Less than five months after suffering the most devastating loss of his career, Dan Henderson will square off against a familiar foe – Mauricio “Shogun” Hua. Recent times have been perilous for Henderson, but how exactly did he land in such a precarious position? Decemb read more
An uncrowned champion fights for the belt. A life-long journeyman stands in his way. For the first time in six years, the guard of the UFC’s Welterweight Division is about to change. Only one question remains:
The stage is set, but will the fight deliver?
Other than Edgar/Maynard I, I can’t recall a 25-minute title fight packed with more excitement. The bout ebbed and flowed with the grace of a homicidal ballerina. Hendricks took the early lead, peppering Lawler with savvy combinations of leg kicks and jabs.
All Lawler could do was smile and punch. While both men had their moments in the opening rounds, it appeared as though Hendricks gripped tighter to the judge’s scorecards. Then came round three.
Lawler hurt Hendricks badly, but what could have been a stopping point resulted merely in a turning point. Looking to stay patient and conserve energy, Lawler stalked Hendricks with the calmness of a breeze.
He connected and connected and connected, but failed to demolish. The abundance of time remaining in the round should have facilitated a finish, but ironically, it coaxed Lawler into fighting at a pace that ultimately worked against him.
He sacrificed risk and reward in honor of caution. I can’t blame Lawler for fighting as he did — hindsight is 20/20 — but would Hendricks have survived round three had Lawler unleashed a Liddellian flurry? That, we’ll never know.
Round four featured similar themes — Lawler asserted himself while Hendricks survived. Just like previous rounds, both fighters had their moments, but in this case, it was Lawler who tightened his grip to even the score. With one round to go, it was anybody’s fight.
Round five started much like three and four ended — with Lawler riding a wave of momentum. But then, something happened. Hendricks seemed to remember that a robbery took place at UFC 167 — a crime had been committed but nobody paid.
But, somebody had to pay. In fact, anybody had to pay. Fortunately for Hendricks, it was the middle of a war — unfortunately for Lawler, he was in it as well. Hendricks surmounted an offense that seemingly emerged from nothingness.
He unloaded combination after combination until the scales were forcefully tipped back in his favor. With a minute to go and the fifth round secured squarely in his pocket, Hendricks went back to his roots — he took Lawler down and dribbled out the clock. The rest is, and will forever be, history. But looking to the future, a new question looms:
Who will Hendricks fight next?
In my opinion, there are six potential opponents:
1) Robbie Lawler
2) Tyron Woodley
3) Rory MacDonald
4) Hector Lombard
5) Nick Diaz
6) Georges St. Pierre
I don’t see GSP coming back so soon, nor do I see Lombard jumping the queue after a cautiously competent victory over Jake Shields. Rory MacDonald isn’t the worst choice, but losing to Lawler in November doesn’t help his case.
Woodley seemed to think a victory — by any means — secures a title shot. While Dana White confirmed as much for Condit, he hasn’t said so for Woodley. Winning by injury doesn’t help either; this leaves us with Lawler and Diaz.
It wouldn’t be shocking if Diaz got an immediate shot, but it’s highly unlikely. The fairest outcome would be pairing Woodley and Diaz on the undercard of Hendricks/Lawler II.
If Lawler takes the rematch, there are more than enough combinations between Woodley, MacDonald, Lombard, Diaz, Ellenberger, Kim, Nelson and Brown to keep the division interesting during the rubber match.
The UFC could also keep the Diaz/Lawler grudge match in tact by putting them on the undercard of Hendricks vs. Woodley in a Title Eliminator. This would allow the UFC to promote a fresh title fight while forcing Diaz to prove he’s a worthy contender.
It would also align the Hendricks/Lawler rematch in case of a Diaz loss.
Ultimately, the UFC Welterweight picture is seems stacked — and that’s without GSP or Carlos Condit. It’s hard to predict what will happen next, but regardless of who fights whom or who wins what, it looks like the fans will be sitting pretty for the foreseeable future.
