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.
The dreaded “injury bug” in MMA is nothing new, but recently the problem seems to have come to a head. UFC 151 was a card that had already been plagued with injuries when one half of its headliner, “Hendo” Dan Henderson (29-8), pulled out with a very late injury. After much scrambling and some controversial decisions by a few parties, the event was canceled. UFC 153 was saved from one injury when “New Breed” Erik Koch (13-1) was replaced by featherweight-come-lately “The Answer” Frankie Edgar (14-3) to face 145lbs. kingpin Jose Aldo (21-1). UFC 153 would not avoid further injuries, however. Both co-main events were marred when “Rampage” Quinton Jackson (32-10) and Jose Aldo pulled out within hours of each other with respective ailments. It has left the UFC, fans, and the media in an absolute stupor, with everyone voicing any number of opinions and solutions for this problem. Some point to over-training as the root of the problem. They suggest the idea of shorter notice fights that will in turn, lead to shorter training camps and less likelihood of injuries. Others go to the extreme of suggesting PRIDE-style late fight announcements to prevent the debacle of constantly switching out injured opponents – not exactly feasible for a juggernaut like the UFC. Others suggest scaling back the ever-growing number of cards the UFC puts on every year, allowing more opportunities for better stacked cards where undercard fights can take center stage when emergencies arise. But there is a much broader opportunity that can benefit both fighters and promotions. A fighter’s walking weight could be the solution to the injury bug problem.
UFC 149 has been one of the most injury-riddled cards in Zuffa history. The event’s marquee bout was originally scheduled between opposing The Ultimate Fighter: Live coaches “The California Kid” Urijah Faber (26-5) and UFC 135lbs. champion “The Dominator” Dominick Cruz (19-1) to settle the score both from the show and their two previous meetings, where each competitor took one victory apiece. A knee injury sustained during TUF put Cruz and the grudge match on the back burner, and now Faber is slated to face Nova Uniao fighter Renan Barao (30-1) for the newly minted Interim UFC Bantamweight Championship. The co-main event featuring top featherweight contender “New Breed” Erik Koch (13-1) challenging “Scarface” Jose Aldo (21-1) for the 145lbs. division title was postponed due to the champion being injured, and was replaced by the UFC debut of “Lightning” Hector Lombard (31-2) as he takes on “The Barbarian” Tim Boetsch (15-4). Despite approximately another dozen changes to the line-up, the UFC has still managed to put together a promising event for MMA fans across the globe. French kickboxer Cheick Kongo (27-7) and “The Savage” Shawn Jordan (13-3) will slug it out in a heavyweight battle, preceded by “Bad Boy” Brian Ebersole (50-14) colliding with James Head (8-2) in a welterweight tilt. Opening slot honors go to “The Menace” Chris Clements (11-4) as he squares off against “Deep Waters” Matthew Riddle (6-3). But before shelling out the big bucks to watch the main card on Pay-Per-View, be sure to catch the preliminary fight excitement on FX and Facebook, which features some of MMA’s top up-and-comers, perhaps most notably “Big Deal” Ryan Jimmo (16-1).
Last night’s NAFC: Colosseum card showed a lot of excitement, from the first bout of the four-fight undercard till the finale of the main event. There was a packed house with the onlookers flowing in early to the Potawatomie Bingo and Casino Hall in Milwaukee so as not to miss any of the action being offered, including the full gamut of fighters, from those young and hungry and with something to prove as they try to make their way to MMA stardom, to veteran fighters that have the skills to compete in any organization. It was a night full of slick submission attempts and stellar strikes. From the moment the card kicked off the seats were filled with fans expressing their approval of the non-stop action. Fans were even fortunate enough to have several UFC and Bellator stars in attendance, including former WEC Lightweight Champion “Showtime” Anthony Pettis (15-2), UFC top featherweight contender “New Breed” Erik Koch (13-1), newcomer to the UFC “King” Chico Camus (11-3), and Bellator welterweight champ “Funky” Ben Askren (10-0), all of whom interacted with the audience and at one point addressed them from within the cage to talk about what’s next in their own exciting careers.
For those who don’t watch the UFC’s undercard fights, you don’t know what you’re missing. And for those that do, we often find that the prelims can be just as if not more entertaining bouts than those on the main card, and can provide valuable insight as to which fighters to keep an eye on in regards to potential future wave-makers in his respective weight division. “Panzer” Pascal Krauss (10-0) is one such fighter.
