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.
So, my Twitter homeboy and friend of the site, Dan “Dannyboy” Downes fought a tune-up fight outside the UFC this Friday. Regarding his opponent, I’m not gonna give this chump any more press by mentioning his name but he has a name that sounds like a supplement you’d get at GNC. Anyway, before this fight I was curious if this dude had a Twitter account. We all know Dannyboy is the tweet zen master so I was curious if this guy had a Twitter and would mention anything about the fight. Well, he did mention it… he also seemed to have no idea how to use Twitter. Seems he had some sort of weird beef with Jens Pulver and kept calling Jens out -but not by using the @Jens_Pulver that would allow Jens to see it but rather just tweeting and, I guess, hoping that one of his dozen or so followers would pass it on. What a goof!
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.
This past month rounding out the 2010 MMA calendar and transitioning into the New Year has been thrilling. UFC 124: St. Pierre vs. Koscheck II was for all intents and purposes an exciting affair. “Rush” Georges St. Pierre (21-2) put on another picture perfect fight against perennial contender “Kos” Josh Koscheck (15-5) and “Pitbull” Thiago Alves (18-7) showed he could stay relevant at welterweight by testing the iron chin of “Doomsday” John Howard (14-6), Strikeforce: Henderson vs. Babalu 2 was quite literally a knockout, WEC 53: Henderson vs. Pettis was an explosive send-off for the exciting organization, and the main event at UFC 125: Resolution featured lightweight champ “The Answer” Frankie Edgar (13-1-1) and his challenger, NCAA Div. I wrestler “The Bully” Gray Maynard (10-0-1), partaking in a five round war dominated by stand-up that rather surprisingly resulted in a Draw. However a disturbing realization has come to light. It is likely that given the growth of MMA, especially the UFC, this beloved sport one day will begin to emulate the stale monotony of professional boxing. As the UFC and MMA continue to grow into the meganaut of combat sports, mainstream growth’s effect on the sport, its entertainment value, and its fighters will only become progressively more apparent.
“The Polish Hammer” Chris Horodecki (16-3) is the most recent addition to a slew of fighters that have felt the wrath of Zuffa’s chopping block. It was announced Tuesday that the lightweight kickboxer, who partook in four bouts in the WEC over the last year, will in fact not be moving on to the big show with the impending WEC/UFC merger only a few days away. Sure the UFC is fickle about its roster and fighters come and go, but this cut in particular leaves a lot of MMA fans wondering how and why the 23-year-old Canadian could have been dubbed a UFC reject in the first place. Zuffa certainly is establishing its subsidiary the UFC as the mixed martial arts organization with the utmost top notch talent in the world, but many still wonder – was cutting Horodecki warranted?
As 2010 comes to an end and as nothing particularly happened in MMA in the past week ‘cause of that whole Christmas thing going on, I decided to do a little 2010 highlight wrap-up and include some things that I’ve mentioned in previous columns and a few that happened before I started writing this very column that you all love so, so dearly.
I’m not going to go too in depth about UFC 109 which spawned yours truly since the SBoI “birthday” is around six weeks away and I’m sure I’ll want to do a retrospective “Spilled Bag of Fights” for that special event. So, without further ado, 2010: stuff happened in MMA.
There’s no doubt “Showtime” Anthony Pettis (13-1) shocked a lot of people with his win over the now former WEC Lightweight Champion “Smooth” Ben Henderson (11-2) last Thursday night to claim the honors of being the very last ever WEC 155lb. title holder and earn his spot as the first man in line to face the winner of “The Answer” Frankie Edgar (13-1) vs. “The Bully” Gray Maynard (10-0). Pettis came into the WEC 53 main event bout as the underdog, but it sure didn’t appear that way as “Showtime” controlled the pace and consistently landed the more damaging shots through much of the fight. And, in what will surely make MMA highlight reels for years to come, in the final round Pettis delivered an astonishing Matrix style off-the-cage kick that connected hard to the left side of Henderson’s skull and momentarily dropped the champion to the canvas. It is safe to say that his match against “Smooth” showcased Pettis’ best performance to date and proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that he indeed has earned his moniker “Showtime”.
