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Ufc 123 Penn Stops Hughes Rampage Out Points Machida

It only took B.J. Penn 21 seconds to finish his business with Matt Hughes.

The two rivals locked horns Saturday in the co-main event of UFC 123, fighting for a third time in front of a raucous crowd at The Palace of Auburn Hills in Auburn Hills, Mich.

In the pair’s first meeting, heavy underdog Penn (Pictured) shocked the world by choking out the dominant champion in the opening round at UFC 46 in 2004. The rematch nearly three years later belonged to Hughes, who outlasted Penn’s early offense to finish the fight in the third period by TKO. Tonight, the rubber match was over before it started, as the Hawaiian unleashed a dynamite counter right hand, flooring Hughes before following up with punches from top position to seal the deal.

At the post-fight press conference, the jiu-jitsu black belt was humble in victory.

“I felt fired up as soon as I got the phone call to fight Matt. Me and Matt put on great fights, and I’m just happy it went that way [tonight],” said Penn. “Matt Hughes is my idol, and he’ll always be my idol.”

When asked to describe how he set up the lighting-quick right hand that spelled the beginning of the end for his opponent, the former two-division UFC champion was frank in his reply.

“I don’t think that I really even set it up. I was just in there to fight. I wanted him to hit me, and I wanted to hit him,” he said. “I just wanted to go out there and fight like a kid.”

It’s been nearly seven years since Penn first clashed with Hughes. Over the course of that time, says Penn, a lot has changed for both men.

“I think we both evolved very much over the years,” he said. “When a fight goes the way it did tonight, it’s just one of those things. Who knows how it would have played out if it had gone longer. I’m sure Matt was in great shape.”

After the fight, Hughes was clearly upset by the outcome and the manner in which he was defeated. UFC president Dana White chimed in regarding Hughes’ commitment to the bout at the post-fight presser.

“I know Matt Hughes trained hard for this fight and he was motivated. It’s very rare for him to go train somewhere away from his family, and he trained for this fight in Utah with Jeremy Horn,” said White. “He took this fight very seriously. This is a big win for B.J.”

Regarding Hughes’ future, White would not comment other than to remind the press in attendance how important the hall of famer has been in developing White’s brand.

“Listen, there are guys I’ve talked about for years who helped build this company, and Matt is one of those guys,” said White. “We’ll talk and we’ll figure it out.”

Following the jaw-dropping knockout, Penn exited the cage almost immediately and began heading back toward the locker room, sparking the memory of his 11-second knockout over Caol Uno at UFC 34 in 2001.

“For the last 10 years, I was trying to recreate the Caol Uno fight,” said Penn. “But [after I ran out of the cage], I thought, ‘I can’t be disrespectful to Matt. I gotta go back in there and give Matt the honors.’”

In regards to the remainder of his UFC career, the Hawaiian is leaving the big decisions up to the powers that be.

“I want to get back in as soon as possible. I’m 31 and want to fight a lot more until I’m 35 and then maybe call it quits,” said Penn. “For the first time in my career, I’m going to let Dana make that call. Whatever Dana says, we’ll go with that.”

White looked on with approval, saying “it only took 10 years.”

 

 

Quinton “Rampage” Jackson had a serious problem before his fight.

“Man, I was horse as hell. I couldn’t even get my howl out the way I wanted to. It was rough.”

Jackson, who defeated Lyoto Machida in the main event of UFC 123 at The Palace of Auburn Hills in suburban Detroit, Mich., on Saturday night, caught an illness from his son prior to the bout. At the post-fight news conference, Jackson claimed he was thankful just to have fought that night.

“I’m just happy I made it to the fight. The fight was almost canceled a couple of days ago. I caught a fever from my son, and I was throwing up, and then I had to cut the weight,” said Jackson. “But I didn’t want to let my fans down. We don’t always see eye-to-eye, but [UFC president Dana White] has always been there for me. I just couldn’t tell Dana that I was pulling out of this fight. He probably would have cussed me the f–k out.”

The former light heavyweight champion barely got by Machida, earning a razor-thin split decision. In fact, after the fight Jackson even raised his opponent’s hand, figuratively admitting defeat.

“To be honest, me and Rampage are getting along again, but he pissed me off tonight. I scored that fight for Rampage. He was acting like he lost and was slumping down,” said White. “Machida put on that burst and then took him down, but you don’t win a fight by landing four of five punches. Rampage was the aggressor the whole time.”

Jackson, who unified the UFC and Pride 205-pound titles in 2007, entered the arena backed by a soundtrack that hardcore fans know well. As the iconic drums and strings of the Pride Fighting Championships theme poured in over the loudspeaker, Jackson stalked toward the cage with an intense look in his eyes.

“I just recently went to Japan on the ‘The A-Team‘ tour. One of the people interviewing me remembered me from Pride. Back in Pride I used to fight a different style, and he asked me why I didn’t fight like that anymore,” said Jackson. “When I first came to the UFC, I felt like an outsider. In Pride, everybody knew me and loved me. Honestly, I make more money now than I did in Pride. I think I kind of got greedy, so I wanted to come out with that old spirit. I almost slammed Machida, so I think it kind of worked.”

Once both men were in the cage, it was a game of cat and mouse. Machida, ever circling, generally avoided the powerful Tennessean, all the while landing kicks to Jackson’s legs and ribcage as “Rampage” moved forward unfazed. In round two, Jackson was even more aggressive and connected with a hard uppercut to Machida’s jaw. In the final frame, the Brazilian found a home for a hard counter-straight, followed by an ambush of punches before finally ending the sequence with a takedown. After talking a considerable amount of trash regarding his opponent’s fighting style, Jackson readily acknowledged Machida’s skill following the contest.

“I just had a one track mind trying to knock him out. It was really tough to stay on my game plan. I was focusing on cutting off the cage and staying close to him, but he’s really elusive and very tricky,” said Jackson. “It’s different fighting Machida than [it is to watch him fight]. I remember trying to punch him, and he was already over on my other side. I got more respect for his style, because I wish I could move a little better like that. I wouldn’t want to watch it, but I have more respect for it.”

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Rankings November 2010


Cain Velasquez
Heavyweight

1. Cain Velasquez (9-0)
During his first week at the American Kickboxing Academy, trainers thought Velasquez was a future UFC heavyweight champion. On Oct. 21 in Anaheim, Calif., he made that a reality, blowing away Brock Lesnar in the first round to claim the UFC heavyweight crown. While he can celebrate for now, Velasquez will have to return early next year to defend his throne against fellow young heavyweight Junior dos Santos.

2. Brock Lesnar (5-2)
Following his lopsided loss to Cain Velasquez in October, the next step for Lesnar remains unclear. UFC President Dana White started laying the groundwork for a rubber match with rival Frank Mir in the media, but fans and pundits alike were quick to skewer the bout, forcing White to publicly rethink the matchup. For now, Lesnar remains without a dance partner.

3. Fabricio Werdum (14-4-1)
On Aug. 18, Werdum underwent surgery and had 27 loose bone fragments removed from his left elbow. Now physically cleared to resume his training, the author of this year’s most significant upset now targets a return to action in the first quarter of 2011. He hopes to secure a fight outside of Strikeforce before meeting either Alistair Overeem or Fedor Emelianenko in a rematch.

