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MMA News – January 31, 2011

January 31, 2011 Leave a comment

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Categories: MMA News

Key Fights – Week of January 31

January 31, 2011 Leave a comment

UFC 126 looks to be one of the better events in recent memory with a dozen ranked fighters in competition.  One title fight, two big light heavyweight fights, and the UFC debut of multiple WEC fighters.

UFC 126 (2/5/2011)

  • Middleweight Title: (c) Anderson Silva (27-4, No. 1 MW) vs. Vitor Belfort (19-8, No. 4 MW)
  • Light Heavyweight: Ryan Bader (12-0, No. 5 LHW) vs. Jon Jones (11-1, No. 6 LHW)
  • Light Heavyweight: Forrest Griffin (17-6, No. 7 LHW) vs. Rich Franklin (28-5, 1 NC, No. 13 LHW)
  • Welterweight: Jake Ellenberger (22-5, No. 12 WW) vs. Carlos Eduardo Rocha (9-0)
  • Bantamweight: Miguel Torres (38-3, No. 6 BW) vs. Antonio Banuelos (18-6, No. 15 BW)
  • Featherweight: Michihiro Omigawa (12-8-1, No. 3 FEW) vs. Chad Mendes (9-0, No. 11 FEW)
  • Bantamweight: Demetrious Johnson (8-1, No. 11 BW) vs. Norifumi Yamamoto (18-3, 1 NC)
Categories: Weekly Fights

UFC 3

January 30, 2011 5 comments

It would be six months after UFC 2 that the Ultimate Fighting Championship would return to pay-per-view.  Royce Gracie has won the first two openweight UFC tournaments, and really, there hasn’t been a fighter that’s looked like a peer of the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu legend.  Gracie has torn through the competition, winning seven fights in these first two tournaments.  Would Gracie continue his dominance in the octagon?  Or would a new challenger step up and win the third UFC tournament?

UFC 3: The American Dream – September 9, 1994

Previous Editions

For the first time in its history, the UFC would travel outside the Denver area.  UFC 3 would take place in Charlotte, North Carolina – very appropriate for a card that would later be known as “The American Dream.”  Sadly, Dusty Rhodes and Ric Flair wouldn’t make appearances in the octagon despite the event being in NWA country.

One thing I’ve failed to note is that parental advisory is suggested for these UFC events.  I feel it’s only fair that the same parental advisory apply to my descriptions.  No child should be subjected to terrible jokes and excessive fight descriptions, so I advise you click away from this entry as soon as possible.

Brian Kilmeade is back and his hair is looking as bad as ever.  Jim Brown is back and, really, I don’t have a problem with the work he does.  His work is about what you would expect from an NFL running back who presumably has brain damage.  Ben Perry is back and…well, his hair is also bad.  He’s got a nice little pocket square, so that’s something.

The first montage of this event is just as bad as all previous montages.  Fighters are generically labeled as either “punchers” or “grapplers.”  We then see Kimo Leopoldo kicking a heavy bag while being called a “puncher”.  I fear that I might take my own life prior to reaching events where these fighting styles don’t need to be simplified.  I know that Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg aren’t the best, but I’m praying that they’ll rescue me from Brian Kilmeade and Ben Perry very, very soon.

The tournament bracket is presented and the following fighters are the participants in UFC 3:

Emmanuel Yarborough
Keith Hackney

Ken Shamrock
Christophe Leininger

Harold Howard
Roland Payne

Royce Gracie
Kimo Leopoldo

There are only two familiar faces, with Shamrock and Gracie the only combatants to participate in either of the first two events.  Kimo is also participating, which should be fun.  Jim Brown is apparently afraid of Kimo’s ponytail, but I’m not sure why.  Though it would occur two years later, Kimo holds the distinction of being the only MMA opponent of professional wrestler Bam Bam Bigelow.  Kimo was victorious only because the flying headbutt was not a legal maneuver.

Emmanuel Yarborough vs. Keith Hackney will be the first fight tonight.  Emmanuel is apparently a sumo fighter, which doesn’t surprise me.  He’s over 600 pounds, most of which appears to be in his breasts.  Keith Hackney is a favorite of mine, as he’s one of the first UFC fighters out of Illinois.  Hackney’s Combat Academy is currently located in Roselle, Illinois, so he’s still keeping active in combat sports.  I’m tempted to reach out to him and see how receptive he would be to an interview, but I’m scared he would reply by choking me through the phone.  I’ll keep you posted about that.

