It seems that the UFC has outdone itself again with another solid night of fights planned out at UFC 128: Shogun vs. Jones. In the main event, “Bones” Jon Jones (12-1) hopes to add the UFC light heavyweight title to his resume when he faces the champion “Shogun” Mauricio Rua (19-4). WEC bantamweights light up at the co-main event when both “The California Kid” Urijah Faber (24-4) and Eddie Wineland (17-6-1) make their UFC debuts. “The Great” Nate Marquardt (30-10-2) takes on a very game late replacement Dan Miller (13-4) in a middleweight showcase. One of New Jersey’s favorite sons, and also the younger brother of Dan Miller, “The Mongoose” Jim Miller is set to engage with former WEC lightweight “The Prince of Persia” Kamal Shalorus (7-0-2). If this card were not stacked enough, kicking the main card off: rising heavyweight “The Hybrid” Brendan Schaub (6-1) hopes to add lethal kickboxer and PRIDE Grand Prix winner “Cro Cop” Mirko Filipović (27-9-2) to his trophy case of victims. Between the veteran who still has plenty of fight left in him and the upcoming star who seeks to advance towards glory at his expense, this match-up promises fireworks. Duck out of work early, fake sick from the family outing, make any excuse needed. “The Hybrid” and “Cro Cop” is a fight that is not one to miss.
Tonight the UFC comes to the hometown of boxing legend “The Greatest” Muhammad Ali to host its third installment of UFC on Versus at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Kentucky, bringing with it a main card full of heavy hitters and wrestling stand-outs. Former WEC Bantamweight Champion Brian Bowles (8-1) makes his long awaited return as he takes on WEC veteran “The Angel of Death” Damacio Page (10-6), Italian striker “Legionarius” Alessio Sakara (15-7) squares off with UFC newcomer Chris Weidman (4-0), The Ultimate Fighter 7 finalist “The Doberman” CB Dollaway (11-2) looks to gain revenge for teammate “A-Train” Aaron Simpson (6-2) as he takes on “The Filipino Wrecking Machine” Mark Munoz (7-2) in a bout that will most likely be a wrestling barn burner, and the main event pits “The Hitman” Martin Kampmann (17-4) against “The Dream” Diego Sanchez (22-4) in search for redemption in the welterweight division. The two marquis fighters, Diego and Martin, have a need to reassert their position in the division and a return to form at UFC on Versus 3 is the perfect stage to do so.
After months of speculation and an abundance or reported candidates, UFC President Dana White finally put the rumors to rest this afternoon and announced that former UFC Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar (5-2) and current top contender “Cigano” Junior Dos Santos (12-1) will act as the coaches for The Ultimate Fighter Season 13.
WWE-superstar-turned-MMA-powerhouse Brock Lesnar stripped UFC Hall of Famer and multiple-time UFC champion “The Natural” Randy Couture (19-10) of the heavyweight title at UFC 91 in November 2008. He made two successful title defenses, against Frank Mir (14-5) and “The Engineer” Shane Carwin (14-5), before being defeated and losing his belt to current champion Cain Velasquez (9-0) at UFC 121 in October. Many fans have a love-hate relationship with Lesnar, as the two-time NCAA Div. I wrestler’s aggressive smack talk doesn’t sit well with some. Undoubtedly the inclusion of Lesnar in TUF 13 will give the show’s ratings a boost.
Looks like “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” Tito Ortiz (15-8-1) will be getting another shot in the UFC after all. Ortiz made his next and perhaps final bout in the promotion official by signing a contract to face “Little Nog” Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (18-4) as the main event at UFC Fight Night 24 on March 26 in Seattle, Washington.
UFC 122: Marquardt vs. Okami at the Konig Pilsener Arena in Oberhausen, Germany is another excellent offering for the UFC fans. It is packed with TUF alums like “The Polish Experiment” Krzysztof Soszynski (20-10-1), Andre Winner (12-4-1), and Amir Sadollah (3-2), has old school UFC veterans Jorge Rivera (18-7) and “Legionarius” Alessio Sakara (15-7) and also features ace grappler Goran Reljic (8-2) and Germany’s two UFC stand-up crowd pleasers Peter Sobotta (6-2) and Denis Siver (16-7). However, the focal point of the night’s competition is a main event title contention bout between the top-ten staple “The Great” Nate Marquardt (30-9-2) and the last man to defeat the current UFC middleweight kingpin, “Thunder” Yushin Okami (25-5). Both men have a lot to fight for with a win meaning a title shot and a loss quite possibly sending either man back into the chaotic mess that is the UFC middleweight division. Marquardt said in an interview for the UFC, “For me, this is the title fight because if I don’t win, there won’t likely be another title shot for me in the UFC.” What he may not realize is that those words ring true for both he and his opponent.
