Archive for February, 2012

Golden Boy blocking Wladimir Klitschko-Chris Arreola fight in Brooklyn?

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Bernd Boente, who manages Wladimir Klitschko, won't bring the heavyweight champion to Brooklyn if it means a co-promotion with Golden Boy. (AP)

DUSSELDORF, Germany — As Wladimir Klitschko prepares to defend his heavyweight titles against Jean-Marc Mormeck on Saturday, his team already knows when, where and against whom they would like his next fight to be: October, at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, against Chris Arreola.

The problem? According to members of Team Klitschko, Golden Boy Promotions, which signed a three-year deal to be the official partner of the new building, is blocking the fight.

“The people who run the building came to us and asked us to bring a Klitschko fight to the Barclays Center,” said Klitschko’s manager Bernd Boente. “When we said yes, they said we had to take Golden Boy as a co-promoter. We’re not going to do that. I don’t want to do a co-promotion with an American who has nothing to do with the Klitschkos. Why should we? We’re about to do our seventh stadium event. We do huge shows all over Europe. We have fought at Madison Square Garden. They bring nothing to the show.”

Boente says if Golden Boy were in his position, they wouldn’t do a co-promotion either. He cites the Bernard Hopkins-Chad Dawson fight, which originally was slated for the Prudential Center in Newark only to be moved to Los Angeles when the Prudential Center insisted the show be a co-promotion with Main Events.

“If the Barclays Center wants a Klitschko fight, there can’t be any preconditions,” Boente said. “If they want to deal with Golden Boy and their crappy fighters, fine. I can’t understand why an arena is doing an exclusive deal with an American promoter. What do they bring to the table? A Klitschko fight is a worldwide event. It would be covered by 150 countries. It would be huge with the Russian speaking community [in Brooklyn]. I just don’t understand what they are doing.”

Both Boente and Tom Loeffler, the managing director of K2 Promotions, said they would be open to putting Golden Boy fighters on the undercard. Loeffler said one possible matchup could be middleweight titleholder Gennady Golovkin against Brooklyn’s Peter “Kid Chocolate” Quillin, one of Golden Boy’s top prospects.

“But [Golden Boy CEO] Richard Schaefer is not standing up at a Klitschko press conference,” Boente said. “We don’t need him.”

– Chris Mannix

  • Published On Feb 28, 2012
  • Povetkin earns decision over Huck to retain his WBA heavyweight title

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    Alexander Povetkin improved to 24-0 and retained his WBA heavyweight title with a points decision over Marco Huck. (Thomas Kienzle/Getty Images)

    STUTTGART, Germany — Three thoughts on Alexander Povetkin’s decision win over Marco Huck.

    I got hit with a shoe.  The pro-Huck crowd wasn’t happy with the decision and I was an unintentional victim of one perturbed fan’s frustration. Still, while judge Stanley Christodoulou’s 116-112 card was a bit wide, the right guy won the fight. Povetkin was in control early, and Huck blew multiple opportunities to put Povetkin away. As Povetkin faded, Huck got stronger but the cruiserweight champion just couldn’t land enough punches to finish Povetkin off. Povetkin’s punches didn’t do much damage in the later rounds but he was still throwing, still active, while Huck ignored his corner’s pleas to fire more uppercuts at Povetkin’s exposed chin.

    Paging, Teddy Atlas.  Povetkin looked gassed from the fourth round on and you have to wonder whether being without Atlas, who split with Povetkin after Povetkin refused to train in the U.S. for this fight, had something to do with it. Povetkin’s new trainer, Alexander Zimin, is accomplished but there is no question Povetkin’s conditioning was subpar. Povetkin could not explain his sluggishness, telling me in the ring his training and sparring had been perfect. One of Atlas’s strengths is motivation, which might be something Povetkin needs more than he thought. Reconciliation may be impossible-in interviews, Atlas said he felt betrayed by Povetkin-but Povetkin’s promoter, Sauerland Event, might want to think about trying hard to get him back.

