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Renan Barao retains bantamweight crown vs. Urijah Faber at UFC 169

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Renan Barao (left) and Urijah Faber face off during the UFC 169 weigh-in at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. (Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Renan Barao (left) and Urijah Faber face off during the UFC 169 weigh-in at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. (Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Here is SI.com’s live play-by-play blog for UFC 169: Renan Barao’s first-round TKO of Urijah Faber to retain the bantamweight crown was the highlight match from the UFC 169 card at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. Play-by-play and results are listed from main event down.

Official Results:

Renan Barao def. Urijah Faber - TKO (punches) 3:42 R1 

Jose Aldo def. Ricardo Lamas – Unanimous Decision (49-46 all)

Alistair Overeem def. Frank Mir – Unanimous Decision (30-27 all)

Ali Bagautinov def. John Lineker – Unanimous Decision (29-28 all)

Abel Trujillo def. Jamie Varner – KO 2:32 R2

Alan Patrick Silva Alves def. John Makdessi – Unanimous Decision

Chris Cariaso def. Danny Martinez – Unanimous Decision

Nick Catone def. Tom Watson – Split Decision

Al Iaquinta def. Kevin Lee – Unanimous Decision

Clint Hester def. Andy Enz – Unanimous Decision

Rashad Magamedov def. Tony Martin – Unanimous Decision

Neil Magny def. Gasan Umalatov – Unanimous Decision

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UFC Bantamweight Championship: Renan Barao vs. Urijah Faber

With the injury-ridden Dominick Cruz now out of the picture (for the moment), interim champ Barao (31-1) has taken the throne. Barao is a bit of a slow-starter, but finds his groove (and his opponent’s pace) as the fight goes on. He’s deceivingly dangerous everywhere and already beat Faber via decision in July 2012. Barao is going for his fourth title defense.

Some might take offense to Faber (30-6) getting a title shot tonight – it’s been blatantly obvious in the past that he’s a Zuffa favorite and might not have been completely deserving of the breaks he’s gotten. But in this case, I believe Faber has earned his shot this time. Since his loss to Barao, Faber has looked real good in his last four UFC bouts, including his most recent second-round submission over the younger Michael MacDonald (December.)

R1 - Faber lands first: an outside left low kick. Faber catches Barao kick and slips in a decent punch. Faber looks aggressive. Faber throws a kick and slips to the ground; Barao tries to capitalize, but Faber composes himself. Barao with a left to overhand right. Faber moves in and Barao lands a combo that sends Faber back out. Barao with an outside low kick. Barao with a huge punch and Faber goes down. Faber to his feet and Barao swarms him on fence. Faber clinches for his life and manages to push the mass of men back to center. Barao is relentless, though, and another overhand and Faber goes down again, turtled, Barao punching away. Dean steps in with the stoppage, though Faber objects.

Official Result: Renan Barao def. Urijah Faber - TKO (punches) 3:42 R1 

12:32 – Our boys meet center cage, referee Herb Dean flanking them. Of course, they touch gloves.

12:27 – Main event time. A corn-rowed Urijah Faber enters first with his “California” anthem. He’s taking this bout on three weeks’ notice. Lights out and boos fill the arena. Poor Renan Barao.

UFC Featherweight Championship: Jose Aldo vs. Ricardo Lamas

The UFC is past running out of opponents for Jose Aldo, the Anderson Silva of the featherweight scene before Chris Weidman broke the Spider’s streak. Enter Ricardo Lamas (13-2), coming off a second-round TKO over Eric Koch – Lamas’ fourth straight win in the UFC. Is it a good enough resume for Aldo? Probably not.

Making his sixth title defense and with no obvious challengers in sight, Aldo (23-1) continues to flirt with his promise to move up to the lightweight division, where things will get much more interesting for him. Until then, we get to see if underdog Lamas can usurp a champion whose sheer aggressiveness and power is daunting.

R1 - Lamas with opening low kick; misses a second attempt. Two minutes in with little action. Lamas throwing low kicks, but Aldo defending easy. Aldo has thrown virtually nothing up to this point. Aldo with a spinning back kick but Lamas circles out to avoid. Aldo catches Lamas’ kick, charges in with flying knee and almost nails Lamas with that. He gets in a follow-up shot before Lamas escapes again. Aldo lands body shot. :30 to go. Not much happening to the bell. Aldo 10-9 with effective striking.

R2 - Aldo lands first significant kick about a minute in. Aldo misses with a combo.  Lamas again with low kicks, but Aldo has that number. Aldo looks like he’s calculating, waiting for his opening. Aldo with occasional body punch, but not landing. Aldo with a low kick to Lamas’ thigh; and then another.  Lamas with a missing wheel kick. Aldo lands another right kick to thigh. 1:00 to go. Aldo with another harsh kick; Lamas’ thigh must be hurting. Bell. Aldo 10-9

R3 - Aldo starting to pick up his pace. Punch to his killer kick. Lamas shoots for single; Aldo defends easy. Lamas must know the end is coming. Aldo’s low kicks are just brutal and they’re all landing on Lamas’ lead leg. Lamas hasn’t given up yet, but his striking attempts aren’t really getting through. Aldo with body shot to another low kick. 1:30 to go. Aldo with body shot – his pace is starting to slow, but he’s still out ahead of Lamas. Bell. Aldo 10-9

R4 - Aldo opens with his low kick. Lamas shoots for double, pushes Aldo to cage, has Aldo off his feet against fence for a few seconds before Aldo finds his footing again. Lamas switches to single leg, but Aldo reverses him on fence. 3:00 to go. Aldo trips Lamas to mat, settles into half guard. Crowd is not impressed with this laboring pace. Aldo slips to mount. Lamas flips to his back, and rear-naked is in. Aldo switches sides and Lamas manages to buck Aldo off. Lamas grabs a single leg, Aldo’s back to fence. :30 to go and it stalls here. Aldo 10-9

R5 - Lamas starts strong with kicks and Aldo pushes him to fence. Aldo with a trip TD into full guard. Lamas’ corner screaming for him to get up. They don’t like how this one is going. Aldo trying to pass guard. Aldo to side and right to mount. We’re parallel with the fence. 3:00 to go. Lamas is trapped. Lamas escapes out the back and Lamas takes top in the scramble that follows. Lamas to his feet and leaps in with punch, Aldo responds by clinching him. Aldo with high guard; 1:30 to go. Lamas misses with an elbow. Lamas trying to rally for a finish, but Aldo’s tying him up for the most part. :30 to go. Lamas can’t get anything through Aldo’s guard to bell. Aldo 10-9

Official Result: Jose Aldo def. Ricardo Lamas – Unanimous Decision (49-46 all)

11:38 – Lamas struts with purpose to the cage. And it’s Aldo’s turn. Pedro Rizzo and Andre Pederneiras in his corner.

11:32 – Overeem tells Rogan he played a conservative game tonight, then calls out Brock Lesnar. I seriously doubt Lesnar has designs to come back to the UFC  – just Dana White propaganda talk, in my opinion.

Heavyweight: Frank Mir vs. Alistair Overeem

This is probably the most anticipated fight on the card, even with two title bouts still to go. Former champ Mir (16-8) has had a tough road of late: three straight losses to Junior Dos Santos, Daniel Cormier, and most recently, Josh Barnett, who took Mir out with a quick first-round knee (TKO). Mir is a master on the ground, but the bad news is…

….Alistair Overeem (36-13) comes out like a monster in the first round, trying to bully his opponents to the cage with punches and knees. Beyond the first round, Overeem’s endurance, both physically and mentally, wanes dramatically. Travis Browne and Antonio Silva have exposed these weaknesses in Overeem’s last two bouts, leaving the Holland-based fighter a disappointing 1-2 in the Octagon.