4. Fedor Emelianenko (31-2, 1 NC)
The chicanery of another Emelianenko pre-fight has begun. Emelianenko’s promoters at M-1 have openly announced their interest in fighting Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem, on the condition that the Dutchman submits to Olympic-style drug testing. Naturally, little headway has been made surrounding Emelianenko’s next bout.

5. Junior dos Santos (12-1)
Dos Santos’ next step is now clear. Courtesy of Cain Velasquez’s thrashing of Brock Lesnar at UFC 121 on Oct. 23, “Cigano” will challenge Velasquez for the UFC heavyweight crown in early 2011 in a great pairing of thrilling young heavyweights.

6. Shane Carwin (12-1)
Carwin was schedueled to face “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 10 winner Roy Nelson atUFC 125 on Jan. 1. However, due to ongoing back problems, he opted for surgery. After a successful procedure, the Colorado native looks to get back into training sometime in early 2011.

7. Frank Mir (14-5)
At UFC 119, Mir and Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic underwhelmed the Indianapolis crowd for 14 minutes with a dreadful exhibition of aimless clinching. Finally, with just 58 ticks left in the fight, Mir landed a colossal knee that crushed the Croat, notching one of the least impressive highlight-reel KOs in recent memory.

8. Alistair Overeem (33-11, 1 NC)
The Strikeforce heavyweight champion’s efforts continue to come in kickboxing rather than MMA. “The Demolition Man” earned an easy first-round KO over Aussie Ben Edwards on Oct. 2 in Seoul, South Korea, to advance to December’s K-1 World Grand Prix finale in Yokohama, Japan. As for an MMA return, it remains anyone’s guess for now.

9. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (32-6-1, 1 NC)
Back in December 2008, Nogueira was taken out by Frank Mir in lopsided fashion. He was scheduled for a chance at redemption against Mir at UFC 119 on Sept. 25, until a hip injury struck, forcing “Minotauro” from the fight and onto the surgeon’s table.

10. Antonio Silva (14-2)
Silva’s hope was that he would get to face Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem. With “The Demolition Man” dealing with his K-1 duties in December, “Pezao” will instead meet the Dutchman’s older brother, Valentijn Overeem, on Dec. 4 in St. Louis.

Other contenders: Josh BarnettCole KonradRoy NelsonBen RothwellBrendan Schaub.


Mauricio “Shogun” Rua

Light Heavyweight

1. Mauricio Rua (19-4)
“Shogun” underwent another knee surgery, stemming from an injury suffered in his May 8 title capture against Lyoto Machida. Recovery and rehab have postponed his bout with former champion Rashad Evans. Their encounter now looks as if it might be greenlit for March, as Rua and Evans could headline the proposed UFC 128 bill in the United Arab Emirates.

2. Lyoto Machida (16-1)
Despite his father, Yoshizo, announcing he would like to see his son retire, Machida will do just the opposite. Coming off his brutal knockout loss to Mauricio “Shogun” Rua in May, Machida will get right back into the 205-pound fray later this year. He will face another former UFC champion, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, in the main event of UFC 123 on Nov. 20.

3. Rashad Evans (15-1-1)
The wait continues for the toe-tapping Evans, who will remain on the sidelines until Mauricio “Shogun” Rua fully rehabilitates his knee and allows the two stars to contest the UFC light heavyweight crown. It now appears they will collide in March, possibly at the rumored UFC 128 event in the United Arab Emirates.

4. Quinton Jackson (30-8)
Coming off a tough decision loss to rival Rashad Evans in May, Jackson will stay right in the hottest fires at 205 pounds. In the main event of UFC 123 on Nov. 20, Jackson will take on fellow former UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida in a must-win bout for “Rampage.”

5. Forrest Griffin (17-6)
With his second book penned and injuries healed, Griffin is due for his return to the Octagon. He will take on former middleweight champion Rich Franklin at UFC 126 on Feb. 5 in what could be a highly entertaining affair at 205 pounds.

6. Ryan Bader (12-0)
It was not a thrilling victory, but at UFC 119 on Sept. 25, “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 8 winner earned a unanimous decision over well-established veteran Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, the twin of his reality series coach. The win sets up Bader for a Feb. 5 showdown with fellow fast-riser Jon Jones at UFC 126.

7. Jon Jones (11-1)
The 23-year-old Jones seems destined for greatness. The next step in the evolution for “Bones” will be a major prospect-versus-prospect showdown come Super Bowl weekend. Jones expects to meet fellow blue chipper Ryan Bader at UFC 126 on Feb. 5.

8. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (19-4)
Nogueira made a sterling UFC debut back in November 2009 but has been lackluster in two subsequent bouts against Jason Brilz and Ryan Bader. Next up for “Minotoro” will be former UFC light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz in March, possibly at UFC 128 in the United Arab Emirates.

9. Rafael Cavalcante (10-2)
Cavalcante will defend his Strikeforce light heavyweight title for the first time in early 2011. He will get a look at his next contender on Dec. 4, when Dan Henderson andRenato Sobral square off in a de facto title eliminator. Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker has indicated the winner would be the first title challenger for “Feijao.”

10. Muhammed Lawal (7-1)
“King Mo” had his crown taken by Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante on Aug. 21 in Houston. A slow start and an overreliance on his stand-up skills saw Lawal play right into Cavalcante’s game. It got him stopped just 74 seconds into the third round, as he suffered the first loss of his MMA career.

Other contenders: Rich FranklinMatt HamillVladimir MatyushenkoGegard Mousasi,Thiago Silva.

Middleweight

1. Anderson Silva (27-4)
At UFC 126 on Feb. 5, Silva will square off with fellow Brazilian Vitor Belfort. However, should he get past his countryman, the MMA world already knows the identity of his next foe. Yushin Okami, the last man to beat Silva, albeit by disqualification, waits in the wings for the Silva-Belfort winner. If Silva takes out “The Phenom,” he will get the chance to put five years of controversy to rest in a rematch with “Thunder.”

2. Chael Sonnen (24-11-1)
The bizarre tale of Sonnen continues. He failed his post-UFC 117 urinalysis test after it revealed elevated testosterone levels and now faces a one-year suspension if his appeal is denied. Though Sonnen has formally appealed, he has yet to speak on the issue, and a potential rematch with Anderson Silva is now off the table.

3. Yushin Okami (26-5)
In the past, Okami had always let the moment get away from him in big fights. Such was the case in his clashes with Jake Shields and Rich Franklin. However, at UFC 122 in Oberhausen, Germany, “Thunder” capitalized on his opportunity. A more aggressive Okami outboxed and outwrestled the favored Nate Marquardt to earn a unanimous decision, as well as a crack at the winner of the UFC 126 bout between middleweight champion Anderson Silva and Vitor Belfort.

4. Nate Marquardt (30-10-2)
Marquardt’s three-year journey to earn another shot at middleweight ruler Anderson Silva hit another speed bump in Oberhausen, Germany. For the better part of 15 minutes, Marquardt was outboxed and outwrestled by a surprisingly aggressive Yushin Okami, who took the unanimous nod and with it a UFC middleweight title shot. The defeat dropped Marquardt back into the rest of the population at 185 pounds.

