confident I'll do my best." This fact is really important for “Sapo” against Bradley, who comes in with a five winning streak and can exploit Natal’s need for a victory inside the Octagon. This pressure is something which can drain your stamina, throw off your strategy and be the main reason for a new and unwelcome defeat. Add to this the fact that Natal has become a frequent Twitter user, and his constant interaction with his followers has many eager to watch him fight for the first time on Facebook. This new public wants to see the old Brazilian, the one who arrived in the UFC with five victories by finish in his last six fights. It’s a lot to carry on his shoulders, and each of these aspects can influence him, either for good or bad. So what’s the key to not failing in his third attempt? "I won't feel any pressure because I have a certain style of fighting and I don't intend to change it completely. You'll only see a “Sapo” with more cage experience and who is technically at his sharpest. I'm very happy that this fight will be live on Facebook and I hope everybody sees the return of the real Rafael Natal."
Brasilia’s Rani Yahya is a submission specialist; everybody knows it. Since the beginning of his career, the Constrictor Team product has been trying to showcase the excellent groundskills taught to him by professor Ataide Junior, and Yahya's goal is always to finishhis opponents with joint locks or chokes when they hit the ground. And with 16 wins in 22 fights, 14 by submission, nobody ever doubted it. Certainly his next opponent at UFC 133 in Philadelphia on August 6th - Chad "Money" Mendes - is aware of the amount of trouble that the Brazilian can cause on the top or even on the bottom once the fight goes to the mat. With that said, the only uncertainty we have about the Brazilian Jiu-jitsu ace is his transitions throughout three different weight classes during his professional career. Yahya fought in Grand Prix tournaments in Brazil and Japan at lightweight, joined the WEC as a featherweight, dropped to 135 for a title opportunity in 2007 and stayed at bantamweight until his January debut in the UFC saw him go back to 145 pounds to face former WEC kingpin Mike Thomas Brown. That’s a long and crazy trip, to say the least, and although Yahya is known as a dangerous groundfighter, his journeys from one division to another seemed to hold him back in hiscareer. Even though he could make the weight required, he never got to stabilize himself in any division once he reached the elite level. However, with a new year, new goals, and the determination to remain a featherweight in the UFC, Yahya started his year nicely with a dominant decision victory over the aforementioned Brown and says everything in the past simply came down to the opportunities presented to him."In each moment of my career I had different good opportunities,” he said. “As a 155 pounder I fought a Hero's tournament in Japan, after that I was offered a title fight as a bantamweight in WEC [against Chase Beebe], but the perfect weight class for me is the current one I'm in, thefeatherweight division." As a 135-pound competitor, Yahya accumulated a 3-3 record in the WEC and was 1-0 at 145 in the organization. Yet he didn’t look right at bantamweight, at least not at the level that was expected of him. "It’s hard to point out what exactly happened," he said. "Nowadays I believe I wasn't prepared to win those fights; I didn't have the experience necessary. So they were part of my destiny as a competitor. I needed to take them like lessons, and the defeats influenced my improvement mentally and physically." The improvement process which Yahya is talking about involves more parts than those he detailed. A fighter climbing the ladder of experience needs to remove the one dimensional label and turn it into one of a complete MMA athlete. For Yahya, this looks like a contradiction from what he initially presented to the public, but ‘one trick pony’ isn't a title he wants to hold as he adds more weapons to his game without nullifying his prime technique – submissions. "I train striking much more than submissions, but my natural skills on the ground develop themselves naturally," Yahya said. "I have fights where I come in with a striking game plan and the match goes to the ground. That fight against Brown is a good example. People comment that it is easy to avoid a tie up, but if it's not. Fighters spend a lot of energy trading shots on the feet and then end up clinching. The Octagon facilitates this because you can drag the guy against the fence at different moments." During the fight, Brown tried to stay outside in order to punish his foe from long distance, but he was grabbed by a few tricky moves, and in third round he was taken down, traveling to a field where many don't want to be with the Brasilia native. The former champion, who took the fight with just two weeks’ notice - replacing the injured Chan Sung Jung - survived a tough sequence of finishing attempts from the Brazilian in final stanza, surprising many. So how come he wasn’t able to finish Brown? "Calm," he says. "Perhaps I didn't have enough calm to sub him; but anyway he defended the attempts very well. The important part was winning and fighting three rounds with a veteranformer champion like Brown." Now taking on the undefeated Mendes, in the second fight for both in the UFC, Yahya is clear on what he brings to combat the Team Alpha Male prospect. If against Brown the calm wasn't present enough for him to score a submission, against Mendes Yahya intends to display every single lesson he learned during his WEC stint. "Diet, dehydration and rehydration are a very important part of the game in today's fight scene, and you need to be very aware of it, so if a guy knows a bit more than his opponent, he's one step ahead." Yahya says. "The strategies for the fight are also important; I mean youneed to have a plan A, B, C, D and etc. In the beginning, I fought with only one plan, and when it didn't work I was lost. He [Mendes] can try to surprise me, but we have been training striking a lot as I continue the evolution in my technique and in my mind too." For Mendes, who is close to a title challenge, the fight against Yahya is the roadblock standing in the way of his dream fight. On the other hand, the Brazilian fighter is ready to spoil Mendes' plans and if you look closely, with victories over two former WEC champions (Brown and Eddie Wineland) and the experience of a title fight in his pocket, this is not only a duel where he can frustrate his foe's wishes, but start his own road to the belt as well. "I'm looking for it," he said. "But a lot of people have been talking about it [title contention], and I'm not letting it influence my mindset now. My head is locked in on one thing, and my only focus is to win the fight."
Strikeforce: Fedor vs HendersonAlmost there--only a couple pounds to go! http://twitpic.com/5wyj0q -Dan HendersonНаша встреча с замечательным человеком и выдающимся чемпионом Алексеем Немовым twitpic.com/5wajc5 -Fedor EmelianenkoLOL! I'll have plenty of time after my fight for RedLobster #USAholiday -Marloes CoenenJust finished the @Strikeforce press conference, headed back to the hotel & will begin my weight cut soon...... :-P Hey @CubSwanson better be ready! Our Ab-off is tomorrow!! -Miesha TateDoes the fighter insurance cover being struck by lighting @strikeforce @ufc , if not i need to get off Twitter #Twittervention -Derek BrunsonPress conference tday @Strikeforce ill try my best english! -Tarec SaffiedineWeigh-ins today @ The Sears Centre!! Can't wait! @strikeforce #fb -Gabe SalinasFight week! It's on! -Lumumba SayersSome dude next to me is playing a harmonica in the the ABQ airport. It's a sad Old West cowboy campfire kinda vibe and I really like it -Julie Kedzie1030 am flight to Chicago! Get to be a fan and enjoy watching @Strikeforce @danhendo vs. #Fedor ringside! Solid fight card! Got my picks! -Cung LeRyan Couture’s OCD?Just noticed I hit 5,000 followers today. That's a nice, round number so please no one else follow unless someone leaves. Thanks! -Ryan CoutureCuttin' Class & Kickin’ AssGot friendly waves from some highschoolers driving. Either they think we go to same school or its bc we're both playing katy perry. -Daniel DownesThere is a Slight Height DifferenceIS THIS EVEN FAIR??? http://moby.to/q05t3k -Pat BarryMiguel on FashionFanny packs are only cool when you can choke out the guys making fun of you. I am Miguel Torres and I train @UFC. -Miguel Angel TorresHardy on HatersThey multiply like bacteria but aren't quite as cultured. -Dan HardyMayhem Ponders BiologyI don't get it. Did the dog hump the sheep or did the sheep hump the dog? Sheepdog. -Jason Mayhem Miller
Daniel Roberts and TJ Waldburger are heading to New Orleans this September for what should be an exciting showdown on the "Battle on the Bayou" card.“A battle between welterweight submission specialists has been agreed to as TJ Waldburger will take on Daniel ‘Ninja’ Roberts at UFC Fight Night September 17," said UFC President Dana White.Riddle to Welcome 5-0 Benoist to UFC
UFC president Dana White announced today that undefeated welterweight prospect Lance Benoist hasverbally agreed to make his UFC debut September 17 in New Orleans against always-aggressive TUF alum Matthew Riddle."Battle on the Bayou" gets Submission Battle in Sept. updated July 20UFC President Dana White has announced another intriguing matchup for September's "Battle on the Bayou" card in New Orleans.“It will be a submission showdown as verbal agreements are in for a fight between lightweight grappling specialists Vagner Rocha and Cody McKenzie in New Orleans on September 17.”TUF Stars Collide at "Battle on the Bayou"Verbal agreements are in for a welterweight match between Clay "Heavy Metal" Harvison and DaMarques "Darkness" Johnson at UFC Fight Night in New Orleans this September.Harvison made it to the quarterfinals of TUF 13 as a member of Team Lesnar and defeated Justin Edwards in the prelims of the season finale. Johnson was runner-up on the US vs. UK season, and went on to win Submission of the Night and Fight of the Night bonuses in his next two UFC outings.
