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…
UFC 136 burst into Houston, Texas with all the fan fare of a UFC Fan Expo and all the hype of the rematches between “The Answer” Frankie Edgar (14-1-1) and “The Bully” Gray Maynard (10-1-1), who fought to a hotly contested draw at UFC 125, and “Bad Boy” Leonard Garcia (15-8-1) and Nam Phan (19-10), who first met in one of the worst judging decisions in MMA history. The card was stacked to the ceiling with a co-main event title bout between “Ken-Flo” Kenny Florian (14-6) and “Junior” Jose Aldo (19-2), a middleweight contest between top contenders Chael Sonnen (25-11-1) and “All-American” Brian Stann (11-4), and a lightweight tilt between ailing submission ace “J-Lau” Joe Lauzon (21-6) and red hot striker “The Young Assassin” Melvin Guillard (27-9-2). While the fans certainly were not disappointed and the card was controversy free, something rare indeed in this era of mixed martial arts. There were more than a few fighters on the card who suffered bitter defeat at UFC 136, and to explore this, MMA Gospel has The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.
The Toyota Center in Houston, Texas gets its second serving of UFC action when UFC 136: Edgar vs. Maynard III storms in this Saturday night. Nam Phan (18-10) takes on “Bad Boy” Leonard Garcia (15-7-1) again in order to avenge his controversial loss in 2010. ”J-Lau” Joe Lauzon (20-6) and “The Young Assassin” Melvin Guillard (27-8-2) hope to collect another bonus check when they battle in a lightweight showdown. “All-American” Brian Stann (11-3) welcomes Chael Sonnen (24-11-1) back to the cage in what could be considered the most patriotic middleweight fight known to man, with Stann playing the part of decorated war hero and Sonnen the part of staunch Republican and aspiring politician. ”Ken-Flo” Kenny Florian (14-5) puts another weight class under his belt as he drops down to 145lbs. to challenge “Junior” Jose Aldo (18-1) for his featherweight title in the co-main event. UFC 136 marks the third fight between current lightweight champion “The Answer” Frankie Edgar (13-1-1) and a challenger he knows too well, “The Bully” Gray Maynard (10-0-1). UFC 125 saw both men go tooth and nail trying to take the belt home and while Edgar was successful, it was only because the judges saw the match as a Draw. With the history between these two made in the Octagon, no fan should count any man out when the cage door seal shut behind them.
Mike Thomas Brown (21-8), also known as “MTB”, is the former WEC Featherweight Champion. He is the man who soundly defeated former featherweight champ and UFC bantamweight title contender ”The California Kid” Urijah Faber (25-5) not once but twice, steamrolled and bloodied “Bad Boy” Leonard Garcia (15-7), and was on top of the world at 145lbs. and looked to be staying there for a long time. However, his glory was short lived after he crashed back down to Earth following his defeat at the hands of current champion “Junior” Jose Aldo (18-1). Since losing his WEC belt, Brown has gone 3-3 in his last six bouts and just recently returned to the winning side of the fighting game after earning a much needed and hard fought decision over Nam Phan (18-10). Now with his legs back under him, Brown is looking to take on the rest of the UFC featherweight division but in a wise and well planned out onslaught. However, many fans still don’t understand what was causing the feared American Top Team stand-out to seem human. The issue, in Brown’s words, was a case of “bad luck and tough luck”.
So, here it is. Monday. I sit down to write a “Spilled Bag of Fights”. Black coffee, Black Sabbath and my pup by my side. Deep breath. Man, what a roller coaster of a weekend for MMA… for me at least.
First off, I’d be remiss if I didn’t pay condolences to coach Shawn Tompkins. I didn’t know him personally but he’s obviously had a great impact on his students and the sport and his death comes way too young. Sad for his friends, family, and MMA.
Let’s start with Friday when I was unexpectedly given a ticket to Strikeforce Challengers: Gurgel vs. Duarte. When I showed up I was surprised to be sitting next to MMA Valor’s own Dylan Horner. I also went to UFC 125: Edgar vs. Maynard with him. For some reason whenever I sit next to Dylan there’s a drunken moron yelling really dumb shit. Last time it was the guy who was yelling “Flip ‘em over!”, “Don’t take that bullshit!” and insisting that Asians can fly and that Clay Guida looks like Dog the Bounty Hunter. This time it was a guy who looked like John Denver with a mustache. He looked like he stepped out of his time machine from 1978 and sat down in front of us. Some of his gems included: “Kick ‘em in the balls!”, “You hit like a girl!” and as soon as the fight went to the ground, “C’mon ref, Stand ‘em up!” and “Kick ‘em in the head!”. Clearly, this gentleman that people in our section dubbed “Shaggy” had a less-than-educated understanding of the rules of mixed martial arts.