Pettis’ next big task in his only three-year-old professional fighting career is to face either Frankie Edgar or Gray Maynard in hopes of dethroning the current champion or giving the top contender his first loss in order to unify the lightweight belt between the two promotions once they merge in 2011. One of these three men – “Showtime”, “The Answer”, or “The Bully” – will be the undisputed UFC Lightweight Champion. Both of the UFC fighters have unique fighting styles and each pose different threats to Pettis. How will “Showtime” fare against the upper echelon of the talent pool boasted by the UFC? What challenges does he face, and how will he overcome them? Let’s take a closer look at the potential match-ups for Anthony Pettis.
PART ONE: Everything Leading up to…
SO… WEC is no more. I know… I know. Things change and it’s not always easy and it’s not always what you want but sometimes you just have to let it go and just remember the good times because, well, you have no choice. I’ll always remember our last night together, WEC. Even though I knew it was goodbye, I couldn’t wait to see you. Then suddenly, you were there , in my bedroom on my TV as I drank cheap wine and tweeted smart ass comments as if nothing was different and this wasn’t our last night together.
It went by so fast that it was all kind of a blur to be honest. I remember Bart Palaszewski and Kamal Shalorus having a decent scrap and thought it was a close fight. I gave the edge to Bart for more effective striking but I wouldn’t call the W going to Kamal a robbery of the Nam Phan order.
The organization that brought the world “The California Kid” Urijah Faber (24-4), “Junior” Jose Aldo (18-1), Dominick Cruz (15-1), “Angel” Miguel Torres (37-3), “Showtime” Anthony Pettis (13-1), “Smooth” Ben Henderson (11-1), “Cowboy” Donald Cerrone (11-4), and so many more world class fighters said its goodbyes tonight as WEC 53: Henderson vs. Pettis marked the final event before the WEC is absorbed into the Ultimate Fighting Championship. The WEC was known for the action packed, go-for-broke matches that stemmed from a stacked talent pool in the lower weight divisions and WEC 53 continued in that tradition, showing that the WEC would prove to be one of the very best MMA promotions in the world right up to the very end. The UFC’s little cousin announced loudly to the MMA fans that it would not be forgotten as its final event opened with four straight first round stoppages including three KO’s – one of which came via slam. When the main card started with “Danny Boy” Dan Downes (7-1) and “The Mongolian Wolf” Zhang Tie Quan (8-1), the fights only got better.
Renan Barao vs. Chris Cariaso: Barao via Submission (Rear Naked Choke), Round 1, 3:47
Ricardo Lamas vs. Yuri Alcantara: Alcantara via KO, Round 1. 3:26
Danny Castillo vs. Will Kerr: Castillo via KO, Round 1, 1:26
Eddie Wineland vs. Ken Stone: Wineland via KO (Slam), Round 1, 2:11
Brad Pickett vs. Ivan Menjivar: Pickett via Unanimous Decision, Round 3, 5:00
Jamie Varner vs. Shane Roller: Roller via Submission (Rear Naked Choke), Round 1, 3:55
Zhang Tie Quan vs. Daniel Downes: Downes via Unanimous Decision, Round 3, 5:00
Bart Palaszewski vs. Kamal Shalorus: Shalorus via Split Decision, Round 3, 5:00
Chris Horodecki vs. Donald Cerrone: Cerrone via Submission (Triangle Choke), Round 2, 2:43
Dominick Cruz vs. Scott Jorgensen: Dominick Cruz via Unanimous Decision, Round 5, 5:00*
Benson Henderson vs. Anthony Pettis: Pettis via Unanimous Decision, Round 5, 5:00**
*Dominick Cruz retains his belt as the (very last) WEC Bantamweight Champion and earns the honors of being the UFC’s very first 135lb. title holder.
**Anthony Pettis becomes the new WEC Lightweight Champion after what very well could be Fight of the Year, and included an astonishing Matrix-style head kick by Pettis. “Showtime” will face the winner of “The Answer” Frankie Edgar (13-1) and “The Bully” Gray Maynard (10-0) for the unified UFC Lightweight Championship.
