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.
The nineteenth installment of the Strikeforce Challengers series is set to take place Friday night at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada as another crop of aspiring young fighters seek to break into the Zuffa family. Headlining the card is “The Monsoon” Lorenz Larkin (10-0) who puts his undefeated record on the line against late replacement “Leather Face” Nick Rossborough (20-14). The co-main event for the card finds second generation superstar Ryan Couture (2-1) looking to rebound from his first loss against a tough submission guru, Maka Watson (5-1). Challengers Series stand-out “Big” Lavar Johnson (13-4) returns after a less than successful debut on the Strikeforce main card and attempts to return to form against Shawn Jordan (10-3). One-time UFC veteran Jason High (12-3) will continue his second chance at Zuffa favor in the evening’s second bout against Texas native “Maniac” Todd Moore (13-4) and the night will open with a match-up between toughened ground-and-pounder Brian Melancon (5-2) and undefeated Brazilian “Balboa” Felipe Portela (7-0). The film and file on the fighters is practically non-existent and the combatants themselves are starving for the bright lights of Zuffa stardom, which is always a good mix for the fans of MMA.
The proving ground where journeymen fight to show they are ready for the big leagues, Strikeforce Challengers, rocked the Pearl at the Palms in Las Vegas, Nevada for the second consecutive time last night as struggling veteran Jorge Gurgel (14-8) took on hard hitting newcomer Joe Duarte (7-2). Leading up to the main event was a solid card that featured a trio decisions with all the drama fans have come to expect from MMA events and one first-round submission with all the controversy fans have come to expect from a fight refereed by Steve Mazzagatti. Roy Jones (6-2) vs. “The Caveman” Derrick Mehmen (12-3) opened the bout in a blood bath turned wrestling match. “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey (3-0) then made quick, if controversial, work of “The Monster” Sarah D’Alelio (3-2). Veteran “Bam Bam” Pat Healy (22-15) outworked Eric Wisely (18-6) to end the latter’s four-bout win streak and “Indio” Danillo Villefort (10-4) saw his Strikeforce debut ruined by the hustle of Nate James (10-6-1). The true impact of the night’s events will only be clear once the dust settles but for now, there are a few clear implications of what’s to come.
Jorge Gurgel vs. Joe Duarte: Duarte via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27), Round 3, 5:00
Danillo Villefort vs. Nate James: James via Split Decision (27-30, 29-28, 29-28), Round 3, 5:00
Pat Healy vs. Eric Wisely: Healy via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28), Round 3, 5:00
Ronda Rousey vs. Sarah D’Alelio: Rousey via Verbal Submission (Armbar), Round 1, 0:25
Roy Jones vs. Derrick Mehmen: Mehmen via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28), Round 3, 5:00
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.
Bobby Voelker vs. Roger Bowling: Voelker via KO (Knee and Punches), Round 2, 2:16
Shawn Jordan vs. Devin Cole: Cole via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28), Round 3, 5:00
Ovince St. Preux vs. Joe Cason: St. Preux via Submission (Strikes), Round 1,1:12
Sarah Kaufman vs. Liz Carmouche: Kaufman via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27), Round 3, 5:00
Adlan Amagov vs. Ron Stallings: Amagov via Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28), Round 3, 5:00
This Friday night Las Vegas, Nevada’s Palms Casino Resort will welcome the Strikeforce Challengers Series to the Mecca of combat sports or the first time in its history as multiple-time Challengers Series competitors “Vicious” Bobby Voelker (22-8) and “Relentless” Roger Bowling (8-1) meet in a rubber match to end their year-long rivalry. Also slated for action, “Big” Lavar Johnson (13-4) looks to get back into the big show by defeating IFL veteran Devin Cole (13-9-1), the recently unstoppable “OSP” Ovince St. Preux (9-4) looks to continue his current seven-fight streak against Iowa’s own undefeated Joe Cason (8-0), former Women’s Welterweight Champion Sarah Kaufman (14-1) looks to smash former title contender “Girl-Rilla” Liz Carmouche (3-1) in her own bid for the belt, and internationally recognized spinning hook kick master Adlan Amagov (7-1-1) makes his Challengers, and US, debut against Lloyd Irvin disciple “The Choir Boy” Ronald Stallings (9-3). As is appropriate for the promotion’s first trip to Las Vegas, this Challengers Series card is as stacked as they come with a list of fighters who have either already been in the big show or who are more than ready to take that step. The winners on July 22 will likely be making that step.