Three Bouts Added to "Battle on the Bayou" Card updated July 18Three intriguing matchups have been verbally agreed to for September 17th's "Battle on the Bayou" card in New Orleans, as rising lightweight star Evan Dunham faces TUF13's Shamar Bailey, featherweights Mackens Semerzier and Mike Lullo meet, and bantamweights Ken Stone and Donny Walker collide.The Two Jakes to Headline in New OrleansThe main event for UFC Fight Night in New Orleans on September 17 has been verbally agreed to as Jake Shields takes on Jake "The Juggernaut" Ellenberger. Shields recently took welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre the distance and ended his record streak of consecutive rounds won. The hard-hitting Ellenberger is one of the top prospects in the welterweight division having won eight of his last nine fights. "Ellenberger is on a mission to get his first shot at a world title, and Shields is determined to get another crack at it," said UFC President Dana White. The televised bout is scheduled for three rounds.Koch and Brookins to Battle on the Bayou updated June 10An exciting featherweight bout is heading to New Orleans, with young guns Erik Koch and Jonathan Brookins taking to the Octagon on September 17th.“Verbal agreements are in place for a featherweight showdown between Erik Koch and Jonathan Brookins, September 17 at UFC Fight Night in New Orleans," said UFC President Dana White. "Koch is one of the division's fastest rising stars and this will be Brookins’ first fight since winning The Ultimate Fighter, season 12.” Battle on the Bayou Gets Its First Two BoutsThe UFC will hold its first event in the Big Easy since 2000 with Battle on the Bayou, and Dana White today confirmed that verbal agreements are in for two fights on that card.Alan "The Talent" Belcher will make his long-awaited return to the Octagon in a middleweight showdown with Jason "The Athlete" MacDonald. MacDonald is coming off a submission win over Ryan Jensen at UFC 129; Belcher was riding a two fight win streak when he had to take a year off to recover from eye surgery. In another middleweight matchup, Dongi "The Ox" Yang and Court "The Crusher" McGee will also go to war in NOLA. The 10-1 Yang recently scored an impressive TKO victory over Rob Kimmons, while 13-1 TUF 11 winner McGee is coming off an exciting submission victory.
Canadian standout TJ Grant will make his lightweight debut against Shane Roller in an October 1st bout verbally agreed to today. The match will take place at Verizon Center in Washington D.C.Edwards vs. Oliveira in DC October 1stLightweight veterans Yves Edwards and Rafaello Oliveira will square off in Washington DC on October 1st in a quest to get back in the win column after recent losses to Sam Stout and Gleison Tibau, respectively. This bout on the UFC Live card was verbally agreed to today.
"The Hulk" Easton Makes UFC Debut against Hougland in October
Winner of five in a row, bantamweight prospect Mike "The Hulk" Easton will return to competition for the first time since 2009 and he will do it in the UFC Octagon as he makes his debut in the organization against Jeff Hougland on October 1st's UFC Live on Versus card in Washington D.C. Easton, a stablemate of 135-pound champ Dominick Cruz, will be in tough against Hougland, who was successful in his UFC debut in July, defeating Donny Walker.Skyscraper vs. Pat Barry at UFC on Versus
“Verbal agreements are in for a titanic battle between Stefan ‘Skyscraper’ Struve and Pat ‘HD’ Barry October 1st on UFC Live On Versus,” said UFC president Dana White. At 6'11", Struve is the tallest fighter among UFC heavyweights, while Barry, a full foot shorter, clocks in as the division's shortest. Cruz Defends Bantam Belt Against "Mighty Mouse" on Oct. 1 updated July 21Following his exciting five round win over Urijah Faber in July that allowed him to avenge the only loss of his pro career, UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz will jump right back into the fire on Saturday, October 1st, as he defends his crown against number one contender Demetrious "Mighty Mouse" Johnson at the Verizon Center in Washington D.C. The bout, the first championship fight aired on free cable television since the UFC 75 match between Rampage Jackson and Dan Henderson in 2007, will be televised on Versus.Sass-Johnson added to UFC on Versus 6“Verbal agreements are in for a lightweight bout featuring English submission specialist Paul Sass vs. powerful wrestler and TUF 12 finalist Michael ‘The Menace’ Johnson," said UFC president Dana White today.Brenneman-Johnson and Danzig-Wiman Set for UFC on Versus updated July 16Coming off of his amazing late-notice victory over highly regarded Rick Story, Charlie "The Spaniard" Brenneman has verbally agreed to face one of the most powerful men in the welterweight division, Anthony "Rumble" Johnson. The bout will occur at this fall's UFC on Versus 6 event - the date and location will be announced in the coming weeks. Brenneman was originally on the June 26 UFC Live undercard and bumped to the co-main event on one day's notice when Nate Marquardt was unable to compete. He then fought and beat Story, who had been brought in weeks before to replace Johnson, the original headliner. Plus, in a rematch of their controversial fight from UFC 115, Ultimate Fighter winner Mac Danzig and "Handsome" Matt Wiman have agreed to fight on that same card, UFC president Dana White confirmed today. The lightweights' first outing ended prematurely after the referee mistakenly thought
Danzig had been rendered unconscious by a choke and
halted the bout. The rematch was originally set for last fall, but both men were forced to pull out due to injuries.
