UFC 149 has been one of the most injury-riddled cards in Zuffa history. The event’s marquee bout was originally scheduled between opposing The Ultimate Fighter: Live coaches “The California Kid” Urijah Faber (26-5) and UFC 135lbs. champion “The Dominator” Dominick Cruz (19-1) to settle the score both from the show and their two previous meetings, where each competitor took one victory apiece. A knee injury sustained during TUF put Cruz and the grudge match on the back burner, and now Faber is slated to face Nova Uniao fighter Renan Barao (30-1) for the newly minted Interim UFC Bantamweight Championship. The co-main event featuring top featherweight contender “New Breed” Erik Koch (13-1) challenging “Scarface” Jose Aldo (21-1) for the 145lbs. division title was postponed due to the champion being injured, and was replaced by the UFC debut of “Lightning” Hector Lombard (31-2) as he takes on “The Barbarian” Tim Boetsch (15-4). Despite approximately another dozen changes to the line-up, the UFC has still managed to put together a promising event for MMA fans across the globe. French kickboxer Cheick Kongo (27-7) and “The Savage” Shawn Jordan (13-3) will slug it out in a heavyweight battle, preceded by “Bad Boy” Brian Ebersole (50-14) colliding with James Head (8-2) in a welterweight tilt. Opening slot honors go to “The Menace” Chris Clements (11-4) as he squares off against “Deep Waters” Matthew Riddle (6-3). But before shelling out the big bucks to watch the main card on Pay-Per-View, be sure to catch the preliminary fight excitement on FX and Facebook, which features some of MMA’s top up-and-comers, perhaps most notably “Big Deal” Ryan Jimmo (16-1).
The UFC returns to the bayou when UFC Fight Night 25 takes place once again in New Orleans, Louisiana this Saturday night. Former Strikeforce Middleweight Champion and top contender Jake Shields (26-5-1) plans to get back into his winning ways when he meets fellow wrestling powerhouse “Juggernaut” Jake Ellenberger (24-5). “New Breed” Erik Koch (12-1) is charged with the task of welcoming back fellow featherweight Jonathan Brookins (14-1) in a promising fast-paced battle. In the co-main event, fan favorite TUF 11 winner “Crusher” Court McGee (11-1) takes on one of the silent killers of the middleweight division, “The Ox” Dongi Yong (5-1). Among all the action though, UFC veteran “The Athlete” Jason MacDonald (23-14) brings his crafty ground game to the cage when striking extraordinaire “The Talent” Alan Belcher (16-6) returns to face him after a lengthy lay-off. Belcher has been absent from combat for some time but his stand-up game is the weapon of choice he can always rely on. MacDonald might be creeping into the elder years in respect to MMA competition but with a tight submission game, Father Time might have to take a backseat for now as athleticism tries to shut down talent.
Over his seven-year professional career, “The Talent” Alan Belcher (16-6) has steadily climbed the ranks of MMA’s middleweight division. The Mississippi native initially burst on to the scene in 2004 at just 20 years old, making a name for himself in several local circuits and even competing in Korean promotion X-Impact World Championships. In 2006 Belcher signed with the UFC, where he has since amassed a 7-4 record within the premier organization. “The Talent” is well known for his slick submissions, as evident by his pair of “Submission of the Night” awards, but is perhaps even more renowned for his purist Muay Thai style and do-or-die approach to fighting. He has gone four for five since September 2008, taking out “Short Fuse” Ed Herman (17-8), Denis Kang (35-13-1), Wilson Gouveia (12-8), and “The Predator” Patrick Cote (15-7) in the process and earning four consecutive performance-based fight bonuses. Belcher was slated to take on former top contender Demian Maia (13-3) at UFC Fight Night 22 as the marquis fight, but just six weeks before the event, the unthinkable happened - “The Talent” was forced to withdraw from the bout after sustaining a detached retina and undergoing emergency eye surgery. For many, such an injury would have been career-ending. But for Belcher, he’s healed up and ready to stake his claim in the UFC’s middleweight division once again. Just a few days shy of his long awaited return at UFC Fight Night 25 this Saturday, Belcher spoke with MMA Gospel staff writer Matt Homeyer about his injury, his road to recovery, and his determination to move forward.
Three months into 2011 and the UFC is still bringing the fans another stacked card of fights with UFC 128: Shogun vs. Jones. PRIDE veteran “Cro Cop” Mirko Filipovic (27-9-2) challenges former NFL player and The Ultimate Fighter Season 10 finalist “The Hybrid” Brendan Schaub (6-1). “The Mongoose” Jim Miller (19-2) greets former WEC lightweight “The Prince of Persia” Kamal Shalorus (7-0-2) with the intentions of showing that he should be granted the next shot at the lightweight title. WEC bantamweights and crowd favorites collide when “The California Kid” Urijah Faber (24-4) and Eddie Wineland (17-6-1) meet for the first time inside the UFC Octagon. And in the main event, challenger “Bones” Jon Jones (12-1) steps in on month’s notice in attempt to seize the UFC light heavyweight crown from Pride FC veteran “Shogun” Mauricio Rua (19-4). In an originally unplanned match-up, New Jersey’s own Dan Miller (13-4) answers the call to replace “Sexyama” Yoshihiro Akiyama (14-4) on short notice when he tests himself against top ten middleweight “The Great” Nate Marquardt (30-10-2). With Marquardt still pushing for a title shot, Miller seeks to derail “The Great” one and pull off one of the largest upsets in his career.
Maximum Fighting Championship (MFC) returns to River Cree Resort and Casino in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada on February 25 with MFC 28: Supremacy live on HDNet. The card boasts a huge main event with “Big Deal” Ryan Jimmo (10-1) taking on “D-Bomb” Dwayne Lewis (12-5) for the vacant MFC Light Heavyweight title in a rematch of their MFC: Unplugged 3 bout in 2007. In that first meeting the two men battled for the entire duration of the fight but it was Jimmo who ultimately got the unanimous nod from the judges. This time, the stakes are even higher, as Jimmo and Lewis will be fighting for MFC gold.