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February 22, 2014; Saturday
Mandalay Bay Events Center; Las Vegas, NV
Broadcast: Pay-per-view, Fox Sports 1, UFC Fight Pass
Live Gate: $1,558,870
Main Card (PPV, 10pm EST)
Champ Ronda Rousey vs. #4 Sara McMann
Dizz picks: Rousey via submission
Results: Ronday Rousey def. Sara McMann via TKO (strikes) 1st Round; 1:06
Performance Bonus: Ronda Rousey; $50,000
Daniel Cormier vs. Patrick Cummins
Dizz picks: Cormier via (T)KO
Results: Daniel Cormier def. Patrick Cummins via TKO (strikes) 1st Round; 1:19
#4 Rory MacDonald vs. #6 Demian Maia
Dizz picks: MacDonald via decision
Results: Rory MacDonald def. Demian Maia via unanimous decision (29-28 x 3)
Fight of the Night: $50,000 to each fighter
#15 Mike Pyle vs. T.J. Waldburger
Dizz picks: Pyle via (T)KO
Results: Mike Pyle def. T.J. Waldburger via TKO (strikes) 3rd Round; 4:03
Stephen Thompson vs. Robert Whittaker
Dizz picks: Thompson via decision
Results: Stephen Thompson def. Robert Whittaker via TKO (strikes) 1st Round; 3:43
Performance Bonus: Stephen Thompson; $50,000
Preliminary Card (FS1, 8pm EST)
#3 Alexis Davis vs. #5 Jessica Eye
Dizz picks: Davis via submission
Results: Alexis Davis def. Jessica Eye via split decision (29-28 x 2, 28-29)
#3 Raphael Assuncao vs. Pedro Munhoz
Dizz picks: Assuncao via decsion
Results: Raphael Assuncao def. Pedro Munhoz via unanimous decision (30-27 x 3)
Cody Gibson vs. Aljamain Sterling
Dizz picks: Gibson via (T)KO
Results: Aljamain Sterling def. Cody Gibson via unanimous decision (29-28 x 3)
#10 Zach Makovsky vs. Josh Sampo
Dizz picks: Makovsky via (T)KO
Results: Zach Makovsky def. Josh Sampo via unanimous decision (30-27 x 2, 29-28)
Preliminary Card (7pm EST)
Erik Koch vs. Rafaello Oliveira
Dizz picks: Koch via decision
Results: Erik Koch def. Rafaello Oliveira via TKO (strikes) 1st Round; 1:24
Ernest Chavez vs. Yosdenis Cedeno
Dizz picks: Cedeno via (T)KO
Results: Ernest Chavez def. Yosendis Cedeno via split decision (30-27, 29-28, 28-29)
Titan Fighting Championship is going to push up their start time on February 28th from 10 pm EST to 11:30 EST on CBS Sports Network. This decision came to fruition when the officials over at Titan FC had learned about programming from other promotions were to take place during the 10 pm EST time slot.
Titan FC CEO Jeff Aronson has released the following statement in regards to the matter:
“Due to other organizations in the MMA industry who are obviously desperate to improve their ratings, Titan FC has decided to push back the start time of Titan FC 27 from 10pm EST to 11:30pm EST. These other organizations both of whom decided to counter program our card weeks after we announced the date and time of our first event on the CBS Sports Network.
We believe that the positive attention we have garnered over the past few weeks has caused these organizations to make a knee jerk reaction. Due to the almost daily announcements, which include the signing of some of the top free agents and most coveted prospects in the world to our roster, these other companies decided to try and hinder our debut. In reality all they have done is shown how scared they are of Titan’s presence and new regime.
This goes to show how selfish they are in only thinking about themselves while Titan has the fans & fighters best interests at heart. We have said all along that we are putting the fans & fighters first, something that is a belief and not just a motto.
True to our word we believe that pushing the start time back will allow the fans to view all of the televised MMA programming on the night of the 28th without conflict.
Make sure to tune in at 11:30pm EST to the CBS Sports Network for what is guaranteed to be the most exciting card of the evening.”
Titan Fighting Championship, CEO
Titan Fighting Championship WILL take place February 28, 2014 at the Memorial Hall in Kansas City, Kansas, on CBS Sports Network. The card features a main event between long time MMA veteran Jorge Gurgel vs. Mike Ricci, a multiple promotion veteran. The card also studs recently signed Anthony Gutierrez, Matthew Riddle, and Kurt Holobaugh on the card that night.
