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.

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.

 

C-A-S-H.  Period.  FEDOR EMELIANENKO, inarguably the best mixed martial arts fighter in the world at any weight class, has been the sport’s highest paid fighter for years.  Since the UFC’s purchase of PRIDE FC, top PRIDE fighters have been hand picked and brought into the UFC to fight in the octagon cage.  Most UFC fighters don’t have much say in their pay and are, justly, happy to be there for the opportunity of a lifetime.  FEDOR is not just happy to be there.  He has proven to be the most feared and proven fighter in the sport.  His only fight in the U.S – PRIDE FC:  Shockwave – led to a  $2,000,000 payout , which poses a financial dilemma for the UFC.  How can the UFC pay FEDOR huge sums of money while present Champions, such as superstar ANDERSON SILVA, are being paid $45,000 for defending their title?  If FEDOR commands $2million per fight, what will happen the next time SILVA fights … what will he want to be paid?  In a sport where you can fall from grace with one kick to the head, established fighters may start asking for a big pay raise.  FEDOR needs the UFC as much as the UFC needs FEDOR.  Can you imagine the top mixed martial arts organization in the world without the ability to showcase the top fighter in the sport?  Both sides have to make this happen – both for their respective sides and more imporantly for the fans.  It would have been a shame to go through the 1970’s and to never have watched Muhammad Ali do what he did in the sport of boxing.  The best way to describe FEDOR would be to think of MIKE TYSON in his heydays … turbo charged!  The day FEDOR enters the octagon will be a wonderful treat for all mixed martial arts fans.  Just find a weakness in his game … we double dare you!

This is not a picture of UFC President Dana White on his back:

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Following his bout with David Heath at UFC 74: Respect, “Babalu” Sobral showed Heath anything but respect!  In fact, Sobral’s neglect in keeping an anaconda choke on Heath for an extra 3 to 4 seconds after referee Steve Mazzagatti tried to stop the fight, has forced UFC president Dana White to terminate Sobral’s contract with the UFC.  According to ufcjunkie.com, Sobral admitted to his shameful action in the ring during a post-fight interview – he wanted to teach Heath “a lesson” for disrespecting him during the previous day’s fight weigh-ins.

Sobral is an extremely intense fighter in the ring.  His intensity level was apparent after he was knocked out by Chuck Liddell in their uneventful bout last year.  Sobral woke up with referee John McCarthy on top of him, calling an end to the fight.  He then immediately tried to put McCarthy into a leg lock, not realizing the fight was over and that he was trying to submit the referee, not Liddell.

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His intensity is in no way a defense for his actions against Heath, especially since his adherence to the choke hold was self-admitted.  The UFC has justly taken swift action but there is a feeling that we will once again see Sobral in the octagon.  Past UFC fighters have left, vowing to never return to the UFC.  Think:  BJ Penn and Tito Ortiz, two of the most popular fighters in the organization.  When asked if he thinks Sobral is gone for good, UFC President Dana White responded with, “I never say never”.  If Sobral never returns, there’s always Elite XC – licking their chops as we speak.

MIRKO CRO COP training

August 29, 2007

Here’s some dated footage of Mirko’s training regimen.  He will beef up the sessions as his fight with CHEICK KONGO on September 8, 2007 arrives.  His past opponents are some of the best in mixed martial arts world but his fight against KONGO is undoubtedly one the most important in his career.

don’t ever get kicked by Mirko:

Las Vegas, August 25, 2007 – Following his thorough domination of JOSH KOSCHECK (9-2-0) at Saturday night’s UFC 74: RESPECT event, GEORGES ST. PIERRE (14-2-0) once again showed the world why he is the most dominating welterweight in the UFC.  Following his embarrassing loss to MATT SERRA in his first title defense of the welterweight belt, his doubters immediately came out of their caves.  His heart, mind, drive and chin were quickly questioned as his first title defense turned out as ugly as a picture of Britney Spears exiting a limousine.  ST. PIERRE immediately dropped his trainers and went to Alberquerque, New Mexico to train with GREG JACKSON – well known for developing raw talent such as RASHAD EVANS, DIEGO SANCHEZ, NATE MARQUARDT, JOEY VILLASENOR and others.  ST. PIERRE’S arrival at the JACKSON camp led to DIEGO SANCHEZ’s immediate departure, sighting ST. PIERRE’s arrival as his reason.  SANCHEZ’s departure creates a dramatic scenario if the two meet up in the future – a potential match for the welterweight championship if SANCHEZ recovers from his previous fight, a loss to nemesis JOSH KOSCHECK.  ST. PIERRE’S immediate return to superstardom in the UFC has set up some potentially phenomenal match ups in the welterweight division.  Former longtime champ MATT HUGHES, the perpertual underdog MATT SERRA, the suffocating KARO PARYSIAN, time bomb DIEGO SANCHEZ and now ST. PIERRE have created a welterweight division that is exploding with talent and amazing future brawls.  Sprinkle in a slew of young, hungry talent and a bunch of PRIDE FC’s best and you have the makings of a UFC battle royalle…with cheese!  Buy a truckload of popcorn and start saving now for the next 20 UFC pay per view events!  Stay tuned…

ST. PIERRE speaks to fans at a UFC 74 afterparty: