Archive for December, 2011

Jon Fitch looks forward to Johny Hendricks test at UFC 141

Decrease fontDecrease font
Enlarge fontEnlarge font

Jon Fitch never knows what’s coming next.

Most professional athletes don’t like to look past their upcoming competition — Mike McCarthy isn’t answering Super Bowl questions right now — but when you ask Fitch where a win over Johny Hendricks at UFC 141 on Friday would put him in the currently Georges St. Pierre-less welterweight division he honestly has no idea.

“I don’t always get a lot of credit, but I keep plugging away and I keep winning fights,” Fitch said. Even over the phone his voice sounds beleaguered. He’s been answering questions about where he thinks he is in the division since he lost to GSP at UFC 87 in 2008. The answer hasn’t changed. He’s believes he’s number two, right behind the future UFC Hall of Famer.

Nate Diaz and Chael Sonnen have both had successful MMA careers by using their outspoken personalities to market themselves. Don’t expect that kind of strategy from Fitch anytime soon.

“Jon’s not flashy,” said former PRIDE fighter Tom Erikson, who coached Fitch during his wrestling days at Purdue. “People don’t want to hear about guys doing the right things.”

In fact, if you want someone to tell you about how underappreciated Fitch is in the UFC, the best person to talk to is anyone but Jon Fitch. The welterweight is quick to point out that Purdue doesn’t have the reputation of cranking out top fighters like it should. He’ll sign action figures at Purdue wrestling’s alumni golf tournament every year and passionately list guys like Stefan Bonner, Matt Hamill, Matt Mitrione, Miguel Torres, Nate Moore, Jake O’Brien and Chase Beebe — all of whom have Purdue ties — but thinks Purdue is under the radar because many of the fighters did wrestle. Erikson, who is still an assistant wrestling coach at Purdue, has a different theory.

Read More…


  • Published On Dec 30, 2011
  • Experts’ predictions for UFC 141

    Decrease fontDecrease font
    Enlarge fontEnlarge font

    Former UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar (above) can earn another shot at the title with a victory Friday over Alistair Overeem. (AP)

    SI.com analysts Ben Fowlkes, Loretta Hunt and Jeff Wagenheim provide their predictions for UFC 141 on Friday in Las Vegas.

    Brock Lesnar vs. Alistair Overeem

    FOWLKES: For all Overeem’s accomplishments, we’ve yet to see him shut down a powerhouse wrestler of Lesnar’s caliber. I have my doubts that he can stay off his back for long, and he won’t do well with those engine blocks that Lesnar calls fists raining down on him. Lesnar by TKO.

    HUNT: One of the harder main events to handicap in quite some time. Both have had some circumstances to overcome, but I just can’t get past the rollercoaster camp Overeem has had in the last eight weeks. I’m banking on Lesnar playing it smart by only trading strikes with the K-1 champion to set up his takedowns. Lesnar by TKO. 

    WAGENHEIM: I’ve ranked Overeem higher than Lesnar among heavyweights for a long time. So Alistair’s the pick here, right? Um, no. As the bout has crept up, I’ve had a nagging suspicion that when Overeem is taken down — and he will be, just like every Brock opponent has, including Cain Velasquez — the bulky striker won’t have what it takes to get back up. Lesnar by TKO.

    Nate Diaz vs. Donald Cerrone

    FOWLKES: Diaz’s best chance is to submit Cerrone, but I don’t think he has it in his DNA to admit weakness and take a fight down if he’s getting beat on the feet. Cerrone’s the more diverse striker, and the better tactician. Cerrone by decision.

    HUNT: Behind Jon Jones, Cerrone has had the second most memorable 2011 campaign. I think he’s figured out that if he comes out on fire, he’s unstoppable. I’m banking on that same mentality against the second Diaz brother. Cerrone by decision.

    WAGENHEIM: Diaz has stepped up his game since returning to lightweight. But “The Cowboy” simply has too much game for him. Cerrone by TKO.

