The Flying Knee MMA Your Source For The Latest In MMA News and Analysis Mon, 21 Apr 2014 19:42:08 +0000 en-US hourly 1 UFC 172: Jones vs Teixeira Preview and Predictions Mon, 21 Apr 2014 18:30:37 +0000 This Saturday, April 26, 2014 live from the Baltimore Arena in Baltimore, Maryland we’ve got one of the best cards (on paper) of the year so far. A light heavyweight title fight between Jon Jones and dangerous contender Glover Teixeira, as well as the return of Anthony “Rumble” Johnson to the UFC. Let’s get things started!

Andre Fili vs Max Holloway

Andre Fili is a good technical striker, who made a very big splash into the UFC’s featherweight pool this past October. He showed a very well rounded game at UFC 166, when he starched Jeremy Larsen in the first round of their fight, before finishing him via TKO early in the second.

A 22 year old youngster, Holloway, already feels like a UFC veteran. The lanky Hawaiin has gone 4-3 under the UFC banner in just under two years. Failing to find a rhythm thus far, he looks to build on the strength of his recent win at Fight Night 34, where he finished Will Chope in the second round via strikes.

Who wins the fight and how

This fight is a very important one in the UFC’s featherweight division. But not for the reasons you may think. At just 22 and 23 years old, Holloway and Fili are without a doubt the future of the division, and this bout may just determine who has a higher ceiling in the organization. For my money I’ve got to go with my instincts and pick Fili on this one. He has a good chin, but has a tendency to sometimes hang his hands low and get tagged. That will cost him a few times on the feet, as the more rangy Holloway will utilize his reach and connect. However, I believe Fili’s high intensity output in the standup, as well as being able to stuff takedowns and reverse positions along the fence, will give him the win in this one. He lands affective knee strikes in the clinch and outlands Holloway on the feet, en route to a unanimous decision victory.

The Final Verdict

Fili defeats Holloway via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)

Jim Miller vs Yancy Medeiros

Yancy Medeiros replaces Bobby Green on just seven days notice to take on Jim Miller. Although he was already scheduled to take on Joe Ellenberger at the event, this is a vastly different, and much tougher opponent. He’s 0-1 in the UFC, as well as having his recent impressive win over Yves Edwards in 2013, overturned into a no contest because of a failed drug test.

In Jim Miller we have a savvy, always ready veteran. At 12-3, with one no contest in the UFC, Miller is a tough test for anyone in the division. Recently, Miller was found showing off his ever-improving ground game at UFC 168, when he submitted highly touted BJJ black belt Fabricio Camoes, via arm bar in the first round.

Who wins the fight and how

Unfortunately for Yancy Medeiros, he definitely bit off more than he can chew with this one. He lost due to injury against Khabilov, and had an impressive win against Edwards overturned, but nothing has shown me he’s ready for what Jim Miller brings to the table. Miller stands toe-to-toe with Medeiros, never giving up an inch, before eventually getting a takedown. From top position he passes the guard, and eventually works his way into mount. Medeiros gives up his back, Miller sinks in a rear naked choke, and that’s the end of this one.

The Final Verdict

Miller defeats Medeiros via first round submission

Tim Boetsch vs Luke Rockhold

Tim Boetsch was once thought of to be a dark horse in the middleweight division. Quietly putting together a four fight win streak and working his way into the top ten. However, since a third round TKO loss to Costa Phillipou, back at UFC 155 he’s never been the same. His most recent fight against CB Dollaway will go down in the win column thanks to the judges, but to anyone who actually watched the fight could see plain as day that the wrong man had his hand raised that night.
In the opposite corner you have Luke Rockhold. The former Strikeforce middleweight champion finally picked up his first UFC win. At Fight Night 35 he demolished Costa Phillipou, before finishing him with a beautiful kick to the body, ending the fight in impressive fashion and making a bold statement.

Who wins the fight and how

Tim Boetsch’s style is no mystery. He’s going to come into the fight and attempt to take you down and grind out a victory. It’s not always crowd pleasing, but it gets the job done and has worked for him many times in the past. However, I don’t see it working against Luke Rockhold. The San Jose, California native is a good all around fighter and I believe he can stuff most, if not all, of Boetsch’s takedowns. Rockhold will outclass him on the feet, out work him up against the fence, and out muscle him on the ground. I don’t predict a finish in this one, as Boetsch will avoid any significant damage, but when the judges scorecards are read, it’s clear to see Luke Rockhold will be the one getting his hand raised.

The Final Verdict

Rockhold defeats Boetsch via unanimous decision (30-27 x3)

Phil Davis vs Anthony Johnson

Six impressive victories, as well as finding a home at a new weight class, and Anthony “Rumble” Johnson is back in the UFC. Owning a 7-4 record inside the octagon, Rumble was originally cut from the UFC for losing to Vitor Belfort, after reportedly missing weight in the bout by up to 12lbs. After finding a new home at 205lbs, and most recently dispatching of Mike Kyle, at World Series of Fighting 8, Johnson is ready to erase the memory of his first stint with the UFC and be on his way to starting a new highlight reel.

That highlight reel is supposed to start with Phil Davis. Probably the most underrated, under appreciated, and under utilized 205lb fighter on the UFC roster, Davis is 12-1, with one no contest in his career, and without a doubt a top fighter in the division. After defeating Lyoto Machida via controversial decision all the way back at UFC 163, Davis looks to make it four straight wins inside the octagon and cement his place amongst the top fighters, in the now crowded division.