Saturday, February 1, 2014
Prudential Center, Newark, NJ
Broadcast: Pay-Per-View, Fox Sports 1, Fight Pass or Youtube
Live Gate: $1.651 million
Main Card (PPV; 10pm EST)
Champ Renan Barao vs. #1 Urijah Faber (UFC Bantamweight Title)
Dizz Picks: Faber via decision
Results: Renan Barao def. Urijah Faber via TKO (strikes) 1st Round; 3:35
Champ Jose Aldo vs. #2 Ricardo Lamas (UFC Featherweight Title)
Dizz Picks: Aldo via (T)KO
Results: Jose Aldo def. Ricardo Lamas via unanimous decision (49-46 x 3)
#9 Alistair Overeem vs. #10 Frank Mir
Dizz Picks: Overeem via (T)KO – Knockout of the Night
Results: Alistair Overeem def. Frank Mir via unanimous decision (30-27 x 3)
#5 John Lineker vs. #7 Ali Baugatinov
Dizz Picks: Baugatinov via (T)KO
Results: Ali Bagautinov def. John Lineker via unanimous decision (29-28 x3)
Jamie Varner vs. Abel Trujillo
Dizz Picks: Varner via decision
Results: Abel Trujillo def. Jamie Varner via knockout (punch) 2nd Round; 2:32
**Fight of the Night, $50,000 each; Knockout of the Night: Trujillo, $75,000; Trujillo $125,000 total**
Preliminary Card (Fox Sports 1, 8pm EST)
John Makdessi vs. Alan Patrick
Dizz Picks: Makdessi via (T)KO
Results: Alan Patrick def. John Makdessi via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28 x 2)
#9 Chris Cariaso vs. Danny Martinez
Dizz Picks: Cariaso via decision
Results: Chris Cariaso def. Danny Martinez via unanimous decision (29-28 x 3)
Nick Catone vs. Tom Watson
Dizz Picks: Watson via decision
Results: Nick Catone def. Tom Watson via split decision (30-27, 29-28, 28-29)
Al Iaquinta vs. Kevin Lee
Dizz Picks: Iaquinta via (T)KO
Results: Al Iaquinta def. Kevin Lee via unanimous decision (29-28 x 2, 28-27)
Preliminary Card (UFC Fight Pass/YouTube; 6:30pm EST)
Clint Hester vs. Andy Enz
Dizz Picks: Enz via submission
Results: Clint Hester def. Andy Enz via unanimous decision (30-27 x 2; 30-26)
Tony Martin vs. Rashid Magomedov
Dizz Picks: Magomedov via (T)KO
Results: Rasid Magomedov def. Tony Martin via unanimous decision (29-28 x 3)
Neil Magny vs. Gasan Umalatov
Dizz Picks: Umalatov via submission – Submission of the Night
Results: Neil Magny def. Gasn Umalatov via unanimous decision (30-27 x2, 29-28)
Strangely enough, Silva’s losses to Weidman may actually present a best-case scenario. Allow me to explain:
Assume for a second that Chris Weidman is the real deal. Let’s also assume that Silva/Weidman I was not as fluky as it looked and that the ending to Silva/Weidman II was more defensive genius than freak occurrence. If any of these assumptions are even partially true, Silva may have bit off more than he could chew in facing “The All American”. In this scenario, Silva’s excessive showboating in the first fight and shattered shin in the second would provide the perfect camouflage for disguising his inevitable decline. If you want to argue that he could have and should have defeated Weidman in both bouts, nobody can definitively say otherwise. That’s the beauty of uncertainty—it allows you to believe whatever you want.
Such uncertainty means it will probably take some time for Weidman to garner the respect he rightfully deserves. Call it a lucky punch, call it a freak accident, call it an act of God, call it whatever you want, but the skill of Chris Weidman is undeniable. He’s 11-0 with two of those victories coming by way of Silvian stoppage. Weidman is here, and he’s here to stay. Silva, on the other hand, remains a question mark. If he decides to return, his legacy awaits a plethora of uncharted territory. If he decides to retire, his supporters can forever blame a lethal mixture of cocky attitude and brittle bone. History would then be burdened with the impossible task of making heads or tails of an unanswerable question.
Regardless of what happens, Silva has been granted a privilege not many fighters receive—a way out. Whether or not he takes it remains to be seen, but I have a sneaking suspicion that Silva would rather lose another fight by knockout than spend the rest of his life wondering if he limped away too soon.
Only time will tell. Or maybe it won’t. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
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Today on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Hour, World Series of Fighting Executive Vice President, Ali Abdelaziz, extended a challenge to Bellator Fighting Championship. For the last year, high end media has turned a blind eye to WSOF. For some reason, they refuse to legitimately recognize them as a top organization in MMA.
