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October 30, 2011

UFC 137: Diaz beats Penn convincingly

Former Strikeforce champion Nick Diaz put on a dominating performance at UFC 137 Saturday night.

He won a unanimous decision (29-28, 29-27, 29-28) over former UFC champion BJ "The Prodigy" Penn (16-8-2, 12-7-2UFC). Diaz (26-7, 7-4 UFC) pressured Penn throughout the fight with an arsenal of combinations in the main event at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas.

Diaz entered the cage looking all business, even skipping the customary hugging of your cornerman. Referee Josh Rosenthal had to hold both fighters back while giving instructions before the opening bell.  

The fighters stood toe-to-toe with Diaz pressing the action and using his 6-inch reach advantage. Both fighters had good exchanges in the opening round. Penn was able to take Diaz down and briefly take Diaz's back, but he scrambled back to his feet. After the first round ended, Diaz shoved his shoulder into Penn’s face while heading back to his corner.

In the second round Diaz started to test Penn's cardio by applying pressure throughout the round. He used the “Stockton Slap,” a half jab that is used to keep a fist in your opponent's face. Diaz also mixed in body shots and combinations that started to swell the left eye of Penn. 

In the third round, Diaz and Penn turned the fight into an old-fashioned brawl. Both fighters landed punches throughout the round. But at the end of the third round Diaz raised his hands and Penn walked to his corner looking rejected.

When ring announcer Bruce Buffer announced Diaz the winner, the Stockton, Calif., native raised his hands in victory. He stared into the camera and screamed at the top of his lungs, “Where you at George, where you at (expletive)?”

Calling out the champion has now become the customary victory speech and a way of pressuring the UFC for a title shot.  We saw Chael Sonnen calling out Anderson Silva at UFC 136 and earlier on this card, a half-joking heavyweight Roy Nelson called out the winner of the Heavyweight championship fight between the champion Cain Velaquez and Junior Dos Santos. 

At the postfight press conference, Dana White announced that middleweight champion George St. Pierre has agreed to fight Diaz on the Super Bowl weekend fight card.

Diaz talked about getting the title shot at the postfight press conference. “I have to come off like that just to get a fight,” Diaz said. “You going to point the finger, make me the bad guy. I’m the bad guy now, I get to fight.” 

The biggest surprise of the night had to be the announcement by Penn after the fight. Talking to UFC commentator Joe Rogan in the cage. "Hats off to Nick Diaz," he said to Joe Rogan. "He's the man. Joe, this is probably the last time you see me in here. I want to perform at the top level. That’s it Joe, I’ll shake your hand right now. I've got a daughter. I've got another daughter on the way. I don't want to go home looking like this."

Posted by Kevin Richardson at 8:20 AM | | Comments (0)

October 18, 2011

UFC 137: GSP is out with knee injury


With this Twitter message from UFC president Dana White to his 1.6 million followers, the main event at UFC 137 has now become BJ Penn vs. Nick Diaz. It's being reported that welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre has suffered a knee injury and his fight against Carlos Condit was pulled from the card at UFC 137 in Las Vegas.

"We will sit Carlos to wait for GSP," White wrote. "It's looking so far like he could be ready in a couple months." 

Josh Koscheck has offered to fight Condit on one week's notice, but Condit has decided to wait for GSP to recover.

This is the second time the main event has changed for UFC 137, the first was when Nick Diaz was missing in action and didn't show up for numerous scheduled press events to help promote the card. White made the decision to change St. Pierre opponent from Diaz to Condit for the main event and Diaz later become BJ Penn's opponent.

Injuries to fighters are a problem that plagues mixed martial arts. It’s something that’s unavoidable, but must be improved upon.

A huge case in point is the UFC on Fox bout between heavyweights Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos. I’m sure the UFC is crossing its fingers and toes hoping that no injuries occur during practice. That would be a major blow to the sports if it wants to attract more mainstream fans.

How does the change in the main event affect you buying UFC 137?

Posted by Kevin Richardson at 8:37 PM | | Comments (0)

October 10, 2011

Can you smell what Chael is cooking?

UFC middleweight Chael Sonnen is the talk of the MMA world. Just moments after dominating Brian Stann at UFC 136, Sonnen seems to have transformed from an MMA fighter into a pro wrestler.


UFC color commentator Joe Rogan asked Sonnen, “How happy were you with your performance tonight?"


Sonnen ignored the question and looked toward UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva in the audience and bellowed out a line as if he was auditioning for The Wrestler. “Anderson Silva, you absolutely suck,”  Sonnen said. He then waited a few moments for the cheers to get louder and followed with an old-fashion pro wrestling loser-leave-town challenge.

“Super Bowl weekend, the biggest rematch in the history of the business. I’m calling you out Silva, but we’re upping the stakes.” Sonnen took another dramatic pause for the cheers to reach a feverish pitch. “I beat you, you leave the (185 lbs.) Division. You beat me, I will leave the UFC forever.”


