WSOF Match Maker Ali Abdelaziz Goes Public On Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney

In MMA, there are never a shortage in rivalries.  Fighters are always taking the opportunity throw that verbal jab at another fighter or promoter for that matter.  Promotional Presidents have also been known to make rips on each other for competition sake.

One element of the MMA world we never probably expected to hear from, would be the match maker.  Nope. Not UFC’s Joe Silva.  However, World Series of Fighting matchmaker Ali Abdelaziz has now gone public for his disdain towards Bellator Fighting Championship CEO, Bjorn Rebney.

In an interview with Josh Gross on ESPN.com’s “Gross Point Blank”, Abdelaziz took some heavy shots at the Bellator brand and Rebney in regards to a few situations.  Here are some of the comments:

Abdelaziz: “I really feel bad for Ben Askren right now and the things he is going through. I love the sport so much, but sometimes I get disgusted with some of the things people do. You have this guy who is the Bellator champion and then you have this jerk from Bellator, Bjork Rebney or whatever his name is. He talks bad about Ben first saying he is ‘boring’ and ‘one-dimensional’ and he is their champion. The reason he is saying that is because he already knows in his mind he is going to release him. I think its disrespectful to Ben, the guy is an Olympian, there doesn’t come a better athlete than this, and listen, he is a one-dimensional fighter but his last two fights were so exciting and the guy brings a lot to the table. He talks, has a good personality, stays active on social media and for Bellator to do that I think it was disgusting and an embarrassment for the sport to talk bad about your champion just because you know you’re going to release him.”

They don’t put on fights anyone cares about except Alvarez vs. Chandler. Who cares about other fights? I don’t care about it as an MMA fan and listen, I watched the Alvarez vs. Chandler fight because I knew every other fight on the undercard sucked. Realistically, Bellator doesn’t have anyone that can fight Askren. We do, we have a lot more competition than they do.”

“Bjorn Rebney is just not a good guy, he’s just not. I dealt with him when I managed guys and he is just not a good guy. I think Viacom is a great platform and Spike is amazing. I think people are more excited now to watch Glory than Bellator.”

Do you think that Adbelaziz is speaking on his own behalf only?   I don’t think so.  I believe the WSOF matchmaker is simply saying what most of the MMA population is thinking.   I’ve never spoken with Abdelaziz in regards to Bellator, however he’s nearly said everything I’ve said about Bellator word for word.

Abdelaziz has a heart for this sport and for the fighters.  Even publicly wishing #1 Free Agent Ben Askren well on twitter knowing what the undefeated Champion and Olympian is going through during this time:

Gross Point Blank with ESPN.com’s Josh Gross can be seen here: http://espn.go.com/espnradio/play?id=10046352

The Danward Spiral

Dan-Henderson-UFC-93-478x270
December 4th, 2010—Dan Henderson def. Renato Sobral via KO
March 5th, 2011—Dan Henderson def. Rafael Cavalcante via KO

June 30th, 2011—Dan Henderson def. Fedor Emelianenko via KO

November 11, 2011—Dan Henderson def. Mauricio Rua via Unanimous Decision

April 21, 2012—Dana White announces Dan Henderson will fight Jon Jones at UFC 151.

August 23, 2013—Dan Henderson announces a knee injury will keep him from fighting at UFC 151.

February 23, 2013—Lyoto Machida def. Dan Henderson via Split Decision

June 15, 2013—Rashad Evans def. Dan Henderson via Split Decision

November 9, 2013—Vitor Belfort def. Dan Henderson via KO

Dan Henderson just suffered the first knockout of his career, and it wasn’t pretty. It’s tough to say where Hendo goes from here. Barely a year ago, the former champ had rattled off four straight wins to secure a title shot against Jon Jones. After a knee injury forced him from the bout, Henderson accrued three disappointing defeats. The losses to Machida and Evans were closely contested snorefests, but the knockout to Belfort provides cause for concern.

Seventeen years of warring savagery have emptied Hendo’s war chest. His waning endurance, sluggish H-Bomb, and failing chin have trapped him in a truly compromising position—he’s good enough to beat almost anyone, but not great enough to conquer the best.

The loss to Belfort places Henderson in a limbo I’ll call “Couturitory” (named after retired Hall of Famer, Randy Couture). “Couturitory” is a purgatory where former greats meander before eventually retiring. Randy spent four of his final five fights in “Couturitory” against Minotauro, Vera, Coleman, and Toney before Machida ultimately sent him packing. Unfortunately for Henderson, Father Time is forcing him down a similar path.

I have no problem with Hendo spending the twilight of his career in “Couturitory”, but danger will emerge if he continually wades beyond his shallowing depths. The far side of “Couturitory” contains but one thing—”Liddellitory”. If Hendo can’t stop himself before treading those waters, I hope those around him can.

Follow me on Twitter @_TheBeardedPoet

Dizz Picks and Results – UFC 167: St. Pierre vs. Hendricks

Saturday; November 16, 2013

Where: MGM Grand Garden Arena; Las Vegas, Nevada
Broadcast: PPV, Fox Sports 1, UFC You Tube Channel

Attendance: 14,856
Live Gate: $5,700,000

Main Card (PPV at 10pm EST)

Champ George St. Pierre vs. #1 Johny Hendricks (UFC Welterweight Title Bout)
Dizz Picks: St. Pierre via decision 
Results: George St. Pierre def. Johny Hendricks via split decision (48-47 x 2, 47-48)
Fight of the Night: $50,000 to St. Pierre and Hendricks

#4 Rashad Evans vs. #6 Chael Sonnen
Dizz Picks: Sonnen via decision 
Results:  Rashad Evans def. Chael Sonnen via TKO (strikes) 1st Round; 4:05

#3 Rory MacDonald vs. #10 Robbie Lawler
Dizz Picks: Lawler via (T)KO
Results: Robbie Lawler def. Rory MacDonald via split decision (29-28 x 2; 28-29)

Josh Koscheck vs. Tyron Woodley
Dizz Picks: Woodley via (T)KO
Results:  Tyron Woodley def. Josh Koscheck via KO (punch) 1st Round; 4:38
Knockout of the Night: Woodley, $50,000

#7 Timothy Elliot vs. Ali Bagautinov
Dizz Picks: Bagautinov via (T)KO 
Results: Ali Bagautinov def. Timothy Elliott via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28 x 2)

Preliminary Card (Fox Sports 1 at 8pm EST)

#10 Donald Cerrone vs. Evan Dunham
Dizz Picks: Cerrone via decision 
Results: Donald Cerrone def. Evan Dunham via submission (triangle) 2nd Round; 3:49
Submission of the Night: Cerrone, $50,000

Ed herman vs. Thales Leites
Dizz Picks: Leites via submission 
Results: Thales Leites def. Ed Herman via unanimous decision (30-27 x 3) 

Brian Ebersole vs. Rick Story
Dizz Picks: Story via TKO
Results: Rick Story def. Brian Ebersole via unanimous decision (30-27 x 3)

Edwin Figueroa vs. Erik Perez
Dizz Picks: Perez via (T)KO 
Results: Erik Perez def. Edwin Figueroa via unanimous decision (30-27 x 3)

Preliminary Card (UFC YouTube Channel at 6:45pm EST)

Jason High vs. Anthony Lapsley
Dizz Picks: High via submission 
Results: Jason High def. Anthony Lapsley via unanimous decision (29-28 x 3) 

Will Campuzano vs. Sergio Pettis
Dizz Picks: Pettis via (T)KO
Results: Sergio Pettis def. Will Campuzano via unanimous decision (30-27 x 2, 29-28)

Cody Donovan vs. Gian Villante
Dizz Picks: Villante via (T)KO  
Results: Gian Villante def. Cody Donovan via TKO (strikes) 2nd Round; 1:22

Tennessee Amateur Fighter Murdered While Leaving Home

Early Saturday morning it was brought to my attention that amateur mixed martial artist Wesley Conway had been shot and killed leaving his home to go hunting.  Details of the incident is unclear, but I was able to confirm with Decatur County Sheriff’s Department that it has indeed been ruled a homicide.

“He had a heart of gold. He was very loving and very caring,” said Conway’s sister Brandy Conway.  “I have a little boy and he’s three.  His father works out of town a lot. So, Wesley would step in and basically do fatherly duties for his nephew.”  Ms. Conway went on to tell me many other things that Wesley did as a brother and uncle.  Seemingly, he and the family were close and had a very tight relationship.

The Sheriff’s Department hasn’t made any arrests so far in the case.  “They have a person of interest.  They’re not really telling us too much at the moment.” said Conway’s sister, Brandy.

Conway’s sister, Brandy, said that his record was roughly 53-11 in his amateur career.  His coach, Anthony Maness of Strike Team located in Lexington, Tennessee, said when took on Conway he had nothing but backyard as a background.  “He went to an event in Biloxi, Mississippi, for his first amateur bout.  He had agreed to fight Caleb Esch, son of Butterbean.  Wesley dominated the first round. He dominated the second round.  He just ran out of gas and Esch beat him in the 3rd.  He was no more prepared than anyone else in the crowd.  But, that told me how special of a person this kid was.”

Funny moment as Conway asked Maness at MMA promotion put on by Butterbean, “When can I have a cool name, like Butterbean?” Maness answered in laughter, “Hahahaaa, we’ll just call you ‘Sweetcorn’. Wesley ‘Sweetcorn’ Conway!! Hahahaa!!”  Conway was also Strikeout Promotions Middleweight Champion.

Maness went on, “He was one of the most beloved characters the state of Tennessee has ever known.  They’re having a benefit MMA event  in Lexington, TN, December 14, 2013.  The fighters have all agreed to deny per diem and hotel, and then also Stand Fighter is underway of constructing a T-shirt in his memory for the event.”  Maness also is the Tennessee State Director of the International Sport Karate Association.

Conway was a soon to be father and eager to start a family with his girlfriend.  In which we already knew to this point that he would be a good father per say the testimony of his sister Brandy as he is an uncle.  He seemed to have a lot of love in his life which also translated to his career as an amateur fighter.   Ask yourself, who goes 53-11 in an amateur career and never has an interest in turning pro?  I’d say someone who has a pure love for the sport.

More on this story as it develops…

(Picture: Wesley Conway) 

 

 

The Dragon vs. The Phenom

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With the addition of the UFC’s newest middle weight contender Lyoto (The Dragon) Machida, many people are expecting the order of the division to shift drastically. Machida made his impression on 10-26-2013 at UFC Fight Night: Machida vs. Munoz, in Manchester, England, by stopping his friend TKO (via head kick) at the 3:10 mark of the very first round. Machida clearly sent a message to the fellow 185’rs that he is here and his presence will be felt. Before the official decision was announced, many people were already planning Machida’s next bout.

Vitor (The Phenom) Belfort, since losing to Jon Jones in the light heavy weight division title bout, has returned to his middle weight division where he once was defeated in a title bout by former longtime middle weight champion, Anderson Silva. However, he has unquestionably been on a tear winning his last two bouts in a stunning fashion and creating some great highlight reels for the UFC to use. His first bout back at the middle weight division was against Michael Bisping for what was believed to be a title eliminator for Bisping; however, Belfort’s future was unknown since he had recently lost to the former longtime UFC middle weight champion Anderson Silva in such a devastating fashion TKO (via front kick and punches).