5. Demian Maia (13-2)
At UFC 118, Maia dominated a tough Mario Miranda for 15 minutes and returned to the win column after his April debacle against middleweight champion Anderson Silva. The grappling ace will be back in the cage on Dec. 4, when he meets “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 3 winner Kendall Grove at “The Ultimate Fighter 12” Finale.

6. Vitor Belfort (19-8)
After injuries canceled two scheduled title clashes with Anderson Silva in 2010, it seemed Belfort would have to go through the rugged Yushin Okami at UFC 122 to secure a UFC middleweight title shot. However, Chael Sonnen’s alleged UFC 117 drug test failure has forced the UFC to switch up Silva’s next fight, meaning Belfort will likely face “The Spider” for the gold at UFC 126.

7. Dan Henderson (25-8)
In April, Henderson’s much-anticipated Strikeforce debut ended in ennui, as he was outwrestled for the majority of his bout with Jake Shields en route to losing a unanimous verdict. The former two-division Pride Fighting Championships titleholder will return on Dec. 4, when he takes on Renato Sobral, a man who defeated him in the final of the Rings King of Kings tournament in 1999.

8. Jorge Santiago (23-8)
In a rematch of last year’s most underrated fights, Santiago and Kazuo Misaki turned in arguably the best bout of 2010 so far. The back-and-forth five-round war culminated in Santiago — who had already been nearly knocked out and submitted in the fight — retaining his Sengoku middleweight crown by pounding on a hapless Misaki until his corner threw in the towel.

9. Ronaldo Souza (13-2, 1 NC)
“Jacare” became a father on Aug. 20, just a day before he became Strikeforce middleweight champion by besting Tim Kennedy in Houston. The grappling king will likely return to the cage in February to make the first defense of his crown.

10. Michael Bisping (20-3)
The UFC seems keen to use Michael Bisping when it returns to Australia for UFC 127 on Feb. 27. A potential matchup with suddenly relevant journeyman Jorge Rivera could be in the cards, should Bisping accept the bout. The Rivera camp has described the fight as “95 percent likely.”

Other contenders: Alan BelcherGerald HarrisChris LebenHector LombardWanderlei Silva.

 

 


Georges “Rush” St. Pierre

Welterweight

1. Georges St. Pierre (20-2)
With Josh Koscheck’s May 8 win over Paul Daley, St. Pierre’s next title defense was set. But before he meets Koscheck in a rematch of their August 2007 encounter, the two welterweights will square off as opposing coaches on the 12th season of “The Ultimate Fighter,” with a very convenient and apparent good guy-bad guy dynamic.

2. Jon Fitch (23-3, 1 NC)
After besting Thiago Alves for a second time, Fitch was hopeful he would get another crack at the UFC welterweight crown. That opportunity will be going to Jake Shields. Instead of another title shot, Fitch will simply receive another tough welterweight, as he meets Jake Ellenberger at UFC 126 on Feb. 5.

3. Thiago Alves (17-7)
A lackluster loss to Jon Fitch in August, coupled with missing weight, seemed to signal Alves’ move to 185 pounds. Instead, “Pitbull” has linked up with MMA fighter-slash-nutritional guru Mike Dolce, who has vowed to get him in shape and on weight for a 170-pound clash with John Howard at UFC 124 on Dec. 11.

4. Jake Shields (26-4-1)
Shields took a split decision over Martin Kampmann in his UFC debut in October, but whether one wants to call it “successful” or not was another story. However, it does appear the former Strikeforce middleweight champion has done enough to earn a UFC title shot. Shields figures to take on the winner of December’s Georges St. Pierre-Josh Koscheck clash in the spring.

5. Josh Koscheck (15-4)
With high stakes up for grabs — a UFC welterweight title shot and a coaching stint opposite Georges St. Pierre on “The Ultimate Fighter 12” — Koscheck dominated Paul Daley for 15 minutes on the floor en route to a unanimous decision victory at UFC 113. After blocking a post-fight sucker punch from Daley and taunting the Montreal crowd, Koscheck cemented himself as one of MMA’s premiere heels and set in place the groundwork for the build-up to his rematch with St. Pierre.

6. Martin Kampmann (17-4)
Kampmann gave former Strikeforce middleweight champion Jake Shields all he could handle in his Octagon debut at UFC 121 on Oct. 23. However, Kampmann did not do enough to earn the nod, losing a contentious split decision many observers feel he deserved.

7. Carlos Condit (26-5)
Condit’s resurgent 2010 campaign has earned him an all-action fight to kick off 2011. At UFC 127 in Sydney, Australia, the “Natural Born Killer” will take on free-swinging veteranChris Lytle in a fight that promises wild action and bears welterweight contender consequences.

8. Dan Hardy (23-8, 1 NC)
Europe had been magical for Hardy during his UFC tenure. However, that was not the case at UFC 120 on Oct. 16. “The Outlaw” was smashed with a brutal left hook from Carlos Condit that took him out of consciousness and away from the top of the UFC welterweight division.

9. Nick Diaz (23-7, 1 ND)
In one of the year’s most entertaining affairs on Oct. 9, Diaz exorcised some three-year-old demons, as he outboxed rival K.J. Noons over five fun rounds in San Jose, Calif., and took a unanimous decision. Diaz’s next challenger remains uncertain, but with Paul Daley wielding a Strikeforce contract and up-and-comer Tyron Woodley making strides, there are exciting affairs to look forward to.

10. Paul Daley (25-9-2)
By the skin of his teeth, Daley edged out a decision win over usual lightweight Jorge Masvidal on Sept. 11. The win set up “Semtex” for a multi-fight deal with Strikeforce, which will begin Dec. 4 when the British banger makes his promotional debut againstScott Smith in St. Louis.

Other contenders: Ben AskrenJohn HathawayJay HieronDan HornbuckleMike Pyle.

 


Frankie Edgar

Lightweight

1. Frankie Edgar (13-1)
In August, Edgar proved he was no fluke, dominating B.J. Penn over five rounds. However, the major hurdle for Edgar will now come as we enter 2011. On Jan. 1 at UFC 125, he will defend his title for the second time, risking the strap against unbeaten Gray Maynard — the only man to beat “The Answer.”

2. Gilbert Melendez (18-2)
With his girlfriend giving birth to their first daughter in August, Melendez is now primarily concerned with paternal duties. However, fans and media are beginning to bang the drum for a Strikeforce-versus-Bellator Fighting Championships showdown between Melendez and Eddie Alvarez — the most attractive lightweight bout that can be made outside the UFC.

3. B.J. Penn (15-7-1)
After a pair of disheartening back-to-back losses to Frankie Edgar, Penn claims he contemplated retirement. Instead, UFC President Dana White knew how to excite “The Prodigy.” At UFC 123 on Nov. 20, Penn will meet rival Matt Hughes in a rubber match to settle his score with the man he beat for the UFC welterweight title in 2004. Hughes stopped him in their 2006 rematch.

4. Gray Maynard (10-0, 1 NC)
Maynard has been vocal for months about deserving a UFC lightweight title shot. “The Bully” will finally get his chance as the year rolls over. He meets champion Frankie Edgar on Jan. 1 at UFC 125 in his own adopted backyard of Las Vegas.

5. Shinya Aoki (26-5, 1 NC)
In a no-brainer, Aoki returned to the promotion that launched his career — Deep — for its 10th anniversary show on Oct. 24. It took him only 60 seconds to keylock MMA neophyte Yokthai Sithoar, a former muay Thai and boxing world champion.

