Archive for September, 2012

Timothy Bradley to defend welterweight title on Dec. 15 at Marlins Park

Decrease fontDecrease font
Enlarge fontEnlarge font

Timothy Bradley (left) won the WBO welterweight title from Manny Pacquiao (right) in June, handing the Filipino his first loss in more than seven years. (AP)

Timothy Bradley will defend the WBO welterweight title he won from Manny Pacquiao on Dec. 15 at Marlins Park in Miami.

While an opponent has yet to be officially signed for the HBO-televised fight, former welterweight titleholder Andre Berto has emerged as the most probable candidate.

“We’re trying to lock in Berto,” Top Rank vice president Carl Moretti told on Friday. “HBO is working on it right now. If all things come together over the next couple days that’s what we’re looking at.”

Bradley (29-0-0, 12 KOs), currently No. 8 in’s pound-for-pound ratings, won a highly controversial split decision over Pacquiao on June 9 to capture the title. The Palm Springs, Calif., native has since recovered from injuries to his left foot and right ankle sustained in the fight.

“From a dates point of view it works out OK for him,” Moretti said.

Berto (28-1-0, 22 KOs) won the WBC welterweight title with a technical knockout of Miguel Angel Rodriguez in June 2008, making five successful defenses before losing it to Victor Ortiz in April 2011. That bout was widely regarded as a Fight of the Year candidate, prompting a much-anticipated rematch scheduled for June 23 in Los Angeles.

But the Miami native tested positive for the steroid norandrosterone in May and was dropped from the card. Berto has since had his license reinstated by the California State Athletic Commission.

Interestingly, Bradley and Berto faced off previously at the 2003 National Golden Gloves championships in Las Vegas, where Berto earned a unanimous decision in the junior middleweight final to win a national title and place in the Olympic trials.

– Bryan Armen Graham

  • Published On Sep 28, 2012
  • Quick jabs: Victor Ortiz eyes Freddie Roach, Gabriel Rosado’s rise, more

    Decrease fontDecrease font
    Enlarge fontEnlarge font

    Former welterweight champ Victor Ortiz (above), who is coming off back-to-back knockout losses, could be pairing with Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach. (AP)

    Some quick jabs …

    • Victor Ortiz, who parted ways with longtime trainer Danny Garcia after last June’s loss to Josesito Lopez, has reached out to Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach. Roach says he will meet with Ortiz once the former welterweight titleholder recovers from the broken jaw he suffered against Lopez.

    • With Emanuel Steward battling a serious illness, Wladimir Klitschko will begin training camp for his Nov. 10 heavyweight title defense against Mariusz Wach without a chief cornerman. Klitschko’s manager, Bernd Boente, says that Klitschko is hoping Steward will be able to join camp in late October and work his corner for the fight.

    • A dark horse candidate to face super middleweight kingpin Andre Ward: Denis Grachev, who will face Lucian Bute in November. Grachev (12-0) is coming off a stunning knockout win over top prospect Ismayl Sillakh last April. If Grachev beats Bute, he will likely become a very appealing possibility for Ward.

    • I still think Kelly Pavlik is the most realistic big-name opponent for Ward.

    • Miguel Cotto picked a dangerous tune-up opponent in Austin Trout. Trout isn’t exciting — his win over Delvin Rodriguez in June was as dull as it was decisive — but he is slick and savvy in the ring. If Trout isn’t overwhelmed by the moment, he has a great chance at an upset.

    • What a wasted year this has been for Gary Russell Jr. For Andre Dirrell, too.

    • While Cornelius Bundrage’s IBF junior middleweight title defense against Andre Berto isn’t done yet, I’m told it’s very close to being finalized for Nov. 24 on HBO. On paper, Berto, who has not fought in over a year after testing positive for a banned substance during training for his scheduled rematch against Victor Ortiz, would appear to be a big favorite. But Berto will be moving up in weight to face Bundrage, whose aggressive, awkward style could give Berto problems.

    • The winner of Berto-Bundrage will be obligated to defend the title against Gabriel Rosado, who earned the position of mandatory challenger with a knockout win over Charles Whittaker last Friday. A year ago, high-profile opponents would have done everything they could to avoid Rosado. But because Rosado’s profile has risen considerably on the heels of three straight knockout wins on NBC Sports Network — wins that have sparked interest from the better paying premium networks — expect him to get that shot early next year.

