For years he was the talk of the MMA world, heralded for being arguably the best fighter outside the shark tank that is the UFC. Many believe he still holds the best chance in dethroning the top middleweight fighter on the planet and long-time champion “The Spider” Anderson Silva (33-4). This man is former Bellator, CFC, and AFC Middleweight Champion “Lightning” Hector Lombard (32-3) who owns perhaps the most powerful strikes in the 185lbs. division, held the longest win streak at 24 victories, earned a knockout win at just six seconds of the opening round, and seems unstoppable once again after manhandling feared middleweight powerhouse “Toquinho” Rousimar Palhares (14-5) in his adopted home of Australia. MMA Gospel writer Cole Moorman goes one-on-one with the powerful striker to find out how “Lightning” is looking to strike UFC gold.
December 19 the UFC closes out its 2012 back at the MGM Grand Garden Arena with UFC 155 live and direct on Pay-Per-View. “The Crippler” Chris Leben (22-8) greets 185lb. Strikeforce transplant Derek Brunson (9-2) in the card’s opener. “The Barbarian” Tim Boetsch (16-4) meets Constantinos Philippou (11-2) in a pivotal match-up for both men. The pace is going to be set to “frantic” and “erratic” in the co-main event when fan favorites and submission artists “J-Lau” Joe Lauzon (22-7) and “The Mongoose” Jim Miller (21-4) collide in a lightweight showdown. In the main event, Cain Velasquez (10-1) will seek redemption as he tries to take the heavyweight title back from the man that took it from him and handed him his first loss: “Cigano” Junior Dos Santos (15-1). Before this tale of revenge gets played, one more rematch is in order when “Thunder” Yushin Okami (27-7) takes on “The Talent” Alan Belcher (18-6) once again. It was Okami who proved triumphant in their debut at UFC 62 in 2006 but with six years passing and experience gained, Belcher is looking to even the score.
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.
The Ultimate Fighter may be struggling to retain its relevance in the USA, but The Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes, featuring emerging fighters from the UK against the best journeymen Australia has to offer, has from all accounts been a resounding success. Friday night, just 24 hours prior to the finale of its American counterpart, the second international season of The Ultimate Fighter will come to a close as coaches George Sotiropoulos (14-4) faces off against “The Real Deal” Ross Pearson (13-6). Australian superstar and former Bellator Middleweight Champion “Shango” Hector Lombard (31-3-1) will make his sophomore UFC effort in a middleweight tilt with dangerous submission machine “Toquinho” Rousimar Palhares (14-4). Rounding out the card are the two TUF: The Smashes finale bouts featuring Brad Scott (8-1) against Robert Whittaker (9-2) at welterweight and “Freakshow” Colin Fletcher (8-1) against “Stormin’” Norman Parke (16-2) at lightweight.
“Smooth” Benson Henderson (16-2) meets “The Answer” Frankie Edgar (14-2-1) once again when he puts his lightweight title on the line in the main event for UFC 150 this Saturday. Denver, Colorado’s Pepsi Center will also see “Blessed” Max Holloway (5-1) take on “The American Kid” Justin Lawrence (4-0) in the card’s opener. Buddy Roberts (12-2) replaces an injured “Toquinho” Rousimar Palhares (14-4) to take on former middleweight challenger “Thunder” Yushin Okami (26-7). Lightweight killers are set to engage in the co-main event when “The Young Assassin” Melvin Guillard (30-10-2) and “Cowboy” Donald Cerrone (18-4) collide. Among the action, “Short Fuse” Ed Herman(20-8) will gain a step up in competition when he meets former Strikeforce Middleweight Champion, Jake Shields (26-7-1). Both men are savvy with the submission skills but when pitted against one another, it will be a grappler’s clinic that is bound to entertain even the fair-weather fan.
The UFC took broadcast network airwaves for the third time last night as UFC on FOX 3 delivered another excellent showing for hardcore and casual fans alike. In the main event, Nate Diaz (16-7) further asserted his place as a top lightweight with a dominant submission win over “The Mongoose” Jim Miller (21-4). The co-main saw “Big Rig” Johny Hendricks (13-1) emerge as a title contender with a hard-fought win over his second perennial top 10 opponent, “Kos” Josh Koscheck (17-6). Submission ace “Toquinho” Rousimar Palhares (14-4) saw his hype train definitively derailed by “The Talent” Alan Belcher (18-6), and Strikeforce transplant “Big” Lavar Johnson (17-5) made his presence known with a brutal TKO of “HD” Pat Barry (7-5). As in every show, there were winners and there were losers. To sort them out, MMA Gospel has The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.