Ring announcer Rich Goins appears to have received a memo notifying him that he must wear a tuxedo, though he missed the memo about no longer yelling into the microphone.  Yarborough is the heavier man by more than 400 pounds, which doesn’t bode well for Hackney.  Yarborough lurches forward with his fists up and doesn’t look like he feels like swinging.  Hackney catches Yarborough with a nice punch and knocks the bigger man to the mat.  Hackney charges in, but Yarborough takes his back and swings wildly at Hackney’s head.  When Emmanuel kneels, both fighters appear to be the same size – that’s pretty scary.

Hackney manages to pull away and gets shoved out of the octagon by Yarborough.  I believe that this would constitute a no contest in modern MMA, but the fight continues at UFC 3.  Hackney looks for an opening against the larger fighter and attempts multiple punches and kicks, which seem to have little effect.  Yarborough grabs Hackney’s leg during an attempted kick, but Hackney lands some nice punches that his massive opponent.

Hackney spends maybe the next thirty seconds pounding the face and head of Emmanuel Yarborough.  “Big” John McCarthy checks on Yarborough, who appear to verbally tap out.  Keith Hackney was significantly more skilled than his opponent, which was very evident during this fight.  Hackney fought a six-hundred pound man about as well as anybody could, though I’m surprised that Hackney didn’t try to kick his downed opponent.

A montage is shown of Ken Shamrock sparring in blue jeans, as the next fight will pit Shamrock vs. Christophe Leininger.  Leininger is highlighted as a world class judo practitioner and this should make for a very interesting fight.  Both men start by feeling each other out, with Leininger circling Shamrock.  Leininger shoots in but is shoved to the ground by Shamrock.

Shamrock is in Leininger’s guard and both men struggle to advance position.  Leininger throws a number of short punches from his back and they appear to do little, if any damage.  Leininger and Shamrock exchange headbutts, but there is very little action on the mat.  Leininger stays active on defense and appears to attempt a submission, but Shamrock quickly escapes and manages to take Leininger’s back.  Leininger did a poor job maintaining position and allowed Shamrock to escape guard and take a dominant position.

Shamrock has a hook in and throws some elbows into Leininger’s back and ribs.  “Big” John angrily commands Leininger to work, despite having Shamrock draped on his back.  Leininger tries to shrug Shamrock off, but ends up in Shamrock’s mount and then his guard.  Shamrock continues to pressure Leininger, striking the downed opponent until Leininger taps out due to strikes.  Shamrock and Hackney will now face off in the semifinals.

Roland Payne will face Harold Howard in the third quarterfinal fight.  Judging by his name, I thought that Roland Payne would be black.  Is that unreasonable for me to think?  I don’t think it is.  Instead, Roland Payne looks…well, very white.  The North Carolina native vows to treat his opponent to some local “Payne”.

Harold Howard, meanwhile, is a very different individual.  If you’re a fan of MMA and you don’t know Harold Howard, then I’ll just assume you have good taste in fighters.  Harold may or may not be related to “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan, though Howard’s Canadian ancestry makes that unlikely.  Harold Howard wear sunglasses during his prefight statement, which is just too funny to be real.

Oh man, this is awesome.  I hope Harold Howard never loses a fight so we can keep seeing videos like this.  Harold Howard dons a wife-beater tank top in the cage, which is oddly appropriate since he’s currently spending time in jail for domestic abuse.  He didn’t necessarily beat up his wife, but I guess attacking his sister and nephew with a claw hammer is close enough.  Howard proceeded to drive his truck into a casino before being arrested and sentenced to five years in prison.

But the matter at hand is this third quarterfinal fight and this one doesn’t last very long.  Howard, who somehow looks like Roland Payne’s uncle, aggressively charges Payne and attempts some quick punches.  Harold attempts to takedown his opponent, but Payne manages to roll on top.  Howard and Payne work back to their feet and Howard hits a takedown that looks more like a DDT.

Both men are back to their feet again, since it looks like both fighters have no interest keeping this fight on the mat.  Payne pursues Howard and pushes him against the cage, but Harold Howard doesn’t take kindly to being cornered.  Howard swings wildly and appears to knock out Payne with a right cross.  Harold Howard pulls off the victory in less than one minute, advancing to the semifinals.

Apparently, Gary Busey is in the corner of Roland Payne?  How was this not announced until after the fight?  I think that just adds to how over-the-top crazy this fight really was.  This won’t be the last we see of Harold Howard and I’m very grateful for that.

