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.
It was the conclusion to yet another successful and entertaining season for Bellator Fighting Championships, last night docking in Caesars Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey for the bantamweight and heavyweight tournament finals and the return of UFC veteran and hometown fighter “Batman” Kurt Pellegrino (16-7) against heavy-handed Brazilian “Pitbull” Patricky Freire (4-1). ”The American Soldier” Eric Prindle (6-1) faced “Big Monster” Thiago Santos (6-1) for the Season 5 Heavyweight Tournament title and a shot against champion “The Polar Bear” Cole Konrad (8-0). Bantamweights “The Executioner” Alexis Vila (10-1) and Eduardo Dantas (9-2) faced off in the youth versus experience, speed versus power match-up. A late addition to the main card in TUF Season 8 runner-up “The Filipino Assassin” Phillipe Nover (5-4) and Polish prospect Marcin Held (12-2) started off the night with a three-round battle between the young fighters looking to steal the spotlight of the organization’s 155lbs. division. Controversial decisions and stoppages aside, the evening closed out Bellator’s fifth season with the bang that is sure to leave fans clamoring for the start of Season 6.
The last of the Bellator Season 5 tournament finals are under way this Saturday in Atlantic City, New Jersey with the heavyweights and bantamweights taking to the cage determined to earn a bonus check to the tune of $100,000 as well as a shot at his division’s respective champion. Forty-year-old knockout artist and bantamweight underdog “The Exorcist” Alexis Vila (10-0) will face the young and wild Brazilian Eduardo Dantas (7-2) for the 135lbs. title shot against “Fun Size” Zach Makovsky (14-2). Boxing stand-out ”The American Soldier” Eric Prindle (6-1) will face the giant from Brazil in “Big Monster” Thiago Santos (6-1) for a shot at Bellator Heavyweight Champion “The Polar Bear” Cole Konrad (7-0). A treat for the locals will be the return to the cage and Bellator debut of UFC veteran and New Jersey native “Batman” Kurt Pellegrino (16-6); welcoming him to the cage is heavy handed “Pitbull” Patricky Freire (3-1). A 170lbs. bout was scheduled between former Bellator Welterweight Champion “Cyborg” Lyman Good (11-2) and Michael Costa (10-5), however a last-minute injury forced the bout off the card. Now a lightweight showdown between UFC veteran and TUF Season 8 runner up ”The Filipino Assassin” Phillipe Nover (5-3) and returning one-time Bellator veteran and Polish prodigy Marcin Held (11-2) will take the honors of opening up the Bellator 59 main card on MTV2.
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 Titan” Lew Polley (10-4) is a name that, up until just a couple of months ago, may not have been particularly well known among many MMA fans. The ability to fly under the radar certainly changed for Polley once he accepted the role as wrestling coach for Team Dos Santos on the most recent installment of Spike TV and Zuffa’s hit reality show, The Ultimate Fighter. An otherwise relatively mellow season has been a roller coaster ride of highs and lows for “The Titan”, whose own experience on TUF 13 left much to be desired; ultimately, after several weeks of back-and-forth conflict and escalating tension levels between Polley and “Cigano” Junior Dos Santos (12-1), Polley was asked by the Black House fighter to leave the show. It was a first for The Ultimate Fighter.
Following the controversial dismissal, MMA Gospel Editor-in-Chief Mallory Mejia spent 120 minutes talking to Lew and getting his take on The Ultimate Fighter 13. This two-part interview explores Polley’s own credentials in respect to MMA, his favorite previous seasons and coaches of The Ultimate Fighter, changes he would make to the TUF program, who he found to be the most viable contenders among the Season 13 fighters, his response to both the shit talkers and the supporters, and of course, a whole lot about the highly publicized feud between himself and his friend, TUF 13 head coach opposite Brock Lesnar (5-2), Junior Dos Santos.
Tonight, Bellator Fighting Championships debuts its inaugural Light Heavyweight Tournament in the state of Mississippi in Tunica at the Harrah’s Tunica Hotel and Casino. Starting off the night is MMA Gospel Young Gun “The Professional” Chris Davis (10-2), who brings his destructive power into the Bellator cage against French import Christian M’Pumbu (1-1, 15-3 NSF). Rage In The Cage veteran Richard Hale (10-3-1) goes against Nik Fekete (3-0) who owns a victory over Strikeforce rising force Ovince St. Preux (9-4). Bellator veteran Raphael Davis (10-1) will look to continue a nine-fight win streak as he goes against D.J. Linderman (8-1), a former heavyweight who dropped down to compete in the first ever 205lbs. tournament. Then in the main event, returning to MMA competition after five years, is a member of the legendary Gracie family and PRIDE and International Fight League (IFL) veteran, Daniel Gracie (4-2). The submission specialist will go against undefeated Bellator veteran Tim Carpenter (6-0) who sees this as a way to earn bragging rights by defeating a member of the Gracie family.