    Marco Huck is a heavyweight.  Klitschkos aside — no one is beating them, anyway — Huck has the talent to compete with any heavyweight. Huck carried the same aggressive, straight ahead style up from cruiserweight and had Povetkin wobbled on several occasions; when the bell sounded for the 12th round, Povetkin was twisting like a tree in the wind in his corner. A rematch would mean big business in Germany — Huck said he wants one, Povetkin is open to it — and there is no reason to think it wouldn’t be just as competitive. Or entertaining. Huck can always go back to the 200-pound weight class and defend his title, but heavyweight is where the money is, so expect Huck to stay put.

  • Published On Feb 25, 2012
  • Experts’ predictions for UFC 144

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    Frankie Edgar defends his lightweight title against Ben Henderson on Saturday at UFC 144 outside Tokyo. (Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC) analysts Ben Fowlkes, Loretta Hunt, Jeff Wagenheim and Jon Wertheim provide their predictions for UFC 144 on Saturday in Japan.

    Frankie Edgar vs. Ben Henderson

    FOWLKES: Edgar’s giving up some size and strength to Henderson, but when you’re a 155-pounder who doesn’t cut weight, you’ve got to be used to that. Edgar’s speed and unpredictability rules the day in a close one. Edgar by decision.

    HUNT: Edgar’s a solid champion with fast hands, but I’ve been waiting for Bendo to get his shot for a while. He has the physical strength, flexibility and scrambling superiority to outscore Edgar — it won’t be easy, but it’s doable. Henderson by decision. 

    WAGENHEIM: Henderson has no quit in him, but I don’t think he’ll have an answer for “The Answer,” who is speedy, active and grappling-savvy enough to determine where the fight will be fought. Edgar by decision.

    WERTHEIM: Edgar’s wrestling and cardio are top-shelf (if not peerless). He takes a punch and he fights smart. Hard to see Henderson cracking that code. Edgar by decision.

    Quinton Jackson vs. Ryan Bader

    FOWLKES: Bader’s chin is questionable and Jackson’s power isn’t. A chance to fight in Tokyo again should be all the motivation “Rampage” needs to take this seriously and get the job done. Jackson by TKO.

    HUNT: Jackson lost his passion for the game a while ago. (Becoming an international movie star in The A-Team reboot can do that to you). However, he packs a meaner punch than Bader’s and can match wits in wrestling. Jackson should also get the jump start he needs back on Japanese soil, where his greatest days will come flooding back to him. Jackson by TKO.

    WAGENHEIM: It’s a homecoming of sorts for “Rampage,” so he wants to put on a show. But Bader has a higher purpose motivating him: He’s loath to take another step backward. And if the wrestler needs to make this a not-so-entertaining 15 minutes to get the job done, so be it. Bader by decision.

    WERTHEIM: Potential Fight of the Night. Which Rampage shows up? The aging veteran choked out by Jon Jones; or the savvy fighter who decisioned two good opponents before that? It says here the latter. Jackson by decision.
    Read More…

  • Published On Feb 24, 2012
  • Spike TV begins rollout of new MMA programming with ‘Uncensored’

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    Spike TV begins rolling out its new MMA programming Thursday night with the debut of 'MMA Uncensored' at 11 p.m. ET/PT. (Courtesy of Spike TV)

    Spike TV unveils the first of its new original mixed martial arts programming with the live MMA Uncensored magazine show on Thursday at 11 p.m. ET/PT, as it starts to rebuild the void left from the UFC’s departure last winter.

    The 30-minute, featured-based Uncensored will attempt to break away from the mold of a handful of MMA news-format shows that currently populate the market on television and online, said John Slusser, Spike’s senior vice president for sports and multi-platform programming.

    “It’s not a news and highlights show,” said Slusser, who’s also an Uncensored executive producer. “It is an in-depth look at the sport of MMA, especially in broad strokes. No one has stepped up and said we’re going to talk about the sport in an unfiltered, uncensored way yet. We will.”

    Uncensored is the first round of MMA-related programming that Spike has produced since UFC owners Zuffa and the men’s friendly cable network ended its seven-year, multi-million dollar broadcasting partnership in December. That union introduced the breakthrough reality show, The Ultimate Fighter, to mainstream television and put both promotion and network on the map in 2005.

    Since the dissolution, both companies have made big moves within the sport. Zuffa signed a seven-year, $90 million a year deal with Fox Sports Media Group that splits thousands of hours of UFC live-event and taped programming between Fox, FX, and Fuel TV, which started airing last November.