Who wins the fight and how

A big power and striking advantage goes to Rumble in this one. If he connects, he can end Davis’ night with one good shot. Unfortunately for him, I don’t see him getting that shot. Phil Davis has a significant advantage in the wrestling and submission game, and he will make sure he shows it. After an initial 20-30 second stand up period, after Rumble misses with a big right hand, Davis gets the takedown. He quickly passes the guard and gets into side control. He picks an arm, works, and eventually secures an arm-triangle choke. He uses his vice like grip and superior technique to tighten it up. Rumble has a choice to pass out, or tap out – he chooses the latter, tapping out.

The Final Verdict

Davis defeats Johnson via first round submission

Jon Jones vs Glover Teixeira

The champion, Jon Jones, is coming off what is easily his toughest test to date. A hard fought win over Alexander Gustafsson at UFC 165 had fans screaming for a rematch. It seems many people thought the Swede did enough to dethrone the champion, others (myself included) thought Jon won, but loved the fight so much they wanted to see it again. Fortunately, or unfortunately the rematch is scheduled to happen. All Jon Jones has to do is win his next bout and we will see one of the most anticipated rematches in the sports young history. However, winning his next fight is easier said than done.

If Glover Teixeira has his way Saturday night, that rematch will never happen. The 22-2 Brazil native is on an, almost unheard of, 20 fight win streak. 5-0 inside the octagon, Teixeira sealed his fate to fight for the title, with a vicious first round knockout of Ryan Bader last September. With 19 finishes in 22 career victories, it’s safe to say that the 34 year old wants to keep this fight out of the hands of the judges.

Who wins the fight and how

It’s not the Jon Jones fight we wanted to see, but it’s still a great one none the less. Teixeira is being seriously underestimated in this fight, and I believe he stands a good chance at winning. With his power, he can end the fight at any time, with just one swing. Against a man like Jones though, you need more than just power. Although Teixeira does have a good overall skillset, I see Jones out wrestling him and out landing him on the feet. As well, as seen in the Rampage Jackson fight, Teixeira may have trouble with his cardio going into the later rounds, and Jones will shine. I see the first two rounds being somewhat of a feeling out process. Teixeira tags Jones on the feet a few times, but Jones avoids any significant damage, and wins the rounds with takedowns, submission attempts, and ground and pound. The third round Jones takes over, he sees Teixeira is tired and turns things up a notch. Multiple takedowns and hard shots on the ground, it’s a big round for the champion, and you can tell the end is near. Fourth round starts and Teixeira comes out slower than ever, Jones takes notice and takes things to the ground. Pinning Glover up against the cage, Jones reigns down shots, he eventually gets knee on belly and is just relentless with his punches. Teixeira is attempting to dodge the punches, but to no avail. The referee steps in and stops the bout. The champion retains his belt, let THE REMATCH talks with Gustafsson begin!

The Final Verdict

Jones defeats Teixeria via fourth round TKO

The Rest of the Card
Benavidez defeats Elliot via unanimous decision
Gomi defeats Vallie-Flagg via unanimous decision
Correia defeats Duke via unanimous decision
Castillo defeats Brenneman via first round KO
Beal defeats Williams via unanimous decision

In a new addition to the column I will also predict the bonus winners!

Fight of the Night: Benavidez and Elliot
Performances of the Night: Jones and Davis

With another 3-1 main card at UFC on Fox 11, I move to 31-10-1 while writing this column. Let’s hope for a 5-0 main card on this one!

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Perspective: The Curious Case of Vitor Belfort Mon, 21 Apr 2014 16:00:39 +0000 Vitor Belfort had arguably the biggest impact on the sport of mixed martial arts in the year 2013. From two highlight reel head kicks to perennial contenders Michael Bisping and Luke Rockhold, to being the first person to stop MMA legend Dan Henderson via strikes. Belfort’s impact was felt wide across the landscape of the entire sport but that impact was always followed by controversy

After capping off 2013 with an incredible 77 second knockout of fan favorite Dan Henderson, Belfort solidified his position as number one contender in the middleweight division and campaigned to challenge champion Chris Weidman in 2014 for the belt. However, Belfort’s impressive 2013 campaign was tainted in the eyes of many fans and media members due to the Brazilian’s usage of the controversial Testosterone Replacement Therapy. In addition to the therapy, Belfort’s constant bookings to fight in his native country of Brazil raised eyebrows and suspicions that the champion would not be granted a therapeutic usage exemption for the TRT in the United States; most likely attributed to the fact that Belfort had already tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone in Las Vegas back in 2006.

However, on February 27th 2014, the Nevada State Athletic Commission had gathered together and unanimously voted on the banning of allowing fighters to apply for TRT exemptions and many expect the other athletic commissions to follow suit as Nevada is considered the “gold standard”. This was gigantic news in the world of mixed martial arts because testosterone replacement therapy is considered by many to be a kind of authorized form of cheating. Many believe that those fighters who claim to desperately need the therapy are likely doing so to gain a competitive edge over those whom are not on the treatment.

With the NSAC ruling to eliminate the TRT epidemic in mixed martial arts, many turned their attention to Vitor Belfort with a strong sense of curiosity and intrigue. Belfort was scheduled to challenge champion Chris Weidman in the summertime and many were wondering how this would affect the surging Brazilian. Not even 24 hours go by before it’s reported by FOX Sports that Vitor Belfort withdrew himself from the championship bout and middleweight contender Lyoto Machida would be fighting in his place. Whether or not Belfort pulled himself out or the UFC removed him is still up for public debate.

Now, this is where the situation becomes suspiciously interesting for a number of reasons. Firstly, Belfort’s usage of the TRT therapy has been very much a matter of public record. It is now protocol in Nevada that for fighters scheduled in a main event bout are to submit to randomized drug testing.

On February 7th, Belfort was in fact tested at random in Las Vegas while being in town for the World MMA Awards. The results of Belfort’s test are unknown and many speculate that there is a legitimate possibility that the results were not favourable due to the haste and quickness of the NSAC subsequent ruling on TRT only a few weeks afterward. The results of this test are private and are not released to the public unless Belfort himself chooses to do so. One could make the argument that if he in fact passed his random drug test, It would make sense for Belfort come forth and show the public that there was no foul play, but as of right now, those results are still unknown.

After Belfort withdrew from the bout, he informed the media that the UFC has promised him a title shot against whomever the winner is and his physician had advised him that he needs at least 90 days to be able to fight safely while being off the TRT treatment.

However, this begs the question: If Belfort will be suitable to fight in 90 days without the use of testosterone replacement therapy, what was he doing on it in the first place? Didn’t he desperately need it? One thing we know for certain is that this whole TRT episode has severely impact the public perception of Vitor Belfort and even though it is banned, the TRT discussion will likely follow him for the rest of his career.

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UFC on Fox 11: Werdum vs Browne Preview and Predictions Mon, 14 Apr 2014 17:00:01 +0000 Live on Saturday, April 19, 2014 from the Amway Center in beautiful Orlando, Florida we will be treated to yet another great night of fights. We have bouts with top ten implications in both middleweight and lightweight divisions, as well as a pivotal matchup in the woman’s bantamweight division. And to cap it all off we get a main event between Travis Browne and Fabricio Werdum to see who’s the next challenger for Cain Velasquez’s heavyweight title! Let’s get to it.

Yoel Romero vs Brad Tavares

Yoel Romero is a former Olympic wrestler and a very powerful striker. His come from behind win at Fight Night 35 this past January, again Derek Brunson, pushed his winning streak to three in a row. With an overall record of 7-1 (with seven knockouts) and at the age of 36, Romero knows his time is now or never, and will be looking for a thrilling finish.

In the opposite corner there’s Brad Tavares. At just 26 years old, he’s an up and comer in the middleweight division. A recent decision victory over Lorenz Larkin at Fight Night 35 made it five in a row for the Kailua, Hawaii native. The main card of a nationally televised card is the perfect place for Tavares to have a breakout performance and vault himself into the top 10.

Who wins the fight and how

With three straight spectacular finishes, in fights he was likely supposed to lose, Romero has defied the odds many times in recent outings – and I believe this fight to be no exception. Tavares is ten years Romero’s junior, and in a great position to make a title run. However, his five most recent wins have all come via lackluster decision against somewhat lesser competition. He’s shown no killer instinct or a need to finish. He seems content to lay back and use his skills to outpoint his opponents en route to a decision win. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, as usually it could be seen as pretty smart because a win is a win, but against a beast like Romero, it could (and will) prove to be extremely dangerous. Romero is no longer an Olympic caliber wrestler, so I think Tavares will get a few takedowns throughout the fight. However, I see Romero getting takedowns as well, and doing a lot more damage with them. He will land strong combinations on the feet and hurt Tavares. He wears him down in the first two rounds and as the fighters come out for the third round Romero lands a big right hand that drops Tavares. Romero swarms Tavares from side control, landing numerous unanswered blows until the fight is waved off.

The final verdict

Romero defeats Tavares via third round TKO

Edson Barboza vs Donald Cerrone

Edson Barboza is on a three fight win streak, capped off with a majority decision win over Danny Castillo at UFC on Fox 9 (a fight I felt was a pretty obvious 28-28 draw). An impressive striker, who has nine knockouts in thirteen career wins, you can be sure he will be looking to take his opponent out in highlight reel fashion.

The 22-6 Cerrone has quietly put together two straight wins, in which he’s looked very well rounded and on point. An equally impressive striker, Cerrone only boasts 3 wins via knockout, but 14 via submission. This would suggest a strong advantage on the mat, but will he take the fight there?

Who wins the fight and how

This is a fight many MMA fans have been dreaming out for last past few years. Two of the lightweight divisions best strikers going at it, standing toe-to-toe. I see no reason this fight won’t end up being great, however I don’t see these two standing and trading for the full 15 minutes. These two both have incredibly hard leg kicks and I think it will be interesting who throws them more often and how many get checked. For my money I’m going to say Barboza throws and lands them more often. They stand for the entire first round, both fighters landing heavy shots, but Barboza ultimately taking it 10-9. A minute into the second round, after his leg is lit up a little longer, Cerrone puts his ego aside and uses his fight IQ. He fakes an overhand right and shoots in for a single leg, taking Barboza to the ground. After taking a few shots, Barboza turns, exposing his back. Cerrone takes advantage and quickly sinks in both hooks, and after a brief scuffle, the rear naked choke. Barboza resists as long as he can, but eventually taps out. Cerrone is on a serious roll and back in the top 10.

The final verdict

Cerrone defeats Barboza via second round submission

Liz Carmouche vs Miesha Tate

At UFC 168, Miesha Tate became the first woman to take champion Ronda Rousey out of the first round. Although she eventually succumbed to the armbar, she showed great defence, and hit Rousey with a few good strikes. Losing 3 of her past 4, Tate will be looking to get back on the winning track and prove to the world she’s a top woman’s bantamweight.