Former UFC light heavyweight champion "Suga" Rashad Evans will take a break from his training schedule on Friday, July 29th, to make his debut appearance on NBC's Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Evans will discuss his upcoming main event rematch against Tito Ortiz on August 6th's UFC 133 card in Philadelphia, along with other topics with host Jimmy Fallon on the hit series, which airs at 12:35am ET / 11:35pm CT.Other guests tonight include Brian Williams and co-host Chris Kattan. And for more info, visit www.latenightwithjimmyfallon.com
It’s the rematch no one thought would happen, but after numerous twists and turns in the careers of Rashad Evans and Tito Ortiz, the former light heavyweight champions will revisit their rivalry in the main event of UFC 133 on August 6th and look to break the tie they fought to back at UFC 73. That July 7, 2007 bout in Sacramento’s ARCO Arena was part of a card appropriately named “Stacked,” thanks to the championship bouts between Anderson Silva and Nate Marquardt and Sean Sherk and Hermes Franca that topped the bill. But among fans both casual and hardcore, the meeting between former champion Ortiz and up and comer Evans held the most starpower, and neither shied away from building up anticipation for the bout, even getting into a brief altercation Octagonside at UFC 69 three months earlier.But despite his lack of experience on the big stage compared to Ortiz, Evans didn’t shy away from a little pre-fight banter with “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy.”“I grew up with a lot of brothers and sisters, and we used to shoot the dozens all the time,” said Evans at the time. “We always used to make fun of each other and tease each other, so I’m used to it to an extent. I’ve also got a group of friends that I grew up with and we’re just relentless on each other how we tease and make fun of each other, so it’s all good. I don’t take offense to any of that and I don’t get caught up in wanting to call him names because I know we have to fight. I’m a professional, and when you’re a professional, you act accordingly. You don’t flustered, you don’t get frustrated, and you handle it because it’s your job. I love my job, but it is a job, and you can’t be taken out of your game by anything and you can’t allow anyone to say anything to upset you.”Ortiz tried his best though, and in the history of the sport, few have been better in selling a fight. But he was also at a pivotal point in his career. Winner of five of his previous six bouts, the sixth was a rematch loss at the hands of Chuck Liddell at UFC 66. If he was going to begin the road back to the title, he had to turn back the challenge of the Ultimate Fighter season two winner, who was hungry to claim his first big name scalp.At the time, Evans was five bouts into his UFC career, and after a slow start in which he was criticized for not finishing fights, his previous two wins over Jason Lambert and Sean Salmon ended in knockout victories, allowing him to boost his unbeaten record to 15-0 while also establishing him as the next big thing at 205 pounds should he beat Ortiz. Ortiz wasn’t about to play gatekeeper though.“With an undefeated fighter, they’re holding on to that record so much that they don’t want to have that loss,” said Ortiz of Evans in 2007. “All of a sudden, all Rashad cares about is not losing, and the biggest thing that’s gonna overwhelm him is hoping he doesn’t lose and making sure he doesn’t lose. With him trying not to make a mistake and trying to keep from exposing himself, I think I’m gonna capitalize on that. When I grab a hold of him, everything’s going to kick into reality. I’m gonna see how strong he is and he’s gonna realize how strong I am, and his speed is gonna be squashed by my strength.”Evans wasn’t buying it, and he pointed to hunger as the reason why he was going to emerge victorious.“I really try not to define people, but to be honest, I see Ortiz as a little something different than what he used to be,” said Evans. “To say that he can’t be a champion again, I don’t know – if I’m there he ain’t gonna be champion (Laughs) – but right now he seems to have a little bit of everything else going on and I don’t know if he has the focus and the desire to do what it takes to win. He’s Hollywood right now, he likes the limelight and everything else like that, but where MMA started and where it is right now, it’s not one of those sports where you can be that Hollywood type of personality. It’s not for the pretty boys; it’s for the blue collar guy who goes in there and gets his work done. And if he has time for everything else, then he’ll do it, but he’s not gonna put that ahead of being a champion. I think Ortiz just wants the limelight a little bit more than being a fighter.”Those were fighting words from both sides, and all that was left was the fight. Here’s how I called it that night:A second round foul cost Tito Ortiz dearly in his highly anticipated light heavyweight bout against rising star Rashad Evans, as a unanimous decision win instead turned into a three round draw thanks to a point deducted from the former light heavyweight champion for holding the fence as Evans attempted to secure a takedown.Scores were 28-28 across the board.“It wasn’t my best performance and Rashad was tough as hell,” said Ortiz. “Rashad, we can do it again.”“I thought I had that fight,” said Evans. “Please, Tito-Rashad II.”Ortiz drew first blood with a takedown in the opening seconds, and the crowd chanted ‘The Huntington Beach Bad Boy’s name in response. Evans did work his way back to his feet and tried to flurry, but Ortiz fired back and again clinched with Evans, pushing him to the fence. A lost mouthpiece by Evans forced a restart, and while the former Michigan State Spartan circled his foe, Ortiz scored with leg kicks and the occasional jab upstairs. As the round entered its final minute, the two combatants battled it out against the fence, with Ortiz emerging with a cut under his right eye.There was little action in the early stages of the second round, with Evans’ first takedown attempt getting tossed aside by Ortiz being the only notable action in the first half of the round. Again the action moved to the fence, with Ortiz working his Muay Thai clinch as Evans scored with a punch that reopened the cut under Ortiz’ eye. With blood streaming down his face and with Evans finally looking like his offense was together, Ortiz shot in and went for what he knows best – the takedown and ground and pound. Evans did work his way back up while getting a takedown of his own in the waning moments of the round, a series punctuated by Ortiz getting a point deducted for holding the fence. Ortiz almost had the last laugh though, as he sunk in a guillotine choke that looked like it could have produced a submission if locked in earlier. Ortiz again took the bout to the mat in the third and final round, looking to put the finishing touches on his foe, and while Evans didn’t ever seem to be in any serious danger, he was not doing enough offensively to sway the judges in his favor. With under two minutes to go, referee John McCarthy re-started the stalemated action and Evans let his hands go in an effort to protect his unbeaten record. But while he was landing, he wasn’t hurting Ortiz, and though Evans finally got the big takedown he was looking for with 10 seconds left in the round, it was apparently too little too late to get the win.“It took a little while, but I felt him break,” said Evans of the final sequence.The stalemate put the first blemish on Evans’ record, but it didn’t hurt him in the long run. He went on to headline UFC 78 with a win over Michael Bisping, and then knocked out Liddell and Forrest Griffin, the latter bout earning him the UFC light heavyweight title. He lost the belt in his first defense against Lyoto Machida in May of 2009, but has rebounded with wins over Thiago Silva and Quinton Jackson that have put him right in line for another shot at the championship should he defeat Ortiz a week from Saturday.As for Ortiz, his journey to Philadelphia has been a little crazy, a little rocky, and a very inspirational, all at the same time. The draw with Evans was the precursor to a three fight skid that saw Ortiz lose to Lyoto Machida, Forrest Griffin, and Matt Hamill. All the while, he battled through injuries and surgeries and the usual drama that always seemed to follow him. Add in the Evans draw and the loss to Liddell, and he brought an 0-4-1 record into the Octagon when he faced Ryan Bader at UFC 132 in July. UFC President Dana White didn’t mince words, saying that a loss would mean Ortiz’ UFC career was over. But Ortiz didn’t lose. Instead, he pulled off one of the most memorable wins in recent years, submitting Bader in the first round. A little over a month later, he will be replacing the injured Phil Davis against his old rival Evans. This time, four years later, Evans is the gatekeeper for Ortiz’ return to the title picture, and it’s not only an intriguing matchup, but a pivotal one for the careers of both men. Better late than never, right?