Sonnen was later interviewed backstage by reporter Ariel Helwani. Sonnen started the interview doing his best Hulk Hogan pose and flexing his bicep and tricep. He said, “Ariel, is that camera big enough to take in the largest arm in West Linn, Oregon that has found its way to Houston, Texas? Because that thing looks a little bit small."


Helwani asked him how he felt since it’s been a long time since he has been in the ring.


“I’m not here to be just one of the guys, I have plenty of money and plenty of fame,” Sonnen said. “I’m after 12 pounds of gold (UFC championship belt) and that’s it.”


Sonnen continued to stare into the camera as if he was waiting on “Mean” Gene Okerlund to yell out – "It’s going down Super Bowl weekend, so don’t you dare miss it" – but this isn’t the WWE; it’s the UFC.


If this fight happens on Super Bowl weekend, Sonnen will be one of the first fighters to announce his next fight four months out. UFC president Dana White -- not the fighters -- usually do that.


Helwani suggested to Sonnen that he could fight Silva in Brazil for the rematch. Sonnen then took a line from pro wrestler The Rock. He said, “If they sell 100,000 tickets (in Brazil), I hope they collect them all and put them in a nice ball and turn them sideways and shove them straight up their (expletive).”


It’s seems to me that Chael Sonnen is auditioning for the WWE, since he will be “leaving town” Super Bowl weekend.


What are your thoughts?

Posted by Kevin Richardson at 11:26 AM | | Comments (10)

October 7, 2011

Baltimore's Dave Daniecki gets his kicks


Shogun Fights V is coming to 1st Mariner Arena on Saturday at 7 p.m. To preview the event, Baltimore Sun sports intern Chris Eckard caught up with Dave Daniecki, a Baltimore native who will fight Donald Crawford Jr. 

He's a two-time state champion wrestler, a two-time All-America lacrosse defender and a former professional lacrosse player, but Dave Daniecki doesn't get his biggest adrenaline rush on the wrestling mat or the lacrosse field.

That feeling, Daniecki says, is reserved for whenever he steps into a cage as a mixed martial arts fighter.

The 36-year-old from Baltimore always savored the hard hits that came with wrestling takedowns or protecting his turf as a defender in lacrosse. His mentality, in any sport or venue, has always been to use his 6-foot, 195-pound frame to leave a mark on his opponent.

But ever since he picked up MMA five years ago at Ground Control Academy in Baltimore, Daniecki has found his ultimate satisfaction.

Click here to read the rest of the story.



Posted by Kevin Richardson at 10:10 AM | | Comments (0)

October 5, 2011

UFC: Chael Sonnen comes clean about Anderson Silva

UFC middleweight fighter Chael Sonnen was quite honest and forthright with me recently on a conference call for UFC 136.

MMA fans have heard Sonnen's opinion about the night he fought UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva and how he beat him for four rounds, yet Silva walked out the cage with the belt.

I was straight to the point with Sonnen and we had the following exchange:

MMA Stomping Grounds: Do you really believe that Anderson Silva isn’t the best 185 lbs. fighter in the world?

Chael Sonnen: "It's getting harder and harder to deny that he should be shown that appreciation. He ducked Okami for years but he did finally get in there and he made it look easy. So, I think you've got to look at that. If you're asking if I would ever concede that Anderson's better than me? No. I would simply refer you to the tape. I think [our] skills are vastly different. I think I could come down a lot and still be ahead of him. I also think he ducks and dodges opponents constantly - but listen, his wins and losses speak for themselves and the fact of the matter, whether I'd like to admit it or not, is he's done a better job than anybody, he's done a better job than me and he is the champion. That doesn't mean that I'm gonna quit poking my finger in his chest but at some point I think fairness needs to kick in, too, and I think you need to look at what he's done and tip your hat to him a little bit."

MMA Stomping Grounds: Chael thanks for your honesty and good luck man.

Chael Sonnen: I appreciate that.

Let's review Sonnen's statement: "If you're asking if I would ever concede that Anderson's better than me? No. I would simply refer you to the tape."

What Chael Sonnen has failed to take ownership of or mention at media events is the fact that he cheated. If he would have won the UFC middleweight title that night, it would have been one of the sports biggest black eyes. The UFC's newly crowned champion would have had his belt stripped eventually because he was found to have an elevated testosterone level.

In layman’s terms, he got caught cheating.

It was elevated testosterone levels that lead to the release of Nate Marquardt from the UFC prior to his fight with Rick Story at UFC on Versus 4.

Back in July 2007, UFC Lightweight Champion Sean Sherk successfully defended his title against Hermes Franca at UFC 73. After the fight, the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) announced that Sherk had tested positive for Nandrolone, a banned steroid, in a urine test the day prior to the fight.

The UFC officially stripped Sherk of his Lightweight Championship. 

Now that Sonnen has finally come clean and told the truth about Anderson Silva's dominance of the middleweight division, we now ask that he stay clean and drug free.