Standing in her way is Liz Carmouche. “Girl-Rilla” most recently suffered a set back to now number one contender, Alexis Davis at UFC Fight For The Troops. Now just 1-2 in the UFC, Carmouche will also be out to prove a point, that she isn’t going anywhere and should still be feared at 135lbs.

Who wins the fight and how

Although Miesha Tate has lost two in a row, they came to the number one and two woman in the bantamweight division, Ronda Rousey and Cat Zingano. Liz Carmouche is very tough, and definitely deserves to be in the UFC. Unfortunately for her, I see Miesha having the advantage anywhere the fight goes. The former Strikeforce woman’s bantamweight champion, Tate, will be looking to get the fight to the ground and land hard ground and pound, and earn herself a statement win. I see her taking Carmouche down after a little bit of a struggle in the opening round. Landing hard shots, Carmouche eventually escapes to her feet and the round ends there. Second round begins and Tate again gets a takedown. From guard she works at singling out an arm. She then passes Carmouche’s guard into side control, and just as she did to Marloes Coenen years ago, she slaps on an arm-triangle choke. Squeezing tighter and tighter, it’s only a few seconds before Carmouche taps out.

The final verdict

Tate defeats Carmouche via second round submission

Travis Browne vs Fabricio Werdum

Travis Browne is 16-1-1 overall (with 12 knockouts) in MMA, and has won three in a row, in absolutely devastating fashion. His most recent win came back at UFC 168, when he knocked Josh Barnett unconscious in exactly a minute with vicious elbows. At 31 years old Browne is ready to earn this victory and take on Cain Velasquez at the end of 2014.

To do that he will have to take out longtime star heavyweight Fabricio Werdum. Also a winner of three in a row, and 6 of his last 7, Werdum is looking to finally achieve stardom and earn his shot at the title. With improved striking, and nine submission victories, Browne will have a tough task ahead of him in this one.

Who wins the fight and how

This is probably one of the toughest fights I’ve ever had to call. Both men are on serious rolls, and have a rightful claim to the number one contenders spot. For me it all came down to one thing: who has the hotter hand? Right now that’s quite obviously Travis Browne. Three fights, and three highlight reel knockouts in 2013, Browne is motivated, hungrier than ever, and asked for this fight – he wants to prove he’s number one and earn his spot. Werdum, on the other hand, has fought just once since June 2012, and was willing to wait almost a year for a title shot. Unfortunately for him, things didn’t materialize the way he expected, and now he’s got to go up against the monster, Browne. Although Werdum has a world-class ground game, he has to get the fight to the ground first, and that’s easier said than done. If you haven’t seen what happens when you try to take Travis Browne down, watch his fights against Gabriel Gonzaga and Josh Barnett. Needless to say, he makes you pay. There’s no doubt in my mind that if Werdum can get the fight to the mat he can submit Browne. But I do not see it happening. Browne’s takedown defence has proved to be superb as of late. The fight will remain on the feet, where Browne should have a decisive advantage. Picking apart Werdum on the feet and avoiding any big shots, I believe halfway through the first round Browne lands a right hand on Werdum’s temple, dropping him. Werdum turtles in pain, and Browne jumps on him like a man possessed. It only takes a few unanswered shots before the referee steps in and calls a halt to the bout. It’s all over and we have a new number one contender for the heavyweight title!

The final verdict

Browne defeats Werdum via first round knockout

The rest of the card

Nurmagomedov defeats Dos Anjos via unanimous decision
Alves defeats Baczynski via second round KO
Masvidal defeats Healy via unanimous decision
Payan defeats White via SPLIT decision
Magalhaes defeats Zachrich via second round submission
Mein defeats Perpetuo via first round TKO
Ortiz defeats Borg via unanimous decision
Bektic defeats Skelly via third round TKO
Lewis defeats May via first round KO

After a 3-1 Fight Night 39, which pushes my 2014 to 28-9-1, I look to continue my success and achieve a perfect 4-0 next Saturday night. Enjoy!

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Threats To The Throne: The Best Challengers To The UFC’s Current Champions Tue, 08 Apr 2014 14:00:12 +0000 The toughest thing about being a UFC Champion is constantly having to defend your title against the absolute best fighters in the world. It’s very rare for a champion to get an easy fight as a champion, though it has happened.

Currently the UFC is full of dominant champions that have torn through their respective divisions. All of these champions don’t count on losing their titles any time soon, but most have a dominate contender in their division that is their biggest threat. Here are the biggest threats to the current UFC Champions.

*Note* These are the biggest threats based on style, depth of division and dominance against the rest of the division. They are not necessarily the next in line for a title shot, but would put up the toughest fight compared to the rest of the division.

Heavyweight: Travis Browne

Excluding a TKO loss to Bigfoot Silva where Browne injured his hamstring mid-first round, Happa has been taking names and beating the best in the Heavyweight division. He has looked near perfect, and has shown the ability to comeback while down in a fight (vs. Overeem) and has shown he has knockout power (vs. Struve, Overeem, Barnett).

Velasquez has good, orthodox striking and fantastic wrestling. Browne’s unorthodox and powerful striking could present problems for Cain, as well his takedown defence and elbows could make Cain hesitate when try for takedowns, especially against the cage.

Light-Heavyweight: Daniel Cormier

The more popular decision would be Gustafsson, but I picked Cormier over Gustafsson because Jones has already defeated Gus, and in my opinion, Cormier presents a better challenge to Jones. Cormier is the best wrestler in the 205 division, and we have yet to see much of Jones on his back. If history shows us anything, it’s putting your opponent in unfamiliar territory will get you the crown.

Cormier has fought beasts in the heavyweight division, and if the likes of Bigfoot Silva, Josh Barnett, Roy Nelson and Frank Mir couldn’t blast Cormier, I think Jones will have a tough time finishing the Olympian on his feet.

Middleweight: Lyoto Machida

This was probably the toughest decision of all the weight divisions, as the Middleweight division is stacked full of talent. I don’t think that Jacare could take Weidman down, let alone submit him, and I don’t see Anderson Silva coming back and winning a third fight. That leaves us between Machida and Vitor Belfort, who have both looked phenomenal lately, but who are both completely different fighters.

Belfort is known for his first round aggression, something that I could see Weidman surviving, and even countering. Machida is known for being an elusive puzzle, something that the champion could have a tougher time figuring out. Machida also has tremendous takedown defence, so in a stand-up war, it’s anyone’s fight. Luckily this fight will occur on July 5th at UFC 175, and is the only fight on my list that has already been set.

Welterweight: Rory MacDonald

MacDonald coming from Tri Star is the main reason for MacDonald getting the edge over the others in the Welterweight division. When it comes to styles, MacDonald fights similar to GSP. At the beginning of his career he was a finisher, and is now a very technical fighter. This time though, MacDonald has an edge as his camp has studied Hendricks, and can apply what went wrong in the GSP fight to him fighting Hendricks.

Lightweight: Josh Thomson

In a loss to Ben Henderson, Josh Thomson showed that he has what it takes to become the next UFC Lightweight Champion. With a broken hand, Thomson controlled where the fight took place, taking Henderson down numerous times. Pettis’ biggest weakness is his wrestling, something that Thomson can capitalize on.

Thomson is also a well-versed striker, and is the only person to finish Nate Diaz with strikes. Thomson can stand with Pettis, trading high-kicks and spinning attacks, but Thomson will have the wrestling advantage in his back pocket, which will make him far more confident than Pettis when it comes to standing and trading.

Featherweight: Chad Mendes

The only two fighters who can be justified as Aldo’s biggest threat are Chad Mendes and Cub Swanson. Both have fought Aldo, both were knocked out in the first round by a knee, and both have been on a tear lately in the division. The reason I give Mendes the edge over Swanson is what he showed in the first fight, and what he has shown since.

Mendes’ problem in the first fight was not being able to take Aldo down. He controlled Aldo the entire round, but couldn’t get him down. The reason for why was that he was not setting up his shots with his striking. With his added striking game, Mendes can stand and trade with Aldo, this time setting up his takedowns. He has what it takes to control the fight by being confident this time both with his stand-up and his wrestling game.

Bantamweight: Urijah Faber

Is it too early to say that Renan Barao has cleaned out the Bantamweight division? He has finished the two most dangerous men in the division in Faber and MacDonald, and the next challenger in line is 1-1 against Top 10 bantamweights. Many would say that when it comes to overall skill, Faber is better than Dillashaw, and that both have very similar styles, so to put Dillashaw ahead of Faber as the biggest threat wouldn’t work. Although I doubt that Faber will get another title shot, he is the only person currently in the division that I could see beating Barao, and that says a lot about the skill of Barao, considering he’s defeated Faber twice.

Flyweight: Ian McCall

This is my risky pick, as Johnson seems to be in the same place as Barao. Both Johnson and Barao won their titles by a close decision over the best fighter in the division. In the rematch against said fighter, they got the finish in the first round. Between those fights, both looked dominate against the rest of their division.

I’m very close to switching McCall with Dodson, as Dodson nearly beat Johnson, but McCall has had Johnson’s number before, and even though Johnson won the re-match, McCall showed once that he had what it takes to beat the champion. I still see Johnson beating McCall, as Johnson has improved by leaps and bounds since, but I do think it’s Johnson’s greatest threat.

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EA Sports UFC Gameplay Series Featuring Bruce Lee Reveal [Video] Tue, 08 Apr 2014 13:30:30 +0000 Following weeks of hype and anticipation, the UFC and EA Sports have finally revealed the mystery character that will be available in the new UFC game.

“I am so excited about this opportunity to bring my father back to videogames!” said Shannon Lee, Bruce Lee’s daughter, CEO of Bruce Lee, LLC and Chairperson of the Bruce Lee Foundation. “I’m thrilled that fans can now interact with him in a new way. The EA SPORTS UFC development team has been incredible to work with, and they’ve done a great job capturing the look and feel of my father. I think people will love getting a chance to fulfill a fight fantasy by playing Bruce Lee in the new UFC game.”

“There’s no debate, Bruce Lee is the father of mixed martial arts,” said Dana White, UFC President. “He believed not one style of fighting was the best and that you had to have a little piece of everything to be a complete fighter. He was proven right when the first UFC event took place in 1993.”

EA Sports UFC is set for release June 17 on Xbox One and PlayStation 4.

Watch the clip below:

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Olympic Silver Medalist Yoel Romero’s Path to the UFC [Video] Tue, 08 Apr 2014 13:00:23 +0000 Cuban born Olympic silver medalist Yoel Romero, who has one of the latest additions to a talent-stacked middleweight division, is the latest feature on Ultimate Insider, as he details his path from amateur competition and the Olympics, to UFC fighter. Romero is 3-0 since joining the UFC, with all three fights ending in  brutal KO/TKO. His last fight against Derek Brunson won him ‘Fight of the Night’ honours as well.

Romero is expected to face Brad Tavares at UFC on Fox 11, which takes place April 19, 2014 at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida.

Watch the feature below:

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Adult Film Star Christy Mack Talks MMA and Fighter Pay Tue, 08 Apr 2014 12:00:20 +0000 Top adult film star Christy Mack discusses  how she got in the business, her love for MMA, dating a mixed martial artist, and even spoke out regarding the issues with fighter pay. The 22 year old is currently dating Bellator welterweight War Machine, who has been out of competition with an injury since a submission loss at Bellator 104. He was scheduled to take part in the latest Bellator welterweight tournament, yet injuries forced him to remain on the sidelines.

Watch the interview below:

Video courtesy of: The Fight Network

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UFC Fight Night 39: Nogueira vs Nelson Preview and Predictions Mon, 07 Apr 2014 15:55:31 +0000 On Friday, April 11, 2014, live from Abu Dhabi we will witness an exciting day of fights. With the prelims beginning at 11:30am ET, and the four bout main card at 2pm ET you’ll have to call in to work sick to see this one. With names like Minitauro Nogueira, Roy Nelson and Tatsuya Kawajiri I will explain to you why it will be worth it in the end.

Let’s get started.

Beneil Dariush vs Ramsey Nijem

Well, as far as UFC debut’s go, they don’t get much better than Beneil Dariush’s. In a minute and forty five seconds, back at Fight Night 35 in January, he showed a calm demeanor, powerful hands and slick submissions. He took out longtime UFC veteran Charlie Brenneman
via rear naked choke. He showed a lot of skill and promise, and he will look to continue his role against Ramsey Nijem.

Nijem, a former Ultimate Fighter runner up, recently halted a two fight losing streak. Also at fight night 35, Nijem claimed a decision victory over Justin Edwards. He will look to earn his fifth UFC win in style on Friday night.

Who wins the fight and how

Don’t get me wrong, I like Ramsey Nijem. He’s skilled and he is a good fighter. But I see Dariush being a serious contender at 155lbs. Whether it was the fact that he didn’t have time to show nerves, or maybe because he didn’t have any, Dariush looked like a veteran in his fight with Brenneman. He dropped Charlie with a big hook, and swarmed on him, and I expect to see the same thing in this fight. Dariush knocks Nijem down, quickly hovers over top of him and reigns down punches until the referee is forced to step in. First round finish and we’ve got a new threat at lightweight!

The Final Verdict

Dariush defeats Nijem via first round TKO

John Howard vs Ryan LaFlare

Winner of eight of his last nine fights, John Howard had possibly the most impressive performance of his career this past December, in a lopsided unanimous decision win over Siyar Bahadurzada at UFC 168. Showcasing impressive striking and Matt Hughes like slams, he’ll be looking to make it five wins in a row, and two straight inside the octagon when he takes on undefeated Ryan LaFlare.

At 10-0 in MMA as well as 3-0 in the UFC, Ryan LaFlare is a scary, scary man in the welterweight division. He showcased a great chin, good pace, excellent wrestling and transitions in his most recent win, which came on short notice against Court McGee back at UFC on Fox 9.

Who wins the fights and how

John Howard had a slam for the ages in his bout against Bahadurzada, unfortunately he wont be able to do that against a superb wrestler like LaFlare. Not only that, but in his bout against LaFlare, any time McGee was able to get him down, he popped right back up or was able to easily transition to a more advantageous position for himself. Although I give the power advantage to Howard, I believe LaFlare will be able to avoid most strikes, and the one’s that do connect his chin will be able to withstand. I see this as a fast paced, exciting battle, much like LaFlare’s fight with McGee. I see LaFlare getting takedowns, pressing the action and dominating Howard in every aspect of this fight. Howard is tough and durable, so I don’t see him being finished, but he will be significantly outworked and lose this fight. I think LaFlare is a severely underrated prospect and I think this will be a big statement fight for him, expect to see this guy in the top ten by the end of the year.

The Final Verdict

LaFlare defeats Howard via unanimous decision (30-27×3)

Clay Guida vs Tatsuya Kawajiri

Tatsuya Kawajiri made his long awaited UFC debut this past January at Fight Night 34, when he defeated a very game Sean Soriano via second round rear naked choke. At 33-7-2, fighting since 2000, Kawajiri is a veteran of the sport, and has proven to be a relentless fighter, proving in the Soriano fight that when he gets a hold of you he doesn’t let go.

Longtime UFC veteran Clay Guida is 30-14 in MMA and 10-8 in the UFC. He recently suffered his first stoppage loss via strikes, when he was thoroughly dominated and finished by #1 contender Chad Mendes. Now 1-1 at 145lbs, at the age of 32 Guida should still have plenty left in the tank and has a chance to restore his fan base with an exciting performance.