After a seven year absence, veteran Jeff Curran will return to the Octagon on October 29th in Las Vegas to take on bantamweight contender Scott "Young Guns" Jorgensen at UFC 137. Curran, whose last UFC appearance was a decision loss to Matt Serra at UFC 46, has since gone 19-6 and is remembered for a five fight WEC stint in 2007-09. The "Big Frog" has won four of his last five, but will be tested by former WEC title challenger Jorgensen, who is fresh from a first round knockout of Ken Stone in June.Fan Faves Danny Boy and Stripper Ramsey to Fight
A lightweight match between the tough-as-nails Daniel "Danny Boy" Downes and TUF 13 runner-up Ramsey Nijem has been verbally agreed to for the UFC 137 fight card, UFC president Dana White confirmed today.Crazy Tim to Face Tavares at 137 July 21Verbal agreements are in for a middleweight bout between "Crazy" Tim Credeur vs. Brad Tavares at UFC 137, Dana White confirmed.Credeur — Louisiana’s first Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt — hit the public eye as a member of the TUF 7 house; Hawaiian Tavares was a season 11 standout. At that same event, two longtime veterans will look to establish themselves in the ever-deepening featherweight division as Bart Palaszewski and Tyson Griffin have verbally agreed to meet.Siver vs. Stout, Fire vs. Truth at UFC 137 updated July 16UFC president Dana White today confirmed a hotly-speculated-about lightweight bout to take place at UFC 137. “A potential Fight of the Year candidate has been verbally agreed to between hard-hitting Dennis Siver and Sam "Hands of Stone" Stout," he said. Also at UFC 137, a light heavyweight matchup has been verbally agreed to as Eliot "The Fire" Marshall will welcome Brandon "The Truth" Vera back to the Octagon.Condit vs. Penn Added to UFC 137 updated July 15The title fight between GSP and Nick Diaz won't be the only showcase for elite 170-pounders this fall in Las Vegas. A match between two of the best welterweights in the world has been set as "Natural Born Killer" Carlos Condit will take on BJ "The Prodigy" Penn at UFC 137.The two hinted at the matchup on Twitter this last week. Condit, who is coming off a first-round KO of the Night victory over the previously-undefeated Dong Hyun Kim, tweeted to Penn on Monday that "The people have spoken @bjpenndotcom, they want to see us scrap, let's give em what they asked for."Penn - who had previously been exchanging barbs with Jon Fitch about a possible rematch of their UFC 127 main event draw, responded with: "@CarlosCondit Yup. Let's do it! October 29th." Dana White confirmed today that both men have verbally accepted the bout.Cro Cop/Big Country, Kongo/Mitrione This Oct. updated July 14Roy "Big Country" Nelson and Mirko Cro Cop, fan favorites for both their in-cage performances and their out-of-ring personas, have agreed a Las Vegas battle this fall. UFC president Dana White confirmed today that PRIDE legend Cro Cop and TUF winner Nelson have verbally agreed to a heavyweight matchup at UFC 137 on October 29.Those aren't the only star heavyweights on the UFC 137 roster - White also confirmed today that Cheick Kongo and Matt Mitrione have agreed to a bout on the same card. "Both men are coming off big knockout wins at UFC Live in June," he said.Roop to Welcome Hioki to Octagon at 137 updated June 1Highly regarded featherweight phenom Hatsu Hioki lands in the Octagon on October 29th to begin his quest for the title. Welcoming him to UFC and looking to take out another top contender will be the always dangerous George Roop. Both fighters have verbally agreed to the UFC 137 bout.GSP vs. Diaz Superfight set for October updated June 1UFC President Dana White’s tweet Wednesday afternoon was short and sweet – “U wanted it! U GOT IT!!!” What the fans wanted was a showdown between UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre and the STRIKEFORCE welterweight title holder, Nick Diaz. So on October 29 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, the UFC 137 Superfight becomes a reality. Unbeaten since 2007, St-Pierre has taken on and beaten all comers, barely losing a round in the process. Since regaining his title from Matt Serra in 2008, he has turned back the challenges of Jon Fitch, BJ Penn, Thiago Alves, Dan Hardy, Josh Koscheck, and Jake Shields. But this fall, he will face off against the man many believe has the style to dethrone him, Shields’ longtime training partner Diaz. A proud native of Stockton, California, Diaz, like GSP, has not lost since 2007. Along the way, the UFC vet has defeated Frank Shamrock, Scott Smith, Mach Sakurai, KJ Noons, and Paul Daley, and with his world-class striking skills and jiu-jitsu game improving with each fight, he is on track to shock the world on October 29th.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship® and Bud Light have teamed up to put on an action-packed fight card heading to New Orleans this fall. The organizations jointly announced today that UFC® Fight Night Live: Battle on the Bayou will take place on Saturday, Sept. 17 from the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center and feature an outstanding welterweight clash between top contenders Jake Shields and Jake Ellenberger. UFC® Fight Night Live: Battle on the Bayou will be broadcast live on SPIKE TV at 9 p.m. ET/PT.“Jake Shields has fought some of the best guys in the sport and he wants to prove that he deserves another shot at the title,” UFC President Dana White said. “But Jake Ellenberger has won his last four fights and wants to knock off a top contender like Shields. Shields has phenomenal jiu-jitsu, but Ellenberger thinks he can overpower him in the Octagon. This should be a great main event for the Battle on the Bayou.”Two winners of recent seasons of The Ultimate Fighter® will also be in action as season 11 winner Court McGee battles talented South Korean middleweight Dongi Yang, while season 12 winner Jonathan Brookins takes on surging featherweight Erik Koch. Plus, the event will mark the return of Alan “The Talent” Belcher as he begins a quest toward the middleweight title when he meets gifted Canadian submission artist Jason MacDonald. Tickets for UFC® Fight Night Live: Battle on the Bayou go on sale on Saturday, July 30 at 10 a.m. CT and are priced at $250, $225, $150 and $85. Tickets will be available at all TicketMaster locations, by phone 504.562.7000 or at www.ticketmaster.com. Tickets are subject to convenience and service fees.UFC® Fight Club™ members will have the opportunity to purchase tickets to this event Thursday, July 28 at 10 a.m. CT via the website www.ufcfightclub.com. Non-members may take advantage of the pre-sale by joining at Ticketmaster. A special Internet ticket pre-sale will be available to UFC newsletter subscribers Friday, July 29, starting at 10 a.m. CT. To access this presale, users must register for the UFC newsletter by entering their email address in the "join newsletter" field at the top of this page.In addition, Bud Light is extending UFC® Fight Night Live: Battle on the Bayou beyond the action in the Octagon® with the “Battle on the Bayou” national sweepstakes*, a three-day, two-night UFC fan experience in the Big Easy – complete with weigh-ins and a concert downtown and exclusive meet-and-greets with UFC personalities. Now through August 29, 2011, fans 21 and older can enter to win a trip to UFC® Fight Night Live: Battle on the Bayou online at www.Facebook.com/BudLight or through UFC-branded Snap Tags on Bud Light displays at retail.A winner of 15 out of his last 16 fights, Jake Shields (fighting out of San Francisco, Calif.) has defeated a long list of worthy contenders, including Carlos Condit, Dan Henderson, Jason Miller and Paul Daley. The Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu ace returns to the Octagon® in September poised to make another significant run, and better yet, snap the winning streak of his fast-rising opponent. “Jake Ellenberger’s a tough up-and-comer with good wrestling and boxing, but I think jiu-jitsu is his weak point and I want to expose that,” Shields, who owns a record of 26-5-1, said. “This is a really important fight for me. I had a really huge winning streak prior to my last fight and I want to put together another one starting in New Orleans.”With stoppage victories in three out of his last four wins, Jake Ellenberger (fighting out of Omaha, Neb.) is quickly emerging as a potential contender in the deep 170-pound division. Known for his high-level wrestling and heavy hands, the 26-year-old is as confident as ever that the career-defining win he’s been seeking will come on Sept. 17.“I respect Jake Shields, but I don’t think he’s fought anyone like me,” Ellenberger, who boasts a record of 25-5, said. “I’m a bad match up for him. He’s not as hungry as me and he doesn’t want it as bad as me. This is the opportunity I’ve been waiting for my whole life. It’s my time to showcase my skills.”In a fight that will push the winner toward the middleweight elite, The Ultimate Fighter® season 11 winner Court McGee (fighting out of Ogden, Utah) takes on aggressive South Korean Dongi Yang (fighting out of Seoul, South Korea). The 26-year-old McGee (12-1) is riding back-to-back wins over Kris McCray and Ryan Jensen in the UFC. Yang (10-1), also 26, has also been gaining momentum in the 185-pound division thanks to a second-round stoppage victory over Rob Kimmons in March.The Ultimate Fighter® season 12 winner Jonathan Brookins (fighting out of Orlando, Fla.) competes in his first bout since winning the popular reality show when he meets surging prospect Erik Koch (fighting out of Milwaukee, Wisc.) in featherweight action. Brookins, 25, owns a record of 13-3 and has developed a reputation as a speedy fighter with a knack for finishing fights. In New Orleans, he’ll meet knockout artist Koch (12-1), a 22-year-old who has finished his last three opponents, including a menacing KO of Raphael Assuncao in his UFC debut in March.Alan Belcher (fighting out of Jonesboro, Ark.) returns to the UFC for the first time since May 2010 100 percent and ready to add to his two-fight winning streak. Nicknamed “The Talent,” Belcher (15-5) brings his vast array of striking and submission skills to the Octagon for a collision with Canadian middleweight standout Jason MacDonald (fighting out of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada), who is fresh off a thrilling submission win over Ryan Jensen at UFC 129.All bouts live and subject to change.