    • I like Main Events plan to focus on moving fighters up the IBF rankings. The IBF is regarded as the most respectable of the sanctioning bodies, which is to say if a fighter is ranked No. 1, he is going to get his title shot.

    • Ricky Hatton has sold more than 18,000 tickets to his comeback fight in November — and he doesn’t even have an opponent yet. Incredible.

    • Roy Jones-Kimbo Slice? Pass. Pass, pass, pass.

    • Thoughts and prayers are with the family of former heavyweight champion Corrie Sanders, who according to police was shot and killed while celebrating a family member’s 21st birthday party in Cape Town, South Africa. Sanders was 46.

    – Chris Mannix

  • Published On Sep 25, 2012
  • Déjà vu for Zuffa: With Melendez hurt, Strikeforce cancels Saturday’s fights

    Decrease fontDecrease font
    Enlarge fontEnlarge font
    Gilbert Melendez

    With headliner Gilbert Melendez suffering an injury in training, Showtime elected not to air Saturday’s Strikeforce card. (Mike Roach/Getty Images)

    The first 11 years of Zuffa’s involvement in the mixed martial arts business: zero fight card cancellations. The last four weeks: two events nixed.

    Strikeforce has called off this Saturday’s event scheduled for Sacramento, Calif., after headliner Gilbert Melendez, who was to defend his lightweight championship against Pat Healy, was injured in training last week. The announcement came with the UFC still feeling the aftershocks of its first cancellation in over a decade under Zuffa, which purchased Strikeforce a year and a half ago.

    Whereas UFC 151 fell apart last month after light heavyweight challenger Dan Henderson pulled out with an injury and champion Jon Jones declined to face a replacement opponent on nine days’ notice, Strikeforce had no such fallback possibility for salvaging its title fight, with the champ being the one injured.

    The event was to be televised on Showtime, but according to Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker, when the cable outlet learned that the star of the show was off the marquee, it opted not to air the evening of fights. “Without a television partner,” Coker said in a statement issued late Sunday night, “we simply could not move forward with this event.”

    Showtime Sports issued a statement Monday evening: “On Friday night Strikeforce informed us that lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez had sustained an injury and would not be able to compete in their Saturday, Sept. 29, card. Without our headline fighter and main event or a marquee undercard, we reluctantly informed Strikeforce that we could not continue with plans for the telecast.”

    On its face, Showtime’s decision signals nothing other than dissatisfaction with one event’s diminished ratings potential. But the cable executives’ disenchantment could very well run deeper. Since buying Strikeforce, Zuffa has stripped the fight promotion of most of its best fighters, moving Nick Diaz, Dan Henderson and Alistair Overeem to the UFC. Other than Melendez, who is among the top 155-pounders in the world, and a women’s division featuring the star power of Ronda Rousey, the only premium cable-worthy attraction left might be Daniel Cormier, winner of the recent Heavyweight Grand Prix. But he, too, will move to the UFC after one more Strikeforce appearance.

    Curiously, the two-time Olympic wrestler’s scheduled Nov. 3 fight is nowhere to be seen on the Showtime Sports website, which touts boxing matches slated as far forward as December. Of course, it’s a bit awkward to promote a fight between Daniel Cormier and Mr. TBA. Frank Mir was to come over from the UFC for the fight, but the two-time heavyweight champ was injured last week, and a replacement has yet to be named. The fight is less than six weeks away, and Strikeforce and Showtime need a plan. The same could be said for the two organizations’ big-picture partnership.

     –Jeff Wagenheim

  • Published On Sep 24, 2012
  • No X-ray yet, but Jones says his arm is ‘pretty messed up’ after UFC 152 win

    Decrease fontDecrease font
    Enlarge fontEnlarge font

    Jon Jones skipped the hospital after his UFC 152 win. (

    TORONTO — Jon Jones has landed in Baltimore by now. His injured right arm is still in a holding pattern.