    In September, Viacom, the parent conglomeration that owns Spike TV, purchased a majority stake in rival promotion, Bellator Fighting Championships. Spike TV will begin airing live Bellator events and shoulder programming in 2013.

    Uncensored is hosted by retired UFC fighter Nate Quarry, former Fox News’  “Fight Game” creator Mike Straka, and syndicated New York radio sports personality Craig Carton, who will lead live, viewer-interactive discussions from the show’s studio in Times Square.

    Slusser, who previously specialized in digital programming for the network starting in 2005, said the show will utilize real-time social media like Twitter, Facebook and Skype to create a two-way dialogue between the hosts and viewers.

    “It’s not just answering Facebook and Twitter questions online. It’s doing real-time polling, skyping in fans to ask questions,” said Slusser. “Let’s say a fighter is talking about an upcoming fight and he asks the viewers who they think he should fight next? We’ll have a producer who can type that into the poll and air it within a few seconds. The data and results will be posted in real time, as well, so the hosts, guests, and viewers can react to it during the show.”

    Slusser, who worked on the new format with Loyalize, an audience-participation company operating across multiple cross devices, said the concept has already been incorporated into other Spike shows to great response.

    The show will also include live in-studio and satellite-remote guests: UFC and Pride multi-division champion Dan Henderson will appear on the first episode, in addition to a surprise guest, who if the network is able to deliver on, should set the tone the network is looking for off strong.

    However, it might be the show’s features that stand out early on. Slusser believes the first feature, documenting the rise and fall of the Japanese MMA market in the last decade, will be an eye-opener.

    “[The show] will cover all of the Yakuza [Japanese mafia] involvement. We’ve talked to people who are finally coming out and talking about what happened back in 2003 and how it all went down,” Slusser said. “They’re talking about things like guns to the head, kidnappings, staging murders. We dive deep into the whole world that no one’s ever really talked about before.”

    The feature should be timely, as it airs on the eve of UFC 144 in Tokyo this Saturday, Zuffa’s first visit to Japan and the UFC brand’s first real presence in the country since 2000.

    Slusser said six direct sponsors have already committed to the first few months of the show.

    The show’s unique format should also alleviate video-rights issues that have arisen in the sport, particularly with Zuffa-owned UFC footage. Spike does have access to the 2005-11 UFC library for the next year — the final phase of its contract with the fight promotion — but it’s unlikely Zuffa will extend that arrangement given that Spike will begin airing a rival promotion in 2013.

    “We developed this show with that specifically in mind, that this isn’t a footage-based show,” said Slusser. “[The plan has] allows been discussion, debate, controversy, and investigative journalism that gets to the deep heart of different issues. It more like Real Sports then it is like Sportscenter.”

    Slusser said Uncensored won’t be a “Bellator marketing opportunity” either, though both are owned by Viacom. Nor will it fall into the trappings of a UFC-centric series, said Slusser, but rather will focus on interesting subjects and topics that bridge the sport as a whole.

    “It’s no-holds-barred on everyone. It’s about saying things that nobody’s said before — that’s what this show is about,” said Slusser. “We’re eagerly awaiting the opportunity to rip everybody equally.”

    MMA Uncensored airs live every Thursday at 11:00 p.m. ET/PT on Spike TV.

    – Loretta Hunt

  • Published On Feb 23, 2012
  • Klitschko unanimously beats Chisora, but post-fight brawl steals the show

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    Dereck Chisora lost to Vitali Klitschko before taking on fellow boxer David Haye in a post-fight press conference. (AP)

    MUNICH — Three thoughts from Vitali Klitschko’s unanimous decision win over Dereck Chisora:

    Let’s start with the brawl. Because this will be all over YouTube, you know, now. During the post-fight press conference David Haye, who was attending the fight as a commentator for a British outlet, started barking at Klitschko. He demanded a fight. Klitschko’s manager, Bernd Boente, told Haye unequivocally, “You’re out. You can’t talk your way into this fight.” After a few minutes, Chisora — who Haye has openly criticized — got involved. Chisora made fun of Haye’s toe. Haye made fun of Chisora’s record. Chisora challenged Haye to fight him. Haye said he would knock him out. Chisora left the dais and told Haye to say it to his face. Haye drilled him with an elbow to the chops.