The night before the Green Bay Packers won their thirteenth national football championship, the Ultimate Fighting Championship gave fans a night to remember with one of the most action packed and talent stacked cards of the promotion’s storied existence. UFC 126 saw middleweight king “The Spider” Anderson Silva (28-4) remind the world why he is the greatest living fighter on the planet when he faced former light heavyweight champion “The Phenom” Vitor Belfort (19-9). It saw the return of Forrest Griffin (18-6) and ascendance of “Bones” Jon Jones (12-1). Most importantly, it saw the UFC again abolish all doubt that it is in fact the single MMA superpower in the world and reassert itself as peerless as a promotion. However, it also saw several fighters fall short of their expectations and still more fall further from glory. MMA Gospel explores this with The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.
In a surprising twist at tonight’s UFC 126: Silva vs. Belfort event at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, “Bones” Jon Jones (12-1) was announced as the next light heavyweight title challenger, replacing the injured “Sugar” Rashad Evans (15-1-1), against the current 205lbs. champion “Shogun” Mauricio Rua (19-4) at UFC 128 in March. Just this afternoon Evans withdrew from the title fight due to a knee injury sustained during training. Per both his and the UFC’s doctor’s orders, “Sugar” is mandated to six weeks off of training to recover from the injury.
Tomorrow night in Fort Hood, Texas, the UFC hosts its second Fight for the Troops event to benefit the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund. The night’s action includes performances from some of the UFC’s most exciting fighters including the sharp-tongued “The Young Assassin” Melvin Guillard (25-8-2), top lightweight prospect Evan Dunham (10-1), The Ultimate Fighter 8 alum George Roop (11-5), kickboxer “The Machine” Mark Hominick (18-7), American Top Team stand-out “Magrinho” Cole Miller (17-4), “Handsome” Matt Wiman (12-5), fan favorite “Hype or Die” Pat Barry (4-3), and boxer “The Mexicutioner” Joey Beltran (10-3). Also on the main card is a heavy-duty battle between The Ultimate Fighter Season 10 alum “Meathead” Matt Mitrione (3-0) and King of the Cage veteran “The Thrashing Machine” Tim Hague (10-4). Mitrione has won all three fights in his short UFC career starting with a knockout over fellow TUF 10 competitor “Big Baby” Marcus Jones (4-2), then deflating the hot air from “Kimbo Slice” Kevin Ferguson (4-2) then Joey Beltran at UFC 119. Tim Hague has fought four times under the UFC banner going 1-3 with his lone win coming over Pat Barry and his three losses coming by the hands of Joey Beltran, Todd Duffee (5-1) and Chris Tuchscherer (16-3). The bout is an important crossroads for both men, as a loss would likely cost Hague his place in the UFC and a win would send Mitrione into the fringes of the title picture.
This Saturday night The Ultimate Fighter 8 alum and WEC veteran George Roop (11-5-1) will face “The Machine” Mark Hominick (18-7) in a main card featherweight clash at UFC Fight for the Troops 2. The event also features “Handsome” Matt Wiman (12-5) taking on American Top Team stand-out “Magrinho” Cole Miller (17-4), a heavyweight tilt between fan favorite “Hype or Die” Pat Barry (4-3) and “The Mexicutioner” Joey Beltran (10-3), TUF 10 alum “Meathead” Matt Mitrione (3-0) facing “The Thrashing Machine” Tim Hague (10-4), and top lightweight Evan Dunham (10-1) versus “The Young Assassin” Melvin Guillard (25-8-2). Mark Hominick originally was slated to challenge WEC Featherweight Champion turned UFC featherweight champ “Junior” Jose Aldo (18-1) in his first UFC title defense at UFC 125 on New Year’s Day but an injury forced Aldo from the card. Now, Roop steps in for a fight Hominick can’t afford to lose. Following his stint on The Ultimate Fighter, Roop went 1-2 in the UFC and was consequently dropped by the organization. He went on to earn a win in a regional promotion then signed with the WEC 15 months after receiving his UFC pink slip. There, Roop found himself down a weight class, at featherweight, where he’s gone 1-1-1 including a second round head kick KO victory of “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung (10-3). Mark Hominick has also had a run in the UFC previously, going 2-0 before dropping down from lightweight to featherweight and currently rides a four fight winning streak coming into his main card tilt with George Roop. The match has serious implications for both fighters, as a loss could easily result in being dropped from Zuffa’s roster once again.