Germany gets a second dose of UFC action tomorrow night as UFC 122: Marquardt vs. Okami comes to the Konig Pilsener Arena in Oberhausen. “The Great” Nate Marquardt (30-9-2) and “Thunder” Yushin Okami (25-5) headline the event and TUF standouts “The Polish Experiment” Krzysztof Soszynski (20-10-1), Andre Winner (12-4-1), and Amir Sadollah (3-2), light heavyweight prospect Goran Reljic (8-2), and German stand-up fighters Peter Sobotta (6-2) and Denis Siver (16-7) round out a very solid card. A true fan pleaser that serves as the final main card bout before the main event fighters take the stage features the retooled UFC veteran Jorge Rivera (18-7) and the Italian gut buster “Legionarius” Alessio Sakara (15-7). With 25 UFC bouts between the two of them, Sakara and Rivera are the definition of The Old Guard and this bout will be one to show the young buck TUF alums on the card exactly what they have to look forward to in the future of their UFC careers. These two men are old school fighters; they see it as their job to win fights, not matches, and they will do whatever it takes to finish their opponent.
The UFC visits Germany for only the second time as it storms the Konig Pilsener Arena in Oberhausen for UFC 122: Marquardt vs. Okami. The featured bout of the evening is a middleweight title contention bout between “The Great” Nate Marquardt (30-9-2) and “Thunder” Yushin Okami (25-5), and the card also includes several solid fighters like Jorge Rivera (18-7), Alessio Sakara (15-7), and Denis Siver (16-7). TUF standout “The Polish Experiment” Krzysztof Soszynski (20-10-1) and light heavyweight prospect Goran Reljic (8-2) also appear on the card alongside TUF Season 7 winner Amir Sadollah (3-2) and German native Peter Sobotta (6-2). The bout between Sobotta and Sadollah is a fight for survival for both men. Sadollah has been plagued by injuries and less than stellar performances ever since his crowning as the Season 7 Ultimate Fighter. After losing all of the hype that was built around him following the show due to a one year layoff, Sadollah was obliterated by John Hendricks (9-0) in 29 seconds and has since struggled in the Octagon despite winning two of his last three fights. Sobotta is in a similar situation. He was brought into the UFC as an undefeated hometown fighter for their first event in Germany, set to make a name for himself as the German version of “The Count” Michael Bisping (20-3). Instead, the young fighter finds himself staring at the dreaded UFC chopping block after dropping decisions in both of his previous UFC appearances and being relatively inactive. Both Amir and Peter are watching their big show dreams circle the drain and this fight is the only thing that can stop it from going down the tubes.
In its first offering since the wildly explosive UFC 121 last month, the UFC visits the Konig Pilsener Arena in Oberhausen, Germany for UFC 122: Marquardt vs. Okami. In addition to the middleweight title contention bout between “The Great” Nate Marquardt (30-9-2) and the last man to beat champion “The Spider” Anderson Silva (27-4), “Thunder” Yushin Okami (25-5), UFC matchmaker Joe Silva has given the fans several top notch bouts featuring Old Guard veterans like Jorge Rivera (18-7), Alessio Sakara (15-7), and Denis Siver (16-7). An interesting bout found at the bottom of the main card is a three-round tilt between TUF standout “The Polish Experiment” Krzysztof Soszynski (20-10-1) and struggling light heavyweight prospect Goran Reljic (8-2). Both men are in a rough position concerning their future with the UFC. Soszynski is coming off a brutal TKO loss to “The American Psycho” Stephan Bonnar (12-7) and has dropped two of his last three fights. Reljic, who came into the UFC an undefeated hot prospect and established himself with a TKO over Wilson Gouveia (12-8), has now lost two in a row. Dana White and the UFC have very little tolerance for losing streaks and it is safe to assume that the man who loses this bout will find himself on Zuffa’s chopping block at the post-fight presser.
UFC 121 may go down in the books as one of the most pivotal cards in MMA history. The stacked card saw the first Mexican world heavyweight champion in either a major MMA or major boxing organization crowned, it saw the first top level Strikeforce fighter face Octagon-level competition, and it saw three generations of TUF fighters prove that their place in the UFC is deserved. With the dethroning of Brock Lesnar (5-2), the heavyweight rankings, and the UFC heavyweight division, have been thrown into a chaotic mess. The careers of a few of the men who lost at UFC 121 have also now enter a state of discord. To find out who won (whether their hand was raised or not), who lost, and who really damaged their career, MMA Gospel seeks out The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.