The WEC goes out with a bang tonight at the Jobing.com Arena in Glendale, Arizona with its final offering before merging with the UFC next month. WEC 53: Henderson vs. Pettis is sure to be an exciting card as the organization showcases some of the best fighters in its ranks: “Cowboy” Donald Cerrone (11-4) takes on “The Polish Hammer” Chris Horodecki (16-4), WEC Bantamweight Champion Dominick Cruz (15-1) squares off with “Young Guns” Scott Jorgensen (10-2) to not only retain his title but also become the first ever UFC Bantamweight Champion, “Prince of Persia” Kamal Shalorus (6-0-2) faces “Bartimus” Bart Palaszewski (34-14), and “The Mongolian Wolf” Zhang Tie Quan (8-0) meets with “Danny Boy” Dan Downes (6-1). In what is sure to be a crowd pleaser, the main event features “Smooth” Ben Henderson (11-1) making his third lightweight title defense by facing dangerous top contender “Showtime” Anthony Pettis (12-1). After tonight, either Henderson or Pettis will walk away as the very last WEC Lightweight Champion and will take on the winner of the UFC 125 “The Answer” Frankie Edgar (13-1)/”The Bully” Gray Maynard (10-0) match-up for the unified lightweight title.
The WEC has promised to go out with a bang with WEC 53 tomorrow night. The promotion has headlined its finale event with a title fight between “Smooth” Ben Henderson (11-1) and “Showtime” Anthony Pettis (12-1), and has shored up the card with the likes of “Prince of Persia” Kamal Shalorus (6-0-2), “Bartimus” Bart Palaszewski (34-14), “Cowboy” Donald Cerrone (11-4), “The Polish Hammer” Chris Horodecki (16-2), “The Mongolian Wolf” Zhang Tie Quan (8-0), and “Danny Boy” Dan Downes (6-1). The co-main event of the evening pits WEC Bantamweight Champion Dominick Cruz (15-1) against fan favorite “Young Guns” Scott Jorgensen (10-2) in a bout that won’t be just for the WEC title, but also the for newly minted UFC bantamweight belt. Cruz has proven to be unstoppable at 135 with his speed, strikes from all angles, and endless gas tank, but will the grit and power of Jorgensen be enough to dethrone the champion?
The Arizona desert comes to life this Thursday as the WEC closes its final chapter at the Jobing.com Arena in Glendale. The promotion’s finale card, WEC 53: Henderson vs. Pettis, unfolds as an electric night filled with high octane match-ups that the UFC’s sister company has become well known for, including a pair of title fights – one of which will determine the very first UFC Bantamweight Champion after the companies merge next month. The main event sees “Smooth” Ben Henderson (11-1) defend his lightweight title belt against challenger “Showtime” Anthony Pettis (12-1) while Dominick Cruz (15-1) faces “Young Guns” Scott Jorgensen (10-2) in the co-main event to not only go down in history as the very last WEC Bantamweight Champion, but also as the UFC’s first. The main card also features bouts between “Bartimus” Bart Palaszewski (34-13) and “Prince of Persia”Kamal Shalorus (6-0-2) as well as “The Mongolian Wolf” Zhang Tie Quan (8-0) and “Danny Boy” Dan Downes (6-1). One of WEC 53′s offerings in particular has been hanging on the lips of MMA fans: the return of lightweight fan favorite “Cowboy” Donald Cerrone (11-4) in taking on “The Polish Hammer” Chris Horodecki (16-2). Let’s have a closer look.
So, it started with Spilled Bag of Ice (yours truly) and then there was Spilled Bag of Fights, my weekly MMA Wrap-up column, and now: Spilled Bag of Chat! This is a new feature where I’ll be interviewing fighters and MMA personalities as I continue my attempt to take over the world – Or as it will soon be renamed: The Spilled Bag of Earth.
As a new feature on MMAGospel.com, we are asking fighters and MMA personalities to answer a specific question or set of questions, and then presenting their gut-busting responses to our readers. The first subject? Nuts. Or more specifically, oh-so-painful (but hilarious) groin shots.
In this premiere installment, the premise is that our guest contributors are commentating on a fight and the following fighters have just been tagged with an unfortunate kick or knee to the groin that provides ample opportunity to make a snarky comment at the expense of a man’s poor junk. Here’s how they would describe the following fighters being on the receiving end of crotch carnage…