The phrase “biggest card to date” has been tossed around when describing a night of mixed martial arts action but for once, the meaning is literal as the UFC presents its first heavyweights-only main card this Saturday with UFC 146. Newly-crowned champ “Cigano” Junior Dos Santos (14-1) takes on former champion and lethal submission artist Frank Mir (16-5) in the night’s main event. Cain Velasquez (9-1) begins his quest back to the title when he welcomes “Bigfoot” Antonio Silva (16-3) from the Strikeforce ranks. ”Pee Wee” Dave Herman (21-3) battles “Big Country” Roy Nelson (16-7) in the card’s anchor. Undefeated streaks are on the line when UFC prospect Stipe Miocic (8-0) plays host to Shane Del Rosario (11-0) in his promotional debut from Strikeforce. The card’s opener is sure to draw heads as “Skyscraper” Stefan Struve (23-5) and “Big” Lavar Johnson (17-5) are tied to do battle. Both Struve and Johnson have shown the best way to get the job done is to leave out of the judges’ hands. Come Saturday night, they will look to do just that.
It was New Year’s Eve 2008 when former Bellator Lightweight Champion Eddie Alvarez (22-3) submitted to a crippling Heel Hook by Japanese superstar “Tobikan Judan” Shinya Aoki (30-5) just 92 seconds into their K-1 event “Dynamite!! 2008″ match-up, crowning Aoki the inaugural WAMMA lightweight champ. Over three years have passed and the rematch will finally take place in the Bellator cage this Friday night. Bellator 66 at the I-X Center in Cleveland, Ohio will host not only one of the most sought after rematches in lightweight history but also a stacked card of Season 6 tournament semi-final match-ups in both the middleweight and lightweight divisions. Ohio’s own “The Predator” Brian Rogers (9-3) brings his knockout power against a last-minute replacement in MFC and Strikeforce veteran ”Sweet Swede” Andreas Spang (7-1). Russian fighting sensation “Slava” Vyacheslav Vasilevsky (16-1) takes on the powerful “Big Rig” Maiquel Falcao (29-4). Colorful yet dangerous “Cupcake” Lloyd Woodard (12-1) takes on former Judo Olympian Rick Hawn (12-1) in one of two 155lbs. semi-final bouts, the second being Thiago Michael Pereira Silva (10-2) and Brent Weedman (19-7), which will take place on the event’s undercard hosted by Spike.com.
After ten long years the UFC is returning to the Land of the Rising Sun and the former stage of the legendary PRIDE FC with a record-setting seven-fight main card on Pay-Per-View. Former WEC 155lbs. champion “Showtime” Anthony Pettis (14-2) and “J-Lau” Joe Lauzon (21-6) are slated for battle in the opening bout of UFC 144. Former Sengoku featherweight king Hatsu Hioki (23-4) will face IFL and WEC veteran “Bartimus” Bart Palaszewski (35-14). Former middlweight title contender “Thunder” Yushin Okami (26-6) will fight for the first time in Japan since 2006, his opponent the rough and tough “Barbarian” Time Boetsch (14-4) who seems to have reformed his career at 185lbs. Former Strikeforce Middleweight Champion and former 170lbs. title contender Jake Shields (26-6) looks to avoid three straight losses when he faces Japanese superstar “Sexyama” Yoshihiro Akiyama (14-5). PRIDE and K-1 powerhouse “Super Samoan” Mark Hunt (7-7) will bring his granite chin and bone breaking kickboxing against fellow striker Cheick Kongo (17-6). Former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion “Rampage” Quinton Jackson (31-9), also of PRIDE fame, returns to the stage that started his career when he faces TUF 8 winner “Darth” Ryan Bader (13-2). The main event of the night pits the UFC’s 155lbs. king – “The Comeback Kid”, “The Ironhorse of New Jersey”, “The Answer” Frankie Edgar (14-1) – against the former WEC lightweight title holder “Smooth” Benson Henderson (14-2) with the winner earning the title of the best 155lbs. fighter in the world.