Who wins the fight and how

Although you may forget, Clay Guida is actually capable of having good fights. Producing classics against the likes of Roger Huerta, Diego Sanchez and former champion Benson Henderson, those fights all had one thing in common: an extremely game opponent, ready to push Guida to his limits. Fortunately for him, and us as MMA fans, Tatsuya Kawajiri is about as game as it’s going to get. He’s 35 years old and knows he’s not getting any younger, his time for a run at the title is now. And if you saw his post fight speech against Soriano, you’d know he’s hungry for the opportunity. However, Clay Guida feeds off of that sort of energy and I believe (and severely hope) we will see a glimmer of the old Guida in this fight. Although he was outwrestled against Mendes at UFC 164, that does not diminish his skills, as Mendes is seen as the best wrestler in the division. I see Kawajiri coming straight at Guida, and Clay meeting him right in the centre of the octagon. They will test each other out on the feet before the takedown battle begins. I see Guida getting Kawajiri down more often than not. However, Kawajiri will be able to scramble to his feet in the first round, and when he can’t he will reverse positions and attempt submissions. I see Tatsuya possibly taking the first round, and although the second and third will be close I see Guida riding out top position and landing steady ground and pound. It will be a close and exciting fight that could possibly go either way, and the judge’s scores will reflect that. In the end though, I see the judges making the right call and awarding the fight to Guida via SPLIT decision.

The Final Verdict

Guida defeats Kawajiri via split decision (29-28, 29-28, 28-29)

Roy Nelson vs Minitauro Nogueira

The main event of this card features two 37 year old veterans, neither of whom is a top 10 heavyweight. However don’t let that discourage you. That just means they’ve got nothing to lose, and everything to gain with an exciting performance. One has some of the heaviest hands in the division, while the other has the best submission resume in heavyweight MMA history.

He’s just 3-4 in his last seven fights, but “Big Nog” Minitauro Rodrigo Nogueira is always dangerous. Although he was most recently submitted via armbar by Fabricio Werdum back in June of 2013, Big Nog still has 21 submissions on his resume. As well, he showed us he has power in his hands back at UFC 134 when he brutally knocked out Brendan Schaub. He is a threat where ever the fight goes.

And then there’s Roy Nelson. Although he too possesses a good ground game, his last nine wins have all come via form of knockout, so it is very clear he will want the fight to remain standing. He’s 19-9 in MMA, 6-5 in the UFC, and although he’s lost his last two in a row, to Daniel Cormier and Stipe Miocic, Roy Nelson is always dangerous.

Who wins the fight and how

As you can probably tell, this is a fight that has no business being a main event, but both fighters have recognizable names and it’s a Fight Pass event, so it is what it is. As for the fight itself I see it being quite mediocre. Both fighters have significantly slowed and if it goes past three rounds, I can’t see it favouring either man. Lucky for them, and us I see this fight ending in the second round. I see the first round being back and forth, with neither guy landing anything significant. Then as the second round starts, both men come out, and after a few seconds of back and forth pawing, Nelson lands his trademark right hand, and Big Nog’s night is over. It’s a highlight reel finish that gives Nelson a little bit of hope, and Noguiera the wake up call he needs to retire.

The Final Verdict

Nelson defeats Nogueira via second round knockout

The rest of the card
Rosholt defeats Omielanczuk via second round TKO
Yahya defeats Bedford via unanimous decision
Leites defeats Smith via unanimous decision
Craig defeats Camozzi via unanimous decision
Alers defeats Omer via second round submission

Although it’s not the most stacked card I truly believe most bouts on this card will thoroughly surpass expectations. I’m very confident in the four picks I’ve made, and with a 25-8-1 main card record for 2014 I’ll get four steps closer to the 30 win mark. Enjoy the fights everybody and thanks for reading!

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Brand Perception: Why Twitter Wars Are Never Good Mon, 07 Apr 2014 14:00:41 +0000 Twitter is one of the most prominent media platforms for Mixed Martial Arts.  Over the years Twitter has shown itself to be both a brand enhancer and a brand detractor for fighters and promoters alike. Last week, World Series of Fighting’s Vice President and matchmaker Ali Abdel-Aziz was involved in a little “Beef” with both Josh Burkman and Vinny Maghalaes. Burkman had tweeted earlier that he wanted to be released from his WSOF to go elsewhere. Maghalaes meanwhile, was saying he didn’t blame Burkman because Abdel-Aziz was difficult to deal with.

That’s when it all went down. The WSOF exec not only defended himself on Twitter, but he went above and beyond, openly tweeting about the money that was offered to Maghalaes. Maghalaes countered that he was offered a much less amount. In the end, cooler heads prevailed as both Burkman and Maghalaes resolved their issues and letting everyone in the Twitter-verse know as well. Both fighters mentioned having spoken with Abdel-Aziz on the phone, and saying it was resolved.

Which brings up the question “Why didn’t Abdel-Aziz do that in the first place?” It’s commonplace to say social media is bigger than ever, and that people should watch what they say online, yet we find ourselves here again. This is an interesting case however, because this time it’s an executive making comments on social media. MMA fans are used to the occasional Dana White tweet where he calls someone an idiot, but White responds in a way that doesn’t hurt his brand’s reputation. Dana’s personal responses to fans on Tweeter doesn’t represent the UFC as whole. The problem with Abdel-Aziz saying what he did was because MMA fans aren’t familiar enough with him enough to know whether that’s his personal response or the promotions. Any negative backlash against Abdel-Aziz would be transferred to World Series of Fighting he works for them.

As a new promotion, World Series of Fighting needs to ride the current wave of momentum. We’ve since many promotions rise and fall in the past: Elite EX, Affliction, and the IFL just to name a few. WSOF is in a somewhat stable position having secured a TV contract with NBC Sports. The last two cards (WSOF 8 & WSOF 9) both had payrolls of over $250,000. Assuming they continue to pay fighters around the same amount for every card WSOF will be investing a substantial amount of money per card. In order to ensure they can continue to do business the promotion needs to prove to the broadcaster that they can not only keep the viewers they have, but attract more.