R1 - Overeem with right to body. Mir in with a left-right, they clinch on the fence, but Overeem shrugs it off. Mir lands a quick left. Overeem with an overhand left that lobs Mir’s neck. Overeem clinches, then nails Mir with a big knee to head that sends Mir to his behind and against fence. Overeem pounces, locks up Mir’s arm so he can’t defend. Mir fights to his knees, but Overeem is kneeing his body bad. Mir manages to escape and it’s back to center. 2:00 to go. Mir looks surprisingly OK. Mir swings and misses. Overeem clinches again and Mir drops to guard, trying to grab a leg on the way. No go. Overeem in Mir’s half guard. 1:00 to go. It stalls here to bell. Mir is bleeding slightly from his nose.  Overeem 10-9

R2 – Overeem with a dead-on  jab. He doesn’t look gassed. New territory for him. Overeem with a left, then throws Mir off him like he did Brett Rogers back in the Strikeforce days. Mir clinches and Overeem reverses him onto fence. Referee separates them quickly. Overeem with combo. Mir bulldozes Overeem to his butt against the fence, locks up the guillotine and flops to his back. Mir loses the hold and is left with Overeem in his half guard. Overeem peppering Mir with big shots to the head. Mir is getting bloody; looks like cuts around his eyes, affecting his vision. Mir recovers guard. 1:15 to go. Overeem is still punching, picking his shots. Mir can only defend. Overeem to his feet, Mir still on his back. Ref makes Mir stand with :13 to go. Bell. Overeem 10-9

R3 – Overeem is looking — dare I say it — pretty fresh. Mir tries to shoot, but Overeem’s girth pushes Mir to his back. Mir has closed guard. Overeem to his feet; Mir asked to stand right away. Again, Mir shoots and Overeem sprawls, then muscles Mir to his back. Mir recovers full guard. Overeem with a big elbow that makes the crowd wince. Mir again forced to defend. He pulls Overeem into him, trying to stop the onslaught. 2:00 to go. Mir’s face getting bloodier and bloodier. Overeem’s pace has slowed, but he just needs to ride this out.  Overeem backs out with 1:00 to go and Mir is beckoned to his feet again. Overeem with a nice right hand. Mir is spent. Overeem with a right-left; only lands the right. Bell. Overeem 10-9 (judges might go 10-8 on this one.)

Official Result: Alistair Overeem def. Frank Mir – Unanimous Decision (30-27 all)

11:08 – Mir gets the lights-out treatment, enters with Frank Sr. in his corner. Mir’s father has cornered his son for all of his fights. TUF vet James McSweeney is also in Mir’s corner.  Our referee is Dan Miragliotta.

11:05 – Overeem is the first to enter, again with the extroverted entrance, egging on the crowd to get hyped. he gets the first pop from the crowd once he climbs into the cage and makes his entrance lap.

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  • Published On Feb 01, 2014
  • Chris Weidman defeats Anderson Silva again

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    Chris Weidman celebrates after recording a TKO victory over Anderson Silva during UFC 162. (AP)

    Chris Weidman defeated Anderson Silva in the second round at UFC 168. (AP)

    Chris Weidman defeated Anderson Silva once again, this time by TKO after Silva’s leg snapped in the second round.

    Weidman’s UFC 168 victory means he retains his UFC middleweight title.


  • Published On Dec 29, 2013
  • Ronda Rousey defeats Miesha Tate by tap out

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    Ronda Rousey Miesha Tate

    Ronda Rousey beat Miesha Tate with a third-round tap out. (Getty Images)

    Ronda Rousey defeated Miesha Tate in the third round by tap out due to armbar at UFC 168 on Saturday night.

    Rousey remains the UFC women’s bantamweight champion.

    This was Rousey’s first bout to go beyond the first round.


  • Published On Dec 28, 2013
  • St-Pierre-Hendricks fight lives up to hype, St-Pierre defends title

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    Johny Hendricks will take welterweight incumbent Georges St-Pierre for his belt at UFC 167 on Saturday. (Photo: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports)

    Johny Hendricks will take on welterweight incumbent Georges St-Pierre for his belt at UFC 167 on Saturday. (Photo: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports)

    Georges St-Pierre eked out a split decision over a very game Johny Hendricks Saturday at UFC 167 in Las Vegas. Hendricks came out strong and scored damage with his powerful combinations early on, giving GSP some real trouble during interludes on its feet. The pair matched wits with their wrestling during some tactical scrambles and clinch battles on the fence.  SI.com scored the five-round thriller for Hendricks 49-47, with R3 a even 10-10.

    Official Results:

    Georges St. Pierre def. Johny Hendricks – Split Decision  – (48-47 H, 48-47 GSP, 48-47 GSP)

    Rashad Evans def. Chael Sonnen – TKO (strikes) 4:05 R1 

    Robbie Lawler def. Rory MacDonald – Split Decision (29-28 L, 29-28 M, 29-28 L)

    Tyrone Woodley def. Josh Koscheck — KO 4:38 R1

    Ali Bagautinov def. Tim Elliott — Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)

    Play-by-play and prelim results below:

    UFC Welterweight Championship: Georges St-Pierre vs. Johny Hendricks

    Hendricks (15-1) has some exciting tools that can take St-Pierre out tonight. The former OSU wrestler is a two-time NCAA Div I. champion at 165 pounds, and one of the greatest competitors that legendary OSU coach and two-time Olympic gold medalist John Smith said he’s had the pleasure of molding. Without much tutelage in this area, GSP’s natural talent and work ethic had made him a highly functional wrestler, but the 30-year Hendricks was at it 20 years before he even stepped into the cage. People forget that, as Hendricks is also a deadly KO machine who’s caught some top-shelf talent moving with love taps heading into his fighting prime.

    The 32-year-old St-Pierre (24-2) is the longest reigning champion in the UFC welterweight division with 11 straight wins and eight consecutive title defenses on his docket. He’s highly proficient to above-average in nearly all areas and is a master, if not a slightly conservative tactician. He hasn’t lost since the Matt Serra fiasco in April 2007. Rumors have swirled this week that GSP will either retire after this bout (win or lose) or move up to middleweight to make way for protégé MacDonald (who won’t fight his mentor) to make a run for the 170-pound title. Your guess on that is as good as mine.

    11:52 pm ET – We head into our main event. Here comes the hype for a big fight. This time around, it’s warranted. Hendricks is an intriguing challenger. His power punching, his stellar wrestling. GSP has his biggest challenge in quite a while. Great main event that I hope lives up to its potential.

    11:55 pm ET – Lights out and challenger Hendricks snakes his way to the cage to what else? Some down-home country music. Hendricks just signed a big Reebok deal – two-years, mid six-figure, incentive-based regardless of what happens tonight, according to his management. His slogan is “Go beard or go home.”

    11:58 pm ET – The champ is here and the crowd welcomes him heartily. Donning the full gi, his karate headband, GSP mean-mugs it to the cage. Looks like a man on a mission. Big ovation as he bows to the crowd and enter the Octagon. Let the butterflies ensue.

    12:03 pm ET – Buffering in rare form tonight. Our referee is Mario “Stand ‘Em Up” Yamasaki. Hendricks gets pretty positive reaction; GSP can do no wrong. They meet center cage. Hendricks is grinning ear to ear. GSP has that concerned look of his. And we’re off.

