March 16 the Ultimate Fighting Championship returns to Montreal, Quebec, Canada as welterweight champion “Rush” Georges St. Pierre (23-2) takes on a dangerous adversary in Nick Diaz in the UFC 158 headlining match-up. The co-main event sees “The Natural Born Killer” Carlos Condit (28-6) take on “Bigg Rigg” Johny Hendricks (14-3). Chris Camozzi (18-5) battles fellow middleweight “The Promise” Nick Ring (13-1). In the card’s opener, The Ultimate Fighter alumni “The Martian” Mike Ricci (7-3) meets “Freakshow” Colin Fletcher (8-2) in a lightweight showdown. The card’s anchor will have two welterweights meet in a pivotal match-up as “The Great” Nate Marquardt (32-11-2) returns to the UFC to meet “The Juggernaut” Jake Ellenberger (28-6). Both fighters are coming off recent setbacks, but a victory over the other is more than enough needed to put them back on their former path to glory.
—MAIN CARD (on FX @ 8:00pm ET)—
Travis Browne vs. Antonio Silva: Silva via TKO (Punches), Round 1, 3:27
Jake Ellenberger vs. Jay Hieron: Ellenberger via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28), Round 3, 5:00
John Dodson vs. Jussier Formiga: Dodson via TKO (Punches), Round 2, 4:35
Josh Neer vs. Justin Edwards: Edwards via Technical Submission (Guillotine Choke), Round 1, 0:45
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 battle for the Bellator Season 5 Heavyweight Tournament finals went out like a bat out of hell with two match-ups lasting a little over a minute combined. Former US Army Boxing Champion “The American Soldier” Eric Prindle (6-1) took on Kentucky native “The Monster” Ron Sparks (5-1). Brazilian “Big Monster” Thiago Santos (6-1) and South African “Goliath” Neil Grove (11-5) met in a replacement bout that took weeks to finalize, but only seconds to conclude. In the main event Welterweight Champion Ben Askren (9-0) faced seasoned IFL veteran and hungry top contender “The Thoroughbred” Jay Hieron (19-5) in a five-round affair that put Askren’s title on the line for the first time.
—MAIN CARD (on MTV2)—
Welterweight Championship Fight
Ben Askren vs. Jay Hieron: Askren via Split Decision (48-47, 48-47, 47-48), Round 5, 5:00
Season 5 Heavyweight Tournament Semi-Final Fight
Neil Grove vs. Thiago Santos: Santos via Submission (Rear Naked Choke), Round 1, 0:38
Adam Schindler vs. Jeremy Spoon: Spoon via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28), Round 3, 5:00
Season 5 Heavyweight Tournament Semi-Final Fight
Eric Prindle vs. Ron Sparks: Prindle via KO (Punches), Round 1, 0:40
The Memorial Hall in Kansas City, Kansas, home field of Titan Fighting Championships, will loan its famous venue to Bellator Fighting Championships for Bellator 56 tomorrow night. The first title fight of the season serves as the main event when Bellator Welterweight Champion Ben Askren (8-0) puts his belt on the line against UFC, IFL, and Strikeforce veteran and Season 4 tournament winner “The Thoroughbred” Jay Hieron (19-4). “Big Monster” Thiago Santos (5-1), who replaced “300″ Mike Hayes (14-4), was scheduled to face Blagoi Ivanov (5-0) but an injury forced Ivanov to the bench. Now in his place is feared striker “Goliath” Neil Grove (11-4). Grove is looking to make an example of Santos by knocking him out cold and showing the world he is still that dangerous man that busted onto the scene during Bellator Season 2. Kentucky’s own “The Monster” Ron Sparks (5-0) will duke it out with yet another big man “The American Soldier” Eric Prindle (5-1). With four massive heavyweights competing for the two slots in the tournament finals, fans can expect nothing less than a rock ‘em sock ‘em slugfest.
