The fifth installment of UFC on Versus has come to a close and with it, a night filled with “Fight of the Night”-worthy match-ups. The main card’s opening bout showcased a striking clinic when world-class level Muay Thai boxer met a hungry up-and-comer. One of the biggest stars of the WEC stepped in on short notice to take on one of the sport’s fastest rising stars. The co-main event saw a battle where one fighter fought to prove his place within the organization’s ranks and the other sought his long awaited shot at a title. A true ambassador of the sport made his final appearance in the Octagon when he was pitted against a former contender longing to return to his winning ways. Now that all is said and done, here is a recap of the main card from this past Sunday night along with possible match-ups that could be seen for each winner sooner rather than later.
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.
So, the big news this week in MMA was that UFC parent company ZUFFA, LLC. purchased Strikeforce. Surprising, yes. I can only assume that this happened rather quickly since a secret that big doesn’t stay secret very long and no one seemed to have even heard rumors to this effect prior to the deal being announced by Dana White. However, considering the fact that contracts with fighters and deals with Showtime are already in place and Dana’s assertion that it’ll be “business as usual”, I don’t think we can expect to see any real changes or fallout for the immediate time being. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s an eventual merger but I think that’s at least a few years off. Still, I see why it’s a big deal. Zuffa now owns most of MMA – aside from DREAM and Bellator and the much smaller regional organizations. With so few options outside of the Zuffa umbrella can a fighter’s union be on the horizon for the future? I dunno, man… just thinking out loud. I don’t mean to piss off King Dana by any means. Just Nick Diaz needs to have his ADHD medicine (aka: weed) covered by a health care plan, not to mention Diego Sanchez’s face and Brandon Vera’s nose.
Feast or Famine. Such is life. Such is MMA. I think over the last week there were about 738 fights. UFC on Versus: Kampmann vs. Sanchez, Strikeforce: Feijao vs. Henderson, Bellator 35 aka The Welterweight Tournament, Chicago Cagefighting Championship with lovable Twitter Smartass/Badass Felice Herrig and the venerable legend and fan favorite Jens “Lil Evil” Pulver headlining. GASP! That’s too much, Billy!! ( From Buffalo 66 http://twitpic.com/4784p3 ) See, now you’re all in on my references. And yes, for the record, I shot that from my TV & uploaded it, just so you would get the reference. I love you that much… Well, either that or I was just procrastinating. Tomato – Tomahto.
So what do I do? Do I focus on a few key fights and ignore everything else or do quick thoughts on everything? Decisions, decisions. Damn, the new season of The Ultimate Fighter is coming up soon and I’ll have that to add to everything else to write about. I need a nap.
The third installment of UFC: Live on Versus gave the fans of Louisville, Kentucky and viewers at home all the bang without the buck this past Thursday night. More acquisitions from the WEC/UFC merger made their UFC debut and put their divisions on high alert, a newcomer made his UFC debut within weeks of taking a fight on short notice, two middleweights pleaded their case on their ascension to the top of the 185lbs. division mountain, and two welterweights battled in a possible “Fight of the Year” candidate. Though the undercard also had its share of the action, here are some possible match-ups that should happen for the victors off the UFC: Live on Versus 3 main card.
“Last Call” Danny Castillo (10-3) defeats “Daddy” Joe Stevenson (31-12) via Unanimous Decision
Able to survive Stevenson’s takedown attempts and patented Guillotine Chokes, “Last Call” Castillo passed his first UFC test with flying colors. The Facebook-featured match showcased Castillo besting Stevenson with wildfire striking and staggering the former lightweight challenger during the 15-minute contest. If approaching the closing bell there were any doubt beset as to who the fight would have gone to, the final takedown of the match was executed by the former WEC standout “Last Call” and accompanied by Stevenson receiving an unwelcome rain of fists from above, further aiding in handing him his third loss in a row.
Todd Brown vs. Igor Pokrajac: Pokrajac via TKO (Knees and Punches), Round 1, 5:00
Rousimar Palhares vs. David Branch: Palhares via Submission (Heel Hook), Round 2, 1:44
Dongi Yang vs. Rob Kimmons: Yang via TKO (Punches), Round 2, 4:47
Takeya Mizugaki vs. Reuben Duran: Mizugaki via Split Decision, Round 3, 5:00
Thiago Tavares vs. Shane Roller: Roller via KO (Punches), Round 2, 1:28
Tonight the UFC comes to the hometown of boxing legend “The Greatest” Muhammad Ali to host its third installment of UFC on Versus at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Kentucky, bringing with it a main card full of heavy hitters and wrestling stand-outs. Former WEC Bantamweight Champion Brian Bowles (8-1) makes his long awaited return as he takes on WEC veteran “The Angel of Death” Damacio Page (10-6), Italian striker “Legionarius” Alessio Sakara (15-7) squares off with UFC newcomer Chris Weidman (4-0), The Ultimate Fighter 7 finalist “The Doberman” CB Dollaway (11-2) looks to gain revenge for teammate “A-Train” Aaron Simpson (6-2) as he takes on “The Filipino Wrecking Machine” Mark Munoz (7-2) in a bout that will most likely be a wrestling barn burner, and the main event pits “The Hitman” Martin Kampmann (17-4) against “The Dream” Diego Sanchez (22-4) in search for redemption in the welterweight division. The two marquis fighters, Diego and Martin, have a need to reassert their position in the division and a return to form at UFC on Versus 3 is the perfect stage to do so.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship returns to the Versus network tonight for another compilation of free fights, this time rocking out the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Kentucky. The main event features “The Hitman” Martin Kampmann (17-4) butting heads with the fighter previously known as “The Nightmare” and now known as “The Dream” Diego Sanchez (22-4) for one of the welterweights to take a big step closer to putting his name in the hat for a top contender spot. Wrestling fans are in for a treat with the co-main event, a match-up between “The Doberman” CB Dollaway (11-2) and “The Filipino Wrecking Machine” Mark Munoz (7-2) that is likely to turn into a clinic on MMA wrestling between the two Div. I NCAA competitors. Kicking off the main card is the return of former WEC Bantamweight Champion Brain Bowles (8-1) looking to climb back to the top ranks following his March 2010 loss to Dominick Cruz (16-1) by taking on Jackson’s Submission Fighting graduate “The Angel of Death” Damacio Page (10-6), preceded by former UFC top lightweight contender “Daddy” Joe Stevenson (31-11) taking on WEC transplant “Last Call” Danny Castillo (9-3). A bout that is sure to be a contender for “Fight of the Night” honors pits heavy-hitting Italian striker “Legionarius” Alessio Sakara (15-7) against UFC newcomer “The All-American” Chris Weidman (4-0) in a brawl that undoubtedly will end in spectacular fashion. Let’s have a closer look at this highly-anticipated bout.
Lost amid all the backwash of UFC 127 and the numerous discussions of the drama involved therein, one can find a card stacked with new talent and old favorites as the UFC gives fans their third free card to be broadcast on the Versus network tomorrow night. UFC on Versus 3: Sanchez vs. Kampmann features a great sampling from the lightweights with a fight between “Daddy” Joe Stevenson (31-11) and “Last Call” Danny Castillo (9-3) and pulls two excellent match-ups from the organization’s middleweight roster with “Legionarius” Alessio Sakara (15-7) vs. Chris Weidman (4-0) and “The Doberman” CB Dollaway (11-2) vs. “The Filipino Wrecking Machine” Mark Munoz (7-2). Slated for main event duty are long time welterweight stand-outs “The Nightmare” Diego Sanchez (22-4) and “The Hitman” Martin Kampmann (17-4) in a bout that may lock a future contendership contest for the winner. The UFC has not forgotten the deep roster of top flight smaller fighters it brought into the fold from the WEC either with UFC on Versus 3, either. A bout of particular interest to fans of the now-defunct UFC sister organization will take place in the newly formed UFC bantamweight division as “The Angel of Death” Damacio Page (10-6) steps up to redeem himself in a rematch against the once beaten former king of the division, Brian Bowles (8-1) who has not been seen since losing the WEC belt in March of 2010. Both men are coming off losses and have a lot to prove to their new bosses and the tried and true WEC fans can’t wait to see them do it.
Just five days after the world’s premier MMA organization delivered in a big way in Sydney, Australia with UFC 127: Penn vs. Fitch, the UFC returns stateside to Louisville, Kentucky’s 1 Arena Plaza for UFC on Versus 3. Headlined by The Ultimate Fighter’s first champion “The Nightmare” Diego Sanchez (22-4) and the Dutch kickboxing expert “The Hitman” Martin Kampmann (17-4), the UFC’s third free offering on the former home of the WEC also features “The Doberman” CB Dollaway (11-2), “The Filipino Wrecking Machine” Mark Munoz (7-2), “Legionarius” Alessio Sakara (15-7), Chris Weidman (4-0), Brian Bowles (8-1), and “The Angel of Death” Damacio Page (10-6). Also slated for the fans’ viewing pleasure is a solid lightweight bout between two men with something to prove to Dana White and the UFC brass. “Daddy” Joe Stevenson (31-11) is the TUF Season 2 winner and a one time title contender with a UFC record of 8-6, but has gone 3-4 since failing to capture the lightweight belt, carries back-to-back loses into this fight, and desperately wants to prove he’s still relevant in the UFC’s deepest division. “Last Call” Danny Castillo (9-3) is a 5-3 WEC transplant who understands that he needs to win and win impressively if wants to keep his spot of the UFC lightweight roster, arguably the most prestigious single division roster in the sport.
Love or hate him, “The Bully” Gray Maynard (10-0) is “here to break your will”.