It’s been some time but the UFC will make its long awaited return to Japan this Saturday with UFC 144. Lightweights are charged with kicking off the main card when “J-Lau” Joe Lauzon (21-6) encounters “Showtime” Anthony Pettis (14-2). Japanese sensation Hatsu Hioki (23-4-2) will meet “Bartimus” Bart Palaszewski (35-13) and “Thunder” Yushin Okami (26-6) takes on “The Barbarian” Tim Boetsch (14-4). Jake Shields (26-6-1) and “Sexyama” Yoshihiro Akiyama (14-5) engage in a promising welterweight showdown. Cheick Kongo (17-6-2) could be in for a kickboxing clinic when he battles K-1 veteran “Super Samoan” Mark Hunt (7-7). Before “The Answer” Frankie Edgar (14-1-1) defends his lightweight title against “Smooth” Ben Henderson (14-2) in the main event, a co-main event of epic proportions has been set as “Darth” Ryan Bader (13-2) flies to foreign territory to take on “Rampage” Quinton Jackson (31-9). Jackson, an accomplished veteran, and Bader, a promising star, are at pivotal points in their careers and a victory at UFC 144 can be the very defining moment on which to perch their futures.
The UFC’s new deal with FOX officially kicks off Friday as “The Young Assassin” Melvin Guillard (27-9-2) takes on Jim Miller (20-3) at UFC on FX: Guillard vs. Miller. Shoring up the main event are several fantastic matches including “The Dentist” Josh Neer (32-10-1) vs. “Bang” Duane Ludwig (21-11), Mike Easton (8-0) vs. Jared Papazian (13-6-1), and the opening fight between beleaguered K-1 fighter “HD” Pat Barry (5-5) and heavyweight brawler Christian Morecraft (7-2). The match is an important one for both men as the Zuffa contract axe looms in each of their futures should they fail to deliver in their match-up.
The UFC solidifies its 2011 calendar year as one of the biggest in the promotion’s history, closing it out tonight with UFC 141: Lesnar vs. Overeem. The honors of starting off the main card on Pay-Per-View go to The Ultimate Fighter 12 alum Nam Phan (19-10) and undefeated fellow featherweight “The Kid” Jimy Hettes (9-0). Forty-year-old IFL veteran “The Janitor” Vladimir Matyushenko (26-5) looks to stay in the good graces of the UFC brass with a defeat over rising 205lbs. prospect “The Mauler” Alexander Gustafsson (12-1). Former welterweight title challenger Jon Fitch (22-3-1) pits his wrestling credentials against those of rising talent Johny Hendricks (11-1). The co-main event features one of the most volatile grudge matches in recent memory, with former WEC stand-out “Cowboy” Donald Cerrone (16-4) teeing off against Stockton, California native Nate Diaz (13-8). Serving as the promotion’s final bout in 2011 is the long-awaited UFC debut of K-1, DREAM, and Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion “The Demolition Man” Alistair Overeem (32-12) as he takes on an equally mammoth-sized former UFC champion in Brock Lesnar (5-2).
“Anything can happen in MMA”, especially when it comes to thoughtful pairings like those featured on the UFC 141 main card. Below, the MMA Gospel staff takes a crack at predicting how the night could play out.
The world’s premiere MMA organization finishes off the year with a bang this Friday night with UFC 141: Lesnar vs. Overeem. Undefeated featherweight prospect “The Kid” Jimy Hettes (9-0) takes on Nam Phan (19-10) in the main card’s opening bout. “The Janitor” Vladimir Matyushenko (26-5) collides with the fast rising “The Mauler” Alexander Gustafsson (12-1) to see whose stock gets a lift in the light heavyweight division. Johny Hendricks (11-1) is looking to get into the higher echelon of the welterweight class but will first have to grind it out against former title challenger Jon Fitch (22-3). The main event is seen as the classic “grappler versus striker” formula as former UFC heavyweight champ Brock Lesnar (5-2) and current K-1, DREAM, and Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion “The Demolition Man” Alistair Overeem (34-11) fill the roles, respectively. The co-main event is receiving just as much acclaim as the marquee feature as Nate Diaz (13-8) and “Cowboy” Donald Cerrone (16-4) butt heads in a lightweight match-up. Diaz and Cerrone are two of the sport’s most enigmatic personalities but once the cage door seals, this clash of personalities will turn into a battle truly worthy of remembering.