Any loss hurts, but when Nam Phan dropped his UFC debut via highly-controversial split decision to Leonard Garcia last December, it was the kind of defeat that could break an ordinary fighter, making him lose focus while souring him on a game that he’s dedicated his life to.But Phan is no ordinary fighter. 10 years into his pro career, he knows that not everything goes your way all the time. And when it doesn’t, if you don’t move on, you do yourself a disservice that will further affect your win-loss record.“I think back sometimes and maybe I could have done this or that a little better to sway the judges more my way, but it is what it is, and you’ve got to let it go or else it will haunt you,” said Phan, who also saw a rematch with Garcia fall by the wayside when he broke his foot and was forced out of a March 2011 bout.Maybe it was meant to be though, and while the cliché is that things happen for a reason, in Phan’s case, they have, with apparent dead ends turning into new opportunities. It doesn’t hurt that the first generation Vietnamese-American also has the stubborn determination to keep going where others may have decided to walk away. And that’s precisely the story he wants to get out there.“I’m not your typical American,” said the 28-year old from Orange County, California. “I come from Vietnamese roots, and there weren’t that many Asian role models like athletes or actors to look up to and to follow.” In a situation like that, there isn’t much of a middle ground. You either heed your family’s advice to go to school or you get lost in the shuffle and move on to more dangerous pursuits.“As a kid growing up, there was a lot of gang influence, a lot of criminal activity, and I was a pretty good kid but some of my close friends took the wrong route and are in a lot of trouble now,” said Phan. “I feel like if we had that type of role model, someone to look up to who said ‘hey, don’t do that,’ maybe things would be a little bit different. Not to say it’s the answer to all our problems, but if you could have changed one kid’s life, I think it would have been worth it.”Phan’s journey was unique, and he found his calling in martial arts. It addition, his grandparents were there to keep him in line should he stray.“My grandparents are very traditional Vietnamese and they were very, very strict, so they would whip my butt when I got in trouble,” he laughs. “But martial arts kept me off the wrong path and kept me focused.”And as he got good, eventually earning black belts in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and karate, his goals not only included taking his passion into the professional ranks, but being the example to his community that he never had.“The basic equation for a typical Asian-American family was ‘you gotta go to school, get a degree and become a success. Become a doctor or a lawyer and make a lot of money and have a good family.’ And if you didn’t go to school or you dropped out, you were a loser. And a lot of times, people don’t always go to school because they can’t handle the pressure and they become gangsters or drug dealers. I wanted to be a role model figure, and I want to be that person to let other Asian-American kids know that there’s another outlet. I encourage going to school, but I want them to know that if you have a dream and work towards it, dreams can come true.”It wasn’t always a dream run in world of pro MMA, but it had its moments. Phan kicked off his pro career in 2001 with a first round TKO of Jason Maxwell, and after going 5-2 in his first seven fights, he ran off a seven fight winning streak during 2005-06 and was expected to be part of The Ultimate Fighter season five cast. But then an offer came in from Strikeforce, and he took it. It turned out to be a costly move as he lost both of his fights in the organization to Josh Thomson and Billy Evangelista.By 2009, he was fighting in Japan for Sengoku, but came back to the States after a TKO loss to Michihiro Omigawa. Back home, things got worse when he was halted by prospect Isaac DeJesus, but after bouncing back with a win over journeyman Rodney Rhoden in April of last year, fate came a knockin’ once again.“I was trying to redeem myself,” he said of his early 2010 outlook on fighting. “One of my students was supposed to be on The Ultimate Fighter season 12, and then the producer said why don’t I give it a try as well. So I did, and it was perfect because now I had a school, and mixed martial arts is a lot bigger now than it was back then. So everything fell into place just right.”On season 12 of TUF, Phan showed a veteran’s poise and talent, and was a split decision loss to Michael Johnson away from making it to the finals. Then came the Garcia fight, and while crushed at the time, he still received his win bonus and a Fight of the Night award, softening the blow somewhat. More importantly, he knew he was going to be brought back, and on August 6th, that return comes against former WEC featherweight champion Mike Brown.“He’s a champion and a gentleman in and outside of the cage,” said Phan of Brown. “He’s someone that I look up to and that I have a lot of respect for.”So no disappointment about not getting the Garcia rematch?“I didn’t care,” he said. “I felt like I performed well in the last fight and I proved my point. I’m really excited to get this opportunity now to fight a former world champion.”That response shows you just what it means to be a veteran. Enjoy what you have and don’t worry about what you don’t. Deal with what’s on the table right now, and not what could have been or might be. That’s Nam Phan 2011.“Sometimes you have to take a step back and think about why you got into it,” he said. “I do it because I love it and I enjoy it. You have to make sure you’re having fun, and when you enjoy it, there’s less pressure on you, and then you perform better. And the people can see that you’re having fun, and I think they appreciate that. And my goal right now is to do the best I can for as many years as I’ve got left.”He also wouldn’t mind making a positive impression on Philadelphia fight fans on August 6th as he engages in his first east coast bout.“It’s a Rocky movie,” he smiles, referring to Philly’s most famous, albeit fictional, pugilist. “I’m the underdog, so expect a high punch count and expect bombs.”
