April 6 the Ultimate Fighting Championship returns to Fuel TV when it touches down live in Stockholm, Sweden. As explored in Part I of MMA Gospel’s UFC on Fuel TV 9 pre-fight breakdown, the first half of the main card kicks off with Akira Corassani (10-3) taking on Robbie Peralta (16-3), “The Scarecrow” Pablo Garza (12-3) battling “Ceara” Diego Brandao (16-8) in a featherweight showcase, and “The Hulk” Mike Easton (13-2) taking on fellow striker “One Punch” Brad Pickett (22-7). In this latter half of the main card breakdown, a quick look begins with the heavyweight battle between “Meathead” Matt Mitrione (5-2) and Philip DeFries (9-2). The co-main event sees “The Real Deal” Ross Pearson (14-6) welcoming Strikeforce transplant Ryan Couture (6-1). Two new faces grace the light heavyweight division in the main event as Ilir Latifi (9-2) steps in on less than a week’s notice for his injured teammate, perennial contender “The Mauler” Alexander Gustafsson (15-1), to meet “The Dreamcatcher” Gegard Mousasi (33-3-2). Both men grace the eight-sided cage for the first time and with each getting top-billing for their debut, a win at this stage can open many doors for them at 205 pounds.
The UFC returns after a wildly successful sojourn to Montreal at UFC 158 to offer its fifth free card of 2013, UFC on Fuel TV 9 from Stockholm, Sweden. Headlining the event is newcomer “The Sledgehammer” Ilir Latifi (7-2) as he debuts beside Dream and Strikeforce standout “The Dreamcatcher” Gegard Mousasi (33-3-2). “The Real Deal” Ross Pearson (14-6) looks to continue his recent success following TUF: The Smashes at the expense of second-generation prodigy Ryan Couture (6-1). “Meathead” Matt Mitrione (5-2) will struggle to find his winning way again as he meets Philip De Fries (9-2) in a bout that will likely leave one of the two jobless. The lower half of the main card also shows promise with “The Hulk” Mike Easton (13-2) looking to right the ship after a disappointing decision loss at the expense of “One Punch” Brad Pickett (22-7) in the anchor slot. Deadly finisher “Ceara” Diego Brandao (16-8) will meet “The Scarecrow” Pablo Garza (12-3) in the second match of the evening, and kicking things off is a pairing of featherweights looking to come out from under the radar, Akira Corassani (10-3) and “Problems” Robbie Peralta (16-3). Here in Part I of the UFC on Fuel TV 9 pre-fight breakdown, MMA Gospel examines the first three of the night’s match-ups.
It was a busy weekend for the UFC as they closed out not one but two seasons of The Ultimate Fighter, with UFC on FX 6 closing out The Smashes between Australia and the UK and The Ultimate Fighter 16 Live Finale marking the end of the Nelson vs. Carwin season. Both cards stepped away from the historical format of TUF finale cards in that neither featured a majority of the season’s cast members and instead framed the finale bouts and coaches’ showdown with more relevant bouts. The results both sent a message to the MMA world and had a much greater impact on the state of affairs in the UFC compared to other finale events. Aside from the outside-the-cage impacts that the cards had, they were, all things considered, a pair of solid MMA offerings that are a cut above what fans have come to expect in the finales. Also a bonus for MMA fans, the impact of having an electric finale follow a lackluster season as opposed to the usual finale that fails to live up to its hype should result in an overall TUF product from here out as the UFC puts renewed emphasis on fighters fighting to win as opposed to fighting not to lose while in the house by taking a few of the finale slots traditionally reserved for runners up and giving them to more relevant bouts.
Less than 24 hours after the winners of TUF: The Smashes are determined, the final offering from The Ultimate Fighter 16 will take place in Las Vegas, Nevada. As has become the trend of late, coach “The Engineer” Shane Carwin (12-2) injured his knee and thus the coaches will not be facing one another. Instead, “Big Country” Roy Nelson (17-7) will face fellow TUF 10 alum “Meathead” Matt Mitrione (5-1). The co-main will feature the two finalists of the TUF series’ latest installment with ”The Martian” Mike Ricci (7-2) of Team Carwin taking on Colton Smith (3-1) of Team Nelson. Anchoring the card is a clash of heavyweight kickboxers as “HD” Pat Barry (7-5) steps in the Octagon across from Shane del Rosario (11-1). The opening match will see “The Diamond” Dustin Poirier (12-2) against Jonathan Brookins (13-5) followed by a lightweight tilt between “The Young Assassin” Melvin Guillard (30-11-2) and “C-4″ Jamie Varner (20-7-1).