Sonnen will be facing Brian Stann, the former Navy football player, on Saturday, October 8 at UFC 136: Edgar vs. Maynard 3 for a likely rematch against the champion.

In your opinion, is Chael Sonnen the second-best middleweight in the UFC?

Posted by Kevin Richardson at 2:18 PM | | Comments (9)

October 2, 2011

UFC Live 6: Cruz retains title

The UFC held its first live event in the nation’s capital at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C., and a bantamweight title fight was the headliner for its UFC Live 6 card on Versus.

In the main event, champion Dominick Cruz (19-1) and challenger Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson (14-2) squared off. Cruz had a huge reach and height advantage, but what the speedy Johnson lacked in size, he more than made up in heart and determination. But tonight, Cruz was not to be denied, he used his boxing and several belly-to-back suplexes to retain his bantamweight title and win a unanimous decision.

“I’m really excited about this win,” Cruz said. “But tonight I proved why I’m the best in the world in my weight class. I’m willing to take on anyone the UFC puts in front of me and continue to show why I am the best.”

The UFC is planning to start a 125-pound flyweight division, but until they do Johnson is looking to remain one of the top bantamweights in the world.

"I’m not worried about the 125-pound weight class right now,” Johnson said. “I’m focused on getting better as a 135 [pounder] and everyone will continue to see how much I improve when I come back.”

In the co-main event, heavyweights Pat Barry (6-4) and Stefan Struve (22-5) went the first two minutes of the opening round before punches were exchanged. The huge size difference (Barry at 5-foot-11 and Struve at 6-11) had both guys puzzled.
Barry said, “He was trying to bait me in and I just wasn’t going to go in and give him what he wanted.”

A head kick by Barry on the taller Struve fell short and the tall Dutchman just smiled at his opponent. The round ended with Barry trying a flying knee on Struve. Barry won the opening round on two of the judge’s scorecards 10-9, 9-10 and 9-10.

In the second round, Barry tried to chop down Struve with leg kicks. Struve attempted a guillotine and Barry picked him up and slammed him into the canvas – reminding many of the Quinton “Rampage” Jackson slam of Ricardo Arona in Pride – but Barry found himself in a triangle choke. Struve won by submission at 3:22 of the second round.

"I was eventually able to get him in the guillotine and once I locked it in I wasn’t letting it go,” Struve said. “When he slammed me, I was able to put my arm down to catch myself and sink the submission in deeper.”

As welterweight Charlie Brenneman (14-3) made his way to the octagon, he could hear the large cheering section of fans that made there way to the nation’s capital to support him.

His opponent Anthony Johnson (10-3) looked strong from the start. Brennenman tried to shoot on Johnson after the opening bell. But Johnson met him with a sprawl and stayed on top. Johnson began delivering knees to the side of Brennenman. Johnson ended the fight with a highlight-reel kick to the head of Brenneman while he had his hand down. Referee Mario Yamasaki stopped the fight at 2:49 of the second round.

“I hit him hard quite a few times in a row and he didn’t look like he was all there," Johnson said. “I landed that head kick and put him on the canvas. He looked done to me, but if that kick hadn’t done it, the punches that would have come afterwards would have.”

The most-anticipated fight of the night was between Byron Bloodworth (6-2) and DC’s own Mike “The Hulk” Easton (11-1). Bloodworth started out landing some leg kicks in the first round, but overall the round was a slow start for both fighters.

In the second round, Easton came out on fire, walking his opponent down and landing devastating leg kicks. The bout was momentarily stopped after an accidental kick to the groin by Easton. After the fight was resumed, Bloodworth had Easton against the cage and Easton landed a couple of high knees. He followed with two knees to the body and Bloodworth fell to the ground and Easton connected with two jabs before referee Kevin Mulhall stopped the bout at 4:52 of the second round.

"It feels absolutely unbelievable to finally be in the UFC…to debut here and get my first win here,” Easton said. “I’ve been dreaming about this since I was 17 and it finally happened. This is absolutely a dream come true and the fans are in store for fights like that as long as I’m here.”

Below are the full undercard results:

Walel Watson won by TKO (punches) over Joseph Sandoval at 1:17 of the first round.

Josh Neer won by doctor stoppage over Keith Wisnieski after the second round.

T.J. Grant won by submission over Shane Roller at 2:12 of the third round.

Easton won by TKO (punches) over Bloodworth at 4:52 of the second round.

Paul Sass won by submission over Michael Johnson at 3:00 of the first round.

Yves Edwards won by TKO (punches) over Rafaello Oliveira at 2:44 of the second round.

Matt Wiman won by unanimous decision over Mac Danzig.

Anthony Johnson won by TKO (head kick) over Charlie Brenneman at 2:49 of the first round.

Struve won by submission over Barry at 3:22 of the second round.

Cruz won by unanimous decision over Johnson.

Posted by Kevin Richardson at 10:19 AM | | Comments (0)
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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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