(Video courtesy of UStream and Zuffa, LLC.)
The UFC will once again hit the cable TV airwaves of FX Friday night as UFC on FX 5 throws eight UFC warriors in the cage to do battle. “The Dentist” Josh Neer (33-11-1) will look to regain his momentum after a 2-1 start to his UFC return when he meets TUF alum “Fast Eddy” Justin Edwards (7-2). Flyweights “The Magician” John Dodson (16-5) and Shooto standout “Formiga” Jussier da Silva (14-1) will meet second as each attempts to establish themselves in the UFC’s new 125 lbs. division. Third up is welterweight titan “The Juggernaut” Jake Ellenberger (27-6) who needs to right the ship after seeing a six-bout win streak snapped. His opponent is “The Thoroughbred” Jay Hieron (23-5) who will make a third attempt to score a win inside the Octagon. Closing out the evening in the main event is a pair of titanic heavyweights as undefeated “Hapa” Travis Browne (13-0-1) goes toe-to-toe with “Bigfoot” Antonio Silva (16-4).
The Ultimate Fighting Championship comes live and direct with UFC 146 out of the MGM Grand Garden Arena this Saturday night. The first ever all-heavyweight main card is stacked with some of the biggest names and hardest hitters that the division has to offer. “Big” Lavar Johnson (17-5) and “Skyscraper” Stefan Struve start up the heavyweight-ridden main card. Then, undefeated prospects Stipe Miocic (8-0) and Shane Del Rosario (11-0) are set to collide. “Pee Wee” Dave Herman (21-3) takes on crowd favorite “Big Country” Roy Nelson (16-7). Before “Cigano” Junior Dos Santos (9-1) sets out to defend his title against Frank Mir (16-5) in the card’s main event, the co-main will see former champion Cain Velasquez (9-1) take on a modern day Goliath in “Bigfoot” Antonio Silva (16-3). With all the division being represented and paying attention to how the night ends, Velasquez and Silva have the perfect medium to re-establish their ground in the division as one of the most dangerous men among the heavyweights.
This Saturday UFC 143 is live from the Mandalay Bay Events Center from Las Vegas, Nevada. Clifford Starks (5-0) will try to keep his undefeated streak intact against the always dangerous “Short Fuse” Ed Herman (17-8). Renan Barao (27-1) and “Young Guns” Scott Jorgensen (12-3) prepare to engage in a bantamweight showdown with title implications sure to follow. Welterweight action goes down mid-card as “Kos” Josh Koscheck (16-5) meets with fellow wrestler Mike Pierce (10-3). Easily two of the top welterweights headline the card as “Natural Born Killer” Carlos Condit (27-5) and Nick Diaz (26-8) duke it out in order to seize the interim title. In the co-main event, “Big Country” Roy Nelson (16-5) will look to chain together another win as he takes on fellow heavyweight “Vai Cavalo” Fabricio Werdum (14-5-1). Werdum is looking to reestablish himself within the UFC ranks after his tenure in Strikeforce but with Nelson looking to do the same, these heavyweight juggernauts are likely to go all out to prevent their own plans from being snuffed.
This Saturday night the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California plays host to UFC 139: Shogun vs. Henderson much to the delight of fans both in the crowd and around the world via Pay-Per-View. Light heavyweight funnyman “The American Psycho” Stephan Bonnar (13-7) takes on “Kingsbu” Kyle Kingsbury (11-2). Welterweight stand-outs “Hitman” Martin Kampmann (17-5) and “The Horror” Rick Story (13-4) duke it out to regain relevance. UFC newcomer and former Strikeforce Middleweight Champion Cung Le (7-1) takes on legendary slugger “The Axe Murderer” Wanderlei Silva (33-11-1) in what is a guaranteed firefight. “The California Kid” Urijah Faber (25-5) and Brian Bowles (10-1) look to claim their shot at bantamweight gold in a #1 contendership fight. The main event is a hardcore MMA fan’s dream as PRIDE legend and former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion “Shogun” Mauricio Rua (20-5) takes on the only man to hold the PRIDE welterweight and middleweight belts, “Hendo” Dan Henderson (28-8). The winner will regain traction in the 205lbs. division and given both fighters penchant for slugging, this fight could go down in history as one of the all-time greats.