    Read More…


  • Published On Dec 29, 2011
  • Handicapping Brock Lesnar vs. Alistair Overeem at UFC 141

    Decrease fontDecrease font
    Enlarge fontEnlarge font

    As the year winds down, the most important of the remaining bouts for 2011 must be the heavyweight contenders’ fight between Brock Lesnar and Alistair Overeem at UFC 141. But due to a host of contributing factors, it’s one of the most difficult matchups ever to handicap heading into Friday’s main event at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

    Here are some of the factors to weigh when placing your bets on the UFC’s next No. 1 heavyweight contender, who will challenge reigning champion Junior dos Santos in 2012.

    Style Matchup

    Both have the tools to win. Overeem, a former Strikeforce and K-1 kickboxing champion, can outstrike Lesnar. But the 2001 NCAA Division I wrestling champ can ground Overeem and either hold him down or get a referee’s stoppage. This bout won’t be decided on style alone.

    Advantage: Push

    Extenuating Circumstances

    This factor buoyed to the top of the list, given that both have faced challenging personal issues during their training camps. Only eight months ago, Lesnar had major surgery to cure recurring diverticulitis, where a 12-inch portion of his colon was removed and repaired according to UFC president Dana White. On top of that, Lesnar hasn’t fought in over a year and missed out on an entire year of crucial personal development, so time to acclimate back into training and ring rust are very real considerations. Sprinkle in recent hunting charges filed against Lesnar in Canada (Lesnar resolved the charges and paid a fine last week) and there’s been a lot of added media attention that Lesnar would deem unnecessary, annoying and time-consuming. However, Overeem already has Lesnar beat in this category with a laundry list of distractions. The 30-year-old Dutch fighter filed a lawsuit against his former Golden Glory management team in November in Los Angeles, had to move his training camp at least once during his Las Vegas stay, left for Holland in mid-November to tend to his ailing mother in cancer remission, and has had to submit to additional drug testing overseas and stateside (once he arrived back for the fight) to fulfill his licensing requirements with the Nevada State Athletic Commission. No fighter will ever admit that extenuating circumstances like these have affected them mentally until after the fight; they don’t want to show any chinks in the armor — but you can bet they’ve slowed down the physical preparation at the least.

    Advantage: Lesnar

    The Bully Factor

    Lesnar and Overeem have one thing in common: they both know how to use their size and presence in the cage to their advantage. Either could take center canvas at the opening bell and begin imposing his will and preferred discipline on the other. Both perform better when they have strong starts, but also tend to wane when they can’t secure the upper hand. The faster either establishes his dominance, that much harder it will be for the other to come back.

    Advantage: Push

    Cardio

    Overeem has flown from Holland to America and back again and switched gyms twice during his eight-week camp. Lesnar flew his coaching staff, including fellow UFC heavyweight kickboxer Pat Barry, to his private gym near his home and family in Alexandria, Minn., for one intensive camp in one remote, (hopefully) distraction-free location.

    Advantage: Lesnar

    I’ll reveal my pick in the writer predictions this week, but what do you think?

    – Loretta Hunt


  • Published On Dec 26, 2011
  • Floyd Mayweather gets 90 days in jail in plea deal for domestic violence incident

    Decrease fontDecrease font
    Enlarge fontEnlarge font

    Floyd Mayweather Jr., was sentenced Wednesday to three months in jail for misdemeanor charges stemming from a domestic violence incident. (AP)

    Floyd Mayweather is heading to jail after pleading guilty Wednesday in Las Vegas Justice Court to misdemeanor battery domestic violence and harassment charges.

    Mayweather was sentenced to six months in Clark County jail, but three months of the sentence was suspended. He must surrender to authorities on Jan. 6, 2012.

    The 34-year-old boxer had agreed to a plea deal to avoid trial on felony allegations that he battered his three children and their mother, Josie Harris. He must also pay a $2,500 fine, complete 100 hours of community service in addition to a 12-month domestic-violence counseling class.