    The UFC light heavyweight champion, fresh off Saturday night’s gritty title defense against Vitor Belfort, was en route to watch his brothers play in Sunday night’s Patriots-Ravens game, tired and sore but with his arm no longer in the sling he wore to the post-fight press conference 10 hours earlier.

    Does that mean the X-ray he was said to be heading for after leaving Air America Centre at around 2 a.m. had revealed no damage? Not at all.

    “I haven’t got it X-rayed yet,” Jones told me just before boarding his Baltimore-bound flight at Pearson International Airport. I’d spotted him in the waiting area, reclining his 6-feet-4-inch frame across a row of seats and catching up on lost sleep from his late night. In fact, if I hadn’t gone over and nudged him after hearing a boarding call for his flight, he might not have made it to see Arthur Jones and the Ravens take on rookie Chandler Jones and the Patriots.

    The first thing I noticed when Jones sat up was that the sling was missing. “I had to take it off so I could switch shirts,” he said, rubbing the arm as he spoke. “But the arm is pretty messed up. My hand is still swollen, and the whole arm is jacked up.”

    Why no X-ray, then? “I just didn’t want to go to the hospital last night,” said the 17-1 champion, whose victory was his eighth straight, the last four of them title defenses against past champions. “I was pretty excited about the win, and I just didn’t want to spend the night in a hospital.”

    When does he plan to get his arm examined? “I’m going to Baltimore to watch football, and maybe I’ll get the arm checked out while I’m there,” he said. “Or I might wait until I get home. I’m just trying to keep pressure off of it and deal with the pain until I can get to a doctor and see what’s going on with it. The pain is definitely bearable, though, so I’m not in any rush.”

    The injury occurred in the first round of Saturday night’s UFC 152 main event, when Belfort locked on an armbar and came closer to finishing the indomitable Jones than anyone he’s fought. “I’ve never had my arm pop like that before,” the 25-year-old said in the cage after the fight. He also let it be known that there was no way he was going to tap out, saying, “I worked too hard to give it up.”

    So he escaped the submission attempt and fought on. His arm was numb, we later learned, but as the fight was unfolding there was no visual evidence that he was any worse for wear. Jones didn’t favor his right arm or shy away from using it. In fact, the right elbow was a primary weapon as he cut up Belfort and dominated the resolute Brazilian before finishing the job with a submission of his own 54 seconds into the fourth round. It was only in the in-cage interview afterward that we learned of the damage that had been done.

    Then, nearly an hour later, after arriving late for the post-fight press conference with his arm in a sling, Jones said he’d been told by medical personnel at the arena that he might have sustained nerve damage to his biceps. “That’s what someone there had guessed,” he clarified on Sunday. “But it’s hard to say anything official by just looking at it.”

    Whatever the injury diagnosis ultimately might be, Jones is unlikely to feel sorry for himself. He’s had a lot of practice lately in dealing with adversity. Over the past several weeks, in the wake of his decision to not accept a replacement opponent and save a UFC event from cancellation, he’s been assailed by fight promotion president Dana White as well fans and other fighters. He persevered through that painful episode, as he did through an excruciating armlock applied Saturday night by a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt.

    “Yeah, absolutely, man,” said Jones. “It’s good to know that you can overcome. It takes a lot of strength and power every time you run into a different situation, so I’m grateful for the situations.”

    Indeed, Jones was in good spirits as we spoke. He lit up when the arts critic in me gave his choice of walkout music — Bob Marley’s “Could You Be Loved” — a rave review, not just for entertaining the fans and getting them clapping along instead of booing him, but also for subtly conveying the song’s message: the importance of remaining loving and true to oneself no matter how much others try to change or control you. “The music,” said Jones, “did exactly what we hoped it would.”

    And with that song in his head Jones was off to Baltimore, ready for some football, but not until he’d thanked me for waking him so he didn’t miss his flight. Before heading to the gate he reached out to shake hands … with his left.

    –Jeff Wagenheim

  • Published On Sep 23, 2012
  • As Cormier plays waiting game in Strikeforce, his UFC future is unfolding

    Decrease fontDecrease font
    Enlarge fontEnlarge font

    Daniel Cormier won the championship belt after defeating Josh Barnett during the heavyweight tournament final bout of the Strikeforce World Grand Prix in May. (Kyle Terada/US PRESSWIRE)

    TORONTO — Daniel Cormier is so close to the UFC he can taste it. The Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix champion was in attendance at Saturday night’s UFC 152 at the Air Canada Centre, watching the fights and looking for one.

