The NFL season might be slowly winding down but it is another healthy feed of mixed martial arts action January 26 as the UFC returns for its sixth installment on the FOX network. Opening the main card, “New Breed” Erik Koch (13-1) steps back into the spotlight after a lengthy lay-off to battle “The Bully” Ricardo Lamas (12-2). WEC veterans-turned-UFC lightweight contenders are set to collide as “Cowboy” Donald Cerrone (19-4) meets “Showtime” Anthony Pettis (15-2). “Mighty Mouse” Demetrious Johnson (16-2-1) defends his flyweight title against “The Magician” John Dodson (14-5) in the main event. Before the night closes, the co-main event will see Glover Teixeira (19-2) try to make the jump from prospect to contender when he takes on former light heavyweight champion “Rampage” Quinton Jackson (32-10) in his final organizational appearance.
Atlanta, Georgia is the epicenter for mixed martial arts action this Saturday night as the Ultimate Fighting Championship presents UFC 145: Jones vs. Evans. “The Natural” John Alessio (34-14) and Mark Bocek (10-4) open up the main card with a lightweight exhibition. Featherweights make their presence known when “The Filipino Phenom” Eddie Yagin (15-5-1) faces former contender “The Machine” Mark Hominick (20-10). “The Hybrid” Brendan Schaub (8-2) tees off with fellow heavyweight behemoth “Big” Ben Rothwell (31-8). “Mayday” Michael McDonald (14-1) makes a big leap in competition when he stands across former WEC bantamweight champ “Angel” Miguel Torres (40-4). The co-main event is a showcase of promising welterweights as “Ares” Rory MacDonald (12-1) battles “Beautiful” Che Mills (14-4). In the main event, “Bones” Jon Jones (15-1) will put his light heavyweight title on the line again, this time against friend-turned-foe “Suga” Rashad Evans (17-1-1). No fight in the light heavyweight division has drawn up such a storm before now but once the cage door shuts Saturday night, the time to talk ends and the time to act begins.
Strikeforce hits the ground running in 2012 as it dishes out MMA action this Saturday night from the Hard Rock Cafe and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. The California-based promotion’s veterans welcome new faces to the main card and hope to stake their claim within their respective divisions. Knockout artist ”The Evolution” Tyler Stinson (22-7) takes on “The Sponge” Tarec Saffiedine (11-2) in the main card’s opener. One of the welterweight division’s top dogs, “T-Wood” Tyron Woodley (11-0) collides with the fast rising Jordan Mein (22-6). “The Monsoon” Lorenz Larkin (11-0) takes a step out from the Strikeforce: Challengers series to face his stiffest test to date, “King Mo” Muhammed Lawal (8-1). Just as many who watch NASCAR hope to see a crash, the casual MMA observer comes to watch someone get knocked out and with Adlan Amagov (2-0) and “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler (18-8) suited against each other, the crowd should be on the edge of their seats. Middleweight gold is up for grabs in the main event when champion Luke Rockhold (8-1) defends his newly earned title for the first time against “The Dean of Mean” Keith Jardine (16-9-2). Strikeforce has stepped up its game over the past several years, and if this card is any indication of what’s to come, fans are in for an exciting year.
Some people watch The Ultimate Fighter purely for the fights and don’t like the reality TV element. These people tend to be party-pooping wet blankets who think that they’re too good for a little mindless voyeuristic entertainment. Either way, the stuffy “purists” were treated to almost two hours of nothing but fights on the Season 14 premiere of TUF on Wednesday. The fights were pretty solid – as to be expected from bantamweight and featherweight fighters.
This past weekend’s The Ultimate Fighter 13 Finale was a night to remember. TUF crowned a controversial, yet capable champ in “El Cucuy” Tony Ferguson (11-2). Fans were also fortunate enough to witness up-and-comers like “Kingsbu” Kyle Kingsbury (11-2), Fabio Maldonado (18-4), “C-Murder” Chris Cope (5-1), and others who will likely entertain for years to come. But the night was unfairly lambasted by fans when the co-main event fight between “The Carpenter” Clay Guida (29-11) and final WEC champ “Showtime” Anthony Pettis (13-2) went to the judges’ decision. The fight was derided as boring, “lay-and-pray”, and even incorrectly judged – and all this criticism came down on the winner, Clay Guida. Whether or not the fight was enjoyable is subjective and it is a moot point to try and argue. You either enjoyed it or you didn’t; there is not right or wrong there. However, fans’ displeasure with Guida’s winning tactics are unfounded. “The Carpenter” indeed displays varying skills in a sport that caters to those who know when and how to use their strengths, even if it means using one skill at a time. But it is the bias against wrestling that has misguided so much of the post-fight fallout.
Tonight at UFC 130: Rampage vs. Hamill former light heavyweight champion “Rampage” Quinton Jackson (31-8) will look to extend his winning streak to two as he faces off against tough wrestler “Hammer” Matt Hamill (10-2). In Jackson’s most recent fight, against “The Dragon” Lyoto Machida (17-2), he was able to pull off a pretty convincing decision by controlling much of the action in the first two rounds. A good win over a tough opponent such as Matt Hamill will do much to place Jackson firmly back in the title picture. However, for a win to truly impress the UFC brass, “Rampage” will need a finish, likely in the form of one of his trademark brutal KOs. Unfortunately for Jackson, five of his last six fights have gone the distance and each of them saw Jackson in a position to finish where he was either unable or unwilling to pull the trigger. The appeal of Quinton Jackson is clear from his nickname, “Rampage”, and his recent timidity in clutch situations has left many fans cold to him. So the question in this fight is, is “Rampage” Jackson going to be on the hunt for a KO or will he be content to win on the judges’ scorecards simply to avoid the risk of going all out?
Summer kicks off in Las Vegas, Nevada tomorrow night when the world’s elite mixed martial arts promotion presents UFC 130: Rampage vs. Hamill live from the MGM Grand Center and Casino. Middleweight prospects “All-American” Brian Stann (10-3) and “Sandman” Jorge Santiago (22-8) square off in the card’s opener. In a welterweight contest, “The Pitbull” Thiago Alves (17-7) and “The Horror” Rick Story (10-2) get set to do battle . The heavyweights stomp onto the scene when “Hapa” Travis Browne (7-0-1) faces “Skyscraper” Stefan Struve (18-4) and “Big Country” Roy Nelson (15-5) collides against Frank Mir (14-5) . In the main event, “The Hammer” Matt Hamill (9-2) headlines his first Pay-Per-View card against crowd favorite yet challenger-feared “Rampage” Quinton Jackson (29-8). For Jackson, many believe defeating Hamill will prove he is still a viable threat for the UFC light heavyweight title. Hamill though would like to not only prevent this but finally toss his name in the running for a potential title shot. With a majority of their fights combined ending on their own terms, this fight can expect both men going tooth-and-nail long before the word “decision” is ever considered.
San Diego, California gets its latest taste of MMA action when Strikeforce comes rolling in this Saturday night. The main card offers enough action to entertain even the more casual mixed martial arts fans, covering the full gamut with young up-and-comers, seasoned veterans, aspiring champions, and game competitors. Submission specialist Shinya Aoki (19-5) battles the always dangerous Lyle Beerbohm (15-1). Japanese wonder “Crusher” Tatsuya Kawajiri (26-5-2) comes onto US soil with the goal of taking the lightweight title from “El Nino” Gilbert Melendez (18-2). In the main event, “Semtex” Paul Daley (23-10-2) challenges current Strikeforce Welterweight Champion “Diablo” Nick Diaz (23-8) in a five-round battle. Within the chaos going on, former UFC superstar “The Dean of Mean” Keith Jardine (15-9-1) replaces an injured “MAK” Mike Kyle (14-8-1) to take on 205lbs. contender “The Dreamcatcher” Gegard Mousasi (24-3-1). For Mousasi, every win gets him closer to regaining the light heavyweight title. With Jardine on the opposite end of him, Mousasi better tread carefully lest he wants to become a stepping stone to Jardine’s second change at glory.
Tonight at UFC 128: Shogun vs. Jones two highly touted light heavyweight fighters will clash in an effort to decide who is the king of the UFC’s 205lbs. division. There is no doubt that in the immortal words of Optimus Prime: “One will rise, and one will fall”, when reigning champion “Shogun” Mauricio Rua (19-4) puts his title on the line against the fast rising prospect “Bones” Jon Jones (12-1). Jones has cut through the division with an efficiency previously reserved only for seasoned MMA greats like “The Iceman” Chuck Liddell (21-8) or “The Spider” Anderson Silva (28-4). Facing undoubtedly the toughest opponent of his career in tonight’s main event, Jon Jones looks to make a case for being the top light heavyweight in the world with a victory over the esteemed former PRIDE powerhouse “Shogun” Rua.
Brazilian Chute Boxe practitioners “Cyborg” Evangelista Santos (17-14) and “Cyborg” Cristiane Santos (10-1) could be considered the first couple of MMA. Team Black House fighters “Lil’ Nog” Antonio Rogerio Nogueria (18-4) and “Minotauro” Antonio Rodrigo Nogueria (32-6-1) can be deemed the siblings of submission, and Dan Miller (13-4) and “The Mongoose” Jim Miller (19-2) could be considered the true blue-collar brothers of battle. Now, in the latest edition of families who are making their legacy known in combat, “The Natural” Randy Couture’s (19-10) son, “Natural Light” Ryan Couture (1-0 Professional, 4-0-1 Amateur), is getting set to blaze his path in MMA history. Although Randy made his career known by using his Greco-Roman wrestling to bend his opponents to his will, his son’s legacy in the amateur level is being paved with the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu that has ended each of his five wins via submission. With professional level fighters and trainers alongside him at Xtreme Couture, Ryan might just have the right tools at his disposal to take the lightweight bracket by storm. After a successful first round submission victory in his professional debut last summer, Couture is returning February 18 under the Strikeforce banner hoping to keep the winning streak alive.