    From there, it was bedlam. Haye hit Chisora. Chisora hit Haye. Haye hit Chisora’s trainer, Don Charles. Someone hit Haye’s trainer, Adam Booth, who was cut at the top of his forehead. Haye swung a tripod at one of Chisora’s friends. After a few minutes of brawling, Haye left, and Chisora told Booth, “David is going to fight me or I’m going to shoot him. I’m going to shoot him in the street. I’ll burn him.”

    All this amused the Klitschko’s, who stayed out of the fray. Wladimir stood on a chair, laughing. Vitali shook his head and left the room. Boente suggested that Haye and Chisora fight, with the winner earning a shot at Vitali’s WBC heavyweight title belt. Later, a handful of police cars were spotted outside the building, waiting, I was told, for Chisora. All in all, a wild ending to the night.

    Chisora sure makes things interesting. One day after slapping Klitschko at the weigh-in — a shot Chisora says he threw because he promised his mother that when he was face-to-face with a Klitschko he would slap one — Chisora nearly came to blows with Wladimir Klitschko in his dressing room. Sources say Wladimir, who was in the room inspecting Chisora’s hand wraps, as he often does in Vitali’s fights, took issue with the way Chisora was wrapping his hands, prompting Chisora to rip his wraps off and threaten not to fight. When he finally did get in the ring, Chisora spit water in Wladimir’s face during introductions. “The hardest thing I have ever done,” Wladimir told me later, “was not break his face.”

    The Klitschko’s have dealt with trash talkers before, but Chisora’s behavior clearly struck a nerve. “I have big respect for him as a fighter,” Vitali said, “but no respect for him as a human.”

    Oh yeah, there was a fight.
    Chisora talked tough but like most of Vitali’s opponents — Klitschko is now 9-0 since coming out of retirement in 2008 — he didn’t measure up. Chisora was aggressive early, taking the fight to Vitali, who struggled throwing his jab due to an arm/hand injury he suffered in the fourth round. Still, Vitali was never in trouble, popping right hands off Chisora’s head and peppering him with combinations. It wasn’t an A+ performance but even Chisora admitted after the fight Vitali had gotten the job done.

    – Chris Mannix

  • Published On Feb 18, 2012
  • Lucas wins her first MMA title in Japan

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    Amanda Lucas, the adopted daughter of Star Wars creator George Lucas, won her first MMA title on Saturday. (Etsuo Hara/Getty Images

    Not even a surprise visit from Darth Vader and his Storm Troopers could keep Amanda Lucas from her first championship title at Deep 57 on Saturday in Tokyo.

    Lucas, the daughter of legendary Star Wars visionary George Lucas, submitted pro-wrestling star Yumiko Hotta (5-4) with a key lock submission two minutes and 16 seconds into the third round to cinch Deep’s women’s open-weight title. Lucas improved her record to 4-1, earning her third submission victory in a row.

    The 30-year-old Lucas utilized a combination of striking and grappling to best the unpredictably resilient Motta, 45, who hadn’t competed in MMA since 2000. In the first round, the women brawled on their feet, until Lucas took Motta down to the canvas.

    Lucas, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu purple belt who began fighting professionally in 2008, attempted numerous submissions and softened Motta with head and body shots throughout the three rounds. Motta applied a guillotine choke during a third-round rally, but Lucas defended and found the fight-ending shoulder-lock submission shortly after.

    “She had [the choke] in deep, but I am difficult person to choke out. I wouldn’t have tapped even if she had it, honestly,” Lucas told via email. “She was tough as nails, but I expected that. There is no possible way, you could wrestle and fight as long as she has and not be. She fought hard until the end and caught me with big shots. I got some bruises and swelling, and look like a raccoon today!”

    Lucas, who attempts to keep references to her father’s beloved cinematic triumph to a minimum when she fights, said the promotion snuck the iconic Star Wars characters into the venue without her knowledge. They appeared onstage behind the ring prior to her entrance. With his unmistakable heavy breathing, Vader delivered a message to the audience before he and his flanking Storm Troopers disappeared.

    “I was backstage warming up and didn’t see them. I was just trying to focus on my fight and block it out,” Lucas said. “Once they were gone and my walk music came on, it was my show and only about me. My Dad, Darth Vader, nobody else could win that fight for me.”

    Vader and his crew joined Lucas after the bout to take pictures with the fans. Lucas said that with the fight behind her, she was happy to oblige them.

    “If me or my fighting or Star Wars is able to bring interest or attention to women’s fighting and Japanese MMA then I think it’s a good thing for everyone involved in the big picture and I will do what I can to bring some fun and a positive image to the sport,” she said. “After I fight, of course.”

    Lucas and her husband, Jason, plan to travel to Thailand this week for training, and will return to Japan to watch teammate Jake Shields fight at UFC 144 in Tokyo next weekend. Lucas will also attend promotional events for the 3-D re-release of the Star Wars saga in Japan.

    Lucas said she aims to make her first fight at 145 pounds in May or June. She said she’s received multiple offers already stateside from “small promotions to larger established ones.”

    However, Lucas said she would have to get “the right deal” before she would leave the Japanese promotion.

    “It would be great to fight at home, but until Strikeforce, Bellator or another player comes along that is committed to women’s MMA, I am more than happy to travel the world and visit exciting places, meet new people and kick some of their asses,” she said.

  • Published On Feb 18, 2012
  • Dereck Chisora slaps Vitali Klitschko at weigh-in for title fight

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    Dereck Chisora (right) caused a stir when he slapped Vitali Klitschko at the weigh-in for Saturday's heavyweight title fight in Munich. (

    MUNICH — At the weigh-in for his fight against Robert Helenius in December, Dereck Chisora nearly sparked a riot when he got into a shoving match with Helenius on the dais. On Friday, Chisora did it again: after weighing in for his WBC heavyweight title fight against Vitali Klitschko, Chisora slapped Klitschko with a hard right hand.

    Klitschko appeared angry, but stayed composed. He took a step back and stared at Chisora, pointing a long arm at the Briton, who promptly fled the stage. Members of Klitschko’s team, however, started barking at Chisora, screaming “You f—ed up now, you really f—ed up” in his general direction. They also got in the face of Chisora’s trainer, Don Charles, who remained on the stage to test out the gloves being used in the fight.

    Klitschko-Chisora will air in the U.S. on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. ET on Epix and

    – Chris Mannix

  • Published On Feb 17, 2012
  • Jake Ellenberger clearly ready for Carlos Condit

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    Diego Sanchez, Jake Ellenberger

    Jake Ellenberger, competing before a hometown Omaha crowd, notched his sixth straight win in the Octagon. ( Matt Ryerson/US Presswire)

    Dear UFC Brass,

    Please reconsider an interim title bout between champion Carlos Condit and Jake Ellenberger next. After Ellenberger’s electrifying unanimous decision victory over Diego Sanchez in the promotion’s live-event debut on Fuel TV tonight, there should be no argument that he’s not only ready; he’s earned his shot at gold.

    The fans want it and Condit should want it. An interim titleholder defends all worthy candidates in the interim, and with recovering champion Georges St-Pierre out until November, sitting out should not be an option. Neither should be pairing Ellenberger against the winner of May’s Josh Koscheck-Johnny Hendricks fight on Fox. Ellenberger is ready now.

    Just ask the fans that watched Ellenberger (27-5) prove himself a  capable foil to the gritty Ultimate Fighter 1 winner Sanchez (23-5), an opponent whose matching aggressiveness delivered early fireworks from Ellenberger’s hometown of Omaha, Neb.

    Ellenberger cinched the first and second rounds with his counter-striking and well-timed takedowns, showing great durability in Sanchez’s surging attacks. He cut (and reportedly broke) Sanchez’s nose early, and scored a knockdown off a counter-punch combination to lock up a very close first round. The 26-year-old Ellenberger then found his range and nailed a clean double-leg takedown with a minute left in the second round to seal his lead on the scorecards.

