Last night some of the most prominent names in mixed martial arts convened at The Palms in Las Vegas, Nevada to honor nominees in 22 categories at the 2011 World MMA Awards. The categories, which are selected by a nominations panel then voted on by fans, honor all things MMA, from fighters, to referees, to equipment, apparel, ring girls, and much more. The annual awards show, now in its fourth year, once again saw the UFC taking the majority of the honors. And the winners are…
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.
I’ll tell ya what, Icemigos… So far, I’m not feeling this season of The Ultimate Fighter. I mean, I’ll keep watching it but how I miss people getting KOS’d. Plunger fights. A Male Nurse. Jean-Charles: The French kickboxing badass who liked to get drunk before sparring. Cody McKenzie and his “McKenzietine”. Those were the days! When the most entertaining thing that happens is Ramsey Nijem whipping his junk around and Brock Lesnar saying “chickenshit” again, you start to curse fate for not letting Chael Sonnen be one of the coaches this season. Seriously, Dana, you owe us one. Next season better have Chael and Michael Bisping as the coaches. Or “Mayhem” Miller and Nick Diaz. Here’s what I’ve learned thus far from this season of TUF:
Bellator Fighting Championships rolled into Connecticut for the first time last night, taking Uncasville’s Mohegan Sun by storm and marking Eddie Alvarez’s (19-2) first title defense against number one contender Pat Curran (12-3). Also two semi-final match ups took place in the Bellator Season 4 Tournaments. In the Welterweight Tournament, “Cyborg” Lyman Good (11-2) faced of against former Judo Olympian Rick Hawn (11-0) and in the Lightweight Tournament “Pitbull” Patricky Freire (3-0) and Toby Imada (28-16) went head-to-head for a spot in the finals. Starting off the night was a catchweight bout between UFC veteran “Killa B” Ben Saunders (10-3) and MMA journeyman Matt Lee (12-10) to mark the debut of the TUF star with the Bellator organization. The card was an overall solid offering as has come to be expected from Bellator, with a night of local feature fights packing the house for the main card that was televised nationwide on MTV2.
—MAIN CARD (on MTV2)—
Main event – World Lightweight Title Fight
Eddie Alvarez vs. Pat Curran: Alvarez via Unanimous Decision (49-46, 50-45, 50-45), Round 5, 5:00
Bellator Season 4 Welterweight Tournament Semi-Final Fight
Rick Hawn vs. Lyman Good: Hawn via Split Decision (29-28, 28-29, 30-27), Round 3, 5:00
Bellator Season 4 Lightweight Tournament Semi-Final Fight
Toby Imada vs. Patricky Freire: Freire via TKO (Strikes), Round 1, 2:53
Ben Saunders vs. Matt Lee: Saunders via TKO (Doctor’s Stoppage), Round 3. 1:24
The city of Uncasville will see Bellator Fighting Championships make its first stop in Connecticut tonight when the regional promotion turned national TV MMA sensation arrives for Bellator 39. Hosting the event is the Mohegan Sun and attending will be a house full of fans of the Northeast native and Bellator Lightweight Champion, Eddie Alvarez (19-2). Alvarez will defend his title for the first time against Season 2 winner and perennial underdog contender Pat Curran (12-3). After an injury during training early last year, Curran had to sit out and recover on the side lines while Alvarez continued his reign as the promotion’s best lightweight. Now after a full recovery and months back into his training, Curran is ready to challenge the champion and looks to upset yet another fighter with the title of champion being the prize.
This Saturday night Bellator Fighting Championships takes the northeastern US by storm with Bellator 39 in Uncasville, Connecticut. Headlining the event is Bellator Lightweight Champion and top five 155lbs. fighter Eddie Alvarez (19-2) putting his belt on the line for the first time against No.1 contender and Season 2 tournament winner Pat Curran (12-3). Supporting the highly electric main event though is former Bellator Welterweight Champion “Cyborg” Lyman Good (11-1) fighting former Judo Olympian Rick Hawn (10-0) in the first match of Bellator’s Season 4 Welterweight Tournament semi-finals, and “Pitbull” Patricky Freire (2-0) will go to war with two-time tournament finalist and submission wizard Toby Imada (18-15) in Bellator’s first Season 4 Lightweight Tournament semi-final fight. All four semi-finalists have one thing in mind: a shot at the tournament finals and owning Bellator gold, and with four hungry fighters ready to go, there’s no way Bellator 39 won’t deliver. Who will advance to the next round? Let’s take a look at how this Saturday night could unfold.
So, I’m moving this week. It sucks. I don’t own a lot of stuff but when you have to pack it up, you suddenly wish you were a monk…. Okay, maybe a monk with a really kick ass laptop but still. Anyway, I’m still writing my column just for you guys. I hope you appreciate it. I also won’t be able to attend to my normal MMA Gospel Radio show co-hosting duties this Wednesday but before you start weeping, relax – your buddy, your hero, yours truly has arranged for a very special treat for you in my absence. Filling in for me will be none other than the man who saved us from communism at WEC 53 and is so witty that he has been featured in UFC’s Tweets of the Week column for over four months running, UFC lightweight bad ass “Dannyboy” Downes! You’re welcome. I give and I give and I’m still as poor as a monk but with a lot more shit – as I believe I mentioned. So, enough of my whining… there are a lot of fights to get to. UFC Fight Night 24: Nogueira vs. Davis, Bellator 38, Titan Fighting Championship 17, and M-1 Global’s debut Challenge show on Showtime.