The final quarterfinal bout looks to be the toughest, pitting Royce Gracie and newcomer Kimo Leopoldo.  Gracie’s reputation truly precedes him as he gets a nice hand from the North Carolina crowd.  In about one year, Gracie has become known as one of the most dangerous fighters in the world.  The UFC has done a lot to expose Gracie to the American public, but Kimo looks to stop the BJJ master.

Kimo is declared to be a “warrior in the service of the lord”, which is evident with “JESUS” tattooed on his stomach and a cross tattooed on his back.  Kimo, a practicing minister, says his purpose is to expose the world to Jesus Christ, though I think he’d also like to pummel Royce Gracie into submission.  Kimo decides that it’s a good idea to carry a cross to the cage and this North Carolina crowd has no idea how to react.  It’s not quite “Jesus Didn’t Tap“, but Kimo has already done his part to combine MMA and Christianity.

Kimo stalks Gracie, who attempts a takedown and ends up shoving Kimo against the cage.  Both men struggle and, for the second time tonight, the octagon door gives way to Royce and Kimo.    “Big” John brings the men back into the cage and Royce maintains control against the cage wall.  Gracie throws a headbutt and a knee to the groin, showing that his skills aren’t exclusive to jiu-jitsu.

Gracie tries to bring Kimo down, but Kimo takes Gracie’s back.  Kimo stays in control by keeping a tight grasp on Gracie’s gi.  Royce reverses to a dominant position, and then Kimo reverses into Gracie’s guard.  Kimo continues to try and advance, but Gracie holds Kimo in his guard.  Gracie grabs Kimo by his ponytail and throws punches at Kimo from his back.  Kimo seems to stumble over Gracie, who attempts to stand but has his back taken by the Hawaiian.

Kimo attempts a takedown and goes into Gracie’s guard, which is a big mistake.  Immediately, Gracie works for an armbar which forces Kimo to tap.  Gracie managed to weather the storm from Kimo and win the bout, though both men appear to be exhausted.  Kimo’s eye is bloodied and Gracie can barely stand on his own.  Gracie advances to fight Harold Howard, but it doesn’t look promising that he’ll be able to continue.

We learn that Felix Lee Mitchell will be taking the place of the injured Keith Hackney in the semifinals.  I imagine that Hackney hurt himself while throwing dozens of punches at Emmanuel Yarborough’s spiral ham of a head.  Mitchell will take on Ken Shamrock in the first semifinal fight.  Mitchell is equal parts martial artist and corrections officer, so he would have made a great opponent for Harold Howard, but he’ll have to settle on Ken Shamrock.

Shamrock has changed into a different color trunks, similar to “Macho Man” Randy Savage at Wrestlemania IV.  Shamrock doesn’t seem like much of a showman at this point, so I’m not sure what changing trunks accomplishes.  Shamrock attempts to take Mitchell down, but Mitchell’s takedown defense (grabbing the cage) forces Shamrock into the clinch.  Shamrock works for a choke against the fence, but isn’t able to get into position to pull that off.

Mitchell and Shamrock exchange position along the cage, both men throwing knees and punches.  Mitchell appears to be hurt, but continues throwing punches at Shamrock’s midsection.  Shamrock appears to be extremely tired, which explains his inactivity aside from a few intermittent punches.  Shamrock eventually manages a takedown and mounts Mitchell.  Shamrock takes Mitchell’s back and submits the alternate fighter.  Shamrock, much like Royce Gracie, is having a lot of trouble walking and needs help to get out of the cage.  Shamrock advances to the finals, but I’m becoming worried about the health of these fighters.

Brian Kilmeade reviews the tournament bracket and claims that Harold Howard and Roland Payne fought for five minutes.  I guess watching Harold Howard is so mesmerizing that it impacts your conception of time, since that bout only lasted 46 seconds.  That leads to the second semifinal fight between Howard and Royce Gracie.  They cut to a clip of Howard discussing Royce Gracie, and the Canadian seems excited at the prospect of taking on the jiu-jitsu legend.

Howard makes his way to the cage and seems very amped up.  I don’t want to say it’s because of methamphetamine usage, but Howard’s teeth do looked a little jacked up.  Based on the videos we’ve seen, Howard seems to operate on a natural high that few people are able to accomplish.  This isn’t a man who needs methamphetamine – just a hammer and a pickup truck.