6. Eddie Alvarez (21-2)
In his Oct. 21 bout with Roger Huerta, Alvarez was positively destructive, using his uppercut and newly found low kicks to batter the UFC veteran and force the doctor to halt the fight after 10 minutes. Alvarez took the post-fight opportunity to call out Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez, and the promotion itself further exacerbated the call for the crossover mega-fight.

7. Kenny Florian (14-5)
Florian did not fight up to expectations in August, when he had little to offer Gray Maynard in their 155-pound title eliminator. There will be no soft bounce-back fight for the Bostonian, as “Ken Flo” has signed on to face fast-rising lightweight prospect Evan Dunham in the UFC “Fight for the Troops 2” on Jan. 22.

8. Tatsuya Kawajiri (26-6-2)
Many tabbed Kawajiri to be the next Dream champion, figuring he had exactly the right skill set to replicate what Gilbert Melendez did to Shinya Aoki in April. However, on July 10, Kawajiri spent most of the night fending off foot locks, until finally tapping out to Aoki less than two minutes into the first round.

9. Sean Sherk (36-4-1)
After 16 months on the shelf due to a plethora of injuries, Sherk returned to action at UFC 119 against unbeaten up-and-comer Evan Dunham. After a strong first round, Sherk flagged in the bout, losing in the eyes of most onlookers. However, two of three people that matter — the judges — sided with Sherk, who secured a crucial but highly unpopular win.

10. Evan Dunham (11-1)
At UFC 119, there was much weeping and gnashing of teeth over Dunham’s controversial split decision loss to Sean Sherk. However, Dunham continues to be treated like a winner. He will meet divisional standout Kenny Florian in the main event of UFC “Fight for the Troops 2” on Jan. 22.

Other contenders: Takanori GomiBenson HendersonJim MillerGeorge Sotiropoulos,Josh Thomson.

 

 


Jose Aldo
Featherweight

1. Jose Aldo (18-1)

As the sport’s top featherweight and one of MMA’s most dynamic fighters, Aldo will naturally be a focal point of the UFC-WEC merger. That project will come to a head on Jan. 1 at UFC 125, when Aldo puts the newly coined UFC featherweight title on the line against Josh Grispi in his third title defense.

2. Manny Gamburyan (11-5)
With his corking of former WEC champion Mike Thomas Brown in April, Gamburyan earned his shot at Jose Aldo. However, when the two met at WEC 51 on Sept. 30, the tough Armenian had very little for Aldo, who leisurely strolled through the first round before turning up the heat and halting Gamburyan in the second, seemingly at will.

3. Mike Thomas Brown (24-6)
In April 2004, a lightweight Brown tapped out to Japanese vet Genki Sudo in the first round. Nearly seven years later, Brown will return to the Octagon as a featherweight to tangle with once-beaten Brazilian Diego Nunes at UFC 125 on Jan. 1.

4. Michihiro Omigawa (12-8-1)
Having solidified himself as Japan’s top featherweight, Omigawa is being sought by the WEC. Whether or not he signs and accepts a fight at WEC 53 on Dec. 16 will hinge on whether his management group, J-Rock, feels it can secure the 34-year-old a top-notch bout on New Year’s Eve in Japan.

5. Marlon Sandro (17-1)
The dominance of Sandro’s teammate, Jose Aldo, has been so extreme that many fans have taken to downheartedly dreaming of what it would be like if the two Nova Uniao studs could square off. However, Sandro still might have a high-stakes affair in Japan, should Sengoku line up a defense of his featherweight title against Hatsu Hioki.

6. Bibiano Fernandes (8-2)
Dream was hoping to have its featherweight champion back in action on Sept. 25. There was one problem: Fernandes told Brazilian outlet Tatame that he still had not been paid for his March title defense against Joachim Hansen. Though Fernandes was finally compensated in September, it was not soon enough to strike a deal to get the featherweight titleholder on the card at Dream 16.

7. Hatsu Hioki (22-4-2)
On Aug. 22, the Shooto world champion returned to the Sengoku ring, where he embarrassed “The Ultimate Fighter” alum Jeff Lawson en route to a first-round submission. However, the real big ticket fight for Hioki remains a showdown with SRC champion Marlon Sandro, which would be one of the biggest fights to be made outside of a Zuffa promotion, regardless of weight.

8. Josh Grispi (14-1)
As part of the ongoing WEC-UFC merger, the 22-year-old Grispi has been given a monumental opportunity. “The Fluke” will try to avoid becoming the next victim for 145-pound kingpin Jose Aldo, when he challenges for the UFC featherweight title at UFC 125 on Jan. 1 in one of the event’s two title bouts.

9. Joe Warren (6-1)
Warren claiming to be “the baddest man on the planet” seems a tad dubious. However, the former Greco-Roman wrestling world champion showed in his Sept. 2 bout with Joe Soto that he was otherworldly tough, with some power to spare. He came back from a hellacious beating in the fight’s opening round to stop Soto and take Bellator’s featherweight title 33 seconds into round two.

10. Diego Nunes (15-1)
In September, Nunes moved his WEC mark to 4-1 with a unanimous decision win overTyler Toner. Now, “The Gun” will move to the UFC Octagon, where he will face the sternest test of his career. At UFC 125 on Jan. 1, Nunes will take on former WEC featherweight champion Mike Thomas Brown in a fight with major featherweight stakes.

Other contenders: Raphael AssuncaoL.C. DavisMark HominickChad MendesJoe Soto.

* With his official bantamweight debut, previously fourth-ranked Urijah Faber exits the featherweight rankings.



Dominick Cruz

Bantamweight

1. Dominick Cruz (16-1)
As the WEC gained momentum, it seemed like Miguel Torres would be the fighter to carry the bantamweight division on his back and bring it to the masses. Now, Cruz has that chance. After a successful first title defense against Joseph Benavidez in August, Cruz will try to prove he’s the real deal — and not just a placeholder — when he defends his crown against a red-hot Scott Jorgensen in December.

2. Joseph Benavidez (13-2)
He might have two losses to Dominick Cruz, and he might be best suited to fight at 125 pounds, but, apart from the WEC bantamweight champion himself, no 135-pound fighter picks off more top fighters than Benavidez. Stepping in for an injured Brian Bowles, Benavidez put another top 10 win on his ledger by dominating Wagnney Fabiano, choking the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt into submission in the second round at WEC 52.

3. Brian Bowles (8-1)
Injury woes have struck Bowles again. After breaking his hand in his March defeat to Dominick Cruz — the fight in which he lost the WEC bantamweight title — he was expected to return against Wagnney Fabiano at WEC 52 in November. However, a foot injury has put Bowles back on the shelf.

4. Scott Jorgensen (11-3)
After steadily rising up the ranks of the bantamweight division, Jorgensen has earned his shot at the throne. When WEC 53 heads to Glendale, Ariz., on Dec. 16, “Young Guns” will have his chance to prove himself the top 135-pounder in the world. There, the former Boise State Bronco takes on champion Dominick Cruz.

5. Urijah Faber (24-4)
Faber was originally set to make his 135-pound debut at WEC 50 on Aug. 18, but a knee injury postponed his bout with Takeya Mizugaki. “The California Kid” made the wait well worth it, as he choked Mizugaki unconscious in the WEC 52 main event on Nov. 11 at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas.

