The thousands of fans have left the Mandalay Bay Event Center and fighters have returned home to nurse their injuries and plan for their next bouts following a night of solid competitive fights at UFC 137. “Diablo” Nick Diaz (25-8) took the win over “The Prodigy” BJ Penn (16-7-2) in his main event return to the UFC. Cheick Kongo (17-6-2) showed how superior technical abilities are a perfect foil for raw athletic ability when he dismantled “Meathead” Matt Mitrione (5-1). The MMA world witnessed the end of one of the most storied careers in MMA as “Cro Cop” Mirko Filipovic (27-11-2) came out on the losing side of a three-round fire fight with “Big Country” Roy Nelson (16-6). “Big Frog” Jeff Curran (35-14-1) had his UFC return spoiled by WEC stand-out “Young Guns” Scott Jorgensen (12-3) and Hatsu Hioki (22-4-2) broke the curse of JMMA fighters with a solid win over George Roop (12-7-1). With the fights in the books, everyone knows which man recorded the victory in each fight, but that doesn’t necessarily reflect how each man’s career will be affected and for that, MMA Gospel has the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.
The battle for the Bellator Season 5 Heavyweight Tournament finals went out like a bat out of hell with two match-ups lasting a little over a minute combined. Former US Army Boxing Champion “The American Soldier” Eric Prindle (6-1) took on Kentucky native “The Monster” Ron Sparks (5-1). Brazilian “Big Monster” Thiago Santos (6-1) and South African “Goliath” Neil Grove (11-5) met in a replacement bout that took weeks to finalize, but only seconds to conclude. In the main event Welterweight Champion Ben Askren (9-0) faced seasoned IFL veteran and hungry top contender “The Thoroughbred” Jay Hieron (19-5) in a five-round affair that put Askren’s title on the line for the first time.
—MAIN CARD (on Pay-Per-View)—
BJ Penn vs. Nick Diaz: Diaz via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-27, 29-28), Round 3, 5:00
Cheick Kongo vs. Matt Mitrione: Kongo via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-28, 29-28), Round 3, 5:00
Mirko Filipovic vs. Roy Nelson: Nelson via TKO (Punches), Round 3, 1:30
Scott Jorgensen vs. Jeff Curran: Jorgensen via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27), Round 3, 5:00
Hatsu Hioki vs. George Roop: Hioki via Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28), Round 3, 5:00
—MAIN CARD (on MTV2)—
Welterweight Championship Fight
Ben Askren vs. Jay Hieron: Askren via Split Decision (48-47, 48-47, 47-48), Round 5, 5:00
Season 5 Heavyweight Tournament Semi-Final Fight
Neil Grove vs. Thiago Santos: Santos via Submission (Rear Naked Choke), Round 1, 0:38
Adam Schindler vs. Jeremy Spoon: Spoon via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28), Round 3, 5:00
Season 5 Heavyweight Tournament Semi-Final Fight
Eric Prindle vs. Ron Sparks: Prindle via KO (Punches), Round 1, 0:40
The UFC 137 main card has survived a series of blows to its line-up to finally come to fruition tonight at the promotion’s primary stomping grounds, the Mandalay Bay Event Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. To kick off the Pay-Per-View festivities, perpetual underdog and TUF 8 alum George Roop (12-6-1) welcomes Japanese sensation Hatsu Hioki to the Octagon for his stateside debut. Two former WEC stand-outs go to battle as multiple-time “Fight of the Night” winner “Young Guns” Scott Jorgensen (11-3) is pitted against fellow bantamweight and seasoned submission guru “Big Frog” Jeff Curran (35-13-1). The famed head kicks of ”Cro Cop” Mirko Filipovic (27-10-2) will likely make an appearance when the former PRIDE superstar takes on inaugural IFL Heavyweight Champion and TUF 10 winner “Big Country” Roy Nelson (15-6). The co-main event sees another heavyweight clash, this time between renowned French kickboxer Cheick Kongo (16-6-2) and the man who “pisses excellence” each time he steps foot in the Octagon, “Meathead” Matt Mitrione (5-0). Former UFC Lightweight and Welterweight Champion “The Prodigy” BJ Penn (16-7-2) goes head to head with Stockton native “Diablo” Nick Diaz (24-8) of Cesar Gracie tutelage in the evening’s marquis event – a pairing that already showed fireworks at last night’s weigh-ins. Despite its rocky start, the UFC once again has managed to string together an event chock full of promising match-ups that are nearly certain to render the full gamut of results.