    The undefeated 33-year-old has been promised a prominent spot on the UFC’s roster of big boys once he fights once more in the sister promotion. And he does have a bout scheduled for a Nov. 3 Strikeforce card in Oklahoma City. But no opponent. Frank Mir was to come over from the UFC, where he was a two-time heavyweight champion, but was injured in training and pulled out of the fight this past week.

    So now the prom is six weeks away, and Cormier (10-0) is left waiting for a dance partner. He’s hoping to hear a name early in the coming week, but he’s not fretting and he’s not setting a deadline. “When I fought ‘Bigfoot’ Silva, Strikeforce called me just five weeks before,” he told as he was waiting for the fights to begin. “And I had been in Louisiana for a few weeks, doing nothing. But I fought then, and I’ll fight now, no matter what. I’m not bowing out. I’m not doing that to my Okies.”

    Cormier has a history in the state where the wind comes sweepin’ down the plains. He wrestled at Oklahoma State, making it to the 2001 NCAA Division I final. He continued to live and train in the area for several years, twice making the U.S. Olympic team. That deep background in wrestling, aside from allowing him to dictate where fights are fought, has instilled in him a comfort level in taking on whomever whenever.

    “I’ve been training for Nov. 3 for a month,” said Cormier. “To get ready for a specific opponent, once one is in place, I just need a few weeks. It depends. Frank was a problem because he’s a southpaw, and I’ve never fought one before. But now if they bring me a conventional fighter, I can fall back into my comfort zone.”

    It’s not the softspoken Cormier’s way to call anyone out, but he must have a few names stored away in the back of his mind, right? “The only names that I have in my head are the ones that have stepped to the front and said they want to fight,” he said. “Roy Nelson said he’d do it. Pat Barry said he’d do it. Fabricio Werdum said he’d do it. Those guys are now on my radar. So I know that maybe I should start watching film on them a little bit, start training in accordance with what I might be doing against those guys.”

    How does one prepare for a fight that might be against kickboxer Barry or might be against jiu-jitsu ace Werdum? And then there’s the larger issue: Can a fight with either of them elevate Cormier’s status in the same way that the bout with Mir could have? “Any guy from the UFC could do that,” Daniel insisted, before acknowledging, “Maybe not as much as Frank Mir would have.”

    That’s an understatement. I mean, a win over Barry, who is 7-5 with losses in three of his last four fights, wouldn’t exactly put Cormier in the crosshairs of Junior dos Santos. Or, um, Cain Velasquez.

    Cormier smiled at the mention of his training partner, who by the time Daniel reaches the UFC might once again be the heavyweight champ. “I think he will be,” said the fellow American Kickboxing Academy fighter. “I really do believe it. He’s amazing.”

    Should Velasquez regain the belt in his Dec. 29 rematch with Dos Santos, Cormier’s options would be to drop to the 205-pound division — he wrestled at 211 pounds in the Olympics — or go for the heavyweight belt against his teammate. Cormier and Velasquez have discussed that latter possibility. “We’ve talked about it a little bit, not really going into detail,” said Daniel. “But we’ve always said that if a guy is a champion, it’s not fair for his teammate to have to say, ‘I’m going to be No. 2 for the rest of my career.’ So if and when the time comes, we’ll sit down as a family and discuss whether we want to go forward with that. I’ll tell you this: We would not allow it to rip us apart.”

    That’s a discussion for a different time. For now and for the foreseeable future, Cormier is working out alongside Velasquez five days a week. And as he sees it, sparring and grappling with the man he believes is the best heavyweight in the world puts him in good standing for his upcoming fight against an opponent who has not yet — “against TBA,” he jumped in. “And it doesn’t really matter who it is. When you’re training with No. 1 or No. 2 every day, the rest should take care of itself.”