I was set to watch UFC 137 streaming on my computer like some pimply faced teenaged loser when I got an electronic mail from one of my connections at the UFC. I say this entirely to brag and make myself seem important. Whether it’s accurate is none of your damn business. The short of it: Two tickets have become available for you if you want them. Of course I want them! I was sitting with my dog, Carlos, watching the Game Show Network. Let’s get this shindig going, man! Carlos is a Chihuahua and because of his Mexican heritage and small size, a revolutionary at heart. Me, I’m also a revolutionary. Not quite an anarchist but that’s neither here nor there. I knew I couldn’t bring Carlos but I also knew that I had no other friends in this god forsaken town where dreams go to wander up and down Las Vegas boulevard until someone approaches them and offers them some cheap meth and they say “Why the fuck not?”.
The thousands of fans have left the Mandalay Bay Event Center and fighters have returned home to nurse their injuries and plan for their next bouts following a night of solid competitive fights at UFC 137. “Diablo” Nick Diaz (25-8) took the win over “The Prodigy” BJ Penn (16-7-2) in his main event return to the UFC. Cheick Kongo (17-6-2) showed how superior technical abilities are a perfect foil for raw athletic ability when he dismantled “Meathead” Matt Mitrione (5-1). The MMA world witnessed the end of one of the most storied careers in MMA as “Cro Cop” Mirko Filipovic (27-11-2) came out on the losing side of a three-round fire fight with “Big Country” Roy Nelson (16-6). “Big Frog” Jeff Curran (35-14-1) had his UFC return spoiled by WEC stand-out “Young Guns” Scott Jorgensen (12-3) and Hatsu Hioki (22-4-2) broke the curse of JMMA fighters with a solid win over George Roop (12-7-1). With the fights in the books, everyone knows which man recorded the victory in each fight, but that doesn’t necessarily reflect how each man’s career will be affected and for that, MMA Gospel has the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.
—MAIN CARD (on Pay-Per-View)—
BJ Penn vs. Nick Diaz: Diaz via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-27, 29-28), Round 3, 5:00
Cheick Kongo vs. Matt Mitrione: Kongo via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-28, 29-28), Round 3, 5:00
Mirko Filipovic vs. Roy Nelson: Nelson via TKO (Punches), Round 3, 1:30
Scott Jorgensen vs. Jeff Curran: Jorgensen via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27), Round 3, 5:00
Hatsu Hioki vs. George Roop: Hioki via Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28), Round 3, 5:00
The UFC 137 main card has survived a series of blows to its line-up to finally come to fruition tonight at the promotion’s primary stomping grounds, the Mandalay Bay Event Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. To kick off the Pay-Per-View festivities, perpetual underdog and TUF 8 alum George Roop (12-6-1) welcomes Japanese sensation Hatsu Hioki to the Octagon for his stateside debut. Two former WEC stand-outs go to battle as multiple-time “Fight of the Night” winner “Young Guns” Scott Jorgensen (11-3) is pitted against fellow bantamweight and seasoned submission guru “Big Frog” Jeff Curran (35-13-1). The famed head kicks of ”Cro Cop” Mirko Filipovic (27-10-2) will likely make an appearance when the former PRIDE superstar takes on inaugural IFL Heavyweight Champion and TUF 10 winner “Big Country” Roy Nelson (15-6). The co-main event sees another heavyweight clash, this time between renowned French kickboxer Cheick Kongo (16-6-2) and the man who “pisses excellence” each time he steps foot in the Octagon, “Meathead” Matt Mitrione (5-0). Former UFC Lightweight and Welterweight Champion “The Prodigy” BJ Penn (16-7-2) goes head to head with Stockton native “Diablo” Nick Diaz (24-8) of Cesar Gracie tutelage in the evening’s marquis event – a pairing that already showed fireworks at last night’s weigh-ins. Despite its rocky start, the UFC once again has managed to string together an event chock full of promising match-ups that are nearly certain to render the full gamut of results.
The Mandalay Bay Events Center welcomes the UFC back to its home in Las Vegas with UFC 137: Penn vs. Diaz this Saturday. Joe Silva should be given a matchmaking award for the roster of fights he’s put together including the debut of Sengoku Raiden and Shooto champion Hatsu Hioki (24-4-2) versus featherweight stalwart George Roop (12-7-1) in what will surely be an early contender for “Fight of the Night” awards. “Big Country” Roy Nelson (15-6) looks to rebound from a lackluster loss against the aging fan favorite “Cro Cop” Mirko Filipovic (27-9-2). Cheick Kongo (16-6-2) will look to stave off the fast rise of “Meathead” Matt Mitrione in the night’s most intriguing heavyweight match. And while the title fight between UFC Welterweight Champion “Rush” Georges St. Pierre (22-2) and underrated contender “The Natural Born Killer” Carlos Condit (27-5) has been scrapped, there is no question that its replacement fight between former UFC Lightweight and Welterweight Champion “The Prodigy” BJ Penn (16-7-2) and former Strikeforce Welterweight Champion “Diablo” Nick Diaz (25-7) has “one for the ages” written all over it. Regardless of the dubious reasons behind this fight’s origin, one thing is for sure: both men will be looking to throw down. Penn has always been a fighter first and foremost and Diaz loves opponents who come at him full-throttle. With two multi-talented, born-to-brawl athletes like Penn and Diaz, this fight is guaranteed to entertain.
