For years he was the talk of the MMA world, heralded for being arguably the best fighter outside the shark tank that is the UFC. Many believe he still holds the best chance in dethroning the top middleweight fighter on the planet and long-time champion “The Spider” Anderson Silva (33-4). This man is former Bellator, CFC, and AFC Middleweight Champion “Lightning” Hector Lombard (32-3) who owns perhaps the most powerful strikes in the 185lbs. division, held the longest win streak at 24 victories, earned a knockout win at just six seconds of the opening round, and seems unstoppable once again after manhandling feared middleweight powerhouse “Toquinho” Rousimar Palhares (14-5) in his adopted home of Australia. MMA Gospel writer Cole Moorman goes one-on-one with the powerful striker to find out how “Lightning” is looking to strike UFC gold.
M-1 Global, DREAM, and Strikeforce veteran “Psycho” Karl Amoussou (16-4-2) started off his tenure in Bellator Fighting Championships at 0-1 after a controversial Split Decision loss to “Smiling” Sam Alvey (19-4) at Bellator 45 in May 2011. Many might have been deterred by such a disappointing start in one of the world’s most prominent mixed martial arts promotions, but that wasn’t the case for the Frenchman. A fire was lit under Amoussou, who then went on to amass four consecutive victories over the course of nine months, along the way dropping from middleweight to the 170lbs. division. Amoussou’s long-awaited move to welterweight began with a catchweight bout at 175 against “Chavo” Jesus Martinez (6-3). It took Amoussou only 2:20 to destroy Martinez with lighting quick strikes and the victory earned him a spot in the Bellator Season 6 Welterweight Tournament. From there the “Psycho” would tear through the opponents within the tourney ranks and earn the title of Season 6 Welterweight Tournament Champion, with the trail of devastation left in his wake catching the MMA world’s attention. Between his rigorous training to dethrone Bellator Welterweight Champion “Funky” Ben Askren (10-0) in a title fight this fall, Amoussou chats with MMA Gospel Staff Writer Cole Moorman about his journey through the promotion’s ranks.
At 39 years of age, “Hollywood” John Harris (4-4) looks to show that he still has a lot of fight left in him. This Friday, May 25, Harris aims to climb over the .500 mark for the first time in his career by picking up a win over his toughest opponent yet, former UFC vet Kyle Bradley (16-9), at Bellator 70 live at The Orleans Convention Center in New Orleans, Louisiana. Just a week prior to his fight, “Hollywood” sat down with MMA Gospel writer Matt Homeyer to talk about his upcoming bout, the ups and downs of his career, and why he feels he is ready to turn his MMA career around.
Can you tell us about your martial arts background? What got you started in MMA, and how old were you when you first took interest in the sport?
I really don’t have a background in terms of doing karate since I was six or being involved in the sport like that. I attended the Air Force Academy and boxed while I was there. That’s pretty much it. I started taking interest in [MMA] during the early UFC days. I went to the video store and found the no holds barred fights and I grabbed a video and checked it out. I thought it was pretty cool and ever since then I’ve been following it. I got involved in it locally but because I am in Biloxi, Mississippi, I really didn’t know of any gym or any place that offered classes or any way of being involved in something like that. I always wanted to stay competitive after I stopped playing college ball so I met up with my coach and had known him for a couple years and never even knew that he fought. We were just talking over a couple of beers and he mentioned that he was going to China for a bout and it just took off from there. I took up a class and the rest is history.
The Pettis name is one that has infiltrated the MMA media and fan forums for the past several years, largely due to former WEC Lightweight Champion “Showtime” Anthony Pettis’ (15-2) numerous highlight reel knockouts, overall dominance of the 155lbs. division, and high-flying kicks, including an off-the-cage kick, dubbed “The Showtime Kick”, over now UFC lightweight champ “Smooth” Ben Henderson (16-2). However, a new family member is making the value of the Pettis last name soar even higher – “The Phenom” Sergio Pettis (3-0), another Roufusport prodigy and Anthony’s younger brother, is making his own name in the sport. Eighteen-year-old Sergio has gone 3-0 as a professional fighter and 4-0 as an amateur and now looks to make the cut from his usual bantamweight class to flyweight for his May 4 match-up against “Bad Boy” Chris Haney (3-2) at NAFC: Colosseum in Sergio’s hometown of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. MMA Gospel staff writer Matt Homeyer sat down with Sergio just hours before his brother’s main card fight at UFC 144 to discuss training with one of the top camps in the sport, sparring with one of the most eccentric strikers in the UFC, “stealing” nicknames, and how he feels about taking on the 125lbs. division.