    – Jeff Wagenheim

  • Published On Sep 23, 2012
  • Jones, White spar over details surrounding UFC event cancellation

    Decrease fontDecrease font
    Enlarge fontEnlarge font

    Jon Jones denied responsibility for UFC 151′s cancellation. (

    TORONTO — The dance begins with one fighter walking out onto the stage, stripping down to his skivvies and stepping onto the scale. When his weight is announced, he flexes for the crowd, then moves off to the side and dresses while his opponent walks out, strips, weighs in, flexes, dresses. The two meet at center stage, face to face, fists up, striking a combative pose for the cameras. And after a dozen shutter clicks they’re done, off to rehydrate. Next set of fighters, please?

    There may be no element of a mixed martial arts event more choreographed than the weigh-ins.

    So how did light heavyweight champion Jon Jones end up having an off-the-script moment Friday afternoon after stepping off the scale?

    It came about when Jones found himself staring into the eyes of not one but two people ready to go face to face with him. One was Vitor Belfort, who’ll be his opponent in the main event of UFC 152 on Saturday night at the Air Canada Centre (10 p.m. ET, PPV). The other was Dana White.

    The UFC president and his 205-pound megastar had been sparring verbally for weeks, ever since Jones, upon being notified nine days prior to UFC 151 that challenger Dan Henderson was injured, turned down replacement opponent Chael Sonnen. The UFC ended up cancelling the Sept. 1 event — a first in the 11 years White has been running the show — and a fired-up White went on the offensive, calling Jones “selfish and disgusting” and his trainer/adviser/guru, Greg Jackson, “a [expletive] sport killer.”

    As this weekend’s event neared, with Jones having been added to the top of the bill, he and White indicated that they would meet face to face here in Toronto to clear the air. The meeting was to take place just prior to the weigh-ins. So all eyes were on Jones as he stepped off the scale. Would he and White shake hands or even embrace, an indication that the cold war was over? Or would an icy chill pervade the stage set up atop a hockey rink at the old Maple Leaf Gardens, telling us that Dana might not have renewed his membership in the Jonny Bones Fan Club?

    What we saw instead from Jones was an uncharacteristic moment of uncertainty. This phenom fighter who never hesitates to attack inside the octagon seemed to waver when he spotted White. Then he smiled, White smiled, even Belfort smiled, and the choreography resumed.

    What did it all mean? It meant that Jones and White had not yet met. They apparently planned to do so a few minutes later. And say what? “None of your business,” White responded when asked that very question in a Fuel TV interview following the weigh-ins.

    We can at least surmise that the discussion explored areas of disagreement. A case in point: At a Thursday press conference, Jones spoke respectfully of the boss — “Dana White is awesome, man” — but steered clear of accepting responsibility for the UFC 151 fiasco. “I have actually zero power to cancel an event,” he said. “When I was actually talking to Dana and [UFC chairman/CEO] Lorenzo [Fertitta] about accepting the Chael Sonnen fight, they never told me if I didn’t accept the fight that they were going to cancel the event.”

    It would have been interesting to hear White respond to that, but he was absent from the press conference, laid up at his hotel with an episode of Ménière’s disease. But in the Fuel TV interview, Dana had his say. “I don’t think he would have said that if I was there,” said White. “So today we’re going to be face to face and we’ll see what he says and what he doesn’t say. The fact that he says that he didn’t know that the show would get cancelled is false. I did tell him that the show would be cancelled.”

    And with that, White headed off to a windowless room with his light heavyweight champ. And then? Nothing. Nada. Not a word. (OK, chief, you can deactivate the Cone of Silence now.) My colleague from Yahoo! Sports, Kevin Iole, texted White to ask about the meeting and got this terse text back: “It went well.” Other than that, White, who posts his thoughts on Twitter about as often as he takes a breath, has gone quiet. So has Jones, unless we can read something into his only post-meeting tweet, a quote attributed to Michael Jordan: “Limits, like fears, are often just an illusion.”

    So stay tuned. Like any long-running soap opera, there’s always another episode to come.

    —Jeff Wagenheim

  • Published On Sep 22, 2012
  • Sergio Martinez-Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. fight does 475,000 pay-per-view buys

    Decrease fontDecrease font
    Enlarge fontEnlarge font

    The numbers are in for last weekend’s fight between Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Sergio Martinez, and they are big: According to HBO, Chavez-Martinez generated an estimated 475,000 pay-per-view buys and $24 million in revenue.

    The numbers — which will likely grow once all the figures are reported — vastly exceed the promoter’s and the network’s expectations of 250,000 buys.

    Both Chavez and Martinez have expressed interest in a rematch. That rematch will likely be delayed at least a year however, after Chavez tested positive for marijuana after the fight and will face a lengthy suspension.

    – Chris Mannix

  • Published On Sep 21, 2012
  • Ticket sales lagging ahead of UFC 152, more notes from pre-fight presser

    Decrease fontDecrease font
    Enlarge fontEnlarge font

    Jon Jones (left) defends his UFC light heavyweight championship on Saturday night in Toronto against Vitor Belfort. (Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)

    TORONTO – The two most telling moments during the UFC 152 press conference Thursday afternoon at a sports bar in the shadow of Air Canada Centre, where the Jon Jones vs. Vitor Belfort light heavyweight title bout and the rest of the fight card will go down Saturday night, came at the very beginning and right at the end.

    One of the first things emcee Tom Wright, the director of operations for UFC Canada, told us was that tickets are still available. So even with two championship bouts on the bill — we’ll also see Joseph Benavidez and Demetrious Johnson vie to become the UFC’s first flyweight belt holder — this fight organization that less than a year and a half ago sold 55,000 seats at the Rogers Centre in a matter of minutes is having trouble filling an 18,000-seat arena down the block. That’s especially troubling considering the coinciding lack of competition at a time of year when people in these parts typically would be huddled around ice rinks. As Wright said, alluding to the ongoing NHL lockout, “We may not have Hockey Night in Canada, but we can have UFC night in Canada and we’ll fill that void.”

    Just maybe not fill all of it.

    Wright also ended the media gathering with something telling, though not concretely so. Just before having the six fighters on the dais square off for the sea of cameras in the room, he told the assembled reporters and fans that there will be another press conference next Thursday in Montreal to announce that Georges St-Pierre will defend his welterweight championship against interim belt holder Carlos Condit at the Nov. 17 event in that city.

    Did it not occur to Tom that scheduling a press conference to announce news that he’s just revealed renders the forthcoming publicity event not so newsworthy? Of course he understood that. This was simply another demonstration of the UFC team’s grasp that news need not necessarily be the only information being dispensed at its press conferences. The most vital information we ingest when a group of fighters sits before us two days before the cage door closes on them is more amorphous. If we’re lucky, we get a feeling in our bones about what these fighters are feeling in their bones.

    We got some of that on Thursday:

    You can count on him: The hour-long hypathon morphed into a lovefest at times. Jones likes and respects Belfort, who likes and respects him. Benavidez and Johnson enjoy each other’s company to the point that they’ve gone to a concert together (more on that later). And Michael Bisping and Brian Stann made nice, too.

    Until the very end, that is, when all the words had been said and all that was left was the photo op. Michael Bisping had to do something to spice things up, or he wouldn’t be Michael Bisping. So when he and Stann met at center stage for the cameras, Stann approached it as a ceremony while Bisping saw an opportunity. He put on his best mean mug and pushed his forehead into Stann’s, moving the Marine onto his heels a bit. Stann seemed a bit taken aback, and as he stepped aside, Bisping posed once more for the cameras and walked away, pointing at his opponent and telling anyone within listening range that Stann “has the look of a man who knows he’s beat.”

    I don’t know that Stann is a beaten man in the fight. But in the hype game he’s an amateur next to “The Count.”

    Read More…

  • Published On Sep 21, 2012
  • Experts’ predictions for UFC 152

    Decrease fontDecrease font
    Enlarge fontEnlarge font

    Jon Jones (above) is a lopsided favorite in Saturday’s light heavyweight title defense against Vitor Belfort at UFC 152 in Toronto. (Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC) analysts Dave Doyle, Loretta Hunt, Jeff Wagenheim and Jon Wertheim provide their predictions for UFC 152 on Saturday in Toronto.

    Jon Jones vs. Vitor Belfort

    DOYLE: I’m tempted to take Belfort simply for contrarian purposes. But I can’t ignore the 13-1 odds and a motivated Jones, who will add another former champ to his list of victims. Jones by TKO.

    HUNT: The 25-year-old Jones’ biggest threat is himself at the moment. If he doesn’t allow Dana White’s bullying tactics to taint his mental state, he has the speed to evade, then stop the elder Belfort, a four-week replacement coming off May surgery for a broken hand. Jones by TKO.

    WAGENHEIM: I want to believe that Belfort can make this a fight, maybe just because Vitor believes it so vehemently. He does have the explosiveness and just-go-for-it mentality necessary to make Jones uncomfortable. But all who’ve stepped in with the champ have said they’re going to take it to him, and then when their moment finally comes, they’re mesmerized by his length, strength and avant-garde athleticism. Jones by TKO.

    WERTHEIM: We’re surprised how many fans are giving Belfort a puncher’s chance. You have to think some of this owes to Jones’ rejection of the Chael Sonnen fight and the (largely successful) smear campaign by the UFC. Jones is simply better than Befort in every conceivable way — not to mention younger, more athletic, and more on the line. Jones by TKO.

    Joseph Benavidez vs. Demetrious Johnson

    DOYLE: This has Fight of the Night potential. Johnson absolutely can win, but I think Benavidez’s power at 125 will make the difference. Benavidez by TKO.

    HUNT: I thought Johnson was champion material when he faced 135-pound titleholder Dominick Cruz a year ago. He had the skill set and speed to match Cruz’s crazy pace nearly move for move. He only lacked the power — something that should correct itself now that he’s moved down to the UFC’s recently-introduced flyweight division. Johnson by decision.

    WAGENHEIM: My prediction? Speed. Oh, you want to know who wins and gets to make history as the UFC’s first 125-pound champion? I’m going to go with the guy who’s beaten every fighter he’s been in with other than indomitable 135-pound champ Dominick Cruz. Benavidez by decision.

    WERTHEIM: Intriguing fight that has the potential to be a great one. Johnson’s superior speed will be the difference in the Fight of the Night. Johnson by decision.
    Read More…

  • Published On Sep 20, 2012
  • Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. tests positive for banned substance after Sergio Martinez fight

    Decrease fontDecrease font
    Enlarge fontEnlarge font

    Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (above) tested positive for a banned substance — reportedly marijuana — after Saturday’s fight with Sergio Martinez in Las Vegas. (AP)

    Former middleweight titleholder Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. tested positive for a banned substance following Saturday’s unanimous-decision defeat to Sergio Martinez. Chavez’s promoter, Top Rank, confirmed the positive test.

    Top Rank’s Carl Moretti confirmed the positive test was for marijuana.

    “Top Rank is reviewing the situation,” Top Rank publicist Lee Samuels said in a statement. “Julio Cesar Chavez Jr will have the opportunity to explain this situation to the Nevada State Athletic Commission.”

    The positive test is the second for Chavez in Nevada. In 2009, Chavez tested positive for Furosemide, a known diuretic that helps with weight loss, after his win over Troy Rowland. Chavez was suspended for seven months and fined $10,000 by the commission. The official result was changed to a no-contest.

    Last week, Chavez cited that positive test as one of the turning points of his career.

    “I thought about it, and I said, ‘What am I doing here? Do I need to be serious about this?’” Chavez said. “‘Do I really want this? How much do I want it?’”

    NSAC executive director told there is no mandatory suspension length for a second positive test. Kizer said any violation can result in a fine of up to 100 percent of the fighter’s purse — Chavez was guaranteed $3 million against Martinez — and/or a one-year suspension.

    The positive test is the latest act of immaturity from the 26-year old Chavez. Last January, Chavez was arrested for suspicion of DUI. He pleaded no contest and was sentenced to probation. Before teaming up with Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach, Chavez had a reputation for being lazy in the gym. Though he seemed to shed that reputation over the last year, in the weeks before the fight with Martinez, Chavez routinely skipped out on training sessions, often preferring to work out at home late at night rather than at the gym.

    Roach said he will continue to work with Chavez but that “the first day he misses something, I’m going home.”

    – Chris Mannix

  • Published On Sep 19, 2012