December 8, 2007

(please check back… more articles coming soon …)

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September 22, 2007.  Anaheim, California.  A much anticipated fight card at UFC 76 ended with many mixed martial arts fans in awe of what they witnessed.  Two of the UFC’s highly anticipated fights ended in huge upsets as CHUCK LIDDELL and MAURICIO RUA both lost their fights.  FORREST GRIFFIN proved that he wasn’t as crazy as many thought, decisively ending his fight with RUA via a rear naked choke.  RUA appeared gassed by the end of the first round and realized it was going to be a long night for him.  GRIFFIN made sure the decision was not in the hands of the judges by finally choking out RUA and shocking the mixed martial arts world, in turn positioning himself as a top contender to QUINTON JACKSON’s UFC light heavyweight belt.  LIDDELL was unable to figure out KEITH JARDINE’s strategy and as the fight wore on, JARDINE’s hard leg kicks started to take their toll.  By fights end, JARDINE’s face had cuts and bruises all around but he handily won the fight as LIDDELL could no longer step into his punches due to his weakened left leg – LIDDELL’s feared right hand punch was neutralized as he could no longer step into his punches.  JARDINE took advantage by staying busy as LIDDELL wore down.  Where does “CHUCKY” go from here?

In the other 3 terrific matchups, DIEGO SANCHEZ lost a beautiful fight to JON FITCH.  Highly touted FITCH made his splash in the welterweight division with his win, but was almost submitted several times in the 3rd round.  RYOTO MACHIDA won a one-sided decision over KAZUHIRO NAKAMURA as NAKAMURA played Houdini all three rounds.  On three separate occasions, MACHIDA had fully mounted NAKAMURA but was unable to finish.  On another occasion, MACHIDA had NAKAMURA in a perfectly placed rear naked choke – a near impossible position to emerge from, which is exactly what NAKAMURA did.  Bottom line:  You can’t win a fight by constantly getting yoruself out of trouble.  MACHIDA now is in the spotlight at light heavyweight.  NAKAMURA’s next move should be to drop in weight and move into a middleweight division in need of stars. 

TYSON GRIFFIN’s win over THIAGO TAVARES just may have been the fight of the night.  One submission attempt after another, this fight was a beauty as GRIFFIN took the decision (though we don’t understand how one judge scored it 30-27 in his favor … what was he watching ?).  TAVARES experienced his first loss but will still be a top contender at the light heavyweight division.  Since GRIFFIN started to train with RANDY COUTURE’s camp, he has catapaulted near the top as we all watch to see if SEAN SHERK maintains the belt as he continues to fight off allegations of steriod use.  Waiting for the clouds to clear up, the light heavyweight division is fast filling up with some serious talent.  

On September 22, 2007,  the UFC will present it’s UFC 76:  KNOCKOUT event.  This fight card just may be the best card ever assembled by the UFC, at least on paper.  UFC 76 will carry 5 fights that could each, arguably, be a headliner.  It is the return of two formidable light heavyweights, CHUCK LIDDELL and KEITH JARDINE, each coming off devastating knockout losses.  The event will also feature the debut of two huge PRIDE FC talents now  fighting for the UFC: MARICIO “Shogun” RUA and KAZUHIRO NAKAMURA.  RUA will display his immense talent inside the octagon against fan favorite FORREST GRIFFIN.  RUA just may be the best light heavyweight in the world but he first must get by the never-say-die GRIFFIN and adjust to the cage, due to his 5 year absence.   NAKAMURA, one of the great Judokas in all of mixed martial arts, will matchup against undefeated – and also debuting –  karate practioner RYOTO MACHIDA.   MACHIDA’s resume showcases wins over UFC well-knowns, BJ PENN, RICH FRANKLIN and STEPHAN BONNAR.   Also, THIAGO TAVARES will be sporting a strong Muay Thai game coupled with solid submissions against an always exciting and complete TYSON GRIFFIN (see his fight in Ireland vs. CLAY GUIDA). 

The most intriguing fight of the night will be that of DIEGO SANCHEZ and JON FITCH.  SANCHEZ, a legitimate contender for the welterweight belt, is coming off his very first loss in a tactical and uneventful fight with JOSH KOSCHECK.  JON FITCH puts his 13 fight win streak on the line for a shot at mainstream stardom.  While SANCHEZ wants to regain his status as a feared welterweight, FITCH will attempt to make a pay per view splash by feeding SANCHEZ some of his own medicine.  It may not live up to its hype but this is an extraordinary matchup!