    “One unique aspect of this case that I think is different than many others that I see on a regular basis is the extent to which this happened in front of children old enough to understand what’s happening,” Judge Melissa Saragosa told Mayweather immediately before handing down the sentence. “These were not infants. These were children in the report listed as 11 and 9 years old.”

    Mayweather, who is currently No. 1 in SI.com’s pound-for-pound ratings, had been tentatively scheduled to fight on May 5 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

    – Bryan Armen Graham


  • Published On Dec 21, 2011
  • Bradley unsurprised by Petersen’s win over Khan

    Decrease fontDecrease font
    Enlarge fontEnlarge font

    LOS ANGELES — When Michael Buffer boomed out Lamont Peterson’s name Saturday night, officially awarding Peterson a pair of junior welterweight titles and ending Amir Khan’s reign atop the 140-pound division, the first person I thought of was Tim Bradley. Bradley, of course, has had a very public back and forth with Khan over the last year, one that intensified when Bradley passed on a $1.8 million payday to fight Khan last summer. Still, I was interested in getting Bradley’s thoughts on his archrival losing to Peterson, whom Bradley destroyed over 12 rounds in an alphabet title fight in 2009.

    “I thought the fight went exactly as I thought it would,” Bradley said. “Peterson can box but he likes to bang and brawl. He attacked the body the same way he did with me. He looked a little more confident though. He said he wasn’t mentally ready when he fought me. He said he was a little nervous. He looked more comfortable, like he was ready to be there.”

    The ending was controversial, of course, because referee Joe Cooper deducted two points from Khan for pushing. The deductions proved to be the difference in the fight. While Khan protested the referee’s calls, Bradley says they were fair.

    “Review the tape, see how many times Khan pushed and shoved Peterson,” Bradley said. “He was pushing him and trying to get space. The ref warned him. He took action. The ref did his job. A foul is a foul.”

    Bradley said he had no sympathy for Khan getting a raw deal in Peterson’s hometown.

    “It was in D.C., you allowed that to happen,” Bradley said. “You should look at your promoter and say, ‘You set me up.’ Khan goes to Vegas and he does five or six thousand fans. In D.C. there was about nine thousand. That’s more money for the promoter. They thought it was going to be safe but when you go into someone’s hometown, you take a risk. I know when I fight, I look at who is going to be the judge, the ref, everything. Khan has himself and his team to blame. What they did was arrogant and stupid. You are the No. 1 guy at 140 pounds and you allow that to happen? I’ve been saying Amir needs to focus on Lamont and not me and Floyd [Mayweather]. Now he lost his belts.”

    Bradley says he has been taking some time off since his win over Joel Casamayor last month but plans to get back in the gym next month. He is waiting for word on a fight with Manny Pacquiao — he is believed to be one of Top Rank promoter Bob Arum’s top choices as a possible opponent should negotiations for a megafight with Mayweather fall apart — but he won’t wait forever. He says he is still open to fighting anyone, including Peterson, who does not owe Khan a mandatory rematch.

    “That would be a good fight, a tough fight,” Khan said. “Peterson, now that he has those belts, it is going to be hard to take them from him. It’s definitely a challenge that I would love to face. He’s a guy who can make an exciting fight. It would be a tough fight, but I believe it is a winnable.”

    – Chris Mannix, SI.com


  • Published On Dec 15, 2011
  • Burroughs interested in UFC, but only after Olympic career ends

    Decrease fontDecrease font
    Enlarge fontEnlarge font

    There’s no doubt 2011 freestyle world champion Jordan Burroughs is excited about the prospect of a UFC career. After watching the first UFC on FOX fight, a heavyweight championship fight between Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos, on Nov. 12, he tweeted, “I’m gonna fight after I win 5 World Titles and 2 Olympic Gold Medals. The only thing left would be the UFC belt!”

    Burroughs has not yet qualified for the 2012 Olympic Games but is already considered one of the Americans with the best shot at bringing home a medal. The former Nebraska wrestler looks up to six-time world champion wrestler John Smith and wants to top Smith’s four world championships and two Olympic gold medals before he considers a career in MMA. He said the UFC would be a distinct possibility for him, but not until 2017 or 2018.