Seemingly disgusted with this issue, Abdelaziz thus issued a “Winner Take All” pay per view card. The WSOF vs. Bellator card is a 10 fight card with the majority winner of the card to take home the live gate and PPV revenue. The proposed fight card is as follows:
Tyrone Spong vs. Quinton “Rampage” Jackson
Anthony Johnson vs. Attila Vegh
Andrei Arlovski vs. Vitaly Manakov
Marlon Moraes vs. Eduardo Dantas
Yushin Okami vs. Alexander Shlemenko
Rousimar Palhares vs. Douglas Lima
Justin Gaethje vs. Michael Chandler
George Karakhanyan vs. Daniel Straus
Jon Fitch vs. Rick Hawn
David Branch vs. Brett Cooper
The challenge was just issued less than an hour ago, so there is no response at this time from Spike TV, Bjorn Rebney or any of there fighters. More to come….
Another broadcast slot open, another broadcast filled with a known regional MMA organization. A source close to the news told me that the promotion has signed a multi-year deal with CBS Sports Network. This is a major move for the organization, founded by Joe Kelly back in 2005. The first televised event will headline long time mixed martial artist and UFC veteran Jorge Gurgel vs. Mike Ricci, also a UFC veteran.
Titan FC is able to boast names such as Bobby Lashley, Anthony “Rumble” Johnson, Jamie Varner, Sara McMann, and James Krauss.
Titan FC is the 4th MMA organization to join a small list of MMA organizations that have either inked fresh deals or upgraded to the main channels of broadcasting networks since it was reported the UFC joining the Fox family back in Aug 2011. Since then, Viacom upgraded Bellator Fighting Championship from MTV2 to Spike TV and World Series of Fighting signed a fresh deal with NBC Sports Network.
Dana White said in a post fight scrum that he wishes more promotions would do better, help grow the sport. Seems as though he’s getting his wish.
I’m making an attempt to reach out to Titan FC officials. More details to follow as this story breaks.
Fighter of the Year: UFC Middleweight Champion Chris Weidman (11-0 MMA 7-0): The man is undefeated and has two unarguable victories over the greatest of all time mixed martial artist, Anderson Silva. How did you NOT see this coming? He’s not without fine company however.
Honorable Mentions – Renan Barao, Demetrious Johnson, Ronda Rousey, and Cain Velasquez
Knockout of the Year: Chris Weidman – Knockouts are the ultimate closure of a fight. Whether or not Anderson Silva was clowning around in the cage, that doesn’t take away from the fact that Chris knocked his head into the next life at UFC 162.
Honorable Mentions – Demetrious Johnson over Joseph Benavidez 2 (UFC on Fox 9); Travis Browne over Josh Barnett (UFC 168); Jacare Souza over Yushin Okami (UFC Fight Night 28); Vitor Belfort over Luke Rockhold (UFC on FX 8)
Submission of the Year: UFC Lightweight Champion Anthony Pettis (17-2 MMA 4-1 UFC) – Maybe I’ll take heat for this. However, Pettis was simply a blue belt when he faced Benson Henderson at UFC 164, a well pronounced brazilian jiu jitsu black belt. Henderson verbally submitted to a 1st Round armbar, transferring the UFC Lightweight Title from Henderson to Pettis. A feeling Henderson is all too familiar with.
Honorable Mentions – Chael Sonnen over Mauricio Rua (UFC Fight Night 26); Renan Barao over Michael McDonald (UFC on Fuel TV 7); Josh Burkman over Jon Fitch (WSOF 3); Michael Chandler over Rick Hawn (Bellator 85)
Fight of the Year – UFC 165: Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustaffson
Honorable Mentions – Bermudez vs. Grice (UFC 157); Melendez vs. Sanchez (UFC 166); Alvarez vs. Chandler 2 (Bellator 106); Hunt vs. “Bigfoot” Silva (UFC Fight Night 33)
WMMA Fighter of the Year: UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey (8-0 MMA 2-0) – This pretty much goes without saying? After a season of unfavorable editing on the 18th installment of the Ultimate Fighter, Rousey had to deal with the pressure of the boo’ing crowd, scrutiny, and flat out degrading remarks from alleged fans. You know that brown nosing kid that starts crap with you when the teacher isn’t looking? Yeah, that’s what Rousey’s had to deal with. Still, she came to the octagon on December 28th to successfully defend her title with highly improved striking and, of course, finishing Miesha Tate with her signature armbar.