Following UFC’s purchase of PRIDE FC, it must now contend with how to pour in some PRIDE’s top fighters without disrupting the present hierarchy.  They must offer the most desireable matches while maintaining that the rankings aren’t too subjective.  This can only mean one thing for fight fans:  More great UFC fight cards in the future.  As for now, UFC 76 just may be offering the UFC’s best fight card to date.  UFC 73 event was penned “Stacked” but maybe they should have kept that signature for this event.  Note to MMA fans:  Just a few more sleepless nights until it arrives …   

courtesy of ocRegister:

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As we approach UFC 76: Knockout on September 22, 2007, one question lingers on the minds of mixed martial arts fans:  Will MAURICIO “Shogun” RUA’s game be as effective inside the octagon cage as it has been in PRIDE’s boxing ring?  He has not fought inside the cage in almost 5 years when he was choked out by RENATO SOBRAL.  This question is more valid to RUA’s game more than any fighter coming over to the UFC from PRIDE.  Following the previous two MIRKO CRO COP matches in the UFC – both losses – the question of transitioning a fighting style from the open boxing ring into a cage is becoming an important one.  Case by case appears to be the best way to analyze this question.  While QUINTON JACKSON and DAN HENDERSON have proven that the transition has not drastically altered their methods, in CRO COP’s case the transition has obviously been disastrous. 

RUA is an interesting case.  He’s a very tough competitor and inside the PRIDE ring, he’s defeated some great opposition such as QUINTON JACKSON, ANTONIO ROGERIO NOGUEIRA, RICARDO ARONA, KEVIN RANDLEMAN, KAZUHIRO NAKAMURA and ALISTAIR OVEREEM (twice).  His patented stomps and soccer kicks have been devastating tools he has developed while moving up the ranks in PRIDE FC.  A potential problem is that the UFC does not allow kicks to an opponent’s head while the opponent is on the ground.  Another question will be his handling of strikes the UFC does allow such as elbow strikes – something CRO COP admittedly was not ready to deal with.  His cage experience is comprised of just a few matches.  He has earned the reputation of being one of the greatest fighters in mixed martial arts.  So as he debuts at UFC 76, will he be the next QUINTON JACKSON or MIRKO CRO COP?  He should continue in the steps of JACKSON and it will be answered on September 22nd.

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September 8, 2007.  London, England.  Following the much anticipated fight at UFC 75 between “The Ultimate Fighter” winner MICHAEL BISPING and MATT HAMILL, controversy has reared its head.  Bad blood existed long before Saturday night’s fight as many fans believe that if not for an injury, MATT HAMILL would have had a great chance to defeat BISPING at “The Ultimate Fighter” finale.  Ever since, HAMILL has called out BISPING for a match and finally got it at UFC 75.  HAMILL dominated the 1st rd and cut BISPING under each eye.  The 2nd round could have also been HAMILL’s but his fitness level started to break down.  BISPING was able to box his way throughout the 2nd and 3rd rounds and was able to pull out the win in his homeland of England.  BISPING’s end of fight comments were less than cordial, as a humble HAMILL maintained that he lost to BISPING “fair and square”.  One of the three judges had the fight 3 rounds to 0 in favor of HAMILL as fight fans are up in arms over the decision.  The best part of controversy within the mixed martial arts world is that is can always be resolved – inside the octagon.  It’s no longer a  matter of whether there’s a rematch … but a matter of when.

On Wednesday, September 19, 2007, at UFC Fight Night 11, the UFC will showcase some of the best fighters that have come out of it’s “The Ultimate Fighter” (TUF) SPIKE televised show.  The show that brought the UFC back into the mainstream and out of the doldrums will profile rising stars and TUF celebs such as KENNY FLORIAN, CHRIS LEBEN, last season’s winner NATE DIAZ, GRAY MAYNARD, LUKE CUMMO, COLE MILLER, NATE QUARRY and PETE SELL.  This event leads to the premier of TUF’s season 6, which highlights welterweight managers,  (former champ) MATT HUGHES and (new champ) MATT SERRA.  The event will mix in talents such as DIN THOMAS, THIAGO ALVES  and TERRY MARTIN.  Fight Night is not only a nice warm up to the season premier of TUF but a solid lead into to UFC 76:  KNOCKOUT on Saturday night.

September 8, 2007 – London, UK.  Leading up to the first ever unification of the UFC and PRIDE light heavyweight belts at Saturday night’s UFC 75:  Champion vs. Champion, UFC fans were treated to 3 other fantastic fights.  Arguably the fight of the night belonged to “The Irish Hand Grenade” MARCUS DAVIS (13-3) and “Relentless” PAUL TAYLOR (8-2-1), two up and comers that weren’t part of the list of stars headlining the event.  They both lived up to their nicknames!  The fight lasted almost one round but was one of the most exciting fights you will witness in mixed martial arts, ending with DAVIS as the victor by armbar submission.  DAVIS had to overcome a devastating kick to the head that dropped him and almost ended the fight but “The Irish Hand Grenade” was able to reverse momentum several times to finally end the fight with a masterful armbar. 

Also on the card, emerging star, CHEICK KONGO (11-3-1)overcame a slow first round to dominate PRIDE FC legend MIRKO CRO COP (22-6-2).  After the first round, CRO COP seemed as if he’s back in the thick of things as his previous fight resulted in a  KO loss via a GABRIEL GONZALEZ head kick.  But as the second round went on, KONGO picked up confidence and started to slow CRO COP down with repeated knees to CRO COP’s gigantic thighs which showed leg fatigue for the Croatian the rest of the fight.  As CRO COP couldn’t get things going, KONGO showed he could do no wrong.  KONGO’s ground game appeared much improved, quickly making him a top contender for the UFC heavyweight belt.  Look out RANDY COUTURE!