Fresh off a devastating loss to Anderson Silva in his last bout, former champion and global fighting star Vitor Belfort will attempt to take a major step toward reestablishing himself as a middleweight title contender when he faces Asian superstar Yoshihiro Akiyama in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Back-to-back losses, by contrast, would set him well back in the 185-pound pack.Akiyama, who is in the midst of a two-fight losing streak, is still trying to figure out how to capture the same mixed martial arts superstardom that he enjoyed during his fighting run in Japan. Three fights into his UFC career, the elite-level judoka remains an enigma. On one hand, he could easily be 0-3, but for the saving grace of two judges who surprisingly scored things in his favor when he faced off against Alan Belcher in his UFC debut. On the other hand, each of his three UFC bouts was awarded the lucrative “Fight of the Night” honor by UFC President Dana White.Akiyama remains the only fighter to earn that honor in each of his first three UFC bouts. Nonetheless, a third consecutive loss could spell problems for his fighting future.It suffices to say that this fight has major career implications for both men. That sort of stress often causes fighters to clam up. I just don’t see that happening on Saturday night.Belfort should prove to be a willing participant if Akiyama wants to continue his string of thrilling back-and-forth bouts. “The Phenom” is on another level from Akiyama in terms of his standup skills. There is no doubt about that. But he isn’t at his best when pressured, so Akiyama’s best chance at winning, aside from utilizing his great judo skills, is to try and test Belfort in a barroom brawl.Notice the qualifier? Akiyama’s most dominant skill is his judo. And that is the only area of the fight where he enjoys any sort of advantage over Belfort. Watching the former gold medalist from the 2001 Asian Championships and 2002 Asian Games throw around Chris Leben erased any doubt in my mind about this guy’s ability to transition his judo skills to mixed martial arts, and he needs to rely heavily on those skills if he wants to defeat Belfort.Keep in mind that Chris Leben has excellent takedown defense after spending the first several years of his career as a member of Team Quest. That affiliation gave him the opportunity to train on a daily basis with some of the best wrestlers that the UFC has ever seen, including Greco Roman guys like Randy Couture. Leben never imagined that Akiyama would be able to take him down with any regularity, but that is precisely what happened when the skilled judoka got his hands on the star slugger. In fact, Akiyama was able to take him down basically whenever he wanted. His throws and trips are that good.The problem, of course, is that Belfort has serious game in the clinch. I would rank it above Leben, in terms of his ability to defend and counter throws. His knee strikes are also far and away superior to those possessed by Leben. But many would take Leben’s judo defense and uppercuts over Belfort’s great athleticism, physical strength and knees. Who knows who is right? One way Belfort can guarantee that the fight remains on the feet is control the distance with the jab and keep Akiyama off balance by using lots of lateral movement. It probably isn’t a shock to anyone who has watched the Brazilian throughout his career that he rarely relies on the jab, despite the fact that he displays an excellent one in sparring. Instead, he prefers to stand with his left hand cocked and wait for his foe to make a mistake so he can counter with a lights-out left. Akiyama should counter Belfort’s tendency by smothering him with pressure. That is dangerous against a standup savage like Belfort, but it is the judoka’s best chance at winning. Belfort’s Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and overall grappling skills are otherworldly in the training gym, but he has never really brought them to a fight, for whatever inexplicable reason.If Belfort can avoid the takedown, he should win the fight fairly easily and inside the distance. Keep in mind, of course, that anything can happen when two highly trained athletes begin exchanging punches with those tiny vale tudo gloves. Anyone can get knocked out at any time. But Belfort wins a kickboxing contest with Akiyama move than 99 percent of the time, in my opinion.If the fight goes to the ground, Belfort should take a page out of the game plan that Josh Koscheck created for Andrew Main on the 12th season of The Ultimate Fighter. Main was told that if he found himself on his back that the only options were sweep, submit or stand up. Belfort needs to take those words to heart. Akiyama is a skilled judoka, but like most who transition into mixed martial arts from that sport, his ground game isn’t designed to methodically hammer away on an opponent defending from his guard until a limb or neck presents itself for a submission. Instead, judo is a game of hand and body position that relies heavily on the use of the gi by the attacker. Strip a judoka of his gi and his submission game typically deteriorates, by major margins.I don’t think Belfort has anything to fear in terms of submissions if he finds himself on his back. He is an elite black belt. Few debate that point. The problem, however, is that if he focuses solely on defending and resting from his guard, he will lose points on the judges’ cards for the time that he spends on his back. There is no doubt about that based on the judging history over the past decade.Belfort needs to be very proactive if he finds himself heading to the canvas. He should instantly look for a submission or sweep during the transition. If neither opportunity presents itself, then he should do whatever it takes to quickly rise back to his feet. Whether that means walking the cage, posting up with his arms or turning his back, it doesn’t matter. Akiyama is not a slick MMA submission guy, so Belfort should take some chances to get back to his feet, where he has the overwhelming advantage.If Belfort is able to keep his time on the mat to a minimum, he should win the fight. And Belfort winning the fight almost always means winning by knockout. All eight of his UFC wins have come inside the distance, and seven of them ended in a knockout. That doesn’t bode well for Akiyama if the fight remains on the feet.Typically, I would spend at least 200 words on the fact that Belfort has a notoriously light gas tank. I would write at length about how his foe should look to survive the first round and then begin forcing the action in the next two stanzas. But, alas, Akiyama is known to have the exact same issue. So, this is a fight that seems destined to end early. Neither man wants it to last until the final bell.This is another in a long line of classic examples of a fight that will likely be decided by which man is able to control where the fight unfolds. If I had to pick, I’d side with Belfort. He is one of the game’s best finishers, and I just don’t see where Akiyama has a decided advantage. I view this matchup a lot like I did Belfort versus Rich Franklin, and we all know how that one ended.Then again, Akiyama has surprised me before. He may very well do it again on Saturday night.QUICK FACTSVitor Belfort• 19-9 overall (8-5 UFC)• 34 years old• 6’0, 185 lbs• 74-inch reach• 3-1, 3 KOs at 195 lbs or less• 4-1 in last 5 fights• 7-3 in last 10• All 8 UFC wins inside the distance (7 by KO/TKO and 1 by SUB)• 68.4% of career wins by KO/TKO• 10.5% of career wins by SUB• 21.1% of career wins by decision• 33.3% of career losses by KO/TKO• 11.1% of career losses by SUB• 55.6% of career losses by decision• Former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion• Former UFC Heavyweight Tournament winner• Current layoff is 182 days• Longest layoff of his career is 504 daysYoshihiro Akiyama• 13-3, 2 NC overall (1-2 UFC)• 35 years old (will be 36 by fight night)• 5’10, 185 lbs• 75-inch reach• 3-2 in last 5 fights, including back-to-back losses coming into this fight• 6-2, 2 NC in last 10 fights• Lone UFC win by split decision• 16 out of 18 professional fights have ended inside the distance (12-2, 2NC in those fights; 1-1 in fights that lasted the distance)• 14 out of 18 professional fights ended in the first round (10-1, 2 NC in those fights)• 38.5% of career wins by KO/TKO• 53.8% of career wins by SUB• 7.7% of career wins by decision• 3 career losses: 1 KO, 1 SUB and 1 decision• All 3 UFC fights won Fight of the Night• Current layoff is 294 days• Longest layoff of his career is 357 days
It’s the calm before the storm for Chad Mendes. Literally. For a brief spell, two weeks before the featherweight contender steps into the Octagon to face Rani Yahya at UFC 133 in Philadelphia, he leaves the gym and just gets away, forgetting about the madness that can consume a fighter if he’s not careful.“What I like to do to clear my mind is get out to the outdoors,” he said. “I’m a huge outdoorsman – I love fishing, hunting, and camping, and that helps clear my mind. It’s just peace and quiet, and I don’t think about anything except what I’m doing there, and that’s one thing that really helps me.”Just 26 years old, if Mendes sounds like an old soul who’s got everything figured out, consider that he’s been competing in one way, shape, or form since he was five years old. When you do anything that long, you get into a rhythm and a set routine built by trial and error, but you also run the risk of burnout. Mendes has those days just like everyone else, but he pushes through.“There’s a line you gotta draw and there are days where you know you gotta get in that grind and you have to do it, no matter what,” he said. “As much as you hate to do it, there are times when you have to.” And when it’s not necessary to grind through a rough week of training, it’s time for a trip to the great outdoors to regroup and unwind. It’s a life few understand, and it could make relationships almost impossible. But in his wife of nearly a year, Danielle, Mendes has found a kindred spirit.“I’m lucky in the sense that she was an athlete too,” said Mendes, who will celebrate his first wedding anniversary with Danielle in September. “She was an athlete from when she was a little girl all the way up through college, so she definitely understands that side of it and the emotion and stuff that goes into it, and she’s always there to back me up.” There is a catch though.