6. Miguel Torres (38-3)
Torres will be one of the first WEC talents to receive major UFC exposure. The former WEC bantamweight titleholder will make his Octagon debut on Super Bowl weekend, when he meets Antonio Banuelos on the main card at UFC 126 on Feb. 5 in Las Vegas.

7. Takeya Mizugaki (13-5-2)
The first time Mizugaki headlined a WEC event, he turned in a barnburner with Miguel Torres at WEC 40. The second time, however, was a harder pill to swallow. Former featherweight ace Urijah Faber made a successful bantamweight debut against the Japanese import at WEC 52, taking Mizugaki’s back and choking him unconscious inside the first round.

8. Rani Yahya (15-6)
A lackluster effort against Takeya Mizugaki in April, coupled with a growing difficulty to make 135 pounds, has Yahya eying a featherweight return. He will step back up to 145 pounds to take on “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung at UFC “Fight for the Troops 2” on Jan. 22.

9. Masakatsu Ueda (11-1-2)
Desperately needing an impressive win to erase the memories of his March upset loss toShuichiro Katsumura, Ueda was on point in his May 30 bout with WEC veteran Akitoshi Tamura. The former Shooto world champion used all phases of his game — developing striking included — to take a well-appointed unanimous decision.

10. Wagnney Fabiano (14-3)
Fabiano was viewed as an imminent title contender when he cut down to 135 pounds. That is clearly not in the cards. After a pair of lackluster wins, Fabiano was dominated en route to another surprising submission loss, this time to Joseph Benavidez at WEC 52.

Other contenders: Demetrious JohnsonZach MakovskyMichael McDonaldBrad PickettEddie Wineland.

* With his Nov. 11 loss to Demetrious Johnson, previously seventh-ranked Damacio Pagefalls from the top 10.

 


WEC 52 : The Finale

 

The man who for years carried the World Extreme Cagefighting banner left the promotion with one more performance by which to remember him.

Former featherweight champion Urijah Faber submittedTakeya Mizugaki in the WEC 52 “Faber vs. Mizugaki” headliner on Thursday at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas. Mizugaki — who had never before been submitted — went out on his proverbial shield, rendered unconscious by a rear-naked choke 4:50 into round one.

“The Japanese — they have that fighting spirit,” Faber said. “This guy is known for being a guy that goes to the very end, so I knew I had to do something drastic and put him out, so I did.”

Faber’s debut at 135 pounds could not have gone better. The Sacramento, Calif., native popped Mizugaki with short right hands and knees and elbows from the clinch. He first threatened with a guillotine choke and then transitioned to Mizugaki’s back when he defended. From there, Faber sank in his hooks and worked for the rear-naked choke. He trapped Mizugaki against the cage, rolled him onto his stomach and waited for the Japanese star to black out.

“I wanted to finish,” Faber said. “I’m a finisher. I think that’s what this division needs.”

The next phase of Faber’s stellar career comes with a transition to the UFC, which will absorb the WEC in little more than a month. He becomes an immediate threat to reigning WEC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz, a man he submitted with a rear-naked choke in March 2007.

“When I first started fighting, there was no 135-pound class, so it’s not like I had a choice,” Faber said. “I’m at my most competitive weight now. It’s a new era, baby.”

 

Mendes Outpoints Vazquez

In the co-main event, the undefeated Chad Mendeswore down Javier Vazquez with strikes on the feet and on the ground en route to a unanimous decision. All three judges sided with Mendes by matching 30-27 counts.

Mendes spent much of the match inside the spidery guard of the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt. Vazquez was the more active fighter in the first round, as he threatened the decorated wrestler from his back and neutralized his suffocating top game. However, he was fighting an uphill battle.

Mendes stunned Vazquez with strikes as the two featherweights engaged one another standing in round two. A flying knee from Mendes backed up Vazquez and forced the veteran to his back once more. There, Mendes unleashed his ground-and-pound: short elbows and punches that racked up the points and kept Vazquez in a defensive position. Mendes later stood and attempted to compromise the Vazquez guard with a standing front flip. His bid failed, but he moved back into top position.

A head kick from Mendes two minutes into the final period had Vazquez on his heels yet again, and the Team Alpha Male standout followed the strike with a double-leg takedown that all but punctuated his victory. He eventually opened a cut under Vazquez’s eye that had the underdog wincing in visible pain. With that, Mendes passed his latest test.

Koch Head Kick, Hammerfists Finish Rivera

A last-minute change in opponent did nothing to slow the rise of Erik Koch.

Koch countered a left hook and dropped WEC newcomer Francisco Rivera with an exquisitely timed head kick before he finished the previously unbeaten Californian with hammerfists on the ground 96 seconds into the first round of their featherweight duel.

“That was perfect,” said Koch, who trains and rooms with WEC lightweight contenderAnthony Pettis. “I thought that was a pretty good KO.”

Training under former world kickboxing champion Duke Roufus in Milwaukee, the 22-year-old Koch was originally booked to meet top 145-pound contender Josh Grispi. However, following the announcement of the UFC-WEC merger, Grispi was instead moved into a title match against champion Jose Aldo at UFC 122 on Jan. 1.

Benavidez Guillotine Submits Fabiano

Team Alpha Male representative Joseph Benavidez submitted former International Fight League champion Wagnney Fabiano with a second-round guillotine choke in a showdown between world-ranked bantamweights. Fabiano met his demise 2:45 into round two.

After a relatively uneventful stand-up engagement in the first round, Benavidez went to work. He lured Fabiano into the first of three attempted guillotine chokes on an ill-advised single-leg takedown. The 26-year-old San Antonio native took a second stab at the submission when Fabiano moved to scramble back to his feet and finished him on the third try, as the Brazilian left his neck exposed one last time.

“I’ve got all sorts of guillotines, so I had to try a few out,” Benavidez said. “He’s a great grappler. He’s a black belt, but [I] got that ‘Joe-jitsu’ on him on that third one, and he finally tapped.”

Benavidez, who still has never lost back-to-back bouts, accepted the bout on short notice as a replacement for injured former WEC bantamweight titleholder Brian Bowles.

“I’m always in shape,” Benavidez said. “I thought it was a great matchup for me, so I wanted to take it.”

Johnson Chokes Page, Springs Upset

Overwhelming speed, conditioning and tenacity carried the once-beaten Demetrious Johnson past the world-ranked Damacio Page in a featured bantamweight matchup, as the Matt Hume protégé locked in a fight-ending guillotine choke 2:27 into round three.

Page, who had not competed in more than a year, grounded Johnson with a pair of head-and-arm throws and even mounted the dynamic 5-foot-3 Kentucky native inside the first round. However, Johnson, a man most believe belongs at 125 pounds, grew stronger as the fight deepened. He attacked Page with leg kicks, takedowns and ground-and-pound, ultimately turning the tide in his favor during a brief third-round exchange.

Less than 30 seconds into the final period, Johnson tagged Page with punches and delivered a head kick that put his backpedaling foe on his back. Page never returned to his feet. Johnson deftly moved into position, trapped him in the guillotine as he moved to full mount and solicited the tapout, the Jackson’s Mixed Martial Arts standout’s face contorted by pain and despair.