Royce Gracie makes his way to the cage and appears to be having trouble standing.  He enters the cage but looks absolutely exhausted.  Royce’s corner pulls “Big” John McCarthy aside and they end up throwing in the towel.  Somehow, Howard seems to be terribly upset with this decision.  The man wanted a legitimate chance to fight the best in the world, regardless of how the fight may have gone, but Harold Howard will have to settle for a forfeit victory.

Out of nowhere, Kimo and his hype man (Joe San) make their way to the cage.  They’re apparently celebrating Royce’s forfeiture as if Kimo had defeated the man.  I didn’t see Kimo celebrating when he got tapped out by Gracie, so it’s big of him to come out and gloat now.  Something tells me that Jesus wouldn’t approve of this, but this night isn’t about Jesus: it’s about Kimo!  That’s according to Kimo, at least.

Gary Busey is shown in the crowd yet again and has become the first celebrity appearance at a UFC event.  From Gary Busey to Michael Clarke Duncan to Jude Law and The Rock, the level of celebrities at the UFC has vastly improved over time.  I wonder if Gary Busey has attended each successive UFC event, except that he’s not shown anymore.  Busey is more famous today as a junkie who was in a motorcycle accident than an actor, so he’s not really an impressive celebrity “get” anymore.

Highlights of the previous fights are shown prior to our finals match, which once looked like it would be the long-awaited rematch between Ken Shamrock and Royce Gracie.  It then became Shamrock and Harold Howard, and now…Harold Howard and Steve Jennum?  Apparently, Ken Shamrock is now out of the tournament due to injury and his place will be taken by Steve Jennum.  These finals are shaping up to be something different.

Jennum, a police officer, says he’s here to “bust” the Ultimate Fighting Champion.  Ben Perry says that Harold Howard couldn’t be interviewed prior to the fight, as he was too busy yelling backstage.  That sounds about right to me.  Harold is absolutely ready to go and seems primed to win UFC 3.

Despite this being his third event, Rich Goins announces the event as the “Ultimate Fight Fighting Championships”.  Can we get rid of this guy already?  Howard feints a few kicks and punches and misses badly with a forward rolling kick.  He hits Jennum with a clean punch and attempts a guillotine choke.  Both men go to the ground, but Howard can’t complete the choke as both men stand back up.  Jennum lands a big punch against Howard, who wildly swings until being taken down.

Jennum lands some big shots in mount as “Big” John asks Howard’s corner to protect their fighter.  The towel is thrown and Howard taps, just as McCarthy stops the fight.  Alternate Steve Jennum is the winner of this tournament and $60,000, despite having fought only once.  During his postfight interview, Harold Howard declares, “Well…I told you, if it worked it worked.  And it did and I didn’t.  So in the end it didn’t.”  Absolutely brilliant.

So Jennum celebrates with the novelty check, which has become a part of UFC tradition.  This event, later named “The American Dream”, would have been more appropriately named “The Night of the Alternates”.  Not as sexy, but definitely a more accurate name.  This night looked very promising, but a series of tough fights and injuries led to a somewhat disappointing final match.  The bout between Kimo and Royce was truly a classic, but the later round alternates truly hurt the tournament format.

This event introduced a number of fighters that we’ll see going forward.  Shamrock and Gracie will surely be back and Kimo seems like a potential fighter on future cards.  Will Harold Howard and Keith Hackney return?  And what about now reigning champion Steve Jennum?  There are a number of questions heading into UFC 4, which should be a very intriguing card.  Jim Brown signs off with his signature “adios” (???) as this night comes to a close.

Greatest Fights of UFC 3

  1. Royce Gracie vs. Kimo Leopoldo
  2. Ken Shamrock vs. Christophe Leininger
  3. Ken Shamrock vs. Felix Lee Mitchell
  4. Harold Howard vs. Roland Payne
  5. Steve Jennum vs. Harold Howard
  6. Keith Hackney vs. Emmanuel Yarborough
  7. Harold Howard vs. Royce Gracie

Top Ten Fights Through UFC 3

  1. Royce Gracie vs. Kimo Leopoldo – UFC 3
  2. Royce Gracie vs. Ken Shamrock – UFC 1
  3. Ken Shamrock vs. Christophe Leininger – UFC 3
  4. Ken Shamrock vs. Patrick Smith – UFC 1
  5. Kevin Rosier vs. Zane Frasier – UFC 1
  6. Royce Gracie vs. Minoki Ichihara – UFC 2
  7. Royce Gracie vs. Gerard Gordeau – UFC 1
  8. Thaddeus Luster vs. Frank Hamaker – UFC 2
  9. Orlando Weit vs. Roberto Lucarelli – UFC 2
  10. Jason Delucia vs. Scott Baker – UFC 2