He bears an attitude befitting of his nickname, “The Bully”, and a wrestling pedigree which virtually renders his opponent’s takedown defense futile and asserts that their ground game had better be developed. However in terms of the UFC’s lightweight division what holds Maynard to the highest degree as the number one contender is not his honor of earning one of the fastest knockouts in the promotion’s history or wins over notable fighters such as fellow TUF 5 alum Nate Diaz (12-6), “KenFlo” Kenny Florian (13-5), “The Mongoose” Jim Miller (19-2) or “El Matador” Roger Huerta (21-5-1). It is the fact he is the only person who holds a victory, unanimous no less, against reigning Lightweight Champion “The Answer” Frankie Edgar (13-1). With a challenger bearing a perfect record seeking the title and the champion who seeks to avenge the only loss on his record, UFC 125 on New Year’s Day has set the stage for these two lightweight titans to compete.
Whether he is referred to as the “Muay Thai Wrecking Machine” or “The Pitbull”, both monikers accurately describe the performance that Thiago Alves (17-7) put on at UFC 124 this Saturday night. With past difficulties of making weight, two consecutive losses to UFC Welterweight Champion “Rush” Georges St. Pierre (21-2) and former top contender Jon Fitch (22-3), and the threat of having to move up to the middleweight division or possibly being cut from the UFC, Thiago Alves’ most recent match-up against “Doomsday” John Howard (14-6) was do-or-die in terms of his professional fighting career. He had to silence critics and please UFC President Dana White all in one stroke. “The Pitbull” did just that.
UFC 121 may go down in the books as one of the most pivotal cards in MMA history. The stacked card saw the first Mexican world heavyweight champion in either a major MMA or major boxing organization crowned, it saw the first top level Strikeforce fighter face Octagon-level competition, and it saw three generations of TUF fighters prove that their place in the UFC is deserved. With the dethroning of Brock Lesnar (5-2), the heavyweight rankings, and the UFC heavyweight division, have been thrown into a chaotic mess. The careers of a few of the men who lost at UFC 121 have also now enter a state of discord. To find out who won (whether their hand was raised or not), who lost, and who really damaged their career, MMA Gospel seeks out The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.
UFC 121 promises the fans a night of stellar performances from the best fighters MMA has to offer. Opening bouts featuring “Napao” Gabriel Gonzaga (11-5), “The Hybrid” Brendan Schaub (5-1), “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” Tito Ortiz (15-7-1), “The Hammer” Matt Hamill (8-2), “Nightmare” Diego Sanchez (21-4), and Paulo Thiago (9-2) will provide an entertaining prelude to the card’s two headline fights, a welterweight match between “The Hitman” Martin Kampmann (17-3) and Jake Shields (25-4-1) and the main event showdown between UFC Heavyweight Champion of the World Brock Lesnar (5-1) and undefeated superstar wrestling ace Cain Velasquez (8-0). The MMA world is in an uproar of excitement over the title affair with as many fans and pundits favoring the Mexican hype machine to win as the former WWE superstar. Velasquez is a man who many felt should have faced Brock Lesnar before “The Engineer” Shane Carwin (11-1), who fell to the champ in the second round of their July 3 bout. The undefeated young heavyweight is a world class wrestler with punching power beyond that of nearly any pro-boxer and the cardio to throw and throw hard from bell to bell every round. The champion, Brock Lesnar, was a two-time NCAA All-American Wrestler, a two-time Big Ten Conference Champion and an NCAA Div. I National Champion wrestler with an overall record of 106-5. His double leg takedown has proven to be completely unstoppable so far in the Octagon and his punches have the power to stop anyone in any weight class. This title fight is the kind of match-up that clearly displays why the UFC Heavyweight World Championship is the single most prestigious title in all of combat sports.
For UFC 121, Dana White and the Zuffa team return to the Honda Center in Anaheim, California with a sold-out card driven by the hype engine of a heavyweight super fight between incumbent champ Brock Lesnar (5-1) and the undefeated Mexican buzz saw Cain Velasquez (8-0). In addition to match-ups between “The Nightmare” Diego Sanchez (21-4) and Paulo Thiago (9-2), “Napao” Gabriel Gonzaga and “The Hybrid” Brendan Schaub (5-1), and “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” Tito Ortiz (15-7-1) and “The Hammer” Matt Hamill (8-2), Joe Silva has given the fans an exceptional welterweight offering between the former Strikeforce Middleweight Champion Jake Shields (25-4-1) and kickboxing expert “The Hitman” Martin Kampmann (17-3). Shields and Kampmann are as close to polar opposites stylistically as two men can be. Shields is a fighter who built his name with a 14-fight win streak started in 2005 that was fueled by a fist-full of first round finishes in the Elite XC organization. After the Strikeforce buy-out, Shields found himself faced with a choice between moving up a weight class or being forced to face friend and training partner “Diablo” Nick Diaz (22-8) en route to the welterweight belt. He chose the former and promptly developed a reputation as a boring lay-n-pray wrestler when forced to face larger opponents. “The Hitman” has spent the majority of his career in the UFC where he has only lost twice and only seen the judges three times in 10 fights. He has built a name as a devastating kickboxer despite having won the majority of his UFC bouts via submission. Both men are knocking on the door of a title shot and each stands in the other’s way in a fight that will be a true test of a Strikeforce champion against an upper tier UFC fighter.