The welterweight division of Bellator is not one of its most talent-rich divisions but it is one of the most exciting, and with the new crop of tournament competitors, depth won’t be an issue for long. Bellator Fighting Championships starts off Season 5 tomorrow night with the 170lbs. tournament in Atlantic City, New Jersey with a stacked bracket of eight men who look to earn their shot at Bellator gold. Former MFC Welterweight Champion “The Phenom” Douglas Lima (16-4) is coming off a quick first-round knockout victory over “Dangerous” Terry Martin (21-9) at MFC 29 and will take on Bellator veteran Steven Carl (14-2) who has a submission game that has earned more than half of his victories. A very familiar face, “The Handler” Dan Hornbuckle (18-4), will look to get back to the form that saw him steamroll the Season 2 field until he came up short to the stagnant wrestling of Ben Askren (8-0) when he battles with the well versed Brazilian fighter “Sapo” Luis Santos (47-6). Santos may not be known by mainstream MMA fans but when he steps into the cage and starts to throw hands they will see why those who do know him, fear him. UFC veteran and Muay Thai wrecking machine “Killa B” Ben Saunders (10-3) earned his way into the tournament with a one-sided beatdown over journeyman Matt Lee (12-9), but can he blast through X-1 MMA veteran Chris Cisneros (11-4)? Cisneros is riding a strong five-fight win streak with four finishes, and a win over Saunders will certainly improve his stock in the Bellator welterweight division. The main event features MMA Gospel’s first Young Gun “The Cleveland Assassin” Chris Lozano (8-1) and the owner of one of the previous season’s biggest upset victories, Brent Weedman (18-6). Weedman upset Hornbuckle but came up short against tournament winner “The Thoroughbred” Jay Hieron (19-4), but with another shot at glory only one win away, Weedman is coming in ready for a battle against Lozano. “The Cleveland Assassin” looks to erase the memory of his fight against former champ “Cyborg” Lyman Good (11-2) and what better way than a knockout win over Weedman?
“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.
So, my Twitter homeboy and friend of the site, Dan “Dannyboy” Downes fought a tune-up fight outside the UFC this Friday. Regarding his opponent, I’m not gonna give this chump any more press by mentioning his name but he has a name that sounds like a supplement you’d get at GNC. Anyway, before this fight I was curious if this dude had a Twitter account. We all know Dannyboy is the tweet zen master so I was curious if this guy had a Twitter and would mention anything about the fight. Well, he did mention it… he also seemed to have no idea how to use Twitter. Seems he had some sort of weird beef with Jens Pulver and kept calling Jens out -but not by using the @Jens_Pulver that would allow Jens to see it but rather just tweeting and, I guess, hoping that one of his dozen or so followers would pass it on. What a goof!
Last night MMA fans of Newkirk, Oklahoma witnessed a night of explosive fights and finishes, courtesy of Bellator 43. The twists and turns of the Bellator Season 4 Welterweight Tournament also came to a close, as a tourney champion was declared and dubbed the next man to take on reigning Bellator Welterweight Champion Ben Askren (8-0) for the belt. IFL veteran “The Thoroughbred” Jay Hieron (19-4) took on undefeated Judo Olympian Rick Hawn (11-1) in the main event and tournament final. Returning middleweight finalist “The Beast” Bryan Baker (12-2) teed off with UFC and Strikeforce veteran “Diesel” Joe Riggs (33-14). Former WEC Bantamweight Champion “The Rage” Chase Beebe (17-5) faced Bellator veteran Jose Vega (9-5); with a ticket into the Season 5 Bantamweight Tournament hanging in the balance only one could proceed to a shot at glory. A late main card addition in the form of a heavyweight tilt between heavy hitter “The Monster” Ron Sparks (4-0) and journeyman Vince Lucero (20-19) opened the event of the MTV2 broadcast.
Oklahoma will be treated to a night of Bellator MMA action for a third time with a stacked fight card that features heavy hitters and Jiu-Jitsu aces as well as the Season 4 Welterweight Tournament final between former IFL Welterweight Champion and Strikeforce and UFC veteran ”The Thoroughbred” Jay Hieron (18-4) and the undefeated Judo Olympian Rick Hawn (11-0). Bellator 43 will take place at the First Council Casino and Hotel in Newkirk and will feature three solid supporting bouts in the middleweight, heavyweight, and bantamweight divisions. The co-main event features UFC and Strikeforce veteran “Diesel” Joe Riggs (33-13) and Season 2 Tournament finalist “The Beast” Bryan Baker (11-2) with the winner likely gaining a spot in the Season 5 Middleweight Tournament. Also on the card, former WEC Bantamweight Champion and Jiu-Jitsu wizard “The Rage” Chase Beebe (16-5) will face off with returning Season 3 Bantamweight Tournament semi-finalist Jose Vega (8-4). A heavyweight tilt was scheduled between “Goliath” Neil Grove (10-3) and Bellator newcomer Zach Jensen (10-6), but due to an injury Grove was pulled from the bout and Bellator announced on May 5 that “The Monster” Ron Sparks (3-0) would return to the cage against Vince Lucero (20-18) as a late replacement for the bout.
More is on the line than the UFC welterweight title tonight at UFC 129: St. Pierre vs. Shields. The main event will be another chapter in an ages old philosophical debate akin to the combat sports version of the immovable object and the irresistible force. It is the answer to the question of who is the best fighter – the man with the longer winning streak and belts in multiple smaller promotions, or the man who has fought in the best promotion against arguably better opponents and defended his title multiple times? That answer will become glaringly apparent this evening when former top Elite XC welterweight and Strikeforce and Shooto Welterweight Champion Jake Shields (26-4) faces off against world renowned UFC Welterweight Champion “Rush” Georges St. Pierre (21-2).