Greatest Fighters of UFC 3

  1. Royce Gracie (1-1)
  2. Ken Shamrock (2-0)
  3. Steve Jennum (1-0)
  4. Harold Howard (2-1)
  5. Kimo Leopoldo (0-1)
  6. Keith Hackney (1-0)
  7. Christophe Leininger (0-1)
  8. Felix Lee Mitchell (0-1)
  9. Roland Payne (0-1)
  10. Emmanuel Yarborough (0-1)

Top Ten Fighters Through UFC 3

  1. Royce Gracie (8-1)
  2. Ken Shamrock (3-1)
  3. Patrick Smith (3-2)
  4. Gerard Gordeau (2-1)
  5. Steve Jennum (1-0)
  6. Remco Pardoel (2-1)
  7. Harold Howard (2-1)
  8. Johnny Rhodes (2-1)
  9. Kimo Leopoldo (0-1)
  10. Orlando Weit (1-1)
Categories: Ranking the UFC

Strikeforce – Diaz vs. Cyborg Results

January 30, 2011 Leave a comment

Welterweight Title: Nick Diaz d. Evangelista Santos (Submission – Round 2, 4:50)

This ended up being a very fun fight which showed off the contrast between two great strikers.  Santos threw a number of powerful kicks and put a lot behind his punches, but Diaz’s boxing was spot on and kept “Cyborg” off guard.  “Cyborg” looked to gas out fairly early, but fought hard in the second round.  It meant little, as Diaz was able to control this fight with very sharp striking.  Once Santos scored the takedown, Diaz’s jiu-jitsu was beautiful.  He submitted “Cyborg” with little time left in the second round and cemented his place as one of the top Welterweights in the world.

Middleweight Title: Ronaldo Souza d. Robbie Lawler (Submission – Round 3, 2:00)

Souza’s grappling was too much for the veteran Lawler, as “Jacare” was able to pull of the rear naked choke in round 3.  It looked like Souza was in a bit of trouble in round 1, but Lawler did a poor job taking advantage of a dazed opponent.  Lawler seemed to have no problem following “Jacare” to the ground, which was a massive mistake.  Lawler defended Souza fairly well on the ground, but the superior grappling of “Jacare” caught up to Lawler in the end.

Light Heavyweight: Roger Gracie d. Trevor Prangley (Submission – Round 1, 4:19)

Roger Gracie looked very, very impressive tonight.  Once the fight got to the ground, Gracie’s work was beautiful.  Prangley, an experienced fighter, was absolutely defenseless to Gracie’s prodigal grappling.  Prangley couldn’t do a thing without Gracie being draped all over him.  I look forward to a step up in competition for Gracie, and a fight with “King Mo” Lawal would be a great bout.

Heavyweight: Herschel Walker d. Scott Carson (TKO – Round 1, 3:13)

No surprises in this fight as Walker controlled Carson most of the way.  Walker was aggressive throughout the fight and put a ton of pressure on Carson.  Walker put himself into bad positions, which took him too long to recognize.  I can see why Herschel is fighting guys like Greg Nagy and Carson, since he might have a really hard time against a more capable heavyweight fighter.

Women’s Welterweight: Germaine de Randamie d. Stephanie Webber (KO – Round 1, 4:25)

Germaine de Randamie’s kickboxing was as advertised as she scored a brutal knockout win over Stephanie Webber.  de Randamie’s groundwork is improving, though it leaves a lot to be desired.  Once she gets a little more training in, she should easily be one of the top female fighters in Strikeforce.

Welterweight: Nate Moore d. Nathan Coy (KO – Round 2, 0:25)

Nate Moore’s striking look very sharp in this knockout victory.  Coy did very little damage and didn’t do much to put Moore in trouble.  We should see Moore on an upcoming Challengers card following this victory.

Lightweight: Isaiah Hill d. Bobby Stack (Submission – Round 1, 1:02)

I’ll definitely have to eat some crow on this one as Hill was able to get a quick win.  He caught Stack off guard early with some knees and Hill pulled off the submission when it went to the ground.  In all honesty, neither fighter looked very good.  In victory, Hill still managed to look lost and seemed more willing to throw flashy shots instead of effective shots.  A win is a win, but I’m not sure how far Isaiah Hill can go in Strikeforce.