The Memorial Hall in Kansas City, Kansas, home field of Titan Fighting Championships, will loan its famous venue to Bellator Fighting Championships for Bellator 56 tomorrow night. The first title fight of the season serves as the main event when Bellator Welterweight Champion Ben Askren (8-0) puts his belt on the line against UFC, IFL, and Strikeforce veteran and Season 4 tournament winner “The Thoroughbred” Jay Hieron (19-4). “Big Monster” Thiago Santos (5-1), who replaced “300″ Mike Hayes (14-4), was scheduled to face Blagoi Ivanov (5-0) but an injury forced Ivanov to the bench. Now in his place is feared striker “Goliath” Neil Grove (11-4). Grove is looking to make an example of Santos by knocking him out cold and showing the world he is still that dangerous man that busted onto the scene during Bellator Season 2. Kentucky’s own “The Monster” Ron Sparks (5-0) will duke it out with yet another big man “The American Soldier” Eric Prindle (5-1). With four massive heavyweights competing for the two slots in the tournament finals, fans can expect nothing less than a rock ‘em sock ‘em slugfest.
The Mandalay Bay Events Center welcomes the UFC back to its home in Las Vegas with UFC 137: Penn vs. Diaz this Saturday. Joe Silva should be given a matchmaking award for the roster of fights he’s put together including the debut of Sengoku Raiden and Shooto champion Hatsu Hioki (24-4-2) versus featherweight stalwart George Roop (12-7-1) in what will surely be an early contender for “Fight of the Night” awards. “Big Country” Roy Nelson (15-6) looks to rebound from a lackluster loss against the aging fan favorite “Cro Cop” Mirko Filipovic (27-9-2). Cheick Kongo (16-6-2) will look to stave off the fast rise of “Meathead” Matt Mitrione in the night’s most intriguing heavyweight match. And while the title fight between UFC Welterweight Champion “Rush” Georges St. Pierre (22-2) and underrated contender “The Natural Born Killer” Carlos Condit (27-5) has been scrapped, there is no question that its replacement fight between former UFC Lightweight and Welterweight Champion “The Prodigy” BJ Penn (16-7-2) and former Strikeforce Welterweight Champion “Diablo” Nick Diaz (25-7) has “one for the ages” written all over it. Regardless of the dubious reasons behind this fight’s origin, one thing is for sure: both men will be looking to throw down. Penn has always been a fighter first and foremost and Diaz loves opponents who come at him full-throttle. With two multi-talented, born-to-brawl athletes like Penn and Diaz, this fight is guaranteed to entertain.
While a knee injury in training has robbed MMA fans of the UFC Welterweight Title fight between “Rush” Georges St. Pierre (22-2) and “Natural Born Killer” Carlos Condit (27-5), the UFC 137 card headlined by “The Prodigy” BJ Penn (16-7-2) and “El Diablo” Nick Diaz (24-8) is certainly not lacking in talent. Sengoku superstar Hatsu Hioki (21-4-2) will open the main card in his UFC debut against George Roop (12-6-1). “Big Frog” Jeff Curran (35-13-1) will make his return to the Octagon against former WEC contemporary “Young Guns” Scott Jorgensen (11-3) and “Cro Cop” Mirko Filipovic (27-10-2) will seek a return to glory against “Big Country” Roy Nelson (15-6). Pulling co-main event duties are a pair of heavyweight strikers from opposite ends of the public spectrum, Cheick Kongo (16-6-2) and “Meathead” Matt Mitrione (5-0). Known for his blunt, dry sense of humor and almost comical arrogance, Matt Mitrione came from the NFL, to the TUF house, and into a five-fight win streak as he continues to “piss excellence” in the Octagon. Kongo, by contrast has been a man of very few words who has quietly climbed the UFC ladder with a five-year-long, 9-4-1 mark in the organization and a traditional, no-flash style of kickboxing that he uses to great effect. Both men have made their presence known and are looking for the chance to make a big splash in the division. This fight represents that chance.