The Fourth of July weekend gets lit up early when fireworks are presented in the form of MMA action as UFC 132: Cruz vs. Faber takes place in the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada on Saturday night. German kickboxer Dennis Siver (18-7) hopes to keep his own mean streak alive when he meets fellow lightweight prospect “Handsome” Matt Wiman (13-5). “Darth” Ryan Bader (12-1) hopes to get back to his winning ways but “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” Tito Ortiz (15-8-1) does not intend on being that stepping stone on his way back to the top. In what could be a true battle to remember, “The Crippler” Chris Leben (21-8) is granted his request from UFC 116 when he meets beloved fellow brawler “The Axe Murderer” Wanderlei Silva (34-10-1). The bantamweights make themselves known when “The Dominator” Dominick Cruz (16-1) puts his belt on the line against former WEC Featherweight Champion “The California Kid” Urijah Faber (25-4). In the middle of all the action though, “The Natural Born Killer” Carlos Condit (26-5) and “Stun Gun” Dong Hyun Kim prepare to go tooth-and-nail in a welterweight battle where a heavy shift in title contention can happen for the victor. Condit has tasted the gold before in his WEC days and would like to do so again by adding Kim to his list of victims. The South Korean Kim though has torn through the welterweight ranks with his unforgiving Judo. Now standing as two valid contenders to “Rush” Georges St. Pierre’s (22-2) belt, only one of them can advance further to eventually challenge for the gold.
UFC 131: Dos Santos vs. Carwin
Michihiro Omigawa vs. Darren Elkins really, what can you say? Not only did the judges rob Omigawa with a Unanimous Decision nod for Elkins. One of these crackheads scored it 30-27. That’s like scoring the first round of Edgar/Maynard II 10-9 for Frankie Edgar. How do people that fuck up that bad still have jobs?
The third UFC event in as many weeks returns to Vancouver, British Columbia tomorrow night to rock Canadian fans a la UFC 131: Dos Santos vs. Carwin. “Cowboy” Donald Cerrone (13-4) hopes to extend his three-fight win streak against UFC newcomer Vagner Rocha (5-1). In a middleweight battle, “The Filipino Wrecking Machine” Mark Munoz and Demian Maia (13-2) will test one another’s limit where a win can launch one up into the 185lbs. title picture. Wrestling powerhouse “Pee Wee” Dave Herman (18-2) and Jiu-Jitsu black belt Jon Olav Einemo (6-1) make their debuts within the heavyweight division. But before the title elimination bout between “Cigano” Junior Dos Santos (12-1) and Shane Carwin (11-1) closes out the night, a featherweight match is set when Muay Thai master “The Gun” Diego Nunes (15-3) prepares to rudely welcome former lightweight contender “Ken-Flo” Kenny Florian (13-5) down to the 145lbs. bracket. Although Florian tasted defeat in his last lightweight showing, a win over Nunes would promise an instant title shot at WEC transplant and reigning champ “Junior” Jose Aldo (18-1). Florian’s last hopes to make a convincing drive all comes at this fight but the controlled chaos of Nunes’ stand-up is going to do whatever it takes to make sure the engine crashes and burns.
UFC 130: Rampage vs. Hamill is now in the books this Memorial Day weekend after another night of great fights. A U.S. Marine and a former Sengoku champion met in a middleweight battle. In a welterweight showcase, an up-and-coming prospect faced a former title challenger with the hopes of starting his own run for the 170-pound title. Two of the UFC’s biggest heavyweights entered the cage where the potential for either to come tumbling down was nearly guaranteed. In the co-main event, two heavyweight contenders clashed trying to claw their way to the top of their weight division’s elite pack. The headlining bout saw a promising fighter take on a beloved-yet-feared former champion as the 205lb-ers closed out the event. After a night of action, here is a recap of what went down. While the victors goes the spoils, here listed are also a few fighters that may be coming up soon to take their place.
This Memorial Day weekend the UFC returns to the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada for its latest effort with UFC 130: Rampage vs. Hamill. What was originally intended as the card’s main event, the highly anticipated rubber match between UFC Lightweight Champion “The Answer” Frankie Edgar (13-1-1) and wrestling powerhouse “The Bully” Gray Maynard (10-0-1) was put on hold when both fighters sustained injuries at the beginning of May. Taking its place as the main attraction is former 205lbs. champ “Rampage” Quinton Jackson (29-8) teeing off against the hard hitting wrestler “The Hammer” Matt Hamill (9-2). Supporting the light heavyweight duel is a match in the heavyweight division pitting submission specialist Frank Mir (14-5) against the big-bellied, wise cracking former IFL Heavyweight Champion “Big Country” Roy Neslon (15-5). “Hapa” Travis Browne (7-0) is looking to knock off and knock out the tallest man on the UFC roster in “Skyscraper” Stefan Struve (18-4), but Struve has plans of his own to add Browne to his growing list of fallen opponents. Welterweight rising star “The Horror” Rick Story (10-2) will be put to the test when he takes on a top contender in wrecking machine ”The Pitbull” Thiago Alves (17-7). One bout in particular that promises fireworks is a middleweight match-up between former WEC 205lbs. champ “All-American” Brian Stann (10-3) and former Sengoku and Strikeforce Middleweight Champion “Sandman” Jorge Santiago (22-8). Stann will bring the power and the iron drive that has made him a threat to all those who have stepped before him in the cage while the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Santiago will bring his well-rounded skill set to the Octagon in hopes of derailing the seemingly unstoppable “All-American” contender. This will likely be a battle of attrition that has all the makings of “Fight of the Night”.