Last night MMA fans were treated to a host of spectacular fights thanks to offerings by both Bellator and the UFC. The two separate events, broadcast on MTV2 and Spike TV respectively, each featured a single victory via exceptionally rare by equally impressive submissions. At UFC Fight Night 24: Nogueira vs. Davis, “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung (11-3) finished off WEC transplant “Bad Boy” Leonard Garcia (15-7) via a modified Guillotine dubbed “The Twister” in the closing seconds of Round 2. And at Bellator 38, Season 4 Light Heavyweight Tournament semi-finalist Richard Hale (11-3-1) summoned the spirit of fellow Bellator competitor and decorated veteran Toby Imada (28-15) by defeating Nik Fekete (3-1) with an Inverted Triangle Choke. Here’s the video:
(Video courtesy of Bellator)
So, the big news this week in MMA was that UFC parent company ZUFFA, LLC. purchased Strikeforce. Surprising, yes. I can only assume that this happened rather quickly since a secret that big doesn’t stay secret very long and no one seemed to have even heard rumors to this effect prior to the deal being announced by Dana White. However, considering the fact that contracts with fighters and deals with Showtime are already in place and Dana’s assertion that it’ll be “business as usual”, I don’t think we can expect to see any real changes or fallout for the immediate time being. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s an eventual merger but I think that’s at least a few years off. Still, I see why it’s a big deal. Zuffa now owns most of MMA – aside from DREAM and Bellator and the much smaller regional organizations. With so few options outside of the Zuffa umbrella can a fighter’s union be on the horizon for the future? I dunno, man… just thinking out loud. I don’t mean to piss off King Dana by any means. Just Nick Diaz needs to have his ADHD medicine (aka: weed) covered by a health care plan, not to mention Diego Sanchez’s face and Brandon Vera’s nose.
This Saturday night Bellator Fighting Championships’ Season 4 Lightweight Tournament kicked off in Shreveport, Louisiana and presented seven solid finishes on both the main and preliminary cards. Top lightweight prospects “Pitbull” Patricky Freire (8-1), Toby Imada (29-15), “Cupcake” Lloyd Woodard (11-0), and Mike Chandler (6-0) each finished his opponent and put on solid performances, despite two noted upsets, and all move on to the semi-finals in the Tournament .
—MAIN CARD / LIGHTWEIGHT TOURNAMENT QUARTER-FINAL MATCH-UPS—
“Razor” Rob McCullough vs. “Pitbull” Patricky Freire: Freire via TKO (Punches), Round 3, 3:11
Josh Shockley vs. Toby Imada: Imada via Verbal Submission (Armbar), Round 1, 1:19
Carey Vanier vs. Lloyd Woodard: Woodard via TKO (Punches), Round 1, 0:46
Marcin Held vs. Michael Chandler: Chandler via Technical Submission (Arm-Triangle Choke), Round 1, 3:56
Bellator Fighting Championships stops in at the Shreveport Municipal Auditorium in Shreveport, Louisiana for the first round of its Season 4 Lightweight Tournament tonight. Former WEC Lightweight Champion “Razor” Rob McCullough (19-6) takes on ”Pitbull” Patricky Freire (1-0, 7-1 NSF) in the main event and two-time tournament finalist Toby Imada (27-15) returns for a “third time’s the charm” run at the belt, but first he must get past his new opponent, alternate Josh Shockley (6-0), who joins the roster due to Ferrid Kheder (16-3) missing weight and bolting from the weigh-ins. Season 2 semi-finalist Carey Vanier (8-2) looks to rematch Imada in the semis but first he has to prove his worth against the undefeated submission expert Lloyd Woodard (10-0) while Polish import Marcin Held (0-0, 10-1NSF) makes his debut on U.S. soil against Bellator and Strikeforce veteran Mike Chandler (5-0) who has finished all five of his opponents and all but one of those in the first round. Overall Bellator again delivers a set of brackets filled with intriguing story lines and stylistic match-ups to ensure that the MMA community will be tuning in to MTV2 for every episode of their live mixed martial arts offerings.
After a shoulder injury left Bellator Season 2 Lightweight Tournament Winner Pat Curran (12-3) unable to challenge current 155lbs. champion Eddie Alvarez’s (19-2) lightweight crown, fan favorite and UFC veteran “El Matador” Roger Huerta (21-5-1) took his place in a non-title fight against Alvarez at Bellator 33 in Philadelphia last October. The fight was all Alvarez as he picked apart Huerta with powerful leg kicks and crisp boxing, causing the ringside doctors to stop the fight after the second round due to Huerta’s swollen eye and battered knee.
The year 2010 showcased a wealth of fights and events for the mixed martial arts world to marvel over. “The Answer” Frankie Edgar (13-1) defeated one of the greatest lightweights of all time in “The Prodigy” BJ Penn (16-7-1). Boxing great “Lights Out” James Toney (0-1) stepped into the the cage to face UFC Hall of Famer “The Natural” Randy Couture (19-10) in what was intended to determine the superior combat sport, MMA or boxing. Couture pummeled Toney for nearly three minutes of pure fan delight before submitting him via Arm Triangle Choke. The MMA world was shaken and the heavyweight rankings sent into a state of disarray when the top ranked “The Last Emperor” Fedor Emelianenko (31-2) was handed his first legitimate loss via first round submission to Fabricio Werdum (14-4-1).
To follow up with the 2009 roster exchange agreement between the Strikeforce, DREAM, and M-1 Global MMA promotions, the UFC ended 2010 with the intake of the WEC organization. With all the memorable fights and events that have taken place in the last 12 months, 2011 is the year where prospects can become contenders, fighters inflicted with injury or tribulations return to fight their way to a title, and champions become legends.
Here are some of the top fighters to look out for in 2011.