“One thing she cannot handle is blood,” laughs Mendes. “My fight with Erik Koch, he split me above my eye and I had blood all over my face and my body, and she had to turn away, she couldn’t watch it. But other than the blood, she’s totally cool about everything else.”Danielle has also been at every one of her husband’s pro fights, and was even in attendance for all of his senior year wrestling matches at Cal-Poly. Well, all except one, his 5-2 decision loss to J Jaggers in the 2008 NCAA Championship tournament. So considering that Mendes was 30-0 in wrestling and is 10-0 in MMA with his bride in the building, “I like to think of her as my good luck.”Not that he’s needed much luck thus far in his MMA career. A pro since 2008, Mendes rightfully entered the sport with plenty of hype, considering his impressive college wrestling credentials (he was a two-time All-American and Pac-10 champ), and he’s delivered on his promise thus far, going 5-0 on the local circuit before a 4-0 stint in the WEC where his victims included Koch, Cub Swanson, and Javier Vazquez. In February, he made his UFC debut with a win over longtime Japanese standout Michihiro Omigawa, yet as the spotlight on him glows brighter, he takes everything in stride and actually appears to be enjoying the ride.“Obviously the belt is the ultimate goal and it’s what all of us in this sport train for and it’s what we’re going after,” he explains. “But it’s not the only reward for me. Competing is a huge reward, I’ve been doing it continuously since I was five years old, and I don’t know if I could not compete. I think I’d go nuts. So I love my job. I get to hang out with all my buddies all the time, I get to travel all over the world, I get to meet new people, I get to go on shows and do interviews, I get to do some autograph signings, and I never guessed in a million years that I’d be doing all this stuff in my life. I’m enjoying it.”If you never thought you would read a quote from a pro athlete declaring that he enjoys doing interviews, you just did.Mendes laughs.“The day you stop getting interviews is when you gotta worry.”And he really is, to use the newest cliché, living the dream.“I got to hang out with Urijah (Faber) even before I started fighting, I went to a couple of his fights, and just got to see what was in store and what was gonna be expected,” said Mendes. “So it was something I kinda got a glimpse at before I even got to do it. So coming off the college career, I was excited to get in there and be a part of all this stuff. I’m loving all this. I never would have thought that at 26 years old I’d be fighting in the UFC and would be on TV, so it’s great. It’s a humbling experience and I’m enjoying it.”So when speculation ran rampant earlier this year that he was going to get a shot at UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo’s title, but instead saw Kenny Florian get that opportunity, Mendes didn’t lose a wink of sleep over it and he didn’t opt to wait on the sidelines for his title fight. He took the Yahya fight and got back to work.“The whole Aldo thing was never official,” he said. “I never had a contract in front of me to sign. It was something we were hoping for but I knew that anything could happen; it just didn’t happen for me. Basically I didn’t want to wait the nine months to possibly fight him because I knew with Florian fighting in the meantime, that there was a good chance that if he performed well, (UFC President) Dana (White) would give him the fight. That was probably the biggest rollercoaster, but once we got the contract in front of me with Yahya, that’s what I decided to do, and it was back in work mode and back in the gym training and not even thinking about Aldo’s style anymore. It was all Yahya.”That’s not to say the Californian wasn’t watching closely as Aldo defended his crown against Mark Hominick in April and Florian made a successful 145-pound debut against Diego Nunes in June. In fact, there probably wasn’t anyone observing the two bouts more intently.“It just goes to show how many tough guys there are in this division,” said Mendes. “Both guys had tough opponents, and both guys got tested, but they both have a champion’s mentality because they found a way to win. That’s something you have to have to go far in this sport, and I think they both have it.”“With Aldo, that was a great fight for me to see,” he continues. “It just proves my whole point about the difference between grappling and standup cardio. You could see that he was forcing shots and trying to take it to the ground, and it wore him out. That’s my bread and butter and what I’d try to do if I ever fought him. With Florian, that was his first fight at ’45, so we didn’t know what to expect, and I thought he looked pretty good. He came out and looked a little sluggish in the first round, and that could have just been from the weight cut, but he’s got the mind of a champion, so he came back and found a way to win.”Mendes is obviously antsy to get his own shot at the winner of October’s Aldo vs. Florian bout, but he won’t be seeing either featherweight standout anytime soon if he doesn’t get by jiu-jitsu ace Yahya, who returned to 145 pounds in January after a long run at bantamweight, and defeated former WEC champ Mike Brown. So in a way, facing a man who has submitted 14 of the 16 men he’s defeated is Chad Mendes’ title shot. At least for the moment.“For this camp we have been doing a lot of wrestling and the reason why is because honestly I’d like to keep this fight standing as much as possible,” he said. “But there’s two different type of cardio – there’s standup cardio and there’s grappling, squeezing, and wrestling cardio, and they’re completely different. So I’m preparing for his best place, and if I feel great in that area, I’m gonna be very confident with my standup. So we’re doing a lot of wrestling and a lot of grappling for this camp, I’m feeling great, and it’s been one of the best camps I’ve had so far. I want to be prepared for the worst, so that way I can have my best performance. I’m not looking past Yahya at all. I’m training hard and I gotta get in there and win this fight.”
Verbal agreements are in for a welterweight fight between undefeated German prospect Pascal Krauss and 15-1 Brighton native John "The Hitman" Hathaway at UFC 138 November 5th in Birmingham, England.Four More Bouts Set for Birmingham updated July 20England's next UFC event continues to shape up with a handful of bouts verbally agreed to for the November 5th Birmingham event.Fists will fly in two matchups pitting some of England's best strikers against up-and-comers. Walsall's "Relentless" Paul Taylor will battle Anthony Njokuani in lightweight scrap. In another 155 pound slugfest, Liverpool's Terry Etim will fight Edward Faaloloto.One of the featherweight division’s newest prospects, kickboxer Jason Young, is set to take on one of the division’s most established, Michihiro Omigawa.It was also confirmed today that UFC 138 will feature a welterweight matchup between James Head and Mark Scanlon.Alves Returns to Face Unbeaten Abedi on Nov. 5 updated July 20Unbeaten Swedish prospect Papy Abedi will get a tough assignment in his UFC debut in Birmingham, England on November 5th, as he takes on longtime contender Thiago Alves in a bout verbally agreed to on Tuesday.“Undefeated welterweight Papy ‘Makambo’ Abedi has agreed to make his UFC debut against fan favorite Thiago ‘Pit Bull’ Alves at UFC 138,” said UFC President Dana White.Spike TV to Televise The UFC's Return to the UK on Nov. 5Top 185-pound contenders Chris Leben and Mark Munoz will headline the UFC's return to British shores on November 5th, as the Spike TV televised UFC 138 event takes place at the LG Arena in Birmingham. "Two of the middleweight division's heaviest hitters will go to war in the UFC's first ever non-title 5 round main event as the 'Filipino Wrecking Machine' Mark Munoz takes on Chris 'The Crippler' Leben at UFC 138 November 5th in Birmingham, England," said UFC President Dana White of the historic matchup.Leben has won four of his last five bouts, including finishes of Aaron Simpson, Yoshihiro Akiyama, and Wanderlei Silva. Munoz is on a similar hot streak, having beaten Aaron Simpson, CB Dollaway, and Demian Maia in successive bouts.Two serious bantamweight title contenders have also verbally agreed to battle at the same event. "England’s top bantamweight, Brad Pickett, will be taking on the man with the best unbeaten streak in the sport, Renan Barao, who hasn’t lost in his last 29 fights." The broadcast will air on Rogers Sportsnet in Canada.
The injury bug has bitten UFC 133 again, with Alessio Sakara the latest casualty. Sakara's removal from his bout with Jorge Rivera (the third time the bout has hit the skids), has opened up a main card slot for Greek slugger Costa Philippou, who will now face "El Conquistador" on the August 6th card in Philadelphia. Stepping in to face Philippou's original opponent, Rafael Natal, will be 16-2, 1 NC Ultimate Fighter veteran Paul Bradley, who will be making his Octagon debut.Lil Nog Latest Casualty of 133 Injury Wave updated July 25A third light heavyweight in a week has been forced to withdraw from UFC 133 - Dana White confirmed today via Twitter that Antonio Rogerio Nogueria is out of the August 6 fight against Rich Franklin due to an injury. The bout will not replaced, and the Vitor Belfort vs. Yoshihiro Akiyama bout will be moved to the co-main event slot, while the welterweight battle between Dennis Hallman and Brian Ebersole has been moved to the main card.Hamill in for Injured Matyushenko at UFC 133 updated July 14For the second time this week, an injury has knocked a light heavyweight off the UFC 133 fight card. Dana White announced today that Vladimir "The Janitor" Matyushenko has been forced to withdraw from his scheduled fight against Swede Alexander "The Mauler" Gustafsson.Stepping in for The Janitor will be fellow wrestler Matt "The Hammer" Hamill, who last faced Quinton "Rampage" Jackson in the main event of UFC 130. Hamill and Gustafsson have verbally agreed to the August 6 matchup.Davis Injured, Ortiz Gets Call to Face Evans in UFC 133 Rematch updated July 13The stakes have just gotten higher for UFC 133
main eventer Rashad
Evans, as the former light heavyweight champion will now face an old rival,
Tito Ortiz, on the August 6th card in Philadelphia after his original opponent,
was forced out of the bout due to injury.