“Panzer”, a nickname meaning “tank” in his native German language, exemplifies exactly what Krauss has shown in his career – that he is a force to be reckoned with. The undefeated 25-year-old welterweight made his UFC debut at UFC 122 where he not only picked up his first win in the Zuffa promotion, he also earned “Fight of the Night” honors for his three-round war with fellow UFC newcomer “Scanno” Mark Scanlon (7-2). Krauss came into his UFC debut fight as the Cage Warriors Fighting Championship welterweight king toting an undefeated record with ten consecutive first- or second-round finishes, and looking to prove that he belonged in the world’s most prestigious MMA organization. Having shown a variety of skills against Scanlon and earning a fight bonus in his first effort, “Panzer” did not disappoint.
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.
—MAIN CARD (on Spike TV)—
Jake Shields vs. Jake Ellenberger: Ellenberger via TKO (Knees and Punches), Round 1, 0:53
Court McGee vs. Dongi Yang: McGee via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-28), Round 3, 5:00
Jonathan Brookins vs. Erik Koch: Koch via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 30-27, 29-28), Round 3, 5:00
Alan Belcher vs. Jason MacDonald: Belcher via Verbal Submission (Strikes), Round 1, 3:48
New Orleans, Louisiana gets its seventh taste of Octagon action when the UFC returns with another installment of its signature series Fight Night this Saturday. “The Talent” Alan Belcher (16-6) and “The Athlete” Jason MacDonald (23-14) are set to start the night off in a middleweight bout. Korean transplant “The Ox” Dongi Yang (5-1) and The Ultimate Fighter 11 winner “Crusher” Court McGee (11-1) lock up in another battle in the 185lbs. division. In the main event, Jake Shields (26-5-1) and “The Juggernaut” Jake Ellenberger (24-5) meet to see which wrestler can rightfully call the UFC canvas their home. The featherweights make themselves known on the main card between all this action when Jonathan Brookins (14-1) and “New Breed” Erik Koch (12-1) grace the UFC cage. Brookins springs back to action from a nine-month hiatus as The Ultimate Fighter Season 12 champion. Koch is one of the fastest featherweights in the world with two back-to-back knockouts on his heels. The time could not have been any more perfect for these two to finally step up and meet.
The UFC returns to the bayou when UFC Fight Night 25 takes place once again in New Orleans, Louisiana this Saturday night. Former Strikeforce Middleweight Champion and top contender Jake Shields (26-5-1) plans to get back into his winning ways when he meets fellow wrestling powerhouse “Juggernaut” Jake Ellenberger (24-5). “New Breed” Erik Koch (12-1) is charged with the task of welcoming back fellow featherweight Jonathan Brookins (14-1) in a promising fast-paced battle. In the co-main event, fan favorite TUF 11 winner “Crusher” Court McGee (11-1) takes on one of the silent killers of the middleweight division, “The Ox” Dongi Yong (5-1). Among all the action though, UFC veteran “The Athlete” Jason MacDonald (23-14) brings his crafty ground game to the cage when striking extraordinaire “The Talent” Alan Belcher (16-6) returns to face him after a lengthy lay-off. Belcher has been absent from combat for some time but his stand-up game is the weapon of choice he can always rely on. MacDonald might be creeping into the elder years in respect to MMA competition but with a tight submission game, Father Time might have to take a backseat for now as athleticism tries to shut down talent.
On Sunday, August 14, the UFC made its Milwaukee, Wisconsin debut in spectacular fashion, courtesy of UFC on Versus 5: Lytle vs. Hardy. Although it took a while for the premier mixed martial arts promotion to finally land in the Badger State, I can assure you that the local MMA community has been abuzz about the prospect of a live UFC event for quite some time now. Especially with the surge in popularity of Duke Roufus’ gym Roufusport in Milwaukee and all the young talent it has brought forth – “Showtime” Anthony Pettis (13-2), “Dannyboy” Dan Downes (8-2), and “New Breed” Erik Koch (12-1) just to name a few – Milwaukee was ready for the UFC. Much to the delight of fans in in Milwaukee and worldwide, the UFC delivered in a big way with its most recent effort, bringing to the cage some of the best up-and-comers that the organization has to offer as well as some of its respected veterans, including a main event between British slugger “The Outlaw” Dan Hardy (23-10) and heavy-handed “Lights Out” Chris Lytle (31-18-5).
—MAIN CARD (Pay-Per-View)—
Mauricio “Shogun” Rua vs. Jon “Bones” Jones: Jones via TKO (Strikes), Round 3, 2:37
Urijah Faber vs. Eddie Wineland: Faber via Unanimous Decision, Round 3, 5:00 (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Nate Marquardt vs. Dan Miller: Marquardt via Unanimous Decision, Round 3, 5:00 (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic vs. Brendan Schaub: Schaub via TKO (Punches), Round 3, 3:44
Jim Miller vs. Kamal Shalorus: Miller via TKO (Strikes), Round 3, 2:15