The old classic Friday Night Fights aura surrounds the December 30 date for UFC 141 and rounds out the promotion’s year rather nicely. Perhaps the most dangerous heavyweight striker in all of MMA, former Strikeforce, DREAM, and K-1 Heavyweight Champion “The Demolition Man” Alistair Overeem (34-11), steps into the Octagon tp begin his long awaited UFC career. In his way of a shot at UFC gold though is the villainous former UFC heavyweight champ Brock Lesnar (5-2). Red hot former WEC title contender “The Cowboy” Donald Cerrone (16-4) and Nate Diaz (13-8) of Cesar Gracie tutelage will bring their heated encounter from months before to the surface as they face off in the co-main event. Top-ranked welterweight Jon Fitch (22-3) returns since his lackluster Draw against former UFC lightweight and welterweight champion BJ Penn (16-8) to face heavy-handed WEC veteran Johny Hendricks (11-1). Exciting young fighter Alexander Gustafsson (12-1) has yet to go past the second round in his UFC career but his toughest test to date will tower in front of him in the form of long-time UFC veteran “The Janitor” Vladimir Matyushenko (26-5) who has looked better than ever with two knockout wins supporting him going into this match-up. Starting off the UFC 141 main card is undefeated “The Kid” Jimy Hettis (9-0) who has submitted all of his opponents – six in the first round and three in the second, teeing off against the tough and relentless Nam Phan (19-10), who recently made UFC history for his rock ‘em sock ‘em battle with “Bad Boy” Leonard Garcia (15-8). Both men are guaranteed a tough fight in each other, and it is one that surely will serve as an entertaining opener to the Pay-Per-View card.
It seems that the man who boasts a highlight reel filled career full of head-kick knockouts isn’t permanently hanging up his fight shorts after all. PRIDE legend and UFC veteran “Cro Cop” Mirko Filipovic (27-11-2), toting a 16-7 kickboxing record, is returning to the place that started his legendary career, K-1. After eight years away from kickboxing to pursue MMA, the Croatian is trading the cage for the ring and his four ounce gloves for ten.
“Cro Cop” currently is recovering from a surgery dealing with a ruptured bicep on his right arm, an injury at least one of his doctors advised him was his last chance to repair. However, Mirko is doing much more than just recovering and preparing to fight in K-1, he is also helping organize the event in his home country of Croatia. Dubbed K-1: Final Fight the event is scheduled to take place at the Zagreb Arena on March 10, 2012. An opponent has not yet been named, but “Cro Cop” promises it will be a big K-1 name so that all his fans will enjoy an electric bout.
Tomorrow night the famed Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino hosts yet another Bellator event: the Bellator 50 and the Season 5 Middleweight Tournament quarter-finals. ”Shango” Hector Lombard (28-2), with the championship belt hoisted across his shoulder, reigns at 185lbs. and only one man will earn the chance to challenge for his gold strap. Stacked with Bellator veterans, a former title challenger, and new faces from around the globe, the tournament seems geared to ensure that man is the toughest test yet of Hector’s reign. “The Beast” Bryan Baker (12-2), a giant and powerful middleweight, has overcome many hardships to unleash “The Beast” inside the cage. Standing across from him is the hard nosed and gritty Jared Hess (12-2), the man who was the runner-up in the first season but was cut down short in the second season due to a freak knee injury. Russian striker “The Storm” Alexander Shlemenko (30-4) will bring his flashy spinning back fists and kicks into the cage to welcome Croatian kickboxer and DREAM and Cage Rage veteran Zelg Galesic (9-5), a man who has never been out of the first round in his entire career. Perhaps one of the most decorated Jiu-Jitsu champions in the world, Vitor Vianna (10-1), will bring his high level grappling with him as he makes his Bellator debut against “Smiling” Sam Alvey (14-2). Starting off the tournament are two newcomers in Strikeforce veteran Brian Rogers (7-2) and Victor O’Donnell (12-1). Both men love to strike and have secured most of their pro wins by TKO. Only four men can move on to the semi-finals but with such talent that is involved in this tournament, anything goes.
Strikeforce Heavyweight and K-1 Champion “The Demolition Man” Alistair Overeem (32-12) has reportedly been cut from Strikeforce.
After much back-and-forth talk from Overeem, his camp, and the Strikeforce and Zuffa brass about his Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix semi-finals match-up with “Bigfoot” Antonio Silva (15-2), Overeem ultimately withdrew from the fight July 18, stating that the September 10 fight date would not allow ample time to heal from the broken toe he allegedly sustained even prior to his quarter-finals bout against “Vai Cavalo” Fabricio Werdum (14-5-1), in which he won the decision after three relatively uneventful rounds. Additional injuries to “The Demolition Man” have been reported but not yet confirmed.
Friday’s edition of “Inside MMA” first broke the news of Overeem’s release and was immediately followed by an official statement from HDNet regarding the matter. Overeem’s trainer Martijn de Jong also confirmed the cut, though Strikeforce officials have yet to release a statement to confirm or deny Overeem’s departure from the organization.
Sources confirmed yesterday that Strikeforce Heavyweight and K-1 Champion “The Demolition Man” Alistair Overeem (32-12) will not be participating in the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix semi-finals in September.