Way back in July of 2011, Chael Sonnen said he would do an interview with me but suggested that I might want to wait. Chael was doing a ton of media at the time so I took that rain check. Now with the exciting and unexpected news that Chael will be fighting Michael Bisping next Saturday at UFC on FOX 2, with his original opponent Mark Munoz out due to injury, I decided to cash in that rain check. I reminded Chael about it and told him that whenever he was free we’d do the interview. Later that day, Chael called me for a chat. Never let it be said that Chael isn’t a man of his word.
It was just the end of another training session on Wednesday afternoon, the last hard sparring session of fight camp before the big fight on December 2. The fighter who was in the shark tank was none other than 145lbs. Bellator veteran and top contender for the Tachi Palace Fights featherweight title, “Insane” Georgi Karakhanyan (17-3). Having defeated eight of his last ten opponents including Shooto, EliteXC, and Strikeforce veteran “The Taz” Bao Quach (17-10-1) via first-round knockout, Georgi has now put himself in line to take on Isaac DeJesus (9-3) for championship gold in the Tachi Palace Fights 11: Redemption main event this Friday. Karakhanyan is known for his come-forward style of fighting and lethal knees paired with a slick submission game that earned him the bulk of his career wins, but despite his aggressive demeanor in the cage, Georgi answered his phone with a friendly tone, welcoming a chat with MMA Gospel writer Cole Moorman about the biggest fight in his professional career thus far – and much more.
MMA’s heavyweight ranks in the days of old were largely dominated by a slew of sluggish, unathletic, haymaker-throwing brutes who quite literally used their weight to push opponents around the cage and often couldn’t last much longer in a fight than it would have taken to drop his opponent – or be dropped – like a fallen redwood tree. The past several years have seen tremendous growth in the heavyweight division and have given way to a new breed of competitors who aren’t just physically imposing, but also very fast, well-rounded, and technical, with the likes of Cain Velasquez (9-0), “Cigano” Junior Dos Santos (13-1), “The Demolition Man” Alistair Overeem (32-12), “Meathead” Matt Mitrione (5-0), Cheick Kongo (16-6-2), Daniel Cormier (8-0), “The Skyscraper” Stefan Struve (18-5), and “The Hybrid” Brendan Schaub (7-2) leading the way.
Enter: Stipe Miocic (6-0). The undefeated Ohio native has been fighting professionally only since February 2010 but has already managed to cause a few ripples in the pool of talented new heavyweights. Miocic, of Team Strong Style in Independence, Ohio, has employed his brutal brand of striking to finish each one of his half-dozen opponents, just half of whom made it to the second round before suffering the same fate as those before them. On June 4 Stipe captured the first championship title of his career after defeating Bobby Brents (10-2) by second-round submission via leg kicks at NAAFS: Fight Night in the Flats 7. It wasn’t long after that the UFC came calling. Tomorrow night in a preliminary card match-up at UFC 136, Miocic will make his UFC debut against respected veteran “The Mexicutioner” Joey Beltran (11-4) in what promises to be an unabashed slug fest. Just days before the biggest fight of his career thus far, MMA Gospel Editor-in-Chief Mallory Mejia had the opportunity to speak with Stipe on his transition to the big leagues and what he expects come Saturday night.