Catchweight (180 lbs.): Ron Keslar d. Eric Lawson (Submission – Round 1, 1:57)

Lawson appeared to be in control very early on, but Keslar grabbed a nice armbar and forced Lawson to tap out.  Keslar kept his cool when under pressure and got the victory.

Welterweight: James Terry d. Lucas Gamaza (TKO – Round 1, 3:26)

Terry looked pretty sharp in dispatching his bigger opponent.  Gamaza just couldn’t keep up with Terry and got hit pretty hard for his troubles.  James Terry should get another look on an upcoming Strikeforce Challengers show.

Women’s Catchweight (120 lbs.): Jenna Castillo d. Charlene Gellner (TKO – Round 2, 3:57)

Castillo’s striking was the difference in this fight.  Gellner worked to bring the fight to the ground, but Castillo proved to be too dangerous.  Both fighters looked raw, but Castillo showed a bit of potential.

Amateur Catchweight (150 lbs.): Anthony Dariano d. Alan Perez (Unanimous Decision)

Amateur Catchweight (165 lbs.): Ricky Jackson d. Niko Jackson (Unanimous Decision)

Amateur Welterweight: Armin Safiari d. Sam Bracamonte (Unanimous Decision)

Categories: Fight Results

Strikeforce – Diaz vs. Cyborg Preview

January 29, 2011 Leave a comment

Most of the hype for tonight’s Strikeforce show has been for former NFL running back Herschel Walker.  Specifically, Walker’s remarks regarding a potential NFL comeback have been all over the news.  Realistically, this is all just hype for Walker’s MMA career.  A 48 year old running back would have little to no chance of surviving a 16 or 18 game NFL schedule, though if any 48 year old could, it would be Herschel Walker.

For most MMA fans, the big story tonight isn’t Walker, but the two Strikeforce Championships on the line tonight.  Nick Diaz will put up his Welterweight Title against Evangelista “Cyborg” Santos, while Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza will defend his Middleweight Title against Robbie Lawler.  We’ll see a Gracie in action tonight, as well as the Strikeforce debut for a highly touted women’s prospect.

The main card for tonight’s show will be on Showtime at 10:00 PM EST/9:00 PM CST, while preliminary fights will be broadcast on Sherdog.com at 8:15 PM EST/7:15 PM CST.

Welterweight Title: (c) Nick Diaz (23-7, 1 NC, No. 7 WW) vs. Evangelista Santos (18-13)

I’m not as excited about this fight as most people seem to be, though I appreciate the opportunity to see Nick Diaz fight.  Diaz is one of the top welterweights not currently in the UFC, having won his last eight fights.  “Cyborg” Santos has won two in a row including a big win over Marius Zaromskis.

Diaz is a powerful boxer and is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, so he’s a very dangerous and well-rounded fighter.  Santos’ has a very similar background, as he’s also a BJJ black belt.  He can’t match Diaz in boxing, but he’s proven to be capable of ending fights.  On paper, both fights seem well-matched, though Diaz’s boxing seems to be an advantage.

In the back of my mind, I’m hoping for some kind of WWE wrestling scenario where Evangelista Santos is injured before the fight.  Scott Coker announces that Diaz will still be fighting a “Cyborg” and that he will take on Cristiane in an intergender battle of the ages.  Nick Diaz vs. Cris “Cyborg” would be a really fun fight, though I worry about Nick Diaz decapitating his female opponent.

Sadly, I don’t see this fight going much differently with Evangelista fighting instead of Cris.  Nick Diaz is a very good boxer and should be able to keep “Cyborg” at a good distance with his effectively accurate striking.  Santos has really good power, but he doesn’t have the gas tank to last beyond a couple of rounds.  Nick Diaz’s pinpoint striking will prove to be too much for the challenger and Diaz should retain his Welterweight Title.

Middleweight Title: (c) Ronaldo Souza (13-2, 1 NC, No. 7 MW) vs. Robbie Lawler (18-6, 1 NC, No. 11 MW)

“Jacare” will look to continue his current three fight winning streak, while Robbie Lawler appears to be Souza’s toughest opponent to date.  Souza won the vacant Middleweight Title by defeating Tim Kennedy in August 2010.  Lawler’s striking has looked scary good in wins against Matt Lindland and the very talented Melvin Manhoef, and he looks to claim the Middleweight Title tonight.