UFC 121 promises the fans a night of stellar performances from the best fighters MMA has to offer. Opening bouts featuring “Napao” Gabriel Gonzaga (11-5), “The Hybrid” Brendan Schaub (5-1), “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” Tito Ortiz (15-7-1), “The Hammer” Matt Hamill (8-2), “Nightmare” Diego Sanchez (21-4), and Paulo Thiago (9-2) will provide an entertaining prelude to the card’s two headline fights, a welterweight match between “The Hitman” Martin Kampmann (17-3) and Jake Shields (25-4-1) and the main event showdown between UFC Heavyweight Champion of the World Brock Lesnar (5-1) and undefeated superstar wrestling ace Cain Velasquez (8-0). The MMA world is in an uproar of excitement over the title affair with as many fans and pundits favoring the Mexican hype machine to win as the former WWE superstar. Velasquez is a man who many felt should have faced Brock Lesnar before “The Engineer” Shane Carwin (11-1), who fell to the champ in the second round of their July 3 bout. The undefeated young heavyweight is a world class wrestler with punching power beyond that of nearly any pro-boxer and the cardio to throw and throw hard from bell to bell every round. The champion, Brock Lesnar, was a two-time NCAA All-American Wrestler, a two-time Big Ten Conference Champion and an NCAA Div. I National Champion wrestler with an overall record of 106-5. His double leg takedown has proven to be completely unstoppable so far in the Octagon and his punches have the power to stop anyone in any weight class. This title fight is the kind of match-up that clearly displays why the UFC Heavyweight World Championship is the single most prestigious title in all of combat sports.
For UFC 121, Dana White and the Zuffa team return to the Honda Center in Anaheim, California with a sold-out card driven by the hype engine of a heavyweight super fight between incumbent champ Brock Lesnar (5-1) and the undefeated Mexican buzz saw Cain Velasquez (8-0). In addition to match-ups between “The Nightmare” Diego Sanchez (21-4) and Paulo Thiago (9-2), “Napao” Gabriel Gonzaga and “The Hybrid” Brendan Schaub (5-1), and “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” Tito Ortiz (15-7-1) and “The Hammer” Matt Hamill (8-2), Joe Silva has given the fans an exceptional welterweight offering between the former Strikeforce Middleweight Champion Jake Shields (25-4-1) and kickboxing expert “The Hitman” Martin Kampmann (17-3). Shields and Kampmann are as close to polar opposites stylistically as two men can be. Shields is a fighter who built his name with a 14-fight win streak started in 2005 that was fueled by a fist-full of first round finishes in the Elite XC organization. After the Strikeforce buy-out, Shields found himself faced with a choice between moving up a weight class or being forced to face friend and training partner “Diablo” Nick Diaz (22-8) en route to the welterweight belt. He chose the former and promptly developed a reputation as a boring lay-n-pray wrestler when forced to face larger opponents. “The Hitman” has spent the majority of his career in the UFC where he has only lost twice and only seen the judges three times in 10 fights. He has built a name as a devastating kickboxer despite having won the majority of his UFC bouts via submission. Both men are knocking on the door of a title shot and each stands in the other’s way in a fight that will be a true test of a Strikeforce champion against an upper tier UFC fighter.
The UFC brings fans a prime cut of its well seasoned roster with UFC 121: Lesnar vs. Velasquez tomorrow night. The card is loaded not only with top class fighters but also a slew of superstars. The main event features heavyweight champ Brock Lesnar (5-1) and Cain Velasquez (8-0), and the under card is stacked with men worthy of supporting such a magnificent event as a fight for the most prestigious title in MMA: the UFC Heavyweight Championship of the World. “The Hitman” Martin Kampmann (17-3) faces former Strikeforce middleweight king Jake Shields (25-4-1) in a welterweight tilt, TUF Season 10 stand-out “The Hybrid” Brendan Schaub (5-1) and “Napao” Gabriel Gonzaga (11-5) battle to remain relevant in the hunt for the belt Cain and Brock will dispute, and The Ultimate Fighter Season 3 contestant “The Hammer” Matt Hamill (8-2) will battle his former coach, the ultra-polarizing former UFC middleweight/light heavyweight champ “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” Tito Ortiz (15-7-1). In a situation similar to Gonzaga’s bout with Brendan Schaub, “The Nightmare” Diego Sanchez (21-4) joins Brazilian sensation Paulo Thiago (9-2) in the Octagon. The bout is similar in the fact that Gonzaga and Sanchez both were once title contenders but never had the completed skill set needed to remain at the top or tear a belt from the grasp of the respective champions they would face. Meanwhile, Thiago and Schaub both rode into the UFC on a hype train that somehow managed to get off the tracks. Thiago came in to be a tomato can for “Kos” Josh Koscheck (15-4) and promptly knocked him out, igniting sparks of phenom-hood, only to be driven back into mediocrity by losses to Martin Kampmann and Jon Fitch (22-3).
This Saturday at UFC 121: Lesnar vs. Velasquez, the newly dubbed “Baddest Man on the Planet” UFC Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar (5-1) puts his belt on the line against perhaps his toughest competitor yet – the undefeated heavy hitter Cain Velasquez (8-0). Both men will face new challenges in each other, and both Lesnar and Velasquez will more than likely have to exhaust their skill sets in order to pull off a win. If he beats Velasquez, Lesnar will have two consecutive wins against previously undefeated opponents, the first of which being Shane Carwin (11-1). MMA fans across the world will be watching and wondering if the “Brown Pride”-adorned Velasquez will pull off what Carwin seemingly came oh-so-close to accomplishing at UFC 116 in July – stripping the champion of his belt. Perhaps watching even more closely will be their fellow heavyweight competitors, as the Lesnar vs. Velasquez outcome will have a direct effect on the division match-ups for months to come.