“I had to be smart and draw him in, then when he came in, take him down,” Johnson said. “He was basically drowning, and I was the shark that came up and got him from underneath.

 

Main event winner Urijah Faber took home the top payday after WEC 52 on Thursday at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, according to Nevada State Athletic Commission figures obtained by Sherdog.com.

Faber, a former WEC featherweight champion, netted an event-high $66,000 for his dominant submission victory over Japanese striker Takeya Mizugaki, who earned $10,000 for his efforts. Faber’s figure includes a $28,000 win bonus and a $10,000 “Submission of the Night” bonus.

Meanwhile, Faber’s Team Alpha Male protégé, Joseph Benavidez, took home $35,000, including a $17,000 win bonus for his first-round guillotine submission over jiu-jitsu ace Wagnney Fabiano ($19,000). Undercard featherweight Cub Swanson received the third-highest payday, earning $32,000, including an $11,000 win bonus and $10,000 “Fight of the Night” bonus, following his unanimous decision victory over Mackens Semerzier($14,000).

WEC 52 “Faber vs. Mizugaki” Payouts

Urijah Faber — $66,000
(Includes $28,000 win bonus, $10,000 “Submission of the Night” bonus)
def.
Takeya Mizugaki — $10,000

Chad Mendes — $17,000
(Includes $8,500 win bonus)
def.
Javier Vazquez — $11,000

Erik Koch — $18,000
(Includes $4,000 win bonus, $10,000 “Knockout of the Night” bonus)
def.
Francisco Rivera — $4,000

Joseph Benavidez — $35,000
(Includes $17,500 win bonus)
def.
Wagnney Fabiano — $19,000

Demetrious Johnson — $8,000
(Includes $4,000 win bonus)
def.
Damacio Page — $9,000

Raphael Assuncao — $26,000
(Includes $13,000 win bonus)
def.
L.C. Davis — $11,000

Anthony Njokuani — $14,000
(Includes $7,000 win bonus)
def.
Edward Faaloloto — $3,500

Dustin Poirier — $6,000
(Includes $3,000 win bonus)
def.
Zachary Micklewright — $3,000

Michael McDonald — $6,000
(Includes $3,000 win bonus)
def.
Clint Godfrey— $3,000

Cub Swanson — $32,000
(Includes $11,000 win bonus, $10,000 “Fight of the Night” bonus)
def.
Mackens Semerzier — $14,000
(Includes $10,000 “Fight of the Night” bonus)

Yves Jabouin — $5,000
(Includes $2,000 win bonus)
def.
Brandon Visher — $4,000


WEC UFC Merger Official!

 

UFC President Dana White made the landmark announcement on a Thursday conference call: World Extreme Cagefighting will merge with Zuffa LLC’s flagship promotion in 2011, absorbing the WEC’s considerable talent pool in the process.

Several of the WEC’s most prominent fighters have weighed in on the folding of the blue cage, speaking exclusively to Sherdog.com on the matter.

“I was speechless [when I heard the news] this morning. It’s crazy,” said lightweight title contender Anthony Pettis. “I was training hard, but now I’m pushing even harder. There’s so much to look forward to in this next year.”

Pettis will headline the WEC’s final event, WEC 53 on Dec. 16, when he takes on lightweight champion Benson Henderson to determine the brand’s final 155-pound king. White said the winner of that matchup will face the victor of Frankie Edgar’s UFC title defense against Gray Maynard in 2011.

Currently, WEC talent appears almost exclusively on the Versus network, a fact that will soon change. Starting next year, the fighters will regularly compete on pay-per-view, just like the rest of the UFC roster.

“It’s crazy,” Pettis said. “It’s not even real yet, and it’s not going to be real until it finally happens. I’ve heard the rumors for a year and a half. The possibility of headlining a pay per view is huge.”

 

His opponent, however, takes the merger in stride. Henderson claims the medium in which he performs is not as important as the performance itself.

“I’m not so affected by the pay-per-view stuff. No matter the venue, I still have to go out there and perform and get my hand raised,” Henderson told Sherdog. “I could be fighting in the back of a 7-11, and I still have to go out and do my best.”

However, Henderson admits the prospect of fighting on the biggest stage in mixed martial arts is inspiring. If he manages to get past Pettis in December, the unification fight sits on the horizon.

Regardless of who wins in the Edgar-Maynard contest at UFC 125 on New Year’s Day, Henderson says he will be prepared to prove himself inside the Octagon.

“It would mean a lot [to become the UFC lightweight champion],” he said. “It’d be a dream come true. I want to be the best on the planet, so I’ll probably eventually fight both guys. I want to beat everybody — not my buddies, but everybody else.”

While Henderson and Pettis are relatively new additions to the WEC roster, Urijah Faber and Miguel Torres are not. They were longstanding champions in their respective divisions, and both men helped grow the brand by putting on action-filled fights. For Torres, the merger has produced mixed feelings.

“It’s definitely bittersweet, because I’ve been with the WEC a while, and I’ve been fighting since ’98. I think I’m a pioneer, but now the future is open to me,” said Torres. “I think it’s really good. It’s going to give us lighter guys more attention. We’ve sort of been viewed as second-tier fighters, and now we’ve got the opportunity to show the world that we belong in the UFC.”

Faber, on the other hand, looks wholeheartedly toward the future and even feels a sense of relief that the brands have finally merged.

“I’m excited, man. I’ve been pushing for [the merger] for a while now. We WEC guys haven’t been getting the credit or the exposure that we deserve. It’s also going to mean better paydays, which is obviously great,” Faber said. “Not having to explain the difference, or lack of a difference, to the fans is going to be nice. I’m looking forward to the satisfaction of there finally being no difference between the UFC and the WEC. I didn’t think there was a difference before, except the initials, but now it’s official.”

One fact all four men can agree on is that the new surroundings of the UFC’s massive, 30-foot Octagon will not negatively impact the action for which WEC combatants are known.

“I don’t think [the larger space will affect the action]. The WEC is known for putting on exciting fights. There are potential ‘Fight of the Year’ nominees on almost every card, and that’s because WEC fighters go out there and get after each other,” said Henderson.

“You could put us in the middle of the ocean or the desert, and we’re still going to push forward and have an exciting fight.”


UFC Releases Former Title Contender Cote

 

 

Consecutive defeats to middleweight champion Anderson Silva, Alan Belcher and Tom Lawlor have left former title contender Patrick Cote without a place on the UFC roster.

The 30-year-old Canadian on Wednesday announced he had been released by the promotion following his unanimous decision loss to Lawlor at UFC 121 “Lesnar vs. Velasquez” on Saturday at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. Lawlor grounded Cote at will throughout their 15-minute encounter and racked up points with ground-and-pound.

“I had a little hope but finally got the release word from the UFC,” Cote wrote on Twitter.

Cote, a former two-division TKO champion, has also held titles inside the King of the Cage and Maximum Fighting Championship promotions. He owns notable victories against “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 3 winner Kendall Grove, former middleweight King of Pancrase Ricardo Almeida and current Strikeforce standout Scott Smith. He has delivered nine of his 13 career wins by knockout, technical knockout or submission.