Souza is a judo and Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu black belt, taking multiple ADCC and Jiu-Jitsu world championships.  His grappling is outstanding and will be a far greater challenge to Lawler than Matt Lindland.  Lawler, on the other hand, is a very dangerous striker.  He has the potential to end any fight in a split second (just ask Melvin Manhoef.)  With power like that, you can never count Robbie Lawler out of a fight.

Of course, Souza will look to keep this fight on the ground and is capable of doing so.  Lawler will need to have his takedown defense ready for tonight, as he stands no chance if this fight goes to the ground.  Souza will have to be very quick with any strikes and has to score multiple takedowns to neutralize Lawler’s striking.  I think one title will change hands tonight and it will be the Middleweight Title.  Lawler’s power will prove to be too much for “Jacare” and the veteran will become the new Strikeforce Middleweight Champion.

Light Heavyweight: Trevor Prangley (23-6-1, No. 24 LHW) vs. Roger Gracie (3-0)

Prangley and Gracie makes for an interesting light heavyweight contest.  The South African Prangley is coming off a win at Shark Fights against UFC veteran Keith Jardine.  Gracie has started his brief career with three wins, though taking two years off between fights maybe hasn’t been the best in his MMA development.  That doesn’t change the fact that his grappling is world class, as he demonstrated against Kevin Randleman in May 2010.

Gracie has won ten world grappling championships – yes, he’s one of those Gracies.  Judging by the family tree, I think he is the second cousin of the legendary Royce Gracie.  That aside, Roger has already established his own reputation as one of the greatest grapplers in the world.  Prangley is a former NCAA Division 1 wrestler, but I don’t think he’ll want to go anywhere near the mat in this fight.  Prangley will have to depend on his boxing and Muay Thai experience to win this fight.

This fight will say a lot about Gracie’s MMA potential, as Prangley is a very tough fighter.  Strikeforce is likely hoping that Gracie becomes a top contender in their light heavyweight division.  The Gracie name is very familiar and marketable in MMA, which probably isn’t lost on Scott Coker.  Prangley’s gameplan should be to out strike Gracie – I can’t see him deciding to wrestle such a dangerous submission artist.  If Prangley can keep this fight standing, he should be able to defeat an unproven striker.  I don’t see how Gracie won’t get a hold of Prangley and submit him with such an impeccable background in grappling.

Heavyweight: Herschel Walker (1-0) vs. Scott Carson (4-1)

In nearly ten years of MMA competition, these two men have a combined two victories.  I think that says more about Scott Carson than it does former Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker.  Carson returned to MMA in 2010 after a nine year layoff, losing his first fight back.  Walker won his fight and only bout, dominating a lesser opponent in Greg Nagy.

It’s clear that Strikeforce is putting Herschel Walker in a position to win this fight.  Chad Griggs proved against Bobby Lashley that absolutely anything can happen in MMA.  Of course, Bobby Lashley wasn’t much of a fighter to begin with.  God knows what Herschel Walker will be able to accomplish in MMA, but Strikeforce is hoping for the best.  That doesn’t change the fact that Walker is 48 years of age.

It’s hard for me to see a situation in which Walker doesn’t win tonight.  He’s in phenomenal shape, so his conditioning shouldn’t be a worry.  And his teachers are amongst the best at the American Kickboxing Academy.  Walker’s been put in a great position to succeed and he seems willing to do the work needed.  Walker should pull of a TKO victory tonight, leaving us to anticipate his next can of an opponent.

Women’s Welterweight: Germaine de Randamie (1-1, No. 14 WWW) vs. Stephanie Webber (1-1)

Both of these fighters are 1-1 coming into this fight and will be making their Strikeforce debuts, but that doesn’t tell the story here.  Germaine de Randamie is one of the greatest kickboxers in the world.  And I’m not saying she’s one of the greatest female kickboxers, but one of the greatest kickboxers period.  Before entering MMA, she went undefeated in kickboxing winning over 40 bouts winning multiple world titles.  She’s legitimately one of the great strikers in MMA – her Muay Thai is world class.

And this isn’t to take away from Stephanie Webber or to say she doesn’t stand a chance.  Vanessa Porto had little trouble defeating de Randamie in her MMA debut, but something tells me that will be one of the few losses we see out of the kickboxing champion.  If Webber could bring de Randamie to the ground, I could see this fight going her way.  I have every expectation that we’ll see the first of many knockouts by de Randamie tonight.

Welterweight: Nate Moore (6-2) vs. Nathan Coy (8-3)

This should be a very interesting fight between two future welterweight contenders.  Though both fighters are coming off losses, Moore to Tarec Saffiedine and Coy to top contender Tyron Woodley, this should be a very competitive bout with potential implications in the welterweight division.

