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February 16, 2010

Predictions for UFC 110

On Saturday the Ultimate Fighting Championship brings us a matchmaker's dream -- a card filled with evenly-matched fighters.

Starting with the main event between Cain Velasquez and Antonio Rodrigo “Big Nog” Nogueira, both fighters are comfortable on their feet and on the ground. Nogueira is one of the best jiu-jitsu-fighting heavyweights in the world.

Velasquez ranks second only to Brock Lesnar when it comes to wrestling in the heavyweight division.

Velasquez's game plan should be to stay off his back and ground and pound Nogueira. The key will be to see Velasquez's reaction when he is on his back and Nogueira is in his guard.

It will be interesting to see Nogueira's face when he feels the punching power of Velaquez for the first time. “Big Nog” has taken some big punches over the years from guys like Fedor Emelianenko, Heath Herring, Dan Henderson and Frank Mir. But none of the aforementioned guys can hit like Velaquez.

When the final horn sounds, I see Velasquez suffering his first loss, with Nogueira winning on a close decision, 29-28 on all three score cards.

The co-main event fight between Wanderlei Silva and Michael Bisping is what you call a snack fight -- you step into the next room to get a snack and this one may be over. “The Axe Murderer” Silva swings for the fences from the opening bell, and his intensity is unmatched. These are two of the most exciting middleweights in the division.

Bisping's strategy must be to take this fight to the ground, because he cannot stand toe-to-toe and take another punch like Dan Henderson delivered to him. Silva hits like a heavyweight, but may have taken too many punches over the years. His inability to take a punch has weakened his reputation among UFC fans.

But, I still give the edge to Wanderlei by knockout in the first round. He needs this fight more than Bisping to remain in the UFC. As long as there are fight cards in Europe, Bisping should have a contract with the UFC.

Joe “Daddy” Stevenson takes on Australian-born George Sotiropoulos in a lightweight battle.

Stevenson has become a stepping-stone for any fighter looking for a title shot. With 46 fights (36 wins, 10 losses) under his belt, this cagey veteran's losses have come against some of the elite fighters of this division. Guys like BJ Penn, Kenny Florian and Diego Sanchez are just some of his toughest opponents.

Sotiropoulos' only two losses were to Shinya Aoki, which was a disqualification for a groin strike, and a loss to Kyle Noke which he later avenged. He will have the home crowd cheering him on.

Sotiropoulos is right at the doorstep for a title shot with Penn, but it will be contingent on him winning this fight with Stevenson. He is a well-rounded fighter with good stamina, a black belt in jiu-jitsu and an amateur boxing background.

So, I’m going with Sotiropoulous by a unanimous decision over Stevenson.

As for the remaining fights, Ryan Bader will remain undefeated with a win over Keith Jardine by decision.

Ben Rothwell is fighting Mirko Cro Cop in a matchup of heavyweights. Rothwell seems to get nervous when going against big-name fighters. Cro Cop needs to win this by a knockout if he ever wants a title shot. Cro Cop's next opponent is likely to be the winner of Velasquez-Nogueira. I’m taking Cro Cop by TKO.

Chris Haseman and Elvis Sinosic first fought in 1997 in Australia. Haseman won that fight, but Sinosic will win this one by submission.

Krzysztof Soszynski is a very aggressive fighter with good stand-up. Stephan Bonnar would be better off not to stand and brawl with him, but this is Stephan Bonnar. He won't back down and is a 'forget-my-game-plan' type of fighter. This will be the “fight of the night” with plenty of blood. In the end, I give the edge to Soszynski, because he will dictate the fight.

Chris Lytle vs. Brian Foster is a pretty evenly-matched fight. I give the edge to Lytle because of experience.

Croatia Goran Reljic takes on CB Dollaway in a middleweight match. Reljic is a well-rounded fighter and will be too much for Dollaway. I see the fight only going two rounds with Reljic winning by submission.

New Zealand's James Te Huna is making his UFC debut against Igor Pokrajac, who is one of three Croatians on the card along with Cro Cop and Reljic. I haven’t seen many of Te Huna's fights -- just a couple Internet matches that didn’t impress me. Te Huna is fighting out of Penrith, Australia, so someone has to sell the local tickets. Pokajac wins by TKO.

Those are my picks. What are yours?

Posted by Kevin Richardson at 2:04 PM | | Comments (13)
        

February 13, 2010

Demain Maia is a better fit against Anderson Silva

Middleweight Demian Maia is getting back into the Octagon to replace the injured Vitor Belfort. Maia will be fighting Anderson Silva for the Ultimate Fighting Championship middleweight belt at UFC 112.

UFC.com is reporting that  the injury to Belfort -- who underwent emergency surgery on his left shoulder earlier this week -- has gotten worse during his training.

Adding Maia is a good fit in a number of ways. UFC 112 is being held on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi. Maia is an Abu Dhabi grappling champion, so he should have the crowd behind him. He is also a five-time Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world champion, so he matches up well with Silva on the ground. Maia must take the fight to the ground and try and remain there, because Silva has the best stand-up game in the business.

I believe Silva will still win this fight before the third round.

Posted by Kevin Richardson at 8:11 AM | | Comments (4)
        

UFC 109: Relentless Pink Slips

The Ultimate Fighting Championship is an organization that doesn’t put up with mediocrity. After UFC 109, many fighters on the card now find themselves no longer employed by the organization. I don’t recall this many guys having their contracts voided after an event.

At the top of the list was Mark Coleman, who fought in the main event against Randy Couture. I clearly believe this was justified because of Coleman’s lackluster performance.

Welterweight Frank Trigg, who was also released from his contract, wrote on his Web site that “I have pretty much failed in everything that I’ve tried to do well in my life. Wrestling and MMA being the glaring examples. ... As I write this I say I’m done.”

Heavy.com reports that heavyweight Tim Hague and lightweight Phillipe Nover have also been released from their UFC contracts following losses at UFC 109 last weekend.

And finally, Rolles Gracie -- part of the famous Gracie clan -- was released following his loss to Joey Beltran. Gracie clearly came into the Octagon out of shape and his standup is in need a lot of work.
Posted by Kevin Richardson at 7:24 AM | | Comments (0)
        

February 9, 2010

UFC's fighters paid a cut above

AP photo 

Zuffa, LLC, the parent company of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, has clearly rewarded its fighters with large purses. This past Saturday, UFC 109's main event fighters -- Randy Couture and Mark Coleman -- both received payouts that doubled that of the Strikeforce main event fighters. Figures released by the Nevada State Athletic Commission and reported by mmajunkie.com had Couture making $250,000 (no bonus included) and Coleman receiving $60,000.

One week earlier in Miami, Strikeforce fighters Nick Diaz received $100,000 (no bonus included) and his opponent Marius Zaromskis got $30,000 in their main event fight, according to figures released by the Florida Department of Business and Regulation.

Strikeforce fighters’ payroll totaled $469,000 compared to the UFC fighters' payroll of 944,000.

Strikeforce fighter Hershel Walker donated his purse to charity while his opponent Greg Nagy took home $5,000.

The full list of official payouts from UFC 109 card:

Randy Couture: $250,000

Mark Coleman: $60,000

Matt Serra: $150,000 ($75,000 win bonus)

Frank Trigg: $30,000

Chael Sonnen: $64,000 ($32,000 win bonus)

Nate Marquardt: $45,000

Demian Maia: $62,000 ($31,000 win bonus)

Dan Miller: $15,000

Mac Danzig: $40,000 ($20,000 win bonus)

Justin Buchholz: $8,000

Paulo Thiago: $30,000 ($15,000 win bonus)

Mike Swick: $43,000

Melvin Guillard: $28,000 ($14,000 win bonus)

Ronys Torres: $4,000

Rob Emerson: $24,000 ($12,000 win bonus)

Phillipe Nover: $10,000

Phil Davis: $10,000 ($5,000 win bonus)

Brian Stann: $17,000

Chris Tuchscherer: $20,000 ($10,000 win bonus)

Tim Hague: $7,000

Joey Beltran: $12,000 ($6,000 win bonus)

Rolles Gracie: $15,000

The full list of official payouts from Strikeforce card:

Nick Diaz $100,000 (no win bonus)

Marius Zaromskis $30,000

Cris “Cyborg” Santos $35,000 (includes $15,000 win bonus and $5,000 championship bonus)

Marloes Coenen $2,000

Herschel Walker $600 (no win bonus)

Greg Nagy $5,000

Robbie Lawler $100,000 (no win bonus)

Melvin Manhoef $5,000

Bobby Lashley $50,000 (no win bonus)

Wes Sims $25,000

Jay Hieron $65,000 (includes $35,000 win bonus)

Joe Riggs $30,000

Pablo Alfonso $3,000 (includes $1,500 win bonus)

Marcos DaMotta $2,500

Hadar Hassan $2,000 (includes $1,000 win bonus)

Ryan Keenan $2,000

John Kelly $2,000 (includes $1,000 win bonus)

Sabah Homasi $1,000

Michael Byrnes $2,000 (includes $1,000 win bonus)

David Zitnik $1,500

David Gomez $2,000 (includes $1,000 win bonus)

Craig Oxley $1,500

Joe Ray $1,500 (includes $500 win bonus)

John Clarke $1,000

 

Posted by Kevin Richardson at 11:53 AM | | Comments (5)
        

February 7, 2010

UFC 109 wasn't great, but it wasn't bad either

Saturday night at UFC 109 Randy Couture once again showed why he is one of the greatest ever in the sport of mixed marital arts. He defeated MMA veteran Mark Coleman in the second round with a rear-naked choke.

Ringside analyst Joe Rogan said before the fight, "Mark Coleman is the grandfather of ground and pound". I think Coleman looked more like a grandfather than a ground-and-pound expert. This wasn’t the Coleman we saw in Pride (or earlier in the UFC) -- he looked old and slow. Couture beat him to the punch throughout the night and Coleman landed only one clean punch in the first round.

Both UFC announcers agreed that we haven't seen the last of Coleman. I think we have seen the last UFC fight for "The Hammer," but maybe not his last MMA fight.

Coleman had an exchange of words with fellow fighter, Tito "The Huntington Beach Bad Boy" Ortiz, who was ringside. Ortiz loves to talk trash and challenge other fighters after a fight.

I would like to see who the UFC matches Couture up with next. Who do you think?

In the co-main event, Nate Marquardt battled Chael Sonnen for three rounds, but Sonnen won every round on the judges' cards. Before the fight, Sonnen said, "I'm going to be on him from bell to bell."

On two different occasions, Marquardt had guillotine chokes on Sonnen, which should have ended the fight. But, Sonnen was able to remain calm and Marquardt eventually relinquished the holds. Sonnen stuffed Marquardt's takedowns and he ground-and-pounded him for the win.

Sonnen told Sherdog.com, "I hope Anderson [Silva] wins" his next fight against Vitor Belfort.

Do you think Sonnen is ready for Silva or should Demian Maia get a shot a Silva?

After Couture’s win over Coleman, the UFC announcers were giving the “Submission of the Night” honor to Randy Couture. But clearly that honor had to go to Brazilian Paulo Thiago for his D'arce choke on American Mike Swick. Thiago landed a right behind the ear of Swick and followed with a left to the jaw that put him down. Thiago applied the choke and Swick was out cold.

In the middleweight class, Brazilian ju-jitsu black belt Demian Maia won a unanimous decision over American Dan Miller. Maia said after the fight, "I came to show off my standup." So for the first two rounds, I thought it was a boxing match. And in the third round, Maia took it to the ground and got the win.

Former UFC champion Matt "The Terror" Serra’s win over Frank "Twinkle Toes" Trigg was a total surprise to me, because Trigg loves to take his opponents down. But for some strange reason, he wanted to stand toe-to-toe with Serra. And he got knocked out by an overhand right to the jaw in the first round. Trigg should have learned from Serra’s win over Georges St. Pierre, in which Serra won the belt because GSP tried to stand toe-to-toe. Serra made his way out to the ring to the music from "Rocky," an appropriate choice. Serra won “Knockout of the Night”.