    “I’m definitely interested in the UFC, but right now my focus is on wrestling,” said Burroughs.

    He would likely compete as a welterweight (170 pounds), just like 2008 Olympic wrestler and current Bellator champion Ben Askren. A two-time NCAA champion from Missouri, Askren competed in the same international weight class 74 kg (approximately 163 pounds) as Burroughs.

    “If Jordan Burroughs ever did take to MMA he’d probably be the best fighter in the world,” said Askren, citing Burroughs quick takedowns and phenomenal athleticism.

    Burroughs would not be the first world wrestling medalist to transition to Mixed Martial Arts. Joe Warren, the 2006 Greco-Roman World Champion, is currently a Bellator featherweight competitor. He made the transition after being suspended for two years in 2007 after testing positive for THC. Three of the UFC’s current champions — Dominic Cruz, Frankie Edgar, and Jon Jones — also have wrestling backgrounds.

    Wrestlers who transition to MMA are rewarded with significantly larger paychecks. Burroughs was given $50,000 for winning the 2011 World Championships by the Living the Dream Medal Fund, a nonprofit program that aims to lengthen American wrestling medalists’ careers before they transition to MMA or assistant coaching. The Olympic purse given out by the Living the Dream Medal fund is significantly larger, $250,000.

    “[Burroughs] is going to be well off financially and he’s not going to get punched in the face,” said Mark Manning, when asked if the Olympic hopeful he still coaches at Nebraska would ever consider an MMA career.

    If Burroughs is still interested in joining the UFC in 2017 or 2018, the money probably wouldn’t be his motive. The 23-year-old pointed out he could have already made the transition if he wanted the cash. “I knew that I wasn’t going to be a millionaire by wrestling,” he said. “I just want to be an Olympic champ.”

    – Stephen Boyle


  • Published On Dec 14, 2011
  • CSAC overturns Dawson-Hopkins ruling

    Decrease fontDecrease font
    Enlarge fontEnlarge font

    Chad Dawson's controversial TKO was overturned and ruled a no contest. (Gene Blevins/ZUMAPRESS.com)

    The California State Athletic Commission has overturned Chad Dawson’s technical knockout win over Bernard Hopkins and ruled the fight a no contest. On Tuesday the commission, by a vote of 5-1, elected to overturn the referees decision in October, restoring Hopkins’s status as the lineal light heavyweight champion.

    “Justice was served today,” Hopkins said. “I am thrilled that the California State Athletic Commission did the right thing and removed that loss from my record. Mistakes happen, but what you do to fix those mistakes is what counts.”

    A key figure in overturning the decision was the referee, Pat Russell. In the second round Dawson appeared to lift Hopkins up and push him to the ground. The fall injured Hopkins shoulder, ending the fight. At the time Russell ruled that since Hopkins was the one who initiated the contact, Dawson could not be disqualified and the fight could not be ruled a no-contest. At the hearing Russell reportedly flipped, informing the commission that he had made the wrong decision.

    “The footage of the fight that was reviewed over and over again, proved to be the key testimony,” Hopkins said. “I think it came down to the tape. Both of our sides were making good points, but it was a dinner without a turkey. The tape was the turkey.  I am happy this ordeal is over. Now I can focus on continuing to rehab my shoulder and get ready to fight again, hopefully early next year. I will start my usual boxing routine in a couple of weeks and get ready to defend my titles again.”

    Read More…


  • Published On Dec 13, 2011
  • Roy Jones Jr. back to winning ways

    Decrease fontDecrease font
    Enlarge fontEnlarge font

    ATLANTA — Three quick thoughts from Roy Jones Jr.’s lopsided decision win over Max Alexander:

    1. Roy won big against a guy who was big. Jones, 42, needed a light touch coming off three consecutive losses and he got one in Alexander, a doughy cruiserweight who came in riding a three-fight losing streak of his own. Jones (55-8) pot-shotted the plodding Alexander (14-6) throughout the fight and showboated to the crowd and the U-Stream cameras during clinches. He didn’t attempt many combinations, however, and the few times he looked like he had Alexander in some trouble he was reluctant to chase him. Jones actually got tagged with a pretty good shot at the end of the 10 round but there was not enough time for Alexander to close in and try and capitalize. Ultimately, this will go down as a blowout win against an opponent who was just happy to be there.