Over his seven-year professional career, “The Talent” Alan Belcher (16-6) has steadily climbed the ranks of MMA’s middleweight division. The Mississippi native initially burst on to the scene in 2004 at just 20 years old, making a name for himself in several local circuits and even competing in Korean promotion X-Impact World Championships. In 2006 Belcher signed with the UFC, where he has since amassed a 7-4 record within the premier organization. “The Talent” is well known for his slick submissions, as evident by his pair of “Submission of the Night” awards, but is perhaps even more renowned for his purist Muay Thai style and do-or-die approach to fighting. He has gone four for five since September 2008, taking out “Short Fuse” Ed Herman (17-8), Denis Kang (35-13-1), Wilson Gouveia (12-8), and “The Predator” Patrick Cote (15-7) in the process and earning four consecutive performance-based fight bonuses. Belcher was slated to take on former top contender Demian Maia (13-3) at UFC Fight Night 22 as the marquis fight, but just six weeks before the event, the unthinkable happened - “The Talent” was forced to withdraw from the bout after sustaining a detached retina and undergoing emergency eye surgery. For many, such an injury would have been career-ending. But for Belcher, he’s healed up and ready to stake his claim in the UFC’s middleweight division once again. Just a few days shy of his long awaited return at UFC Fight Night 25 this Saturday, Belcher spoke with MMA Gospel staff writer Matt Homeyer about his injury, his road to recovery, and his determination to move forward.
“The Cleveland Assassin” Chris Lozano (8-1) is taking no prisoners in his quest for glory. In just over two years as a professional mixed martial artist, Lozano has already made quite a name for himself, knocking out seven of his nine opponents and not only competing in Bellator’s Season 4 Welterweight Tournament, but also in serving as the headliner of the first fight card in history to be aired on MTV2, Bellator 35. That bout saw Lozano take on the promotion’s most recent former 170lbs. champion, “Cyborg” Lyman Good (11-2), in a hard fought three-round battle that rendered “The Cleveland Assassin” on the losing end for the first time in his career. Lozano then followed up his stint in Bellator with a pair of consecutive victories in the North American Allied Fight Series promotion, after which he was invited to return to the Bellator cage for the Season 5 Welterweight Tournament. Come September 10, “The Cleveland Assassin” will step into the national spotlight yet again, this time facing off with fellow knockout artist Brent Weedman (18-6) in the Bellator Season 5 Welterweight Tournament quarter-finals. MMA Gospel Editor-in-Chief Mallory Mejia got the opportunity to sit down with the rising star Lozano and discuss his evolving fight game, his mindset going into one of the most important match-ups of his career thus far, and what he plans on doing differently this time around.
“Shango” Hector Lombard (27-2) is a name that has been on the lips of MMA fans more and more recently and oddly enough it hasn’t been to talk about another one of “Shango’s” highlight reel knockouts, but rather the fact that the Bellator Middleweight Champion called out “The Great” Nate Marquardt (31-10) shortly after Nate’s release from the UFC. Lombard, who is considered by many fans to be one of the most dangerous strikers in the sport, seemed to jump at the fact that Marquardt had been released by the world’s premier mixed martial arts promotion and was almost instantly looking to fight against the former UFC middleweight contender. Just days after Lombard called out the former top contender, Matt Homeyer of MMA Gospel talked to the current Bellator champ about what drew him into MMA, the upcoming Bellator Season 5 tournament, and, of course, Nate Marquardt.
“Psycho” Karl Amoussou (12-3-2) entered the lion’s den of European MMA with three first-round submission wins that earned him the honor of cutting his teeth in the ranks of the world famous M-1 Global promotion. Toting an 8-2 record within the organization, of which only two bouts saw the judges, Amoussou’s explosive style and finishing power established him as a fan favorite and a powerhouse amongst European fighters. In August 2009 the Frenchman made his US debut also under the M-1 banner in the promotion’s first ever live televised event in the United States, M-1 Global: Breakthrough. Despite disposing of his opponent John Doyle (9-16) in impressive fashion via first-round Rear Naked Choke, the Judo black belt Amoussou still went relatively unnoticed in the landscape of US MMA.
Six months later in February 2010, Amoussou entered the Strikeforce cage against South African fighter Trevor Prangley (23-7) in a bout that many believed the more experienced Prangley would dominate. Against Prangley, Amoussou showed that he’s no pushover. He got the better exchanges and was picking Prangley apart until he received an accidental eye poke and consequently was unable to see or continue the fight. The match was ruled a Draw and despite his commanding performance, the memory of all but the outcome faded in many fans’ minds.