In the Melvin Guillard-Ronys Torres bout, you heard Guillard’s new trainer Greg Jackson say, "this is the best I have seen you in the cage." In the past, Melvin would swing for the fences, trying to get the spectacular knockout. In his battle with the Brazilian Torres, he remained in control during the match and took a unanimous decision.

Justin Buchholz and Mac Danzig had an unofficial loser leave town match. Danzig was the aggressor and he tried to finish the fight on several occasions. The fight went the distance, and Danzig won with a majority decision.

Newcomer Phil Davis beat Brian Stann throughout during their bout. Davis, a wrestler, took Stann down whenever he wanted to and surprisingly dominated every round. If trainer Lloyd Irving can help Davis with his standup, we may be looking at the next champion in two years.

I wish the UFC had shown the Tim Hague-Chris Tuchscherer fight and not Rolles Gracie vs. Joey Beltran. Gracie was clearly out of shape and not prepared to fight beyond the first round. He won his three previous bouts, all ended in the first round. Beltran defeated Gracie by TKO in the second round.

After the Hague-Tuchscherer fight, the crowd booed as Tuchscherer won a majority decision over Hague.

Phillipe Nover won a decision over Robert Emerson in a contest that wasn't televised.

This was an average fight card: I'll give it a C-

What grade would you give it?

-Kevin Richardson 

Posted by baltimoresun.com at 12:22 PM | | Comments (4)
        

February 5, 2010

Shogun Fights ready for Round 2

After a very successful first fight card in October, Baltimore is taking another swing at mixed martial arts March 27 at 1st Mariner Arena. Some familiar fighters from the first MMA event will be on the card. The event is once again being promoted by Shogun Fights, which is based here in Baltimore. They are calling this card Shogun Fights 2; I guess they're carrying on the UFC tradition of numbering each MMA card.

One of the main battles of the evening with be Baltimore native and MMA veteran James "Binky" Jones taking on undefeated Pennsylvania fighter Jim Hettes in the 145 pound featherweight division. Hettes last fought in the first Baltimore event in October and is part of the main event this time.

When you look at the fighting records of Jones (8-8) and Hettes (3-0), it looks like a mismatch. But as some of you know, the amount of bouts a fighter has been through doesn't always give them an advantage in the cage. An example of this was UFC heavyweight Brock Lesnar, who had only fought three times (two wins, one loss) when he defeated then-champion Randy Couture (16 wins, seven losses).

Also on the card is super heavyweight Ryan McGowan, who is making his MMA debut and going against Mike Williams. Fans always enjoy the big guys in the cage for the first three minutes. If the fight goes beyond that, it's usually a hugfest.

During the last event, it was great to see more than 5,000 area MMA fans come out an support the sport. Shogun Fights promoter John Rallo said, "Trainers that have trained people in UFC and Pride, are saying that [Shogun Fights 1] was one of the most professional shows they have been to."

And I have to agree with him, it was a KO event.

So, here's the card:

Shogun Fights 2


Rick Desper vs. Steven Baker at 135 lbs.
Joe Stripling vs. Elder Ramos at 195 lbs.
Joey Kirwan vs. Elijah Harshbarger at 175 lbs.
Ryan Mackin vs. Bret Thomas at 140 lbs.
Mike Paschall vs. Glen Hoffman at 165 lbs.
Jacob Kirwan vs. Steve DeAngelis at 145 lbs.
Diego Brandao vs. George Sheppard at 155 lbs.
Dave Daniecki vs. Germiyale Adkins at 185 lbs.
Binky Jones vs. Jim Hettes at 145 lbs.
Ryan McGowan vs. Mike Williams at super heavyweight

-Kevin Richardson 

Posted by Baltimore Sun sports at 6:59 PM | | Comments (4)
        
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Kevin Richardson has been a fan of mixed martial arts competition ever since UFC 3, when 600-pound sumo wrestler Emmanuel Yarborough was beaten by Keith Hackney. Kevin will cover the world of MMA — in Baltimore, nationally and internationally. He plans to take readers into the locker rooms and MMA schools, where they'll hear from local fighters and trainers. If you have a news tip or suggestions for the blog, please e-mail him.

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