    Ellenberger’s only misstep came in the final round when he fell out of position during a scramble. Sanchez took Ellenberger’s back, and with the clock ticking down with one minute remaining, tried to punch out the stoppage. Sanchez bloodied Ellenberger, as referee Dan Miragliotta hovered and waited. Ellenberger seemed a little fazed before his athleticism kicked back in with a beautiful reversal in the final seconds.

    Miragliotta’s face said it all, as he exhaled deeply at the horn’s sounding. He wasn’t alone. It was a close call, and a sequence that Ellenberger stands to learn a lot from upon review.

    Ellenberger’s performance, his sixth straight victory in the Octagon, punctuated a stellar top-to-bottom debut for the promotion on Fuel TV. And a rematch between Ellenberger and Condit, who eked out a close split decision in their first meeting in 2009, sits waiting on the silver platter.

    Notes from the undercard

     Slow and steady: Through Stefan Struve’s plodding pace wasn’t as inspiring as our main-event heroes, it was enough for the 6-foot-11 Dutchman to clip and down fellow heavyweight Dave Herman (20-3) for a second-round TKO finish. Herman was the aggressor early, backing Struve (23-5) to the fence with a beautiful combination. But, as with many of Herman’s performances, the bottom fell out when his lagging stamina couldn’t keep up past the second round. It’s a shame: Herman’s technically a better striker than Struve, but a proper work ethic can make all the difference.

     Marke-ing his spot: Ronny Markes (13-1) made good on his middleweight debut against a fired-up Aaron Simpson (11-3), edging out the NCAA All-American wrestler via a split decision that could have been argued either way. Brazilian Markes survived a first-round knockdown and mixed competent (and sometimes heavy-handed) striking with takedowns in key moments to sway the judges. Markes, who previously fought at light heavyweight, will have a size advantage over many of his opponents in his new division, and with a few more fights on the main stage, he has potential to become a contender.

    Taking care of business: T.J. Dillashaw, Stipe Miocic and Jonathan Brookins all advanced tonight with definitive performances. Collegiate wrestler Dillashaw (5-1) erased his December stumble against John Dodson in The Ultimate Fighter 14 bantamweight finale by shutting out striker Walel Watson (9-4) en route to an easy unanimous decision. Heavyweight Miocic (8-0) iced British grappler Philip De Fries with a striking barrage in 43 seconds, while TUF 12 featherweight winner Brookins reversed Vagner Rocha’s half-attempted takedown and put the Brazilian to sleep with follow-up strikes in one minute and 43 seconds.

    Miocic, an Ohio-based fighter of Croatian descent, is the early standout of the aforementioned trio, having collected six knockouts in his eight career victories. A successful wrestler and baseball player for Cleveland State (rumored to have garnered interest from Major League Baseball), former Golden Gloves champion Miocic looks ready to handle a fast-track fight against Struve, Herman or even gatekeeper Roy Nelson.

     Fool me once: I made the silly mistake of picking against Canadian bantamweight Ivan Menjivar in his UFC return last April. Never again. Menjivar (24-8) has graced the game since 2001, besting heftier opponents in the 145- and 155-pound divisions until his true weight class came around. Tonight, John Albert tested Menjivar out of the gate in a frenetic and highly entertaining single-rounder, nearly coaxing out a stoppage when he caught Menjivar with a flurry on the fence. But the veteran made it through the storm, calmly hooked himself onto Albert’s back and found the rear-naked choke for the finish at three minutes and 45 seconds. It was a great cross-section of skills at a feverish pace with a dramatic comeback all in under four minutes – just the type of fight that would win over new fans on the FOX broadcasts.

    And a big, hearty welcome to: Coach Trevor Wittman is a man of his word.  The Grudge Training Center guru said to watch out for his newest UFC prospect, lightweight Justin Salas (10-3), who demonstrated great cagemanship and fluidity in his unanimous decision victory over an equally game Anton Kulvanen (16-5). Salas’ clean takedowns were what you’d expect from his NCAA Div. I collegiate wrestling pedigree, and his nimble footwork and solid striking kept Kulvanen off balance. Wittman, who’s trained UFC notables Brendan Schaub, Nate Marquardt and Shane Carwin, knows a winner when he sees one: Salas should prepare himself for stiffer competition from matchmaker Joe Silva sooner rather than later.