    2. Did a new trainer help? Jones says it did. Jones added Tom Yankello, best known for training Paul Spadafora and Calvin Brock, to his corner for this fight and he says Yankello’s lessons — specifically, staying in the pocket more, keeping his chin tucked — paid off Saturday. Jones claims he was destroying cruiserweights training in Yankello’s gym in the weeks leading up to the fight, which gave him more confidence.

    3. Jones will fight on. After the fight, Jones says he plans to continue fighting until he wins a cruiserweight title. There are four cruiserweight titleholders — Marco Huck, Yoan Pablo Hernandez, Guillermo Jones and Krzysztof Wlodarczyk — and Jones says he will fight any of them. He says he would like one more tune-up fight early next year before stepping up in a title fight.

    “I don’t care what anyone says,” Jones said. “Other people can’t do what I do. I’ve still got it.”


  • Published On Dec 11, 2011
  • Official Khan-Peterson scorecard

    Decrease fontDecrease font
    Enlarge fontEnlarge font

    Here it is. SI.com had it 113-112 to Khan.


  • Published On Dec 11, 2011
  • Experts’ predictions for UFC 140

    Decrease fontDecrease font
    Enlarge fontEnlarge font

    Jon Jones (above) made his first defense of the UFC light heavyweight title with a fourth-round submission of Quinton "Rampage" Jackson at UFC 135. (AP)

    SI.com analysts Ben Fowlkes, Loretta Hunt, Jeff Wagenheim and Jon Wertheim provide their predictions for UFC 140 on Saturday in Toronto.

    Jon Jones vs. Lyoto Machida

    FOWLKES: If I’m Machida, I’m hoping that a light falls from the rafters and knocks Jones out. Otherwise it’s going to be a rough night for the smaller, slower Brazilian. Life ain’t a karate movie, son. Jones by TKO.

    HUNT: With the year Jones is having, it’s hard to pick against him. He has momentum on his side, having gained major confidence taking out ex-champions Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson with little fret. Jones’ speed, agility and reactionary instincts should be enough for any new tricks the crafty Machida might have up his sleeve. Jones by TKO. 

    WAGENHEIM: Machida is an ex-champ who not too long ago was considered invincible. That was then. This is now. I just don’t see him hanging with Jonny Bones. Jones by KO.

    WERTHEIM: Jon Jones has no real discernible weakness — possibly his chin, though he hadn’t been hit enough to make a judgment. He is the more versatile fighter, the more confident fighter and, maybe most important, has length. Hard to see how he doesn’t win his fourth fight of 2011. Jones by TKO.

    Frank Mir vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira

    FOWLKES: Mir is too big and too technically sound for Nogueira, who might be surgically repaired but still moves like a rusty tin man version of his old self. Mir by TKO.

    HUNT: His first-round summer knockout over Brendan Schaub aside, Nogueira’s performances have been inconsistent in the last few years — which is consistent with an age-accelerated 35-year-old who’s endured a particularly punishing 12-year, 40-fight career. It’s Mir’s race to win on points if his cardio is up to snuff. Mir by decision.

    WAGENHEIM: The first time they fought, Big Nog was not in good health. But for Mir, that TKO win injected a healthy dose of confidence. The only difference this time: They go the distance. Mir by decision.

    WERTHEIM: Mir beat Nogueira three years ago in a considerable upset. It would be less of surprise if he won again. He ground game remains fearsome and he’s younger and a lot less battled-scarred than his opponent. Mir by decision.

    Read More…


  • Published On Dec 09, 2011


  •