Once again appearing in its home stomping grounds of Las Vegas, Nevada, the Ultimate Fighting Championship is set to deliver another night of fights from its ranks of the most elite fighters in the world. Though injuries to both lightweight kingpin “The Answer” Frankie Edgar (13-1-1) and “The Bully” Gray Maynard (10-0-1) have robbed the card of the long awaited sixth round of their UFC 125 draw, the world’s premier MMA organization still has plenty to offer at UFC 130. In the main event, 205lb-ers “The Hammer” Matt Hamill (9-2) and “Rampage” Quinton Jackson (29-8) battle to put their names on the list of challengers for the UFC light heavyweight crown. Supporting the marquise bout are offerings from “Big Country” Roy Nelson (15-5), Frank Mir (14-5), “The Skyscraper” Stefan Struve (18-4), Travis Browne (7-0-1), Brian Stann (10-3), and Jorge Santiago (22-8). Also bumped up to main card status following the loss of the lightweight title bout is a match between a fast rising welterweight prospect in “The Horror” Rick Story (10-2) and the hard hitting Brazilian wrecking machine “Pitbull” Thiago Alves (17-7). The match is Story’s shot at the big time, and he has worked hard to earn it with a 5-1 record on the heels of a five-fight winning streak. For “Pitbull” however, it’s a do or die moment as he sits 1-2 in his last three fights.
In front of a sold out crowd of 55,000, ten men plan to make the Octagon their stomping ground as UFC 129: St. Pierre vs. Shields takes place in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. In the main event, welterweight champion “Rush” Georges St. Pierre (21-2) puts his title on the line against former Strikeforce Middleweight Champion Jake Shields (26-4-1) who is currently on a six-year, 15-fight winning streak. “The Natural” Randy Couture (19-10) hopes to end his seasoned career with a superb performance when he challenges former light heavyweight champ “The Dragon” Lyoto Machida (16-2). In another 205lbs. affair, goliaths “The Janitor” Vladimir Matyushenko (25-5) and “The Hitman” Jason Brilz (18-3-1) step into the cage, and former WEC 155lbs. king “Smooth” Ben Henderson (11-2) makes his UFC debut against Jiu-Jitsu stand-out Mark Bocek (9-3). In the co-main event, the hometown favorite “The Machine” Mark Hominick (19-7) welcomes “Junior” José Aldo (17-1) with every intention of taking his newly acquired UFC featherweight title. While both Hominick and Aldo have the ability to bring fights to a screeching halt, putting a championship up for grabs guarantees that both men will go tooth-and-nail to ensure that title goes home with them.
Yesterday afternoon, MMA fans across the globe were given an answer to the question they had been lamenting since the news broke of Thiago Silva’s (16-2) questionable UFC 125 drug screening: Yes, he – for lack of a better word – cheated.
Silva’s co-main event bout against “The Truth” Brandon Vera (11-6) on New Year’s Day showed one of the most brutal performances by the Brazilian to date, as he pummeled the Muay Thai practitioner for three full rounds, even taking the time to play a mini-drum solo on the back of Vera in the third stanza, before taking the very unanimous decision. Onlookers were both impressed and flabbergasted by the seemingly inhuman Silva – especially considering he also was battling nearly a year’s worth of ring rust after rehabilitating a back injury that required surgery. As a result of the beating he took, “The Truth” was cut from the UFC.
The Key Arena of Seattle, Washington got its dose of mixed martial arts action when the UFC came roaring through with last night’s UFC Fight Night 24: Nogueira vs. Davis. With a heavy prelim card, the four main card bouts had tough acts to follow. The fans saw a “Fight of the Year” rematch with an added twist when former WEC acquisitions stepped in the cage. Although the fight was in trouble with fighters dropping out due to injury, two Ultimate Fighter alumni showed they are beyond the reality television stigma in a thrilling war. The welterweight division got shaken up when two fighters seeking redemption over their past performances met with the hopes of getting back onto the road for a title shot. In the main event, the world saw a promising, young fighter take on a dangerous veteran of the game. While much can be said about the undercard, here’s a quick recap over the main card shown on Spike TV along with possible match-ups those victorious might see themselves in later in 2011.
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.