The two originally met in July of 2007, battling to a three round draw. Ortiz
is coming off a UFC 132 win over Ryan Bader, and now he’s back to battle Evans
just one month later.
Tickets are on sale now for this exciting clash of former
champions looking to get a shot at the title once again.
Mendes to Take on Yahya at UFC 133 updated May 23“With featherweight champion Jose Aldo’s exact return date to the Octagon uncertain, #1 undefeated featherweight contender Chad Mendes looks to stay active by taking on the extremely dangerous submissions specialist Rani Yahya," said Dana White. Mendes and Yahya have verbally agreed to an August 6th bout at UFC 133 in Philadelphia. Aldo stated Monday via Twitter that due to the standard medical suspension he received after UFC 129, he wouldn't have enough time to train for an August bout.Pyle vs MacDonald Agreed to for UFC 133 updated May 23UFC President Dana White announced today that the City of Brotherly Love will get another dose of high-impact welterweight action on August 6th with a veteran vs. prospect meeting.“Welterweight standouts Mike ‘Quicksand’ Pyle and Rory ‘The Water Boy’ MacDonald have verbally agreed to fight at UFC 133 in Philadelphia,” said White.Menjivar vs. Pace added to UFC 133
This August in Philadelphia, veteran Ivan Menjivar will look to follow-up his crushing UFC 129 knockout of Charlie Valencia with a win over hot 135-pound prospect Nick Pace.“Bantamweights Ivan Menjivar and Nick Pace have agreed to fight each other August 6, at UFC 133 in Philadelphia," said UFC President Dana White. "Menjivar is coming off a devastating elbow KO win and Pace utilized a rarely seen type of submission to secure the victory in his last outing.” Pace was orginally slated to fight Michael McDonald at UFC 133, but McDonald stepped in for an injured fighter on the UFC 130 card. Mauler vs. Janitor Confirmed for UFC 133Two light heavyweights coming off of impressive performances have verbally agreed to meet at UFC 133 - Dana White confirmed today that Swede Alexander “The Mauler” Gustafsson will take on Belarusian newlywed Vladimir “The Janitor” Matyushenko.Brown vs. Phan Set for UFC 133 Showdown updated May 11Always exciting Mike Brown will look to get back in the win column at UFC 133 on August 6th in Philadelphia when he takes on The Ultimate Fighter 12's Nam Phan.“Former featherweight champ Mike Brown and Nam Phan have both verbally
agreed to fight August 6th in Philadelphia,” said UFC President Dana White.Pierce gets Hendricks in UFC 133 BoutIt's an all-wrestling showdown as Mike Pierce meets Johny Hendricks in a welterweight bout this August.“Powerhouse wrestlers collide as verbal agreements are in for Mike Pierce vs. Johny Hendricks in Philadelphia August 6th,” said UFC President Dana White.Evans Battles “Mr. Wonderful” at UFC 133 updated April 25With UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones currently sidelined by injury, number one contender Rashad Evans will step back into the Octagon to risk his title shot against unbeaten and dangerous Phil Davis at UFC 133 in Philadelphia. "Undefeated 'Mr. Wonderful' Phil Davis has verbally agreed to face former UFC world light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans in Philadelphia on August 6," said UFC President Dana White. Evans was originally supposed to face new champ Jon 'Bones' Jones but Jones is unable to compete due to injury.”Little Nog vs. Franklin in Philly updated April 21Two more big names have signed on for UFC 133 August 6 in Philadelphia.“Verbal agreements are in for what should be an amazing fight as former Pride superstar Rogerio 'Minotoro' Nogueira will take on former UFC World Middleweight Champion Rich 'Ace' Franklin in a light heavyweight bout,” said UFC president Dana White.Belfort-Akiyama, Hallman-Ebersole at 133 updated April 21A welterweight matchup has been verbally agreed to between Brian “Bad Boy” Ebersole and Dennis “Superman” Hallman at UFC 133 in Philadelphia, said UFC president Dana White. Ebersole opened eyes when he joined the UFC on short notice against Chris Lytle at UFC 127 and won. With 62 pro fights on his record, the American-born Sydney resident is the rare opponent who's nearly as experienced as Hallman, a veteran of 81 bouts.Earlier in the day, White announced that verbal agreements are in for a UFC 133 battle between two of the most exciting fighters in the middleweight division. "After three straight Fight of the Night performances, Yoshihiro Akiyama will take on former UFC Light Heavyweight champion Vitor Belfort August 6 in Philadelphia," he said.McDonald Meets Pace at 133 updated April 12Bantamweight phenom Michael McDonald is back this summer to take on Staten Island's Nick Pace at UFC 133.“Coming off an incredible Fight Of The Night win, top prospect Michael McDonald returns to the Octagon to face another exciting up-and-comer, Nick Pace, as they have verbally agreed to face each other in a bantamweight bout at UFC 133,” said UFC President Dana White. Also on that card, BJJ specialist Rafael Natal and Japanese grappler Riki Fukuda have agreed to a middleweight matchup.Rivera Finally Gets Sakara at 133 updated April 12“Better late than never, verbal agreements are in for what should be an action-packed match between Alessio Sakara and Jorge Rivera at UFC 133," said UFC president Dana White today.The two middleweights were originally scheduled to meet at UFC 122 in Oberhausen, Germany but Sakara had to pull out due to illness. Details on UFC 133, which will take place in August 2011, will be announced soon.
Bleacher ReportFull UFC 120 Results - Hardy KOd, Bisping, & More!Wrestling Inc.McSweeney starts the contest with a couple of outside leg kicks. Maldonado retaliates by charging forward with ...UFC 120 Results: Fabio Maldonado Defeats James McSweeneyBleacher Reportall 2 news articles »
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MMAjunkie.com(UFC) UFC 120 News - Fight Night Bonuses + UK Attendance RecordTWNP-Wrestling NewsAt the post UFC 120 press conference, UFC president Dana White announced that UFC 120 had 17133 spectators attending the event. ...UFC 120 reportedly sets European attendance recordMMAjunkie.comDana White Video Blog UFC 120 Day 3aroundtheoctagonDana White video blog UFC 120 day 2aroundtheoctagonBleacher Reportall 10 news articles »
Bleacher ReportBrett Favre, UFC 120, Liverpool FC and Saturday's Top Sports NewsBleacher ReportAnd then we have UFC 120 from England. Not available on pay-per-view, apparently, but will air later tonight on Spike TV. Go figure. ...and more »
Showbiz Gossips (press release)UFC 120 "Submission of the Night" winner says it's just Paul SassMMAjunkie.comFollowing his UFC 120 win over Mark Holst, Paul Sass revealed he can't stand the moniker, either, and he'd appreciate it if we could all just let it go. ...UFC 120 Live Stream Starts NowShowbiz Gossips (press release)UFC 120 Predictions For Each Fight on The London CardBleacher ReportBrits light up O2 Arena on UFC 120 undercardESPN.co.ukTelegraph.co.uk (blog) -HeadlinePlanet.com -Top MMA Newsall 12 news articles »
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