Caros Fodor vs. James Terry: Fodor via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28), Round 3, 5:00
Ryan Couture vs. Matt Ricehouse: Ricehouse via Unanimous Decision (2-28, 29-28, 29-28), Round 3, 5:00
Lorenz Larkin vs. Gian Villante: Larkin via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28), Round 3, 5:00
Jason High vs. Quinn Mulhern: High via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27), Round 3, 5:00
Julia Budd vs. Germaine de Randamie: Budd via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28), Round 3, 5:00
Derek Brunson vs. Jeremy Hamilton: Brunson via Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27), Round 3, 5:00
Eduardo Pamplona vs. Jerron Peoples: Pamplona via TKO (Strikes), Round 1, 2:40
Trevor Smith vs. Keith Berry: Smith via Technical Submission, Round 2, 3:02
This Friday night marks the return of Strikeforce’s flagship farm organization, Strikeforce Challengers, as the red hot Caros Fodor (6-1) continues his blitz for a promotion to the Strikeforce main card against Cung Le (7-1) disciple James Terry (9-2). Also slated for action is Ryan Couture (2-0) as he faces Matt Ricehouse (4-0) in an attempt to lay further ground word to build a legacy for himself separate from that of his famed father “The Natural” Randy Couture (19-11). Lorenz Larkin (9-0) will seek to continue his undefeated attack on the heavyweight division as he takes on the Bellmore Kickboxing Academy KO machine Gian Villante (7-2) and kicking off the main card will be “The Jewel” Julia Budd (2-1) and “Iron Lady” Germaine De Randamie (2-1) as the ladies take the cage in an attempt to make waves in the burgeoning Strikeforce Women’s Welterweight division as the first two women to ever fight under a Zuffa banner.
Justin Wilcox vs. Rodrigo Damm: Wilcox via TKO (Doctor’s Stoppage), Round 1, 5:00
Caros Fodor vs. David Douglas: Fodor via TKO (Strikes), Round 3, 2:12
Lorenz Larkin vs. Scott Lighty: Larkin via TKO (Punches), Round 2, 3:15
Josh Thornburg vs. James Terry: Terry via KO (Punch), Round 1, 4:38
Wayne Phillips vs. Damion Douglas: Douglas via Split Decision (28-29, 30-27, 29-28)
Lyle Beerbohm vs. Ryan Healy: Healy via Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Carlo Prater vs. Bryan Travers: Prater via Submission (Anaconda Choke), Round 1, 0:38
Ryan Couture vs. Lee Higgins: Couture via Submission (Rear Naked Choke), Round 3, 4:41
Erik Apple vs. Ryan Larson: Larson via Submission (Triangle Choke), Round 2, 3:14
David Douglas vs. Nick Gonzalez: Douglas via Submission (Rear Naked Choke), Round 1, 1:05
Aaron Franco vs. Ousmane Thomas Diagne: Diagne via TKO (Strikes), Round 1, 4:22
Drew Pendleton vs. Dennis Dombrow: Pendleton via Submission (Guillotine Choke), Round 2, 2:38
Brazilian Chute Boxe practitioners “Cyborg” Evangelista Santos (17-14) and “Cyborg” Cristiane Santos (10-1) could be considered the first couple of MMA. Team Black House fighters “Lil’ Nog” Antonio Rogerio Nogueria (18-4) and “Minotauro” Antonio Rodrigo Nogueria (32-6-1) can be deemed the siblings of submission, and Dan Miller (13-4) and “The Mongoose” Jim Miller (19-2) could be considered the true blue-collar brothers of battle. Now, in the latest edition of families who are making their legacy known in combat, “The Natural” Randy Couture’s (19-10) son, “Natural Light” Ryan Couture (1-0 Professional, 4-0-1 Amateur), is getting set to blaze his path in MMA history. Although Randy made his career known by using his Greco-Roman wrestling to bend his opponents to his will, his son’s legacy in the amateur level is being paved with the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu that has ended each of his five wins via submission. With professional level fighters and trainers alongside him at Xtreme Couture, Ryan might just have the right tools at his disposal to take the lightweight bracket by storm. After a successful first round submission victory in his professional debut last summer, Couture is returning February 18 under the Strikeforce banner hoping to keep the winning streak alive.