    R1 – St-Pierre with a measuring kick and leaps into a successful takedown out of the gate. Hendricks is locked into a guillotine, but escapes to his feet. They’re clinching and GSP goes to work with some body knees. Yamasaki separates them. Hendricks sees the TD attempt coming this time and lands an uppercut as GSP moves in. Another uppercut and GSP reacts by pushing Hendricks to fence. Still clinching, elbows from Hendricks and he moves to outside, trying now to take GSP down on fence. Hendricks gets a TD. GSP’s slightly nicked with a cut over his right eye from those close-quarter elbows. GSP wall-walks up and they separate. In clinch, hard knee from Hendricks, which backs GSP up. GSP with high kick that Hendricks partly defends. Another clinch and Hendricks barreling GSP’s thighs with knees. They separate again. :30 to go. Hendricks pumps a left twice and GSP backs out of range. Stellar first round. Hendricks 10-9

    R2 – GSP trying to find range with kicks. Hendricks coming in with combos and backing him up. His left is pretty close each time. That left. Hendricks connects with uppercut, then another, GSP flustered, wobbling, in trouble. GSP clinches with Hendricks in a little bit of desperation. Then, referee Yamasaki separates them for no reason. Re-start and Hendricks is right back in with lefts. Hendricks drops levels and has GSP’s legs on fence, but no TD. GSP’s face reddening. Back to center cage. GSP fights back with a left hook, then another. Hendricks in again with uppercut and knee that just misses. GSP lands left hook, then a left superman punch. Right hook by Hendricks. Every time Hendricks moves in, GSP is affected. GSP lands the left on Hendricks, then a jab. Hendricks registers that they’re good hits with a head nod. GSP head kick lands but it’s soft. Hendricks looks loose, but a little tired. Hendricks in with two uppercuts, backing GSP out. It’s a dogfight, folks. GSP ducks Hendricks punch that GSP turns into clinch. Trade of knees to thighs and bell .Very close round. I have it even 10-10. Judges will be split on this one, no doubt.

    R3 – Hendricks with right. GSP with low kick. Hendricks in with body knee. GSP left over top. Hendricks dodges a GSP combo. Hendricks pumps jab once; he’s starting to slow down a little bit. GSP is breathing heavy, but coming on a little stronger now. GSP with tagging left. Hendricks still coming in, but his punches aren’t as crisp. He’s lowering his head, too, as he lunges. Not a good sign. GSP right. Hendricks left hook. 2:10 to go. GSP has found range and starting to avoid Hendricks’ attacks. Hendricks jab. St. Pierre is starting to land more. Single punch exchanges now. Hendricks shoots, pushes GSP to fence. Completes TD and crowd explodes. Hendricks in GSP’s guard. 0:15 to go. GSP to his feet right at bell. GSP 10-9

    R4 – Championship rounds, folks. Pawing until GSP throws a straight and Hendricks counters with a combo, uppercut included. It mostly misses. He’s headhunting, but seems to have some snap back. Hendricks grabs at the back of GSP’s neck and he falls to his back trying to back-pedal. Hendricks in GSP’s guard, pulling him to fence. Hendricks backs out and lets him stand (!) GSP’s face is now busted up, bleeding. Hendricks lands an uppercut. 2:00 to go. Hendricks with a right-right-left uppercut. Uppercut lands. GSP pushes Hendricks to fence for a shoot. Hendricks stuffs it and turns GSP around against fence. A battle for the TD. GSP fighting all the way and he reverses. Hendricks against fence, then another reverse. Hendricks on outside. Lands a knee. Nothing major. Bell. Hendricks 10-9

    R5 – GSP cut under both eyes, but bleeding has been stopped during rounds. Hendricks starts round bobbing is head, singing to himself. Cool as a cucumber. They clinch quick and Hendricks is on one leg, the other entwined between GSP’s legs. He manages to stay standing. What balance. Both to fence, but they separate quick. Big right by GSP and he takes Hendricks down. This is huge. Hendricks nearly sneaks out, but is stopped on his knees. Hendricks on his feet, crouched, then pushes to standing, back to fence. Fight for control and TD. Hendricks reverses GSP. He looks stronger. Much more composed. GSP’s face is bloody again. 1:50 to go. Referee Yamasaki separates them. GSP with front teep kick. Another kick to side of Hendricks body. GSP has to know it’s oh-so close. Chants of “GSP.” 1:05 to go and GSP shoots for a single-leg. Fights to take him down. Completes it but Hendricks is back up fast and GSP can’t capitalize. Hendricks has GSP against fence, leaning in with his body weight. GSP goes for a weak Kimura, but he doesn’t have position. Hendricks 10-9/49-47

    Official Result: Georges St. Pierre def. Johny Hendricks – Split Decision  – (48-47 H, 48-47 GSP, 48-47 GSP)

    St. Pierre: “I couldn’t see out of one eye. He really messed me up. I need a vacation.”

    And here’s our big bombshell from GSP: “I have to hang up my gloves for a bit. I have to step away, at least for a bit. I have some personal things to take care of. I have to go away [for] a little bit.” Rogan presses him to clarify but GSP just keeps saying he has to go away for a “little bit.”

    Hendricks says he thought he won the bout, but GSP is a great guy. Hendricks: “He didn’t land anything strong on me.” Crowd boos with his comments. Hendricks is noticeably upset and for good reason. People believe he won and GSP’s “exit” is strange. We’re not sure what it means.

    Light Heavyweight: Chael Sonnen vs. Rashad Evans

    What can we say about Chael Sonnen? The man with the mighty mouth is a cat with nine lives in MMA. After collecting back-to-back losses to champions Anderson Silva (July 2012) and Jon Jones (April), the one-time Olympic wrestling alternate resurrected his perpetual career with a rousing win over fading former UFC light heavyweight champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. Sonnen (29-13-1) could have his hands full with Evans…

    … if former UFC titleholder Evans (19-3-1) avoids Sonnen’s grinding wrestling and gets some of his old mojo going again. The man who iced Chuck Liddell and outboxed Quinton “Rampage” Jackson has been missing of late. Evans’ last victory over Dan Henderson was a conservative one. When Evans is on and feeling loose, he’s light on his feet, ready for a shootout or a grappling battle and is a lot of fun to watch.

    11:30 pm ET – We get a retrospective featuring UFC majority owners Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta, UFC President Dana White and others. The images are moving; the words not so much.

    11:35 pm ET – Sonnen is on his way to the cage to a country twang. His shirt says “RESPECT IS EARNED.” Lights out and Evans struts in next, looking very serious; eyeballing the Octagon. He better be serious tonight. He needs this win. Buffer with the intros; Sonnen gets a warm reception. Evans welcome is mixed. Our referee is Herb Dean.

    R1 – Sonnen takes center cage immediately, then shoots. Evans pushed to fence and it’s a Greco Roman match quickly, a fight for underhooks and position. Evans on outside and tries to TD, but Sonnen stops. Still in clinch on fence, Sonnen trying to knee, Evans answering with body shots. Evans separates slightly and lands a right. More underhook pummeling. Evans gets a double-leg on fence. Evans has half guard. Sonnen is cradled on fence. Evans posts to knee and land a few shots. Sonnen is trapped but not in imminent danger – yet. Evans lands an elbow and Sonnen flips to his stomach, then again to his back. Evans to full mount, then takes Sonnen’s back. Evans wails away and finishes Sonnen who looks like the life was sucked out of him.

    Official Result: Rashad Evans def. Chael Sonnen – TKO (strikes) 4:05 R1

    Solid performance for Evans. Very poor performance for Sonnen. Pretty anti-climatic without Sonnen putting up much of a fight once it hit the ground and Evans landed the fight-turning elbow. You have to think all of Sonnen’s extra-curricular commentating (which is fantastic work!) just doesn’t allow him enough time to train. I’d much rather Sonnen retire, so he can concentrate on his true calling in this sport.

     Welterweight: Rory MacDonald vs. Robbie Lawler

    GSP protégé MacDonald (15-1) is on a five-fight win streak, with some impressive names on his mantel, B.J. Penn (December) and Jake Ellenberger (July) included. Both were decisions, and I’m figuring UFC matchmaker Joe Silva is pairing him against the all-out Lawler to kick the-24-year-old Canadian’s career into high gear for a title run.

    The 31-year-old Lawler is a real crowd-pleaser: a decent wrestler turned dangerous boxer who could care less if the fight hits the ground. Lawler starched Koscheck in the first round at his UFC return in February and followed up that explosive win with a head-kick KO of the less foreboding Bobby Voelker. MacDonald is not particularly popular outside the Canadian contingent, so you’ve got to think that there’s a healthy part of the crowd itching for another Lawler special.

    10:56 – Lawler enters, a small grin on his face. Very calm. This dude loves to scrap. MacDonald follows, getting a surprisingly strong pop from the crowd. Buffer with the intros and Lawler is shaking his head like he was born to do this. MacDonald looks confident, hands on waist. Mario Yamasaki is our ref.

    R1 – Lawler with two hard front-leg kicks. High left kick attempt. Crowd chants “Rory” off the bat. MacDonald with a low kick.  Lawler moving in, missing by inches with haymakers. Lawler lands with front leg kick again. Lawler blocks a right body kick from Mac. Trade of body kicks that don’t land. Kick-o-rama. Pensive pace – both looking for a big hit. 2:00 to go. Lawler with body kick. Mac isn’t checking much. Lawler misses with another haymaker. Crowd getting a little restless.  Mac lands weak teep kick. More Lawler body kicks. Not much to write home about.  “Rory” chants start again. Crowd wants something big; neither fighter has yet to deliver. Lawler with Head kick; Mac grabs his leg, but can’t do anything to capitalize at bell. Lawler 10-9

    R2 – Lawler with body kick out of gate and MacDonald takes his first shot. Lawler on one leg, hops back and escapes. Impressive balance. This is not the fight people expected. Slow. Plodding. Headhunting. Lawler with right kick; follow up with right body kick. Lawler is winning on volume. Lawler with head movement, blocking MacDonald right. MacDonald drops levels fast and secures a TD on fence; trying to pass guard. MacDonald to his feet, allows Lawler to backdoor out, but Mac stalls Lawler on his knees, holding onto his head. MacDonald trying to maneuver to Lawler’s back, but Lawler gets guard and is actually landing hard shots from his back. MacDonald posts to his knees and tries to elbow. Misses and bell. MacDonald 10-9 takes this one with TD and ground control.

    R3 – Lawler tags with a right, then an uppercut. Lawler kicks, MacDonald catches his leg and gets a TD. Mac in Lawler’s guard. Stand-up. Lawler with a left and Mac shoots; scramble to ground and Lawler takes top, trying to unload some ground-and-pound, It settles with Mac on his back; Lawler in his guard. Re-stand and Mac is bleeding bad from his nose. Lawler with a left. An eye poke  with Lawler right and ref stops it to check on Mac. Re-start. Mac grabs Lawler leg kick; Lawler defends again beautifully. Lawler drops Mac with left uppercut, tries to finish with follow-ups. Lawler into side control. 1:40 to go. Lawler has this if ref doesn’t stupidly re-stand. Mac recovers guard, but Lawler is swinging to finish. Lawler trying to pass to mount and Mac stops him. Mac goes for an armbar. Back to his feet; Mac looking wobbly. Lawler with right and Mac answer with a TD to half. Mac trying to finish, but Lawler mostly defends. It was a 10-8 round before Mac went for the all-or-nothing finish. Lawler 10-9/29-28

    Official Result: Robbie Lawler def. Rory MacDonald – Split Decision (29-28 L, 29-28 M, 29-28 L)

    Lawler and MacDonald arm-in-arm after fight. Lawler can’t stop smiling. He doesn’t have a graze on him. Lawler makes UFC rankings at #10. No argument here. He is on the rise, for sure.

    Welterweight: Josh Koscheck vs. Tyron Woodley

    Koscheck (19-7) has been on the downslide with two consecutive losses in the Octagon to tonight’s main eventer Hendricks (May 2012) and Robbie Lawler (February), who we’ll see later during the night. Lawler starched the 2001 NCAA Div. I wrestling champ with his trademark power punching. Unfortunately for Kos, Woodley possesses the same potential to stop him with his hands – if he lets them go.

    In addition, “T-Wood” has enough collegiate wrestling skills to keep up with Kos. However, Woodley (11-2) is still finding his legs in the division and is 1-1 since joining the UFC ranks, with a scary 36-second KO over Jay Hieron in February (Yes!) and a tepid split decision loss to Jake Shields in May (Meh).

    Big ramifications for both in this bout – the UFC’s welterweight division is always close quarters and any given guy is one or two losses away from the exit door. Another interesting side story must be Kos praying Hendricks gets the job done tonight; Kos has lost twice to GSP (one being a title bout) soundly, and it’s a tough, tough climb back to the top in this situation.

    10:41 pm ET – “T-Wood” enters to some rap. He looks like he’s put on some more muscle; he’s huge. Koscheck struts in afterward to a mixed response. Fans never forget TUF 1. Herb Dean is our referee.

    R1 – Woodley connects right away with an overhand, then barrels in with knees. Koscheck is wobbled a little to cage and touches his hand to canvas to stop the knee attack. It becomes a wrestling battle on the fence quick and stalls. Boos and referee Dean re-starts it center. Kos looks composed again. Wood lands another right and a kick, but Kos counters with a kick that backs Wood up. Wood with a barrage of rights that sends Kos to the canvas, head banging on ground. Koscheck takes some follow-up leather, but recovers enough to grab onto Wood’s body for his dear life. Wood is in Kos’ guard, pulls him to fence. Ref Dean with a questionable re-start. Kos is bleeding from his left ear; face swelling. Woodley with a huge counter right and another as Kos goes down; follow-up punches, but Kos’ hands are at his sides and it’s over.

    Official Result: Tyrone Woodley def. Josh Koscheck — KO 4:38 R1

    Woodley had Koscheck’s number from the get-go, giving the TUF vet an uphill battle he eventually lost. Great win for Woodley, who’ll stick around for a bit longer. Koscheck’s future is less certain with three losses in a row.

    Flyweight: Ali Bagautinov vs. Tim Elliott

    Dagestan’s Bagautinov (11-2) is a mixed bag of talent, with both a Greco Roman and freestyle wrestling background and a gold medal in Combat Sambo (2012). On top of that, Bagautinov took out his last opponent, Marcus Vinicius, with punches in his Octagon debut in September.

    Elliott (10-3-1) rides in on two unanimous decision victories over Jared Papazian (December) and Louis Gaudinot (August). Both are making their first appearances on a UFC main card, on its 20th anniversary card, no less. That should speak volumes as to what UFC brass expects from them.

    R1 - Bag gets the best of the feel-out exchanges, just missing with an uppercut. Elliott is the pursuer, until Bag clinches at 3:45. They separate quickly.  More circling. Elliott shoots; no go.  Bag with a punch, knee; Elliott is hurt and tries to grab a single-leg. Bag won’t have it and Elliott re-sets again. More circling. Bag gets a takedown. Elliott springs to his feet, pushing forward with swings that aren’t close. 1:00 to go. Bag is clearly the more skilled striker. He ties up the round with a clinch on the cage, then a right and a knee that lands and sends Elliott to his back as the bell sound. Bag 10-9

    R2 – Bag with TD right into an Elliott guillotine. It’s a close one, but Bag escapes is out and now on his back, Elliott in his guard. (Stats say Elliott has landed 40 strikes to Bag 26, but Bag’s are much more effective.) Bag escapes and it’s back to its feet, Elliott center-canvas and stalking. Elliott with inside kick, but not much else being thrown. Bag lands a right; Elliott shoots and it’s a wild scramble with Bag on top, but then to his feet quick. Bell. Bag 10-9 for more effective striking, but nice try on Elliott’s guillotine attempt.

    R3 – Elliott is chasing, but Bag lands a body kick, then another at 3:30.  Elliott with a left that lands, but the punch has no heat. Bag swings and misses again.  Bag connects with two right overhands. This punch is working for him, so he’s keeps at it. The pace isn’t that fast. 1:30 to go. Elliott is another shot that Bag easily thwarts. Another Bag right. 1:00 to go. Elliott stuffs Bag TD.  He has to find a fight-ending punch. Bag lands a hard combo and Elliott slams Bag at bell but too little too late. Bag 10-9/30-27 

    Official Result: Ali Bagautinov def. Tim Elliott — Unanimous Decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)

    10:36 pm ET — UFC Hall of Famer Dan Severn in the house. Arnold Schwarzenegger has also made it to the show tonight — he’s a huge martial arts fan with the Arnold Classic hosting many disciplines in Columbus, Ohio every year.

    Here’s  your prelim results:

    • Donald Cerrone def. Evan Dunham – Submission (Triangle Choke) 3:49 R2 – Cerrone was on fire tonight, had Dunham in trouble early with a knee. He continued his dominance into round two, going for and nearly found an oma plata before finishing it with an inescapable triangle choke he maneuvered off the fence. Dunham had nothing for him.
    • Thales Leites def. Ed Herman  – Unanimous Decision (30-27 all) – Leites scored early in each set with takedowns and fished for finishes against a mostly-defending Herman.
    • Rick Story def. Brian Ebersole – Unanimous Decision (30-27 all) – Story lit Ebersole up a few times on its feet and looked very sharp. Of course, Story has faced much stiffer competition in the past, so take it with a grain of salt.
    • Erik Perez def. Edwin Figueroa – Unanimous Decision (30-27 all) – evenly matched, but not particularly compelling bout.
    • Jason High def. Anthony Lapsley – Unanimous Decision (29-28 all)
    • Sergio Pettis def. Will Campuzano – Unanimous Decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)  – decent UFC debut for the younger brother of UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis.
    • Gian Villante def. Cody Donovan – TKO (punches) 1:22 R2

                                                                                                                                                                                  —  Loretta Hunt


  • Published On Nov 16, 2013
  • Injury will keep Aleksandra Albu from fighting Julie Kedzie

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    New UFC fighter Aleksandra Albu has withdrawn from her Dec. 7 bout against MMA veteran Julie Kedzie due to an unspecified injury.

    Albu, a Russian fighter with a Muay Thai background, was scheduled to make her UFC debut on the UFC Fight Night 33 in Brisbane, Australia. It’s unclear if Kedzie (16-12 MMA, 0-1 UFC) will remain on the card with a replacement opponent.

    “I’m disappointed but wish her the best and hope to face her in the future,” Kedzie said on Wednesday.

    Kedzie already has a suggested replacement: Rin Nikai, of Japan. Nikai beat Kedzie’s Jackson/Winklejohn teammate Tara La Rosa on a controversial decision in September. Nikai, however, is not currently under UFC contract.

    – Melissa Segura


  • Published On Oct 30, 2013
  • Live Blog: UFC 166: Velasquez-Dos Santos

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    Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos have traded off the UFC heavyweight belt in both of their previous bouts.

    Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos handed the UFC heavyweight belt back and forth in their two previous bouts. (Pat Sullivan/AP)

    Welcome to SI.com’s live play-by-play blog for UFC 166: Velasquez vs. Dos Santos, from the Toyota Center in Houston. Loretta Hunt is off tonight, so this is Jeff Wagenheim with you. I’m that rare New Englander who’s not watching tonight’s Red Sox-Tigers AL Championship Series game, although perhaps my colleagues Chuck Mindenhall of MMA Fighting, Mike Chiappetta of Fox Sports and Jack Encarnacao of Sherdog — New Englanders all — are in the same boat. Anyway, I’ll be updating play-by-play throughout the main card, and prelim results are below. Enjoy the fights.

    Cain Velasquez vs. Junior dos Santos

    You know that thing Dos Santos does during his introduction, walking to the center of the octagon and making a feisty gesture down at the canvas, signifying that this is my house? Well, Velasquez was ready for it, just as he was ready for everything Junior tried in their last fight. Cain walked to the center of the octagon as well, wearing a death stare that would send most men running. To steal Mike Goldberg’s signature line, “Here … we … go.”

    Round 1: They meet at the center of the cage and Dos Santos lands a left hook that stops Velasquez in his tracks. For a moment. Cain gets moving forward again immediately, and he’s all over Junior. The Brazilian is flinging heavy leather, and Velasquez is surging right through it, in the way Hagler refused to be stopped by Hearns’ heavy punches. Cain gets Junior down, locks in a guiilotine, but Dos Santos defends it and gets to his feet. Velasquez lands a short left, but as they separate, Dos Santos fires a right uppercut that makes Cain stagger a bit. We’re 30 seconds in, and this fight already is better — and more competitive — than either of the first two meetings.. Velasquez is relentless, and Dos Santos is finding a hard time creating the space he needs to land his shots. When he finally separates, he tries a head kick but Cain keeps coming, pushing him against the cage. At the midpoint of the round, Velasquez gets a takedown, briefly is in full mount, then half guard. He lands an elbow, but Junior is mostly tying him up. Dos Santos gives up his back, but then gets up. Velasquez goes right back to blanketing him, landing short punches to the face from the clinch. Dos Santos tries to fend him off, throws an elbow, and when they do separate he tries a spinning kick, which misses.

    Round 2: Velasquez is all over Dos Santos from the start, and there’s nothing Junior can do to stop him. Junior is landing some punches, but Cain is landing more and harder. Dos Santos avoids a flurry of shots with head movement, but he’s unable to get any offense going. When they separate, it’s Cain who lands the jabs. Then Velasquez has him in the clinch again. Cain is giving him no space, which is to be expected,. But he’s also beating him to the punch. Dos Santos goes for a takedown and gets Velasquez to the mat, but Cain pops right back up and lands a couple of overhand rights before resuming his clinch game. He punishes Junior’s legs with knees to the thigh, giving the challenger’s face a brief respite from being pummeled.  Just before the horn, Dos Santos lands a short elbow and then a right hand that stops Velasquez in his tracks. For a second. But Cain doesn’t stop for long.

    Round 3: Big right hand by Dos Santos opens the round, but Velasquez keeps coming, pushing him against the fence and landing  crisp jab. Junior simply cannot create the separation he needs to utilize his big punches. His short shots are landing, but Cain is walking through them and answering twofold, nailing the challenger with punches and knees. With three minutes to go, Junior does separate long enough to land a right hand, but Velasquez nails him with a left jab. And keeps coming. Then, after Dos Santos connects with an elbow, Velasquez goes for a takedown. It’s stuffed, but Cain comes back with a right hand to the head that drops Dos Santos. He pounces, flurrying with lefts and rights as the crowd roars and referee Herb Dean lurks, watching closely. Velasquez tries a guillotine, and holds onto it as Dos Santos gets up. When Velasquez lets go, Junior falls lifelessly to his back, and both Velasquez and Dean close in. As Cain lands punches, Dean puts his hand on the champ’s shoulder, as if he’s stopping the bout, but then backs off. Dos Santos looks dead on his feet, and Velasquez is now the one separating, in order to land punches. This fight appears close to being stopped. But Dos Santos survives the last two minutes, somehow. He’s staggered by a couple of right hands, and Dean again takes a close look. But Dos Santos makes it to the horn.

    Round 4: Dos Santos is a zombie as he gets up from his stool. Velasquez looks a fresh as if he’d just climbed a single flight of stairs. Cain walks across the cage and, after Junior tries to land first, nails him with a right hand. He has Dos Santos against the cage, and he’s glued to him, landing rights and left that are snapping back Junior’s head. Even when Velasquez separates and Dos Santos lands, it does nothing to turn the tide. Junior is trying elbows, and landing some, but they’re not even slowing Cain. With just under a minute and a half to go, referee Herb Dean halts the action so the cageside doctor can check Dos Santos’ face. Where do you start? It’s a mask of blood and bloat. The fight is allowed to go on, and Dos Santos flings a huge right hand, which Velasquez ducks under. Then Cain is on him again, and while Junior lands an elbow, Velasquez again closes in and mauls him some more. Dos Santos connects with a couple more elbows before the round is over, but the Cain train keeps coming.

    Round 5: Never would have expected the fight to get this far a few minutes go. Dos Santos lands a couple of punches out of the gate, but Velasquez responds by taking him to the canvas. Junior fights his way to his feet, then eats a couple of left uppercuts against the cage. Velasquez is throwing short right hands, not hurting Dos Santos any more than he’s already hurt but keeping him well under control. Dos Santos lands another couple of elbows, and Cain wipes blood from his nose, then snaps back Junior’s head with a punch. In one final, futile effort, Dos Santos goes for a standing guillotine, but Velasquez escapes as they hit the canvas, and Junior falls face first. He turtles up under an onslaught of punches, impelling Herb Dean to jump in. Cain Velasquez def. Junior dos Santos by TKO at 3:09 of Round 5. 

    Daniel Cormier vs. Roy Nelson

    This fight is brought to you by Jenny Craig,. Cormier is slimmed down because he is headed to the 205-pound division. As for Nelson, he’s staying at heavyweight but someone must have bought him a bag for his bowling ball so he doesn’t have to carry it around under his shirt anymore.

    Round 1: They stalk for the better part of the first minute before Cormier goes for a single-leg takedown and, unsurprisingly owing to his two-time Olympic wrestling pedigree, gets it. Cormier passes guard but can’t do any damage, other than starting to wear Nelson out. Even after Roy gets back to his feet, Cormier is all over him, controlling the action with his grappling,. Nelson tries fgor a kimura, but Cormier defends. Then Daniel puts Nelson against the cage and lands a knee to the gut. A second knee lands low, and Nelson gets a much-needed break. It’s not simply to recover from the groin shot, not simply to get his wind back. No less important, the break allows him to create some distance, get Cormier off of him. In the final 30 seconds, Nelson fires a big overhand that misses, and Cormier nails him with a couple of punches. Cormier is clearly faster. Or Roy is clearly slower.

    Round 2: More of the same from Cormier, as Nelson devolves more and more into a one-trick pony whose trick is coming in slow motion. It’s five minutes of Cormier stalking and Nelson trying but failing to connect with anything even remotely significant.

    Round 3: Cormier is coasting and Nelson isn’t putting it all on the line, as he needs to. Not much to describe here, as Cormier never comes close to finishing Nelson and Nelson never comes close to turning the tide. Kind of a ho-hum. Daniel Cormier def. Roy Nelson by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27). 

    Gilbert Melendez vs. Diego Sanchez

    Yes! Yes! Yes! Sorry, neighbors up and down the block, I had to say that – I mean scream it at the top of my lungs — because Sanchez uncharacteristically went mute on us during his walk to the octagon. He did engage in what looked like the pregame routine of an NFL linebacker with an intense moment at cageside, did a cartwheel in the cage, then went into affirmation mode. How could Melendez match that? Well, he walked out to Santana. Game, set, match.

    Round 1: Melendez tries a head kick just as Sanchez is moving forward, and as a result the leg ends up on Diego’s shoulder and he is able to bull Gilbert to the mat. He quickly gets the back, but Melendez doesn’t panic, even after Sanchez gets close to locking in a choke. Melendez stands, walks to the cage and strips Sanchez off of him. From there Melendez begins stalking, and when Sanchez tries a clinch two minutes in, Melendez lands a knee to separate them and then a right hand over the top. Melendez starts with the body shots, then lands a right to the head at the round’s midpoint. Then he takes a deep breath. Melendez lands some more punches, and when Sanchez tries to counter with a kick to the body, Melendez counters the counter, grabbing the leg and driving Diego to the fence. he doesn’t get the takedown, but when they separate, Sanchez is bleeding from above the left eye. The blood is covering half of his face as the round enters its final minute, but Sanchez lands a couple of body shots to slow Melendez. The round concludes with a rock ‘em sock ‘em sequence, both guys flinging lefts and rights, until Sanchez goes down. He springs right up, but the final seconds are all Melendez.

    Round 2: Sanchez’s chest and stomach are streaked with blood within the first minute of the round, even though Melendez’ punches aren’t especially targeting the eye. Gilbert is strafing the body, but he’s taking some punches and kicks, too. The crowd is into it, but there’s a groan when the referee halts the action so the cageside doctor can check Sanchez’s nasty cut. Diego complains that there’s Vaseline in his eye, but says the cut is OK. The fight goes on. Melendez stalks him, and every time Sanchez gets aggressive, Gilbert tags him. But Sanchez doesn’t slow down. He gets hit flush with a couple of right hands, then briefly gets Melendez to the mat. But Gilbert gets up and lands a leg kick. Sanchez tries another takedown and eats a knee to the face. As the round ends, Sanchez’s face and body are a mess. But he’s not sagging.

    Round 3: After his trainer, Greg Jackson, tells him he’s down two rounds and needs a KO, Sanchez takes the news to heart. He gets in Melendez’s face, and even though he’s getting the worse of the exchanges, he;s getting the fight he needs. Melendez is playing matador, parrying every bull charge by Sanchez. Midway through, the doctor is again brought in to check the cut. “Let him go,” he says. And an uncaged Sanchez charges forward, landing a leg kick, the aright to the head. Diego pounds on his chest. Then, with just under two minutes to go, Sanchez lands a right uppercut that floors Melendez. Sanchez pounces a the crowd explodes. he gets Gilbert’s back, tries to lock in a choke. As Melendez maneuvers into top position, Sanchez tries for a guillotine. Too sweaty. They stand, and they trade.  Finally, Melendez goes for a takedown and gets it, but with 30 seconds left, Sanchez reverses position and they get back to their feet. The fight ends with more rock ‘em sock ‘em action and with the roof of the arena blowing into the heavens from the force of the crowd’s roars. Wow. Gilbert Melendez def. Diego Sanchez by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28). 

    Gabriel Gonzaga vs. Shawn Jordan

    It was a bit surprising that Shawn Jordan agreed to come to the octagon on time, considering that his old college football team, LSU, was tied with Ole Miss late in the fourth quarter. But the Johnny Cash music started playing, and Jordan started walking. Then came Gabriel Gonzaga, sporting the fifth-degree black belt of moustaches, a ‘stache that could knock a man out with one twitch. And the heavyweights were ready to go.

    Round 1: Not much going on in the fight’s first minute, other than Gonzaga landing a leg kick or two and fending off the few punches thrown by Jordan. Then Jordan surges forward with a 1-2 that Gonzaga absorbs while backing away, and counters with a right hook that drops the ex-football player. The Brazilian swarms his fallen opponent with right hands on the canvas until referee Jay Stafin pushes him away. What’s worse for Jordan: LSU gave up a late field goal and lost, too. Gabriel Gonzaga def. Shawn Jordan by TKO at 1:33 of Round 1. 

    John Dodson vs. Darrell Montague

    The flyweights are best viewed in slow motion, lest one miss half of the scattershot action. So be forewarned.

    Round 1: Early on they’re stalking, fast-twictch stalking to be sure, but stalking nonetheless. A Montague low blow makes Dodson wince but doesn’t halt the fight. They exchange audible leg kicks, then Dodson lunges forward with a right hand that lands. More stalking, but then at the midpoint of the round Dodson connects with a hard left hand that floors Montague. Dodson pounces, and when his opponent manages to stand up he picks him up and throws him to the mat. Dodson lands a flurry, but Montague survives and gets to his feet, a bit wobbly. Dodson shows mature patience, landing punches but resisting the temptation to throw caution to the wind. No need to, since he’s landing over and over. With just under a minute to go, Montague has a little bounce back in his step, but Dodson nails him with a straight left that sends him to the canvas, face-first. Dodson pounces again, but before he can land another blow, referee Jacob Montalvo jumps in to end it. As a dazed Montague grabs for the ref’s leg, trying to wrestle, Dodson sprints to the cage and does a backflip. John Dodson def. Darrell Montague by KO at 4:13 of Round 1. 

    Prelim results:

    –C.B. Dollaway went all Nick Diaz on Tim Boetsch early on, taunting him, dropping hands to his sides … but taking more punches than Nick ever did. Then Dollaway tried a Moe Howard maneuver, poking him the eye twice … and losing a point for the second foul. That didn’t really make a difference in split decision, though, as two judges scored it 30-26 for Boetsch (so he would have won, 30-27, without the point deduction).

    –Hector Lombard got Nate Marquardt backpedaling with an overhand right, sent him to the canvas with a left hand and swarmed him with hammer fists until referee Jay Stafin bravely dove in to save a defenseless Marquardt at 1:47 of the first round. Then Lombard expended just as much energy lifting his opponent off the canvas and hugging him. Call it ferocious sportsmanship.

    –Jessica Eye and Sarah Kaufman went toe to toe for three rounds, and while it was Kaufman who looked closest to a finish, wobbling the former 125-pounder in the third round, Eye got the nod from two of the three judges. It’s tough to argue against the decision in a close fight, except that one judge (Ruben Najera) inexplicably gave Eye that final round, in which Kaufman hurt her and then stalked her to the finish. Hmm.

    –K.J. Noons staggered Georges Sotiropolous midway through the third round but inexplicably didn’t pounce on the Aussie, instead trading with him to the final horn of their lightweight bout and rolling the dice with a judges’ decision, which unanimously went his way.

    –Adlan Amagov fought off a takedown attempt and blistered T.J. Waldburger, flooring him and finishing their welterweight bout with strikes at 3:35 of Round 1. Waldburger was out cold and taken from the octagon on a stretcher.

    –Tony Ferguson staggered Mike Rio with a left hook and sunk in a d’arce choke to get the tapout just 1:52 into their lightweight fight.

    –Andre Fili bloodied and battered Jeremy Larsen in the first round and finished him 53 seconds into the second to take what was scheduled to be a featherweight bout until Fili missed the 145-pound limit at Friday’s weigh-in.

    –Kyoji Horiguchi floored Dustin Pague early in Round 2 and finished the bantamweight opener with punches at 3:51.


  • Published On Oct 19, 2013
  • Saturday’s ‘Fight Master’ finale bout postponed

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    Joe Riggs suffered an eye injury in training recently. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

    Joe Riggs suffered an eye injury in training recently. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

    The Bellator MMA: Fight Master finale bout between Joe Riggs and Mike Bronzoulis, scheduled to take place on the promotion’s season-nine kickoff event this Saturday (8 p.m. ET, Spike TV) at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., has been put on hold.

    Riggs, the most experienced contestant among the 32 fighters who competed on the debuting reality series for a slot in an upcoming welterweight tournament and a $100,000 prize, suffered a partial orbital bone fracture and retina detachment injury in training three weeks ago.

    “My sparring partner threw a high kick and I blocked it, but his toe went through my head gear,” said the 30-year-old Riggs on Friday. “I was in horrible pain and they had to pry my eye open to see the damage.”

    Riggs underwent a four-hour surgery for the injury that night, he said, and spent four days recovering in an Arizona hospital. Riggs said the surgery was successful and his physician has already cleared him to train again.

    The bout will be rescheduled as soon as Riggs has recovered, wrote Anthony Mazzuca, Bellator’s Director of Public Relations, in an email to SI.com. Mazzuca added that Bellator hopes to reschedule the bout before season nine comes to its close in December.

    “I can be ready [to fight] in October or [on] Nov. 2, if they need me,” said Riggs. Bellator will promote its first-ever, pay-per-view event on Nov. 2 at the Long Beach Arena in Southern California. Former UFC superstars Tito Ortiz and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson will meet in the light heavyweight headliner, while three title bouts, including an anticipated rematch between lightweight champion Michael Chandler and Eddie Alvarez, round out the main card.

    Riggs, a recovering drug addict who fought for the UFC from 2004 to 2006, defeated Rob Mills, Eric Scallan, Evan Cutts, and Cole William to earn his place in the Fight Master finale. Greg Jackson coached Riggs (39-14, 1 NC) during the series, which shot for six weeks outside New Orleans. Riggs trains at The MMA Lab in Glendale, Ariz., with former UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson, among other notables.

    The run to the finals by Bronzoulis (15-5-1) included victories over Gareth Joseph, Jason Norwood, Chris Lozano and Eric Bradley. The 34-year-old Houston native, who was coached by UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture on the show, trains at the Paradigm Training Center and the Main Street Boxing Gym.

    Bellator MMA begins its ninth season on Saturday with a middleweight championship bout between Alexander Shlemenko (47-7) and Brett Cooper (19-8). Fight Master coach and former Bellator featherweight champion Joe Warren (8-3) will debut at bantamweight against Nick Kirk (9-2) in a semifinal tournament fight. The event will also feature the opening round of this season’s middleweight tournament. Bellator’s live events will then move to Friday nights (9-11 p.m. ET) for its fall run.

    Update: Riggs has tweeted a photo of what his eye looked like the night of his injury

    –Loretta Hunt


  • Published On Sep 03, 2013
  • UFC 164 Predictions: Benson Henderson vs. Anthony Pettis

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    Benson Henderson's last loss came against Anthony Pettis in December 2010. (AP)

    Benson Henderson’s last loss came against Anthony Pettis in December 2010. (AP)

    Any chance you didn’t get around to reading SI.com’s Crash Course to UFC 164 earlier this week? If that’s the case (shame on you!), you didn’t see my prediction for the main event … so maybe I can get away with picking Anthony Pettis here … even though I went with Benson Henderson the first time.

    That’d be sneaky. That’d be cowardly. That’d be covering my bases.

    This fight — Henderson defending his lightweight championship against the last man to beat him — is really tough to call.

    I did make a call, though, based on my belief that Henderson will operate from hard-won knowledge — see “Showtime Kick” — that it’s dangerous to give Pettis room to work. So he won’t. Ben is awfully good at nullifying another man’s weapons with his unrelenting attack. He recognizes that Pettis wants to move forward. So he will instead.

    But here’s the counterargument, in question form, from the Pettis supporter inside me: Can the champ do that for 25 minutes?

    Yes, we’ve seen Henderson go five rounds in four straight fights, then seen him have his hand raised a winner by decision each time. But neither Frankie Edgar nor Nate Diaz nor Gilbert Melendez has what Anthony Pettis possesses: the explosiveness to make one short lapse by Henderson a fight-finishing moment.

    I’m sticking to my guns, though, which is to say: Henderson by decision.

    Other main card predictions:

    Frank Mir vs. Josh Barnett

    The narrative being recited by Mir in advance of this long-awaited co-main event is that if he and Barnett had met back in the day — before Josh was banished from the UFC in 2002 for failing a post-fight drug test the night he won the heavyweight championship from Randy Couture — he wouldn’t have had the seasoning to hang with the man known as “The Baby-Faced Assassin.” Frank was a prelim fighter in just his fourth pro bout on that UFC 36 card where Barnett beat Couture to run his record to 13-1. So, as logic would have it, Mir should have Father Time on his side now, right? Not really. The men are just a year and a half apart in age, and the 35-year-old Barnett — now known as “The Warmaster” because, well, the baby face has aged — seems to have more left in the tank. This one could look like Old Timers’ Day at the ballpark if the big guys stalk each other from long range, but I’m going to be an optimist and envision a fun-to-watch tussle on the mat. Barnett by decision.

    Chad Mendes vs. Clay Guida

    Mendes was 11-0 when he stepped into the cage in Rio de Janeiro last year to challenge José Aldo for the featherweight belt. He was knocked out. Back to the drawing board he went, and what we see today is not merely the relentless wrestler of old but an all-around threat. His three results since the failed title shot: TKO, KO TKO, all in the first round. Guida is an elusive guy — sometimes too elusive for his own good — but can he stay out of the way of Chad’s punches? I don’t think so. Mendes by TKO.

    Ben Rothwell vs. Brandon Vera

    Anyone have a coin I can flip? Vera is 35, injury-prone and inexplicably inconsistent even on his healthiest day. Rothwell is exactly the same, other than being four years younger and four tons bigger (the latter a slight exaggeration). Vera, who has won just one of his last five fights, is returning to heavyweight after four years at 205 pounds. Speaking of four years, that’s how long Rothwell’s pattern of win-loss-win-loss has gone on. Big Ben is due for a win. Rothwell by TKO.

    Erik Koch vs. Dustin Poirier

    This matchup was talked about a couple of years ago, when these two were young stars on the rise. Both are 24 now, still young … and coming off a loss. Koch fell Ricardo Lama, Poirier to Cub Swanson three weeks later. No shame in losing to top opponents, even if it takes some of the shine off this fight. The winner is right back in the race. Koch by decision.

    –Jeff Wagenheim


  • Published On Aug 30, 2013
  • Chris Weidman: Anderson Silva ‘deserves’ the rematch

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    Chris Weidman celebrates after recording a TKO victory over Anderson Silva during UFC 162. (AP)

    Chris Weidman celebrates after recording a TKO victory over Anderson Silva during UFC 162. (AP)

    The arena is booked. The date is set. And even though the new UFC middleweight champion, Chris Weidman has held his title for a mere 10 days, his Dec. 28 rematch with Anderson Silva can’t come soon enough.

    “I’m excited to go out there and prove that what I did is going to happen again,” Weidman, 29, told SI.com in his first comments since UFC president Dana White on Saturday officially announced the rematch. “I’m the better fighter and I’m excited to look even better this next fight.”

    Weidman (10-0-0) dethroned Silva (33-5-0) with a knockout 1:18 into the second round of their July 6 title fight. Silva taunted Weidman before the last blow by keeping his arms down and feigning injury after a series of Weidman’s blow. Silva’s antics sparked controversy ranging from erudite discussion about the sportsmanship of Silva’s goading of his opponents to harebrained conspiracy theories about fight fixing. The knockout ended Silva’s streak of 16 straight wins in the UFC, a record 11 knockouts and 14 total finishes.

    Weidman wanted the rematch not only to snuff out any talk of subterfuge but also for a much more basic reason: Silva deserves it.

    “I’m going to give it to him but because he’s going to deserve it. He’s been on the top for so long,” Weidman says. Though the wait to meet again, for the fighters, might feel just as long.

    – Melissa Segura


  • Published On Jul 16, 2013
  • UFC 162 Predictions: Anderson Silva vs. Chris Weidman

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    Despite the growing hype around his opponent, all three of SI's MMA experts expect Anderson Silva to win. (AP)

    Despite the growing hype around his opponent, all three of SI’s MMA experts expect Anderson Silva to win. (AP)

    SI.com analysts Loretta Hunt, Jeff Wagenheim and Jon Wertheim provide their predictions for UFC 162, which takes place Saturday (10 p.m. ET) and will be live-blogged on SI.com.

    Anderson Silva vs. Chris Weidman

    HUNT: I have to hand it to Weidman and the UFC. I can’t remember the last time a virtually unknown fighter stirred up this much hype as the usurper to the Silva dynasty. I feel like I’m standing alone on a platform where the train has long left the station. Is Weidman the one? He looked promising against a crippled Munoz, who couldn’t move his shoulder six weeks before the bout. I’m sticking with the aging Spider — I can always catch the later train. Silva by TKO

    WAGENHEIM: Are we putting too much weight on Weidman’s most high-profile victory, in light of what we now know about the physical and mental state of Mark Muñoz on the night last summer when Chris pummeled him? On the other hand, shouldn’t Weidman’s plodding performance in his second-biggest fight get a pass, considering that he took on (and beat) the estimable Demian Maia on just 11 days’ notice? My point: The jury is still out on the 9-0 challenger. Not so with the champ, who’d already had 29 pro bouts, including four defenses of the UFC middleweight belt, by the time Weidman began his MMA career four years ago. I want to be sold on the good-natured yet bad-to-the-bone Weidman, but I’m not yet ready to liquidate my Silva stock. Silva by TKO.

    WERTHEIM: The skills of Weidman are lost on no one but the upset pick — and it’s a hot one — feels more hopeful and whimsical than legitimate. Silva is MMA’s GOAT (Greatest of All-Time) and it’s because of his versatility and adaptability. If there’s a weakness in his game, it would have been exposed by now. Is Weidman — coming off a year-long layoff, under huge pressure, having faced no opponent nearly as skilled — ready? I say close by not quite. Silva by TKO.

    Frankie Edgar vs. Charles Oliveira

    HUNT: Three tough losses for former champion Edgar has strewn him towards the bottom of the heap. Oliveira is actually more in the middle, a talented featherweight who can clear out the bottom rung, but struggles with the contenders. Edgar by decision.

    WAGENHEIM: Edgar enters on an unthinkable three-fight losing streak. But all of the ex-lightweight champ’s defeats were in title fights. Coming out on the wrong end of uber-close decisions against Benson Henderson (twice) and José Aldo can be explained away. A loss to Charles Oliveira could not be. Having fought a higher grade of opponents, Frankie now needs to outclass this guy. Edgar by decision.

    WERTHEIM: Both fighters have something to prove. Edgar hasn’t won a fight in almost two years and Oliviera’s star is falling, having not only lost but missed weight in his last fight. This bout feels like an attempt by the UFC to reignite the career of Edgar, a grinding honest fighter. I say he outwrestles and outworks Oliviera. Edgar by decision.

    Tim Kennedy vs. Roger Gracie

    HUNT: This was a bout that would have eventually played out in Strikeforce, if the promotion was still standing. I expect Kennedy to close the distance to negate Grace’s reach advantage and rack up points on the cage and with an occasional and carefully executed takedown (you don’t want this Gracie on his back too long). If he executes correctly, Kennedy is in the clear. Kennedy by decision.

    WAGENHEIM: The majority of Kennedy’s wins have come by submission, but he would be wise to go with Plan B right from the start this time. Tim should know better than to mess with Gracie on the mat. But I’m guessing he’ll play with fire anyway, and get scorched. Gracie by submission.

    WERTHEIM: An interesting fight and contrast of styles. Can Kennedy beat Gracie to the punch, as Mo Lawal did? Or can Gracie utilize his size advantage to defend striking and take the fight to the ground? I’ll go with the latter. Gracie by submission.

    Mark Muñoz vs. Tim Boetsch

    HUNT: Muñoz impressed the MMA sphere this week with his very own Extreme Makeover reveal — the dude lost 62 pound in 5 months! How does this relate to my pick? Munoz gained that weight during a downslide: coming into the Weidman fight with his shoulder surgery still not healed and out of that disaster with a broken foot. If the four-time All American wrestler is back in fighting condition, Boetsch can only hope to throw off some scattered punches here and there before he’s scooped to the mat and eating some Grade A ground-and-pound leather. Muñoz by TKO.

    WAGENHEIM: Both were on track for a title shot — Muñoz farther along than Boetsch. Both were derailed — Muñoz more shockingly. Afterward, “The Filipino Wrecking Machine” crashed and burned. Now he faces a road test he simply cannot fail if he’s to stay in the race. Muñoz by decision.

    WERTHEIM: Muñoz got plenty of attention in MMA World last week when he revealed that his depression following the loss to Weidman caused his weight to drift north of 260 lbs. Good for him for dropping more than 50 lbs. in seven months. But it’s not the ideal pre-fight regimen, physically or mentally. Still, he’s a superior fighter to Boetsch, 32, whose momentum was stopped by Constantinos Philippou at UFC 155. Muñoz by decision.

    Cub Swanson vs. Dennis Siver

    HUNT: SoCal survivor Swanson has definitely found his stride: four straight wins in 13 months, with one of them on short notice. When he fights aggressively and uses his speed, things come together for him. Siver, like the oncoming tank that he is, lacks the latter. Swanson by decision.

    WAGENHEIM: Swanson is on a roll with four straight wins, three by KO. Siver, in winning six of his last seven, has shown himself to be a survivor. Dennis will be no pushover, but he won’t withstand Cub’s ferocity. Swanson by TKO.

    WERTHEIM: An erratic fighter for much of his career, Swanson has matured at the Jackson/Winklejohn Gym. Almost 30, he is on a four-fight win streak and has become one of the more dangerous strikers in the division. Siver is a tough customer with plenty of experience. But Swanson is the stronger fighter. Swanson by TKO.


  • Published On Jul 03, 2013


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