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.”
1. Cain Velasquez (9-0)
2. Brock Lesnar (5-2)
3. Fabricio Werdum (14-4-1)
4. Fedor Emelianenko (31-2, 1 NC)
5. Junior dos Santos (12-1)
6. Shane Carwin (12-1)
7. Frank Mir (14-5)
8. Alistair Overeem (33-11, 1 NC)
9. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (32-6-1, 1 NC)
10. Antonio Silva (14-2)
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.”
1. Georges St. Pierre (20-2)
2. Jon Fitch (23-3, 1 NC)
3. Thiago Alves (17-7)
4. Jake Shields (26-4-1)
5. Josh Koscheck (15-4)
6. Martin Kampmann (17-4)
7. Carlos Condit (26-5)
8. Dan Hardy (23-8, 1 NC)
9. Nick Diaz (23-7, 1 ND)
10. Paul Daley (25-9-2)
1. Frankie Edgar (13-1)
2. Gilbert Melendez (18-2)
3. B.J. Penn (15-7-1)
4. Gray Maynard (10-0, 1 NC)
5. Shinya Aoki (26-5, 1 NC)
6. Eddie Alvarez (21-2)
7. Kenny Florian (14-5)
8. Tatsuya Kawajiri (26-6-2)
9. Sean Sherk (36-4-1)
10. Evan Dunham (11-1)
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)
3. Mike Thomas Brown (24-6)
4. Michihiro Omigawa (12-8-1)
5. Marlon Sandro (17-1)
6. Bibiano Fernandes (8-2)
7. Hatsu Hioki (22-4-2)
8. Josh Grispi (14-1)
9. Joe Warren (6-1)
10. Diego Nunes (15-1)
* With his official bantamweight debut, previously fourth-ranked Urijah Faber exits the featherweight rankings.
1. Dominick Cruz (16-1)
2. Joseph Benavidez (13-2)
3. Brian Bowles (8-1)
4. Scott Jorgensen (11-3)
5. Urijah Faber (24-4)
6. Miguel Torres (38-3)
7. Takeya Mizugaki (13-5-2)
8. Rani Yahya (15-6)
9. Masakatsu Ueda (11-1-2)
10. Wagnney Fabiano (14-3)
* With his Nov. 11 loss to Demetrious Johnson, previously seventh-ranked Damacio Pagefalls from the top 10.
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
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.”
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.
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.
Thursday, Oct. 28
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino
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.
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.
WEC 52 “Faber vs. Mizugaki”
Thursday, Nov. 11
Palms Casino Resort
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.
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.”
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.”
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.