Amoussou would not compete again on American soil until May 21 at Bellator 45. The main card feature fight pitted the 25-year-old M-1 veteran and undercover police officer against King of the Cage veteran “Smiling” Sam Alvey (13-2) for a spot in the Bellator Season 5 Middleweight Tournament. After a three-round battle in which “Psycho” arguably dominated at least 10 of the 15 minutes, two out of the bout’s three judges gave the nod to Alvey and sent Amoussou back to France without a spot in Bellator’s upcoming 185lbs. tournament.
MMA Gospel staff writer Cole Moorman recently interviewed the “Psycho” in hopes of turning the American eye to the bright future of Karl Amoussou.
In Part I of MMA Gospel’s in-depth interview with The Ultimate Fighter 13 Team Dos Santos wrestling coach Lew Polley (10-4), “The Titan” delved into his background in mixed martial arts, his perception of the TUF program as a whole, what he brought to the table as a coach, his training style, and who he thought would go the distance on the show. Now, in the second installment of his two-part interview, Lew gets into the nitty gritty of how – and why – his run on TUF 13 unraveled and came to an abrupt end. Here is Lew’s side of the story: no cameras, and no selective editing.
“The Titan” Lew Polley (10-4) is a name that, up until just a couple of months ago, may not have been particularly well known among many MMA fans. The ability to fly under the radar certainly changed for Polley once he accepted the role as wrestling coach for Team Dos Santos on the most recent installment of Spike TV and Zuffa’s hit reality show, The Ultimate Fighter. An otherwise relatively mellow season has been a roller coaster ride of highs and lows for “The Titan”, whose own experience on TUF 13 left much to be desired; ultimately, after several weeks of back-and-forth conflict and escalating tension levels between Polley and “Cigano” Junior Dos Santos (12-1), Polley was asked by the Black House fighter to leave the show. It was a first for The Ultimate Fighter.
Following the controversial dismissal, MMA Gospel Editor-in-Chief Mallory Mejia spent 120 minutes talking to Lew and getting his take on The Ultimate Fighter 13. This two-part interview explores Polley’s own credentials in respect to MMA, his favorite previous seasons and coaches of The Ultimate Fighter, changes he would make to the TUF program, who he found to be the most viable contenders among the Season 13 fighters, his response to both the shit talkers and the supporters, and of course, a whole lot about the highly publicized feud between himself and his friend, TUF 13 head coach opposite Brock Lesnar (5-2), Junior Dos Santos.
For the mixed martial arts fans that don’t already know of “The Assassin” Chris Lozano (6-0), they will soon enough. MMA Gospel’s very first Young Gun has set the welterweight division ablaze in his only year-and-a-half long professional MMA career, racking up six consecutive wins – all via KO or TKO – and having yet to feel the sting of defeat. The 28-year-old Cleveland, Ohio native began his foray in the world of martial arts when he took up wrestling at age five; after many dedicated years in the sport, Lozano parlayed his natural athleticism and new-found combat prowess into successful studies in Tae Kwon Do and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, for which he is a red belt and blue belt, respectively. Then, MMA called his name.
The Cleveland “Assassin” made his professional MMA debut with the North American Allied Fight Series (NAAFS) in June 2009, knocking out fellow newcomer Marcus Kruck (0-1) in just 37 seconds. His sophomore effort two months later resulted in a 47 second knockout with Lozano again on the winning side, prompting the organization to offer Lozano, now only two fights into his pro career, a shot at their middleweight title then held by WEC veteran Allan Weickert (6-8). Just six months after his debut, Chris fought for the NAAFS Middleweight Championship and won, dethroning the champ via first round knockout. He followed up his victory over Weickert with another knockout, this time in the Freestyle Cagefighting Fighting (FCF) promotion, then returned to NAAFS to successfully defend his title by TKO’ing UFC veteran “Dynamite” Jason Dent (21-11). “The Assassin” clearly was making his name in the local circuits and quickly rising to superstar status.