—MAIN CARD (on FOX)—
Nate Diaz vs. Jim Miller: Diaz via Submission (Guillotine Choke), Round 2, 4:09
Josh Koscheck vs. Johny Hendricks: Hendricks via Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28), Round 3, 5:00
Rousimar Palhares vs. Alan Belcher: Belcher via TKO (Punches), Round 1, 4:18
Pat Barry vs. Lavar Johnson: Johnson via TKO (Punches), Round 1, 4:38
The latest edition of UFC on FOX takes place Saturday courtesy of New Jersey’s IZOD Center. Big” Lavar Johnson (16-5) will look to make his sophomore appearance in the organization a success when he stands against fellow banger “HD” Pat Barry (7-4). The middleweights are next as “The Talent” Alan Belcher (17-6) squares off with “Toquinho” Rousimar Palhares (14-3). Welterweights “Big Rig” Johny Hendricks (12-1) and “Kos” Josh Koscheck (17-5) square off in the co-main event. In the night’s closer, Nate Diaz (15-7) looks to tie together a three-fight win streak, but that would come at a steep price against “The Mongoose” Jim Miller (21-3). Both men have the contender status attached to their name with just cause but after Saturday, only one can make the step closer to gold.
The Garden State hosts mixed martial arts action Saturday night as East Rutherford, New Jersey’s IZOD Center is the battleground for UFC on FOX 3. Submission specialist “Toquinho” Rousimar Palhares (14-3) takes on stand-up extraordinaire “The Talent” Alan Belcher (17-6) in the opening bout of the main card. Expect heads to fly as the heavyweights take to the cage when “HD” Pat Barry (7-4) collides with fellow striker “Big” Lavar Johnson (16-5). In the main event “The Mongoose” Jim Miller (21-3) gets the homefield advantage when he challenges Nate Diaz (15-7) in a pivotal match-up in the lightweight division. “Kos” Josh Koscheck (17-5) and “Big Rig” Johny Hendricks (12-1) will meet before the night’s end in the co-main event. Koscheck has always been held high in the welterweight picture and looks to re-establish himself as a viable contender. Hendricks, on the other hand, is finally coming into his own and will look to keep the “Big Rig” moving on all gears.
Nate Diaz (15-7) and “The Mongoose” Jim Miller (21-3) will square off in a high octane lightweight showdown to headline the UFC on FOX 3 card this Saturday, but before they do, the UFC has built a strong card for the viewing public. “Kos” Josh Koscheck (17-5) and Johny Hendricks (12-1) will play second fiddle to the main event in a welterweight showdown and “Big” Lavar Johnson (16-5) will open the card in his second UFC bout against the always dangerous “HD” Pat Barry (7-4). In one of the night’s most interesting bouts, “Toquinho” Rousimar Palhares (14-3) will square off with “The Talent” Alan Belcher (17-6). The 28-year-old Belcher has built quite a resume as a mixed martial artist over his career with ten first-round finishes and seven submissions and eight KO/TKOs in 17 victories, a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and establishing himself as a dangerous striker under the tutelage of Duke Roufus. However, his opponent has earned a reputation as one of the most gifted grapplers in the world and has ten submissions in 14 wins, as well as a second place finish in his only ADCC appearance, to back it up.
The UFC will return to broadcast television network FOX for the third time this Saturday with lightweight frontrunners and event headliners Nate Diaz (15-7) and “The Mongoose” Jim Miller (21-3) locking horns in a submission fan’s dream match-up. Also making an appearance on the UFC on FOX 3 card will be polarizing welterweight top contender “Kos” Josh Koscheck (17-5) as he squares off against 7-1 UFC welterweight blue chipper Johny Hendricks (12-1). Submission ace “Toquinho” Rousimar Palhares (14-3) will go toe-to-toe with Roufusport striking machine “The Talent” Alan Belcher (17-6) and Strikeforce heavyweight prospect “Big” Lavar Johnson (16-5) will make his sophomore effort in the Octagon against former K-1 and WCL kickboxer “HD” Pat Barry (7-4). Both heavyweights are equally well known for their knockout power and their deficiencies on the mat, leading most fans to expect a bare knuckle, stand-up war in the opening bout of a card brimming with submission specialists.
The UFC has come and gone and the once deafening roar of the Brazilian crowd is now silenced following an electric night of first-round stoppages at UFC 142: Aldo vs. Mendes. Headlining the all too brief card was UFC Featherweight Champion “Junior” Jose Aldo (20-1) who successfully defended his title in front of a fanatical hometown crowd by blasting the title dreams, consciousness, and undefeated record of “Money” Chad Mendes (11-1) into non-existence with a brutal knee strike. Former UFC Heavyweight Tournament and Light Heavyweight Champion “The Phenom” Vitor Belfort (21-9) came to the cage looking dangerously eager to face ill-fated former welterweight “Rumble” Anthony Johnson (10-4) and made quick work of his foe, submitting “Rumble” with a Rear Naked Choke. “Toquinho” Rousimar Palhares (16-5) sent a clear message to the rest of the division against Mike Massenzio (13-6) as he added yet another vicious Heel Hook submission win to his record. Controversy filled the air when Erick Silva (8-3) completely destroyed Carlo Prater (28-11-1) in just 29 seconds only to have his victory taken from him as referee Mario Yamasaki ruled the bout a disqualification due to illegal strikes. The opening fight of the night saw British brawler Terry Etim (15-4) suffer one of the most spectacular KO losses in MMA history as Edson Barboza (10-0) nailed him square on the jaw with a spinning hook kick. In a night where all but one bout fails to go past the first round, it is very clear who the winners and losers are, but divining the level to which those victories and defeats impact a fighter’s career takes The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.