Though an injury to UFC Welterweight Champion “Rush” Georges St. Pierre (22-2) cost fans a title fight between he and former WEC champ “Natural Born Killer” Carlos Condit (27-5), the UFC 137 event headlined by “The Prodigy” BJ Penn (16-7-2) and polarizing welterweight talent “El Diablo” Nick Diaz (24-8) remains one of the most impressive offerings of the year, from any organization. The cast of characters is nothing short of amazing with the stern Frenchman Cheick Kongo (16-6-2) going head to head with heavyweight class clown and break away knockout artist “Meathead” Matt Mitrione (5-0), Japanese champion Hatsu Hioki (21-4-2) taking on George Roop (12-6-1), and “Big Frog” Jeff Curran (35-13-1) making his first Octagon appearance in nearly six years against former WEC rival “Young Guns” Scott Jorgensen (11-3). Also slated for marquis action, former PRIDE superstar “Cro Cop” Mirko Filipovic (27-10-2) will again seek to reclaim a piece of his former self against former IFL champion “Big Country” Roy Nelson (15-6). The pairing is an interesting affair as both men have questions about their career decisions pressing in on them from the media, the UFC brass, and the fans.
The card has undergone many changes but UFC 137 still comes at full force come Saturday night at the Mandalay Bay Event Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. “Young Guns” Scott Jorgensen (11-3) welcomes back “Big Frog” Jeff Curran (35-13-1) in a bantamweight match-up. The potential for knockouts is always high when the heavyweights are involved, especially when Cheick Kongo (16-6-2) meets “Meathead” Matt Mitrione (5-0) and “Cro Cop” Mirko Filipovic (27-10-2) clashes with “Big Country” Roy Nelson (15-6). The main event is a dream match for those who love a good old fashioned scrap, as “The Prodigy” BJ Penn (16-7-2) and “Diablo” Nick Diaz (24-8) are set to lock horns. In the card’s opener, George Roop (12-6-1) welcomes top featherweight Hatsu Hioki (21-4-2) into the Octagon. Roop has always been the featherweight division’s underdog but when he meets a high-level grappler in Hioki, the moniker might seem fitting more than ever.
Late Tuesday night an announcement was made that raised Bellator Fighting Championships’ stock in the MMA market: Viacom, the parent company of Spike TV, MTV, BET, and Comedy Central, has purchased broadcasting rights for the Chicago-based promotion.
The deal won’t come into effect until 2013, but that doesn’t mean the benefits will be on hold for the promotion, the fighters, and the fans. Apart for the obvious gains in terms of consistent programming and production value, the deal will also help insure the long-term stability of Bellator as a promotion, meaning that fighters will be able to count on their paychecks cashing and their jobs being secure so long as they continue to preform. For fans, it means more MMA on more channels on a more regular basis.
Former Bellator Welterweight Champion “Cyborg” Lyman Good (11-2) is returning to the cage after a six-month hiatus following his Split Decision loss to Season 4 Welterweight Tournament finalist “Judo” Rick Hawn (11-1) in April.
Good was slated to take on “The Handler” Dan Hornbuckle (18-5) at Bellator 44 the following month but a hamstring injury forced him to withdraw from the fight. Now fully healed and ready to start his climb back to a shot at the Bellator championship gold of which he was the first to wield, “Cyborg” will face off with Brazilian native and Sengoku veteran ”Maicon” Michael Costa (10-5) in a welterweight tourney qualifying match at Bellator 59 on November 26.
Costa, a Chute Boxe fighter, will debut under the Bellator banner with nine finishes out of his ten victories, and with a training camp that is Chute Boxe there’s no question that his Muay Thai is extremely lethal. Costa’s last fight will be a day shy of a year come November 26 and what a welcome back he gets with a former champion of Good’s caliber. Costa is a Royler Gracie-trained black belt who currently trains alongside Bellator Season 5 Middleweight Tournament finalist Vitor Vianna (12-1-1) at Wand Fight Team in Las Vegas, Nevada.