It was a rumble in the bayou as the heavyweight tournament fighters clashed in the Bellator cage in Lake Charles, Louisiana on Saturday night. Supported by an undercard stacked with talent, Bellator 52 was perhaps the organization’s most high octane night thus far of its fifth season. Starting off the night, “The Monster” Ron Sparks (5-0) opened up the tournament against Mark Holata (7-3) and ended the bout in routine fashion. “The Hurricane” Abe Wagner (10-4) and “The American Soldier” Eric Prindle (7-1) went toe-to-toe for the win and for the fans. Then 2008 Sambo Champion and Xtreme Couture fighter Blagoi Ivanov (5-0) took on tournament alternate Zak Jensen (10-8). In the main event South African powerhouse “Goliath” Neil Grove (11-4) and tournament dark horse “300″ Mike Hayes (14-4) slugged it out in tit for tat style for three rounds. All in all it was a stellar night of heavyweight action that showcased the deepening talent pool of Bellator Fighting Championships.
The UFC delivered again in a big way Saturday night with UFC 135 in the Mile-High City of Denver, Colorado. Leading into an ultra-hyped main event Light Heavyweight Championship bout between the Jackson Submission Fighting wonder kin “Bones” Jon Jones (14-1) and the former champion, PRIDE superstar “Rampage” Quinton Jackson (31-9), was a night that included some of PRIDE’s biggest names, the UFC’s newest talents, and The Ultimate Fighter’s best products as well as the appearance of a Hall of Famer. In the co-main, “Kos” Josh Koscheck (16-5) likely put an end to the career of former welterweight king Matt Hughes (43-9). Prior to the headlining fights, “Super Samoan” Mark Hunt (7-7) broke even and showed late career growth at the expense of IFL stalwart “Big” Ben Rothwell (27-8), “Hapa” Travis Browne (9-0-1) achieved victory but little else against Rob Broughton (13-5-1), and Nate Diaz (13-8) picked up where his brother left off in a first-round submission win over former PRIDE champ “The Fireball Kid” Takanori Gomi (29-9). While every fight has a winner and a loser, not every loser truly loses and not every winner makes headway with the “W” and for the post-fight analysis, MMA Gospel has The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.
Despite the defeat of nearly every marquis fighter in the tournament, the fireworks are still promised to go off in Cincinnati, Ohio as Strikeforce presents the semi-finals of its World Heavyweight Grand Prix. The tournament started as a thinly veiled attempt to establish “The Last Emperor” Fedor Emelianenko (31-4) as the number one heavyweight in the world by bracketing him opposite “The Babyfaced Assassin” Josh Barnett (22-5) alongside the man who first defeated him, “Vai Cavalo” Fabricio Werdum (14-5-1), and the man everyone wanted him to fight, “The Demolition Man” Alistair Overeem (32-12). Fedor was paired against underdog “Bigfoot” Antonio Silva (15-2) to get a win so he could face the winner of Overeem and Werdum in the semi-finals then square off against the heavily favored Barnett in the finals. The only part of that plan close to fruition is Barnett making the finals. Silva trashed Emelianenko and now faces wrestling stand-out Daniel Cormier (7-0) in the semis. Cormier enters the Grand Prix as an alternate following Overeem’s withdrawal from the tournament. On the other side of the brackets, things are going much more smoothly as heavy favorites Josh Barnett and “The Russian Mercenary” Sergei Kharitonov (17-4) both easily advanced to the finals where they will meet on Saturday. The loss of Emelianenko and Overeem has robbed the tournament of much of its appeal to fans, especially casual fans unfamiliar with the other entrants, so the California-based promotion has slated a middleweight title fight between the incumbent “Jacare” Ronaldo Souza (13-2) and Luke Rockhold (7-1), who is undefeated in Strikeforce, as well as a contendership bout in the light heavyweight division between “King Mo” Muhammed Lawal (7-1) and Roger Gracie (4-0). The card will open with the main card return of grizzled vet “Bam Bam” Pat Healy (22-15) and Sengoku stand-out Maximo Blanco (5-1).
Did you miss me? Well, dry your tears icemigos. I have returned. There was a rough few weeks with no MMA events – at least none that I was able to see. And now… now… I have three events to draw from. Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Henderson, Strikeforce Challengers: Voelker vs. Bowling III, and Bellator 47.
Let’s start from the top. What’s up with Fedor? Sure, anyone can get knocked out by Dan Henderson but before that Fedor was swinging wildly. Yes, Fedor is known to try and finish a fight when he has someone hurt but there was an almost desperate recklessness in Fedor’s attempt to finish – not the precision timing that KO’d Andrei Arlovski in mid-air.
Strikeforce has come and gone from the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, leaving empty seats and the occasional snack wrapper or beer bottle where thousands of screaming fans once stood watching “The Last Emperor” Fedor Emelianenko (31-4) fight for the second time in the Windy City. The world’s second most powerful force in MMA presented one of its most stacked cards to date last night and while some of the bouts went pretty much as expected, big things still went down. From the first bell of the prelims to the last punch of Fedor’s main event brawl against “Hendo” Dan Henderson (28-8), MMA Gospel was there, looking for the lasting effects a card with this much name recognition would have on the MMA world.
Fedor Emelianenko vs. Dan Henderson: Henderson via TKO (Strikes), Round 1, 4:12
Marloes Coenen vs. Miesha Tate: Tate via Submission (Arm Triangle), Round 4, 3:03
Robbie Lawler vs. Tim Kennedy: Kennedy via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27), Round 3, 5:00
Paul Daley vs. Tyron Woodley: Woodley via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28), Round 3, 5:00
Scott Smith vs. Tarec Saffiedine: Saffiedine via Unanimous Decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-27), Round 3, 5:00
After the smoke clears from “Hands of Steel” Scott Smith (16-8) and Tarec Saffiedine’s (10-2) card-opening bout and “Semtex” Paul Daley (24-11-2) and “T-Wood” Tyron Woodley (10-0) square off, Strikeforce will deliver a trio of bouts that have captured the attention of MMA fans worldwide. First, 185ers “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler (18-7-1) and Tim Kennedy (14-3) will face each other in a slugger’s duel to climb one step higher on the middleweight ladder. Then, in the co-main event, incumbent champion Marloes Coenen (17-4) will pit her Golden Glory kickboxing and renowned submission skills against “Takedown” Miesha Tate (11-2). Finally, in the evening’s featured attraction, current Strikeforce and former PRIDE 205lbs. champion “Hendo” Dan Henderson (27-8) will face one of the most respected and controversial figures in MMA history, “The Last Emperor” Fedor Emelianenko (31-3). After suffering back-to-back one-sided losses, Fedor Emelianenko flirted with retirement and faces falling out of the top ten for the first time in his career should he fail against “Hendo”. Henderson himself is riding a pair of KO wins and is looking at a triumphant and profitable return to the UFC with a win over the Russian Sambo master under his belt.
Before “The Last Emperor” Fedor Emelianenko (31-3) steps into the cage to face the dangerous for all the same reasons “Hendo” Dan Henderson (27-8), Strikeforce will treat the Windy City to a dose of mixed martial arts action featuring “Hands of Steel” Scott Smith (16-8), Tarec Saffiedine (10-2), “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler (18-7-1), Tim Kennedy (14-3), “Semtex” Paul Daley (24-11-2), and “T-Wood” Tyron Woodley (10-0). Joining this stellar cast of warriors are the ladies who make up the co-main event, Women’s Welterweight Champion Marloes Coenen (17-4) and her challenger “Takedown” Miesha Tate (11-2). Coenen failed in her run at 145lbs. but dropped to the welterweight division and submitted two previously undefeated fighters in former champion Sarah Kaufman (14-1) and “Girl-Rilla” Liz Carmouche (3-1). Tate, for her part, won her way into title contention by returning to the Challengers Series with a three-fight win streak that saw her defeat two top opponents in one night. The match means the world to WMMA, as the womens’ place on the primary Zuffa roster rests squarely on the sustainability of the women’s welterweight division. After the performance Kaufman put on last Friday, these ladies will have to bring their A-game to prove that there is more than one 135er with the skills to interest the MMA world at large and, more importantly, the Zuffa brass that decides whether the ladies stay on the Strikeforce main card or find themselves sent back to a niche market appeal on the Challengers Series.