The time has finally come. The MMA community has been abuzz ever since the announcement of the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix, and come Saturday, the wait is finally over. While the fight that is getting the most attention, and rightfully so is “The Last Emperor” Fedor Emelianenko (31-2) taking on “Bigfoot” Antonio Silva (14-2), there are plenty of other dynamic and showy fighters on the card including the likes of “The Pitbull” Andrei Arlovski (14-8), Sergei Kharitonov (16-4), “The Python” Valentijn Overeem (26-21), “Sugarfoot” Ray Sefo (2-1),“The Grave Digger” Chad Griggs (8-1), and Gian Villante (7-1). In one bout of particular interest to the tournament competitors, “Big” Lavar Johnson (13-3) will be facing Shane del Rosario (8-0) in a battle of capable heavyweights competing in an alternate match for the Grand Prix. Shane has eight wins in as many attempts in his career and has only ventured into the second round one time. That’s a pretty impressive rate of early finishes for the polished del Rosario who trains with Team Oyama in California. Lavar Johnson received a lot of press after being a victim a shooting at a family reunion in the summer of 2009. Lavar was struck twice – once in the chest and once in the abdomen – but recuperated and enters this fight on the heels of a seven fight win streak.
Okay, Spilled Bag of Fights… here we go… Aesop Rock on the iTunes, coffee, vanilla cream cookie. Wait. Looks like we could use a refill on the coffee – hold on… Okay. Spilled Bag of Fights. Here we go… I’m writing this fucking thing on Notepad. I’m in exile, you see. No, not exile… I’m a refugee. Did I spell that right? I dunno. Fucking Notepad doesn’t have spell-check. I should just write this in e-mail…
Okay, here we are in e-mail. So, anyway, I’ve very specifically avoided writing much about me, the guy behind the bag, and try to keep it pretty focused on MMA. And since this is ostensibly an MMA wrap-up column, what better time or platform to ramble on about things that have nothing to do with MMA? Such as the fact that my room in my apartment in LA is uninhabitable due to a combination of a leaking roof and a week-and-a-half of straight rain. So, I’m in Las Vegas visiting Moms and unsure what to do next since the landlord seems to think I should pay the same amount of rent for an uninhabitable apartment as one that fulfills one of the basic requirements of a shelter – i.e.: fucking SHELTER! My contention is that if I wanted a leaky, moldy shelter, I could probably fashion one from some plastic and a cardboard box behind the auto parts store. Sure, I’d miss some of my favorite TV shows and MMA but no one would expect rent for it. So, as I wait in Vegas to find out what the response is to my “How about I don’t pay for what I’m not getting?” offer, I sit down nonetheless and write a Spilled Bag of Fights, for you, loyal readers. For you. Now, when I call the column “Phoning It In”, it’s partially because I don’t have much to write about but also a clever play on words since I asked you guys on Twitter what to write about and I put your suggestions and my responses at the end of the column… like you were phoning in… heh?! See what I did there?? eh?