WMMA’s Comeback Fighter of the Year: Invicta FC Featherweight Champion Cristaine “Cyborg” Justin0 (12-1, 1NC MMA 2-0 Invicta) – After a long lay off, Cyborg came back to win the Invicta Featherweight Title. Much like Rousey, Cyborg has been the butt end of cruel jokes and humiliating criticism. Even today, she has to deal with the ignorant comments of fans (and the occassional annoucer) who refuse to let the past be the past. It doesn’t appear that it will be a short reign as champion, as Cyborg was crowned Champ July 2013 over the highly touted Marlos Coenen. No one seems to have an answer for her.
WMMA’s Breakthrough Fighter of the Year: UFC Bantamweight Jessica Eye (11-1 MMA 1-0 UFC) – People are going to call me biased on this one, but if you look at it from an objective level, no way. Eye was a heavy underdog coming into her UFC 166 debut against former Strikeforce Bantamweight Champion Sarah Kaufman. She did exactly what no one thought she was capable of doing. Maybe it was easy for those unknown to her to underestimate her because she was trapped in a WMMA purgatory until finally being released. Eye beat Kaufman on the feet for Rounds 1 and 2 earning herself a split decision, wiping the smirk off Kaufman’s face.
Breakthrough Fighter of the Year: Travis Browne – After tearing his hamstring late 2012 and taking a TKO loss to Antonio Silva in the same fight, Browne had questions looming around him from high end critics. He answered the call to those critics with knockout wins over Alistair Overeem and Josh Barnett in 2013. Both of which who would’ve received eith a title shot or #1 contender’s match immediately after.
Comeback Fighter of the Year: Eddie Alvarez (25-3) – In 2011 Alvarez lost his title to Michael Chandler, he stormed back in 2012 with 2 KO victories over Shinya Aoki and Patricky Freire. Then after some garbage Bellator pulled on him in contract lingo, Alvarez sat on the shelf for 13 months, most of 2013. However, Alvarez gave his “F-you” to Bellator in the form of dominance. Alvarez defeated Chandler decisively in the most exhilarating bout in Bellator history.
Coach of the Year: Duane “Bang” Ludwig – Since his arrival to Team Alpha Male, Ludwigs fighters have gone 15-4 in 2013. None of them have suffered back to back losses. Urijah Faber just went 4-0 on the year and Chad Mendes went 3-0 on the year with wins on UFC on Fox this December. Their teammate Joseph Benavidez also on the card, unfortunately who lost the title fight later that evening. Despite that note, it’s hard to put any coach in that class with Ludwig this year.
Gym of the Year: Team Alpha Male – Wasn’t sure if it was possible, but it is so. Along with my choice for Coach of the Year, Duane Ludwig’s presence made such an impact on this gym, that not only did the gym feel it, but the opposing gyms and MMA community felt it as well.
Ringcard Girl of the Year: Natasha Wicks – Her parents should’ve middle named her “Dedication”. It seems everything she’s involved in, is indirectly related to what she does as a Phoenix Girl for Invicta Fighting Championship. Whether it’s modeling, rolling in jiu jitsu, or being an accomplished distance runner, Natasha makes it look easy to keep that beautiful skin suit she wears fit and eye candy esque.
MMA Organization of the Year: Ultimate Fighting Championship – It seems like they raise the bar every year. They couldn’t do it without great fighters and a great staff. On top of all the candidates for Fight of the Year the UFC has put out, now they’ve made their fights more viewable. December 28, 2013, to close off the year, the UFC announced the unveiling of their digital network “Fight Pass.” Subscribers around the world will have access to more than 1,000 archived fights from the UFC library, Affliction, WEC, Strikeforce, and EliteXC.
Breakthrough MMA Organization of the Year: MMA World Series of Fighting – The promotion started 2013 off with WSOF 2 headlining a fantastic main event showdown between Andrei Arlovski vs. Anthony “Rumble” Johnson. Since then, they’ve rattled off 5 more events for the MMA fans and have purchased an organization in Nicaragau, now named World Series of Fighting: Central America. Also, along with WSOF Central America, WSOF purchased an organization in Canada now named World Series of Fighting: Canada. With organizational President Ray Sefo, Executive Vice President/Matchmaker Ali Abdelaziz, and Vice President of Operations Kevin Ariles running the show, WSOF has moved passed Bellator this year with ease. Tell me this, what other organization has gone global in their first 18 months of its infancy?
Breakthrough MMA Commentary of the Year: Jon Anik – I used to tease him. I used to tag him with YouTube video of Jim Carey doing his impression of the most annoying sound in the world “Dumb and Dumber”. Having said that, it’s been an absolute pleasure watching Jon grow from the new guy, to a commentary that most of us are eager to listen to. Well done, Jon.