The Dutch kickboxer defeated Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu aficionado “Vai Cavalo” Fabricio Werdum (14-5-1) in what many considered a less than impressive three-round affair last month. With his victory, Overeem advanced to the tournament semi-finals where he was slated to take on “Bigfoot” Antonio Silva (15-2).
The reasons behind Overeem’s withdrawal thus far have been relatively vague, though the Strikeforce heavyweight king told MMA Fighting yesterday that he felt the September 10 match-up against “Bigfoot” was too close on the heels of his June 18 bout against Werdum, and that he needed more time to heal and rest, further stating that he went into his tournament quarter-finals match-up with a broken toe.
Dallas, Texas. It was only fitting that in a state where everything is bigger the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix would continue here. The Dallas Mavericks finally won their first title. The entire city and all its surrounding areas are still reliving that moment to the point every other song on the radio has some kind of Mavericks, “Thank you, Dirk” promo to precede the next track. The days leading into the Grand Prix though had the combat loyalists already staking claims and picking sides that even the minute leading to the fight was adrenaline-filled. As a fan of the sport, I have always found enough joy just sitting back at home or at the local sports bar watching my guys get the job done. It was not until I attended the Grand Prix, my first MMA event no less, that watching two men go at it in a high stakes brawl became an even greater experience.
Last night, Strikeforce graced the American Airlines Arena in Dallas, TX with the second installment of its World Heavyweight Grand Prix quarter-finals. The event was perhaps one of the ugliest events in recent MMA history with a fight-ending accidental eye poke and what appeared to be a dislocated elbow or possibly a seriously broken arm in the prelims and a main card that featured one extremely bloody fight and several one-sided beatdowns. To make matters worse, the main event saw “The Demolition Man” Alistair Overeem (32-12) channel his inner “The Spider” Anderson Silva (28-4) against Fabricio Werdum (14-5-1) who felt a need to emulate Thales Leites (16-4). The main card itself was lopsided to the point that the match-making would be called into question had the fighters not have stacked so well on paper with “The Snowman” Jeff Monson (37-12), “The Python” Valentijn Overeem (27-22), “The Grim” Brett Rogers (11-3), and KJ Noons (9-4) suffering complete domination at the hands of Daniel Cormier (7-0), “The Grave Digger” Chad Griggs (10-1), “The Babyfaced Assassin” Josh Barnett (22-5), and “Gamebred” Jorge Masvidal (19-6) respectively. MMA Gospel is here with the post-fight shakedown.
Dallas, Texas has the basketball greats the Mavericks, the hockey stand-outs in the Stars, and multiple NFL Superbowl Champions the Cowboys, but on June 18 Strikeforce invades the American Airlines Center with the second half of their Heavyweight Grand Prix tournament with Strikeforce, DREAM, and K-1 champion and seemingly unstoppable muscle-bound behemoth “The Demolition Man” Alistair Overeem (31-12) taking on rival “Vai Cavalo” Fabricio Werdum (14-4) at the helm. Supporting the edge-of-the-seat main event is a star studded card of heavyweights with international star “The Babyfaced Assassin” Josh Barnett (21-5) taking on heavy handed “The Grim” Brett Rogers (11-2) and two Grand Prix alternate bouts. Former UFC heavyweight title contender and world renowned submission king “The Snowman” Jeff Monson (37-11) returns to the American spotlight as he is welcomed to the Strikeforce ranks by the undefeated OSU and Olympic team wrestler Daniel Cormier (6-0) and IFL veteran and heavyweight dark horse “The Grave Digger” Chad Griggs (9-1) meets former PRIDE veteran and kickboxing powerhouse “The Python” Valentijn Overeem (27-21). Outside of the tournament brackets, the return of the much loved “Conviction” Gina Carano (7-1) against undefeated Sarah D’Alelio (3-0) has been pulled due to Carano not receiving medical clearance from her doctor and as a result, former Elite XC Lightweight Champion KJ Noons (9-3) and “Gamebred” Jorge Masvidal (19-6) will fill the spot with a shot for the lightweight title on the line. The tournament may dominate the card itself, but it is the match between Overeem and Werdum that has the attention of the MMA world as the first man to record a recognized legitimate win over “The Last Emperor” Fedor Emelianenko (31-3) faces the man that MMA fans worldwide have wanted to see him face in a rematch of their 2006 PRIDE bout. Both fighters have come a long way since then; the dynamics have changed and it will be interesting to see which of these two warriors has progressed the most.