While a knee injury in training has robbed MMA fans of the UFC Welterweight Title fight between “Rush” Georges St. Pierre (22-2) and “Natural Born Killer” Carlos Condit (27-5), the UFC 137 card headlined by “The Prodigy” BJ Penn (16-7-2) and “El Diablo” Nick Diaz (24-8) is certainly not lacking in talent. Sengoku superstar Hatsu Hioki (21-4-2) will open the main card in his UFC debut against George Roop (12-6-1). “Big Frog” Jeff Curran (35-13-1) will make his return to the Octagon against former WEC contemporary “Young Guns” Scott Jorgensen (11-3) and “Cro Cop” Mirko Filipovic (27-10-2) will seek a return to glory against “Big Country” Roy Nelson (15-6). Pulling co-main event duties are a pair of heavyweight strikers from opposite ends of the public spectrum, Cheick Kongo (16-6-2) and “Meathead” Matt Mitrione (5-0). Known for his blunt, dry sense of humor and almost comical arrogance, Matt Mitrione came from the NFL, to the TUF house, and into a five-fight win streak as he continues to “piss excellence” in the Octagon. Kongo, by contrast has been a man of very few words who has quietly climbed the UFC ladder with a five-year-long, 9-4-1 mark in the organization and a traditional, no-flash style of kickboxing that he uses to great effect. Both men have made their presence known and are looking for the chance to make a big splash in the division. This fight represents that chance.
Though an injury to UFC Welterweight Champion “Rush” Georges St. Pierre (22-2) cost fans a title fight between he and former WEC champ “Natural Born Killer” Carlos Condit (27-5), the UFC 137 event headlined by “The Prodigy” BJ Penn (16-7-2) and polarizing welterweight talent “El Diablo” Nick Diaz (24-8) remains one of the most impressive offerings of the year, from any organization. The cast of characters is nothing short of amazing with the stern Frenchman Cheick Kongo (16-6-2) going head to head with heavyweight class clown and break away knockout artist “Meathead” Matt Mitrione (5-0), Japanese champion Hatsu Hioki (21-4-2) taking on George Roop (12-6-1), and “Big Frog” Jeff Curran (35-13-1) making his first Octagon appearance in nearly six years against former WEC rival “Young Guns” Scott Jorgensen (11-3). Also slated for marquis action, former PRIDE superstar “Cro Cop” Mirko Filipovic (27-10-2) will again seek to reclaim a piece of his former self against former IFL champion “Big Country” Roy Nelson (15-6). The pairing is an interesting affair as both men have questions about their career decisions pressing in on them from the media, the UFC brass, and the fans.
The card has undergone many changes but UFC 137 still comes at full force come Saturday night at the Mandalay Bay Event Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. “Young Guns” Scott Jorgensen (11-3) welcomes back “Big Frog” Jeff Curran (35-13-1) in a bantamweight match-up. The potential for knockouts is always high when the heavyweights are involved, especially when Cheick Kongo (16-6-2) meets “Meathead” Matt Mitrione (5-0) and “Cro Cop” Mirko Filipovic (27-10-2) clashes with “Big Country” Roy Nelson (15-6). The main event is a dream match for those who love a good old fashioned scrap, as “The Prodigy” BJ Penn (16-7-2) and “Diablo” Nick Diaz (24-8) are set to lock horns. In the card’s opener, George Roop (12-6-1) welcomes top featherweight Hatsu Hioki (21-4-2) into the Octagon. Roop has always been the featherweight division’s underdog but when he meets a high-level grappler in Hioki, the moniker might seem fitting more than ever.
Despite a series of last-minute changes, the UFC still manages to pull through as the Mandalay Bay Event Center in Las Vegas, Nevada hosts UFC 137: Penn vs. Diaz on Saturday night. The original main event bout with “Rush” Georges St. Pierre defending his welterweight title against “The Natural Born Killer” Carlos Condit was scrapped after the champion sustained a knee injury, “The Prodigy” BJ Penn (16-7-2) and former Strikeforce Welterweight Champion “Diablo” Nick Diaz (24-8) take care of headlining duties. In the co-main event, “Meathead” Matt Mitrione (5-0) gets a steep increase in competition as he tries to keep his undefeated streak alive when he taking on fellow knockout artist Cheick Kongo (16-6-2). It is a do-or-die fight for their careers when “Cro Cop” Mirko Filipovic (27-10-2) and “Big Country” Roy Nelson (15-6) square off to get back into the winning circle. George Roop (12-6-1) is the one-man welcoming party when he greets Hatsu Hioki (21-4-2) into the Octagon for his featherweight debut. The bantamweights kick off the festivities when “Young Guns” Scott Jorgensen (11-3) takes on submission artist “Big Frog” Jeff Curran (35-13-1). Once a challenger for the title, Jorgensen seeks to tie together another chain of wins in order to get a second shot at the gold. Curran is as tested as they come and would love to make a statement when he enters the cage by making the young contender tap.