Part of attracting more viewers comes with signing better talent. WSOF has done a fairly good job signing Okami, Palhares, and just recently re-signing Burkman. Through their consistent talent acquisition and by paying free agents their market rate, WSOF has proven themselves to be a viable alternative to Bellator. Another part of signing top level talent comes to how the fighters themselves are treated. This is where WSOF dropped the ball. Imagine how much better it would’ve looked if Burkman had tweeted out that his contract situation was resolved without Abdel-Aziz going public on Twitter? Their crisis management would’ve been praised. The MMA community would’ve said “That’s how a dispute should be resolved; behind closed doors”. Instead all this is made public, and even though it was worked out, there’s still a sense of doubt behind WSOF. Are there executives really hard to deal with, or was this just one isolated incident? This one small instance doesn’t hurt their brand overnight. As long as they keep producing quality fight cards and treating their fighters well, they will be fine. But if this becomes a reoccurring theme, with fighters going public with their unhappiness, WSOF could be facing some serious issues in the near future.

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Perspective: Analyzing Jake Shield’s UFC Release Mon, 07 Apr 2014 05:30:27 +0000 Earlier today, Zuffa cut Jake Shields from their UFC roster. On the UFC’s website they have him listed as the number 11 (sic #12) Welterweight in the world, but if we are being honest with ourselves he should definitely be ahead of many of the men put in front of him. He holds recent wins over Tyron Woodley and Demian Maia who are both above him for whatever reason. Jake Shields is a bonafide top 10 Welterweight, former Strikeforce Champion, former UFC title challenger and holds notable wins over 4 of the UFC’s top 10 welterweights and a win over the 12th ranked one as well, and Zuffa decided that wasn’t good enough to keep working for them.

In the immediate aftermath of this release there has been a large outcry from the MMA media. The general bent is some chicken little-esque hand wringing about the UFC turning MMA away from sport and towards some form of wild cage kickboxing. I’m not here to join that throng. I do not, for one second, think Zuffa released Jake Shields because he is a grappler. They released him because he is not entertaining, pure and simple.

To be a grappler does not mean to be boring. Lay and pray is boring. Wall and stall is boring. Active grappling, guard passing, sweeps, submissions, aggression and technique are not boring. In fact, heated grappling exchanges are some of the most entertaining aspects of the sport. That’s why people watch MMA instead of kickboxing. They want all facets. Jake Shields does not bring all facets to the cage. Shields is a hell of a grappler. One of the best in the organization. And that is all he has got. His standup game is spectacularly horrendous. He is one of the (dwindling) few fighters who looks like he has no idea what his hands are for when vertical and has only heard of throwing a punch but never actually done it. His striking consists almost entirely of a tepid jab and kicks at range. People call Lyoto Machida a point fighter but he has a healthy number of NO’s on a resume. Jake Shield’s could spend 15 minutes kickboxing an armless opponent and I have serious doubts he could get the finish. In short, he makes Matt Hughes’ hands look devastating.

This lack of striking does not preclude one from Zuffa employ. After all, that’s why Jake Shields has 8 fights in the UFC including a title fight. But if you are a one trick pony, you damn sure better be able to pull off that one trick over and over again. Because as soon as it stops working for you, and you have no plan B, well then you end up putting on fights like Shields vs. Hector Lombard. Jake Shields has one trick and it is to grapple. On the ground he is a wizard and thoroughly exciting and one of the most dangerous men in the division. On his feet he is no danger to a fighter’s health or safety and only middlingly to their win-loss record. And herein lies the crux of the matter. In his 8 UFC fights Jake Shields is 10 for 81 in takedown attempts. That is a percentage of 12.35% which is horrific. Even more recently he is 1 for 37 in his last 3 fights! That’s just slightly over 3%! No one likes watching a guy desperately lean on another guy or shoot wild doubles from outside with no set-up. It is embarrassing, and boring as all get-out. The same way the MMA media openly mocks fighters who “bro out” and act foolish everytime someone won’t stand and bang with them is the same way we should react when Jake Shields misses his twelfth double-leg shot of the round.

Being a grappler does not mean you are boring. Being a boring grappler means you are boring. Chael Sonnen is a grappler. And Chael has received 3 title shots and could go on a streak of 13 losses and it would not matter a tick towards his employability by UFC brass. Before Sonnen reinvented himself on the mic, he was a middling prospect who is best remember for tapping and then reneging in the WEC. He was thoroughly underwhelming even in victory. But Chale adapted himself and is one of the biggest stars the UFC has and his style has absolutely nothing to do with it. Chael Sonnen’s bread and butter is double legs and inside the guard grinding. It is what the general public perceives as “boring.” But no one cares because he brings other things to the table so even when he throws out a dud like the Bisping fight, fans still want to see him. Jake Shields brings missed takedowns and terrified striking to the table and that is it.

I am not saying he should have been cut. I strongly disagree with the decision made by Zuffa. He is a top 10 welterweight and they propone to be a legitimate sporting league where the best come to prove their mettle. But this cut is less damning than the Jon Fitch cut was made only no one seems to remember that because of Fitch’s failings in his post UFC career (At the time Fitch had less losses, and frankly looked better than Shields has recently). But to suggest this was because Shields was a grappler is just inaccurate. Zuffa doesn’t care about grappling vs. striking. If they did half their belts wouldn’t be owned by NCAA All American wrestlers. They care about putting fans in seats. And Jake Shields was a guy who put fans in the lines for the concession stands whenever he fought.

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