     – Loretta Hunt

  • Published On Feb 16, 2012
  • Experts’ predictions for UFC 143

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    Nick Diaz is riding an 11-fight winning streak into Saturday's event, making him the favorite over Carlos Condit. (Marc Sanchez/Icon SMI) analysts Ben Fowlkes, Loretta Hunt and Jeff Wagenheim provide their predictions for UFC 143 on Saturday.

    Nick Diaz vs. Carlos Condit

    WAGENHEIM: I wouldn’t be shocked to see either of these guys knock the other out, and if not for both fighters’ prodigious defensive skills on the ground, I could see a submission going either way, too. They’re both finishers by nature, but also both robust enough to go the distance. Diaz by decision.

    HUNT: If you want to pick a good upset, Condit is your man. He’s the total package, who’s best days are still ahead. Still, I’m going with the numbers and the iron-willed Diaz’s 11-fight win streak. Diaz by decision.

    FOWLKES: Diaz is a master of walking opponents down and wearing them out, even if it means he has to get his face smashed in the process. He has, and he will. In the end, the other guy usually breaks before he does. Diaz by TKO.

    Roy Nelson vs. Fabricio Werdum

    WAGENHEIM: It’ll be fun to see what happens if they take their fight to the ground, since Werdum is a mat master and Nelson has grappling skills augmented by bulk. “Big Country” also has the kind of punching prowess that can send Werdum to the canvas unwillingly. Nelson by KO.

    HUNT: If Werdum hasn’t made drastic leaps with his striking and wrestling since his June loss to Alistair Overeem (and I don’t think he will have), Nelson should take this one on its feet.  Nelson by TKO.

    FOWLKES: We’ve seen Roy Nelson get out-boxed and out-wrestled, but never out-jiu-jitsu’d. I doubt Werdum will be able to manage it, just like I doubt his ability to take too many Nelson right hands. Nelson by TKO.

    Josh Koscheck vs. Mike Pierce

    WAGENHEIM: Koscheck is so dangerous as a striker that, even though he comes from a collegiate wrestling background, it’d be advisable for Pierce to take the fight to the mat. Good luck with that. Kos’s stout grappling game allows him to dictate where the tussle takes place. Koscheck by KO.

    HUNT: Pierce has quietly amassed a 5-2 record in the UFC, though his most memorable moment with the promotion, so far, has been calling top dog Koscheck out on Twitter. Koscheck by TKO.

    FOWLKES: Pierce is just like Koscheck only less so, if that makes any sense. He’s a smaller, less dynamic version, and he can’t do anything to Koscheck that Koscheck can’t do better right back to him. Koscheck by decision.

    Renan Barão vs.  Scott Jorgensen

    WAGENHEIM: Barão dropped a split decision in his pro MMA debut way back in 2005 and hasn’t lost any of his 28 bouts since then. He’s submitted three of the four fighters he’s faced in the UFC and WEC. Jorgensen is by far his toughest test, but I say he passes. Barão by decision.

    HUNT: Barão hasn’t lost since his first pro fight in 2005, though his opposition hasn’t been as tough as what Jorgensen’s faced on the WEC/UFC circuit. Jorgensen will probably try to curtail his wrestling instincts to steer clear of the ground, but it’s unavoidable. Barão by submission.

    FOWLKES: Jorgensen has the edge in the wrestling department, but nowhere else. Against some opponents that might be enough, but I like Barão’s chances to keep it standing long enough to do something horrible to Jorgensen’s equilibrium and then finish with a choke. Barão by submission.

    Ed Herman vs. Clifford Starks

    WAGENHEIM: Starks is unbeaten but has had just one UFC fight, while Herman has been under the big show spotlight since 2006. There have been ups and downs, but his octagon experience will carry the day. Herman by decision.

    HUNT: Herman, a TUF 3 finalist, skipped all of 2010, but came back with two wins in 2011 and has a lot of hard-earned mileage over undefeated newcomer Starks. Herman by decision.

    FOWLKES: Maybe Starks is ready for a fighter of Herman’s caliber and experience-level, but we haven’t been given many reasons to think so. Not yet, anyway. Herman by TKO.

  • Published On Feb 03, 2012