A five-fight winning streak carried Cote into his UFC 90 title bout against Silva. A non-contact knee injury thwarted his hopes in the third round, led to two knee surgeries and put him on the sidelines for more than a year. Cote was a finalist on Season 4 of “The Ultimate Fighter” reality series.


The Ultimate Fighter Season 12 Epidode 7 Video

SEASON 12 EPISODE 7

 

 

This week begins with the last of the preliminary fights. Dana White thinks Dane Sayers has been ”thrown to the wolves” in facing Sako Chivitchyan, and he might be right. Sayers was outclassed in his opening fight, but he got by on pure guts. White says that Dane isn’t near Sako’s level (or anyone else’s for that matter).

GSP says that it’s by choice that Dane Sayers was held back to fight last. Georges wanted to squeeze in as much training time as he could before putting Sayers back in the cage. Dane was the last fighter chosen and his lack of expertise made him a huge underdog in the eyes of most of his competitors and the coaching staff.

During fight prep, one of Team GSP’s trainers, Jean-Charles Skarbowsky, is trying to tap into what makes Sayers tick by pushing him and telling him that this is his country, and that Koscheck needs his permission to be here. Dane has “red pride” stemming from his Blackfoot and Chippewa Native American heritage. Skarbowski thanks Dane for letting him into America in a gesture meant to either inspire Sayers or possibly create an ally in case the French and Indian War kicks up again.

Meanwhile, Sako’s background is a compelling one. He emigrated from Armenia to LA and became a judo bad ass, which comes as no shock since he is from Gokor Chivichyan‘s family circle. It hasn’t all been black belts and sunshine for Sako, however, as he was shot in the leg a few years ago by “gangbangers.” Now he’s turned himself around and is trying to join the Parisyans and Gamburyans that have roamed the UFC.

There is also still the matter of the wild card fight. Unlike the past few seasons, more than a few fighters are eager to get that second chance. Spencer Paige is out with a broken hand leaving Jeff Lentz, Andy Main, Marc Stevens and Aaron Wilkinson all eagerly waiting to hear if they will have new life.

Not a week goes by that Josh Koscheck isn’t trying to be a pest to someone on Team GSP, and this week it’s staff medic Brad Tate. Tate comes under fire as the teams file in and out of the training area. Koscheck makes it a point to bump into the big medic.

“You’re a male nurse,” says Koscheck after Tate won’t back down.

 

An awkward amount of time passes as Tate and Josh stare at each other. Josh continues to point out Tate’s male nurse status. Later, Koscheck tells Brad through the camera that “you’re not a fighter,” adding “I’ll choke your ass out.” .

Eventually Tate leaves the room after sticking around to show that he’s not intimidated, but anyone who’s seen the promos for future episodes knows that this does not end well.

“I’m f—ing Canadian,” says GSP, shaking his head as he walks onto the Las Vegas 51’s baseball field. That’s right folks – it’s time for the most exciting time in any TUF season: the coaches challenge! It’s that special time when you learn that the titans of MMA can’t dribble a basketball or swing a racket without usually looking like a buffoon.

This time, St-Pierre and Koscheck will face off in what Dana White calls a “batting showdown.” In other words, we don’t expect home runs, but here’s a bat and helmet. Go nuts.

There’s a graduated scoring system with a series of fences starting just outside the infield. The usual brick of cash is put on the line with as well as some extra juice for the winning coach’s team.

Koscheck takes a few awkward cuts before catching up to a some balls and scoring some points. Poor GSP pirouettes after whiffing over and over and is forced to hear Sevak Magakian berate him from the bleachers, proving that America has rubbed off on the Armenian.

Josh’s second round of swings yields a similar score, but then Georges shows why he’s almost superhuman, somehow figuring out baseball in 10 tries and cranking out solid shots, closing the lead.

Impressive. A guy who’s never picked up a bat is only down by a few points going into the last round. Koscheck taps into his youthful muscle memory and starts stroking the ball, doubling his previous point total and putting GSP away for good. Koscheck relishes the win, of course, and his boys whoop it up over the earnings.

With all that out of the way, it’s time for the fight, and in the first round it’s a different Dane Sayers that shows up. Sako chases after Dane, lunging wildly while Dane shrugs him off. “Don’t lock hands with him, Red Horse!” Cries GSP. Every time they tie up, Sayers obeys St-Pierre and stifles the judo master. Shocking that for all his pedigree Sako isn’t imposing his will on Dane. Sayers is even getting the better of it in the clinch and only misses a few takedowns due to “Psycho” grabbing the fence.

It was a close first round, but Sayers’ offense was mostly limited to a guillotine attempt at the beginning. In the second round, Sako continues to push the pace, getting a takedown and working some good ground and pound. On their feet, it’s a lot of slow dancing only made interesting by the fact that Sayers isn’t being dumped on his head. The first round was close, and the second obviously went to Sako, but it seems more people were impressed with Dane’s effort despite Sako’s 20-18 decision win.

Afterward, Dana White doesn’t care about who the coaches want but brings them in anyway. He wants to hear which fighters are his best options for the wild card fight. Koscheck offers Stevens and Wilkinson, and while GSP agrees with Wilkinson, he offers Sayers up as a true work in progress. Dana says “I need the two best guys,” and after their closed-door huddle, DW and the two coaches make their way back into the training area to tell the fighters that they have chosen Marc Stevens and Aaron Wilkinson, rocking the faces of all the hopefuls.

Next week we see the fallout of that choice, and it appears that the beef growing between Koscheck and Team GSP medic Brad Tate will get physical. Make sure to stretch out before reading.

 


Two Title Fights Official for Bellator 34

 

Bellator 34
Thursday, Oct. 28
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino
Hollywood, Fla.

Bellator Middleweight Championship
Hector Lombard (183.25) vs. Alexander Shlemenko (184.75)

Bellator Women’s 115-Pound Championship
Megumi Fujii (113.5) vs. Zoila Frausto (114.5)

Mike Bernhard (185.75) vs. Dragan Tesanovic (185.5)
Tony Lopez (204.5) vs. Raphael Davis (205.5)
William Kuhn (170) vs. John Kelly (172.25)
Ralph Acosta (135) vs. Tulio Quintanilla (135.5)
Frank Carrillo (184.25) vs. Moyses Gabin (184.25)
Igor Almeida (184.5) vs. Dan Cramer (185.5)
Bounmy Somchay (161) vs. JP Reese (159.25)

 

 

All fighters competing at Bellator Fighting Championships 34 met their contracted weights at Wednesday’s weigh-in, including main event combatants Hector Lombard (Pictured) and Alexander Shlemenko, who will compete for the former’s middleweight title.

Also on the card will be a women’s 115-pound championship fight between Megumi Fujii and Zoila Frausto. The event will go down at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Fla.

Lombard (183.25) captured the title by winning Bellator’s Season 1 middleweight tournament, turning back Jared Hess in the final to become the promotion’s inaugural 185-pound champion. Lombard is the owner of a 19-fight winning streak, with his only blemish in that span being a draw to Kyle Noke in 2007. Since winning the Bellator middleweight title, the American Top Team fighter has been on a tear, finishing all but one of his six opponents in the first round. His last two fights have been demolitions, as the native Cuban ran through Jay Silva and Herbert Goodman in six and 38 seconds, respectively.