Belfort battled Bisping into the second round and stopped his opponent TKO (via head kick and punches). This victory led Belfort to welcome Luke Rockhold to the UFC middle weight division and Belfort did just that by taking Rockhold out at just 2:32 in the very first round TKO (via spinning heel kick and punches) in, yet again, a true highlight reel fashion. After that victory, it was hard to ignore the idea that Belfort had earned the middle weight title shot; however, that was not the case. Belfort will face long time MMA competitor Dan Henderson. The two are set to meet again at UFC Fight Night: Belfort vs. Henderson and with a win over Henderson, it should warrant him the immediate title shot. But will the new middle weight in the division spoil Belfort’s plan?

After Belfort’s last two fights in the UFC, many people believed he deserved the title shot already, but the UFC had some newcomers in the division to really start building the brand around so Belfort was waiting and is now looking to get past Dan Henderson. If Belfort does in fact get past Henderson, it looks like his days are numbered until he faces The Dragon in his new home at 185. This fight could truly derail Belfort’s plan at fighting for the UFC middle weight championship belt again and here’s why. Stylistically, this is a bad match up for Belfort. Machida is arguably the most elusive fighter today and uses his orthodox Karate style that is extremely hard to imitate for sparing partners and has knock out ability in his hands and feet, as will his possible future opponent, Belfort. However, Machida will use better counter striking and control the striking range. Both are Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belts, but Machida has a sumo background and uses that Karate distance at expert level making him incredibly hard to take down.

Machida looks great at his new home in the 185 pound division and does not possess the musculature body that Belfort is known for and seems to have a better gas tank, so as the fight progresses, Machida will have the advantage. Machida is looking to climb the ranks by recently being matched up against Gegard Mousasi, if Machida can get past Mousasi and Belfort defeats Henderson, we very well may see the title eliminator being Belfort vs. Machida. Until then, we can only speculate what will happen in the UFC middle weight division. The fact is, the newest UFC middle weight competitor is here and will shake things up.

Follow me on Twitter at @mmadocket and Facebook at www.facebook.com/MMADocket and stay tuned in at www.mmaelite.net for the latest on MMA news.

Strikes & Calls

UFC Fight Night: Pearson v Guillard
Unfortunately for the UFC’s 30th Fight Night, a potential barnburner between Melvin Guillard and Ross Pearson was cut short by an illegal knee. This wasn’t the first time it’s happened, and it won’t be the last.

The rule in everyone’s crosshairs relates to the kneeing of a downed opponent. The initial spirit of this rule was to serve and protect a defenseless fighter. Sadly for fans, the protective spirit of this rule has slowly been possessed by an opportunistic demon. Fighters who are forced into compromising positions can simply knuckle the mat to receive absolution from all head-related trauma. In a sport where knockouts are key, a fighter’s hard-earned advantage is being morphed into an action-less stalemate. It’s not right and it’s not fair, but it’s certainly fixable.

I never thought I’d say this, but the UFC could learn a valuable lesson from Major League Baseball. While many of Baseball’s rules live within a binary world of black and white, the sport’s most fundamental aspects reside within a realm of grays. Strikes and balls are not defined by a rigid matrix or stoic grid but rather the fluid analysis of a watchful umpire. The UFC should immediately apply such logic to any and all rules surrounding that of the “downed opponent”. Ironically enough, the UFC already provides their refs a fair amount of subjective wiggle room; just try and figure out which ground battles will be stood up or which fighters will be penalized a point for grabbing the fence.

If a fighter is curled into a defenseless ball, kneeing him in the skull is overkill, but sealing this situation in the same pod as Guillard’s “illegal” knee is a false equivalent. When Melvin started throwing his knee, Pearson was not grounded. This means Guillard’s strike was legal when thrown, but not when landed. How is a fighter in the heat of battle supposed to track his opponent’s hands, let alone account for their future locations?

The UFC is better than this, and for an organization that’s chronically ahead of the curve, this is one issue where they’re drastically behind the times. I have little doubt the UFC will prove to fans they are still capable of progressive change–I just hope it happens before another fight is tarnished by this antiquated doctrine.

Follow me on Twitter: @_TheBeardedPoet