Both fighters are strong wrestlers, Moore from Purdue University and Coy at Oregon State University.  Coy has continued his wrestling work at Team Quest while Moore has taken his talents to the American Kickboxing Academy.  Moore’s shown to be a talented striker, winning four fights by KO, TKO, or submission due to punches.  Coy’s wrestling is very strong and has shown great talent defeating fighters like Mike Pierce and Rick Story.  Coy’s wrestling ability is truly top notch and he should have the advantage on the ground.

This fight will be extremely hard fought and will likely spend a lot of time on the mat.  We’re dealing with two experienced wrestlers here, though Moore’s AKA training has certainly done him a lot of favors.  That said, I feel like Coy will still be able to control the fight.  Moore won’t be easy to finish, so a decision victory is likely.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Nate Moore could pull of the win, but I feel like Coy’s wrestling will be too difficult to deal with.

Lightweight: Bobby Stack (8-1) vs. Isaiah Hill (4-7-1, 1 NC)

This will be Bobby Stack’s second fight for Strikeforce, having defeated Derrick Burnsed in June 2010.  Hill has had some really tough luck lately, winning a single fight dating back to September 2006.  He’s in the midst of his second stint with Strikeforce, going 0-2 in both of his fights with the promotion.

Stack is a very strong wrestler who has been able to control fights during his current five fight win streak, all wins coming by decision.  Hill, meanwhile, has proven to be very versatile.  He’s experienced losses by knockout, submission, and decision – truly a very experienced loser.  Hill’s presence in Strikeforce appears to be a favor to Cung Le – Hill fights out of Cung Le’s Universal Strength Headquarters.  Hill’s training in the James McSweeney School of Favors likely won’t do him any good as Stack should be able to control the duration of this fight.

Catchweight (180 lbs.): Eric Lawson (9-3) vs. Ron Keslar (5-3)

Both of these fighters are coming off losses, with Ron Keslar losing to Josh McDonald in October and Eric Lawson falling to Wayne Phillips more than a year ago.  Lawson had won his four previous fights for Strikeforce, while Keslar is 0-2 in the promotion.  Lawson’s been dealing with injuries over the last year, which has kept him largely inactive.

Keslar’s been training at the American Kickboxing Academy, so his striking should be strong.  AKA generally produces top flight kickboxers in MMA such as Cain Velasquez, Jon Fitch, and Josh Koscheck.  Keslar is also a very good wrestler and is a talented jiu-jitsu practitioner.  Lawson has proben to be a proficient submission artist and is a talented wrestler in his own right.  It will be interesting to see how Lawson comes out given he’s dealt with rib, knee, and elbow injuries in 2010.  I feel like Keslar will be able to take this fight and get his first win for Strikeforce, but it could go either way.

Welterweight: James Terry (8-2) vs. Lucas Gamaza (4-1)

James Terry has had a strong showing in Strikeforce to date, going 3-1 in four fights with the promotion (the sole loss to Tarec Saffiedine.)  Terry last defeated David Marshall in October.  Gamaza will be making his Strikeforce debut, despite not having fought in more than a year and not having won a fight in more than two.

Terry’s background is in wrestling, though his training with Cung Le has surely improved his striking.  Gamaza trains BJJ with Cesar Gracie, but his recent inactivity is worrisome.  I see Terry taking this fight, given his relative success under the Strikeforce banner.  He should be able to out strike and out wrestle Gamaza and take an easy victory.

Women’s Catchweight (120 lbs.): Jenna Castillo (0-0) vs. Charlene Gellner (0-0)

This will serve as the professional debut for both of these fighters.  Castillo is an excellent Muay Thai practitioner with some dangerous striking, while Gellner trains BJJ and boxing out in the San Francisco Area (primarily at the Bay Area Fight Academy.)  Castillo should have the edge in this fight, though Gellner has a chance if she could take the fight to the ground.

Amateur Catchweight (150 lbs.): Anthony Dariano vs. Alan Perez

Amateur Catchweight (165 lbs.): Ricky Jackson vs. Niko Jackson

Amateur Welterweight: Sam Bracamonte vs. Armin Safiari

Categories: Event Preview

MMA News – January 28, 2011

January 28, 2011 Leave a comment

Categories: MMA News

MMA News – January 27, 2011

January 27, 2011 Leave a comment

Categories: MMA News