Shlemenko won Bellator’s Season 2 middleweight tournament to become the number one contender for Lombard’s title. Like Lombard, the Russian is on quite a roll, having won 15 of his last 16 contests. A knockout specialist, Shlemenko (184.75) holds nearly two-thirds of his 30 career wins by KO, including his first-round stoppage of Bryan Baker in the Season 2 tournament final.

Fujii (113.5) has long been considered one of the pound-for-pound best in MMA, as she has amassed a perfect 22-0 record, with 18 submission victories to her credit. Training under former UFC heavyweight champion Josh Barnett, “Mega Megu” is coming off an armbar submission victory over Lisa Ward in the women’s tournament semi-final.

Frausto’s last appearance was not as impressive as Fujii’s, however, as the “Warrior Princess” eked out a contentious split decision victory over the spunky Jessica Aguilar at Bellator 31 to advance to the final. Frausto (114.5) owns only one loss, a March 2010 defeat to Strikeforce 135-pound contender Miesha Tate.


Zuffa Plugs Hole in 11-Fight WEC 52 Lineup

 

WEC 52 “Faber vs. Mizugaki”
Thursday, Nov. 11
Palms Casino Resort
Las Vegas

Urijah Faber vs. Takeya Mizugaki
Josh Grispi vs. Erik Koch
Joseph Benavidez vs. Wagnney Fabiano
Chad Mendes vs. Javier Vazquez
Damacio Page vs. Demetrious Johnson
Zachary Micklewright vs. Dustin Poirier
Anthony Njokuani vs. Edward Faaloloto
Yves Jabouin vs. Brandon Visher
Michael McDonald vs. Clint Godfrey
Cub Swanson vs. Mackens Semerzier
L.C. Davis vs. Raphael Assuncao

 

 

A speculated bout between World Extreme Cagefighting bantamweight contender Damacio Page (Pictured) and Demetrious Johnson has been made official for WEC 52 “Faber vs. Mizugaki” on Nov. 11 at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas.

Johnson replaces injured former champion Eddie Wineland, who was forced to withdraw from his fight with Page due to a shoulder injury. Eleven matches are now official for the event, which will air live on the Versus network.

A Greg Jackson protégé, Page is coming off back-to-back wins inside the WEC cage. Known as “The Angel of Death,” Page’s only loss inside the promotion came at the hands of former titleholder Brian Bowles at WEC 35 in 2008. Since joining the organization, the 28-year-old has gone 3-1, earning a unanimous decision victory over current championship contender Scott Jorgensen in his promotional debut at WEC 32. Page has finished all but one of his opponents by knockout or submission.

Johnson has lost only once in his young career, as he dropped a unanimous decision to Brad Pickett at WEC 48 in his first fight with the WEC. “Mighty Mouse” found redemption in his next contest, however, as he defeated Nick Pace six months later at WEC 51 in September. Training under Matt Hume at AMC Pankration in Washington, the 24-year-old has submitted more than half of his defeated opponents and has allowed only two of his fights to go the distance.

WEC 52 will be headlined by former featherweight champion Urijah Faber, as he makes his debut at 135 pounds. The Team Alpha Male standout will take on former title challenger Takeya Mizugaki. The show will also feature another important bantamweight tilt, as Faber’s teammate, Joseph Benavidez, squares off against Brazilian contender Wagnney Fabiano. In the featherweight division, Josh Grispi meets Erik Koch, and Chad Mendes takes on Javier Vazquez.


Velasquez Turns Attention Towards Dos Santos

After Cain Velasquez defeated Brock Lesnar to capture the heavyweight championship atUFC 121 on Saturday at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., talk turned to his first challenger, Junior dos Santos.

The 26-year-old dos Santos earned his shot at the title with a unanimous decision over “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 10 winner Roy Nelson at UFC 117 in August. The Team Nogueira member has 11 finishes among his 12 professional wins and has reeled off seven straight victories.

“[Dos Santos] probably has the best stand-up in the heavyweight division,” said Velasquez. “Plus, he has good takedown defense. He’ll definitely be a tough challenge for me.”

As Velasquez entered his UFC heavyweight title fight against Lesnar, the mixed martial arts community pointed towards his superior conditioning as a potential difference between the two. However, Velasquez did not need the extra gas, as he knocked out Lesnar in the first round and became the first Mexican heavyweight champion in the promotion’s history.

“I was kind of surprised at how hard [Lesnar] was coming forward at the start of the fight,” said Velasquez, who now has six first-round knockouts among his eight stoppages. “I froze up a little bit, but once I got a takedown, I was OK. I feel like my hard work really paid off. I worked really hard in my camp on getting a single-leg [takedown] and did a lot of reps with it, and it worked to a T.”

Winning the title in front of a pro-Hispanic crowd like the one that greeted him at UFC 121 meant a great deal to Velasquez, who remains unbeaten in nine professional MMA fights.

“It feels great to be the first Mexican heavyweight champion of the UFC,” said Velasquez. “I want to dedicate this title to all of the Mexicans here in America, as well as Mexicans in Mexico. I think [Latinos] bring an aggressive fight style. We come forward and don’t stop, and people like that. [Anaheim] was one of the key spots where I’ve wanted to fight, along with Mexico. To win the title here means a lot to me.”

Lesnar came out with guns blazing, but Velasquez stayed calm, even after he was taken down twice in the first two minutes of the fight. Velasquez delivered a takedown of his own and got Lesnar’s back, using punches and hammerfists. Lesnar returned to his feet on two different occasions, but Velasquez — a member of the American Kickboxing Academy — dropped him with a two-punch combination and went in for the finish. Several punches later, referee Herb Dean stopped the fight 4:12 into the first round, and the UFC had a new heavyweight champion.

“I just had to pick my shots,” said Velasquez. “I knew the referee wasn’t going to step in and stop it too early, so I had to keep from going crazy with my punches. I took my time and picked my shots.”

Velasquez said he felt the momentum turn in his favor when he weathered Lesnar’s initial barrage and took down the champion.

“I really felt like the turning point of the fight was when I got his head going back and his legs were open,” said Velasquez. “When I took him down and he couldn’t get up, I could tell I was going to win.”

Velasquez now plans to take a little time to bask in the glory of being a champion.

“This wasn’t a hard camp, but it was a long camp,” said Velasquez. “I’m going to hang out with my family a little. They deserve it.”


UFC 121: Cain Velasquez TKO[RAPE]s Brock Lesnar

 

The UFC has a new heavyweight champion, as Cain Velasquez brutalized Brock Lesnar to win a first-round technical knockout Saturday at UFC 121.

The fight wasn’t close, as Velasquez showed vastly superior technique and unloaded on Lesnar on the ground until Lesnar’s face was a bloody mess and referee Herb Dean stepped in to stop the fight.

“I trained for a five-round fight and that’s what I was hoping for,” Velasquez said afterward. “I wasn’t expecting this. You can’t expect a first-round stoppage.”

 


Velasquez improved his record to 9-0, while Lesnar falls to 5-2.

Lesnar went on the attack from the get-go, tying Velasquez up, going for a takedown and getting Velasquez on his back 30 seconds into the first round. But Velasquez didn’t have any trouble shrugging Lesnar off and getting back up to his feet and against the cage. Both Velasquez and Lesnar are former NCAA All-American wrestlers, and it was clear that they both felt like they could be successful grappling with the other.