England’s own MICHAEL BISPING (15-0) also overcame a terrible first round, where he almost lost the fight, to pull out a decision over nemsis MATT HAMILL (5-1).  With cuts under each eye, BISPING was able to box the rest of the way and keep it a standup fight.  As the fight wore on, HAMILL seemed to wear out as he was unable to take BISPING down to the mat, where he is most effective.  Eventhough it was a close fight, at the end of the fight, HAMILL said that BISPING “won fair and square”.  One judge scored all 3 rounds in favor of HAMILL.  Hopefully their beef is now over. 

The last fight of the night was a 5 round, all out war between two of the greatest in the business.  QUINTON “Rampage” JACKSON (28-6) and DAN “Hollywood” HENDERSON (22-6) went the distance in a back and forth matchup of with JACKSON pulling out a win.  Each fighter showed the tremendous level of fitness as they tried to force their will on the other.  Neither fighter was truly in any danger at any point in the fight and at the end, JACKSON did just enough to pull out the win.  Now crowned the undisputed greatest light heavyweight in the world.

The biggest question now is WHO will go after RAMPAGE’s belt?  Maybe the winner of the UFC 76:  KNOCKOUT between MAURICIO “Shogun” RUA and FORREST GRIFFIN will reveal the answer.  That result is coming up September 22, 2007!

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Well, the highly anticipated UFC 75 is almost here!  This fight is also of historical significance as it unifies the 205 lb. light heavyweight belts of the UFC and PRIDE FC.  The QUINTON “Rampage” JACKSON and DAN HENDERSON fight could be an epic battle between two hard hitting, never-say-die fighters, who happen to also be friends.  Here’s an interview leading up to this historic championship bout.  No whining allowed from those who don’t see it, as it is broadcast for free on SPIKE TV.

Video courtesy of Fightcoverage.com:

 

DAN HENDERSON’s big gamble

September 5, 2007

At UFC 75 this Saturday in London, England, “Dangerous” DAN HENDERSON will enter the octagon cage taking a huge gamble.  HENDERSON is the third high profile superstar to make the transition from PRIDE FC’s boxing-style ring into the UFC’s octagon cage.  HENDERSON’s debut fight this Saturday in the UFC octagon is for the UFC light heavyweight championship against a very confident champion and close buddy, QUINTON “RAMPAGE” JACKSON.  The previous two superstars to join the UFC from PRIDE were JACKSON and MIRKO “CRO COP” FILIPOVIC.  Both fighters’ UFC debuts were a bit uneasy, suggesting some discomfort and unfamiliarity with a cage as opposed to the boxing-style ring that made them the mega-stars they are today.

JACKSON’s debut inside the octagon vs. MARVIN EASTMAN, a hard nosed fighter who had defeated JACKSON in in 2000, was far from Rampage-ish.  Very tentative and nervous, JACKSON wound up knocking out EASTMAN in the 2nd round but not before UFC president DANA WHITE sweat out a ton of bullets.  JACKSON later admitted to being “the most nervous” he has ever been.  MIRKO CRO COP’s debut went far better against an over matched EDDIE SANCHEZ.  SANCHEZ, though, is a far less proven fighter than EASTMAN.  CRO COP’s 2nd fight didn’t go well at all, as he was KO’ed in devastating fashion by GABRIEL GONZAGA.  Again, some questions linger about his lack of experience inside a cage as opposed to a ring.

See where I’m going with this?   HENDERSON is a tremendous talent and his aggressive style is very difficult to handle for most fighters.  Is he ready for his first fight in the octagon cage in 9 years?  Is it smart to take on a high caliber champion like JACKSON as your debut fight inside the octagon cage – a forum unfamiliar to HENDERSON since 1998?  Why take on a fight for a championship as your very first fight inside the UFC cage in a long time?  Will there be cage rust?

A warm up fight would have been the safer choice, but then again when it comes to HENDERSON’s vocabulary, the word “SAFE” does not exist.

 

MIRKO CRO COP is a joker …

September 3, 2007

NO, really!  This is a dated clip of CRO COP, with the help of BAS RUTTEN, playing a practical joke on MMA celebrity broadcast announcer MAURO RANALLO.  With RUTTEN playing the role of ASHTON KUTCHER from MTV’s “Punk’d”, RANALLO thought he was going to get hit with a patented CRO COP left leg kick to the head.  Luckily for RANALLO, he was only hit with a practical joke by two of the most humble guys in mixed martial arts.  Rumor has it that after finding out it was all just a practical a joke and that his life was not in any danger, RANALLO immediately visited the bathroom to dispose of his soiled underwear.

MIRKO the joker: