Posts Tagged ‘Jon Jones’

With Anthony Pettis injured, José Aldo will defend UFC belt vs. Chan Sung Jung

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Jung, known as the "Korean Zombie," will face Jose Aldo as Anthony Pettis will miss the fight with a torn meniscus. (Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images)

Jung, known as the “Korean Zombie,” will face Jose Aldo as Anthony Pettis will miss the fight with a torn meniscus. (Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images)

You win some, you lose some.

Title bouts, that is.

On Thursday afternoon in Winnipeg, Manitoba, as he was hyping a UFC 161 card (Saturday, 10 p.m. ET, PPV) that has zero championship fights on it, promotion president Dana White captured the full attention of the assembled media by announcing the next title defenses for his heavyweight, light heavyweight and welterweight champs. Three belts, up for grabs.

Then, on Friday, White unveiled still another tussle for a brass-and-leather strap. But this time, the news, which was released via Twitter, was not so welcome. Well, unless you’re a zombie from East Asia.

Anthony Pettis, the lightweight contender who dropped down to featherweight in order to challenge José Aldo, injured a knee in training and is out of the Aug. 3 title fight in Rio de Janeiro. According to White, he’ll be replaced in the UFC 163 main event by Chan Sung Jung.

Read More…

  • Published On Jun 15, 2013
  • UFC 161 will not be a disappointment says UFC’s Tom Wright

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    Rashad Evans fights at UFC 161

    Rashad Evans (left) returns to the Octagan at UFC 161 for the first time since his loss to Rogerio Nogueira at UFC 156. (Eric Jamison/AP)

    More than 800 miles separate the Canadian cities of Winnipeg and Calgary. Regardless, UFC’s director of operations for Canada, Tom Wright, assured the press Tuesday afternoon UFC 161 in Winnipeg would be far and away from last summer’s Calgary card — a card UFC boss Dana White famously said, “sucked.” Like it’s Calgary counterpart, Winnipeg’s UFC 161, scheduled for June 15, has been beset by injuries, including injuries to Renan Barao and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, that forced the cancellation of two headline bouts.

    “Injuries are part of any sport and they’re certainly part of this sport,” Wright said. “But when you take a look at this you’ll see the 161 card has two Ultimate Fighter champions, you’ve got two former Strikeforce champions, you’ve got a former light heavyweight champion in Rashad [Evans] and a former Pride champion. . . Winnipeg, Manitoba is not going to be disappointed.”

    Other quick hits from the call:

    · Evans will be returning to the Octagon for the first time since his listless unanimous decision loss to Nogueira last February at UFC 156. Earlier this year, the 33-year-old Evans talked about worries of being cut by the UFC with another bad outing. But now, it seems, Evans is only looking forward. “You definitely want to get the monkey off your back when you stink up the joint,” Evans said. “I’m going to go out there and put on a show but not only to shut all the naysayers up but for myself. I felt like I let myself down more than anything and I can live with disappointing anyone else but I can’t live with disappointing myself.”

    · Evans’s opponent in the main event, Dan Henderson, is also seeking redemption. Henderson dropped a split decision to Brazilian Lyoto Machida at UFC 157 last February. It’s a loss that obviously still irks Henderson. “I know I didn’t perform to my best and I could have done some things differently, but it’s hard to fight a guy that doesn’t really want to fight you.” But Machida, Henderson admits, isn’t the only fight from the past that irritates him. He said he still has “unfinished business” with Jon Jones. Henderson and Jones were scheduled to fight last September before a knee injury forced Henderson to withdraw. UFC matchmakers then leapfrogged Henderson and paired Jones with Chael Sonnen.

    · After dropping Cheick Kongo at UFC 159 last April with his trademark knockout punch, fifth-ranked heavyweight Roy Nelson jumped atop the Octagon and rubbed his hands around his ample belly in celebration. When asked about his “everyman” physique, Nelson didn’t mince words. “People who tend to be in our sport tend to abuse PEDs or performance-enhancing drugs, so that’s the reason why I probably don’t look like the typical UFC fighter,” he said. Nelson accepted a bout with Stipe Miocic on short notice after he said Daniel Cormier declined to fight him.

    – Melissa Segura

  • Published On Jun 04, 2013
  • Rousey-Tate surprise signals troubling, drama-heavy trend in UFC title bouts

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    This was Ronda Rousey's demeanor before fighting Miesha Tate. Now she'll be living with her on a TV show. [Esther Lin/Getty Images]

    This was Ronda Rousey’s face before fighting Miesha Tate. Now the two will live together. [Esther Lin/Getty Images]

    The key word in the term “reality television” is not “reality” but “television.” Entertainment, or at least the promise of it, is what counts. If that means you must stretch the reality part a wee bit to pull in viewers, so be it.

    Within that context, the UFC and Fox didn’t simply rescue, but in fact spiced up The Ultimate Fighter on Tuesday. Season 18 of the show, which will air beginning Sept. 4 on the new Fox Sports 1 cable channel, was to feature women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey coaching against unbeaten Cat Zingano. The first female coaches in the show’s history would be working with teams composed, for the first time, of both men and women. It’s groundbreaking in a multitude of ways.

    Add to that some new made-for-TV drama. Zingano injured her right knee two weeks ago and had to drop out of the show, according to the UFC, which kept that information a secret until taping began on Tuesday. So when Rousey showed up in the promotion’s Las Vegas gym and the cameras rolled, she came face to face with her bitter nemesis, former Strikeforce champion Miesha Tate. Surprise, surprise.

    “For those of you who don’t know, Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate don’t like each other at all,” UFC president Dana White said in a Fox video. “They have been battling, verbally and physically, for years. Now they are going to be living together here for six weeks.”

    And afterward, they will fight — which is where this gets sticky if you care at all about the worthiness of title bouts.

    When Rousey puts her belt on the line against Tate sometime in the fall, she will be the fourth UFC champion this year to defend against an opponent coming off a loss. Tate, who had her Strikeforce title dislodged and her elbow dislocated by a Rousey armbar when they first met last year, was on the verge of earning a rematch after winning the first two rounds of a No. 1 challenger showdown with Zingano in April. But “Alpha Cat” turned the tide in Round 3, blasting Tate with knees to the face until the fight was stopped with just over two minutes remaining. Apparently the TKO loss was good enough to earn Miesha another shot at Ronda.

    Something has shifted in UFC matchmaking. José Aldo defended his featherweight championship in February against a man coming off two straight losses. Sure, Frankie Edgar is a former lightweight champ whose two prior defeats came in close title fights at that higher weight. But still. What about Georges St-Pierre, who put his welterweight strap on the line in March against Nick Diaz, who was coming off a loss and a year-long drug suspension? Just last month, Jon Jones defended the light heavyweight title against Chael Sonnen, who was coming off a knockout defeat and had not fought at 205 pounds in seven years. What a tangled web the UFC has weaved.

    Now, it’s not like this hadn’t ever happened before 2013. But generally — though not always — it’s either been a championship fight loser being granted a rematch or someone getting an unforeseen shot at a title because of a champion’s retirement, failed drug test or some other extenuating circumstance.

    GALLERY: Classic photos of Ronda Rousey

    One might view Rousey vs. Tate II as the product of extenuating circumstances. Losing a coach two weeks before your high-profile reality show begins taping calls for desperate measures. And what were the UFC’s options? Sarah Kaufman is ranked higher than Tate, and is also an ex-Strikeforce champ, but she lasted less than a minute against Ronda last August. There’s also Liz Carmouche, who was scheduled to fight Miesha in July … and who did better than either Tate or Kaufman against Rousey, nearly submitting the champ early before succumbing to — what else? — an armbar in the final seconds of the first round. But that February bout, the first women’s fight in UFC history, was the most recent on the resumes of both Ronda and Liz. “Girl-Rilla” needs to wait a while for another title try.

    An intriguing possibility for Rousey would have been fellow Olympian — and fellow groundbreaker — Sara McMann. Whereas Ronda became the first American woman to earn an Olympic medal in judo when she took bronze in Beijing in 2008, McMann became the first female American silver medalist in wrestling four years later in Athens. But while both also share a 7-0 record, Sara has been building her MMA career more steadily than the meteoric champ has. McMann dominated Sheila Gaff in her UFC debut last month, and the promotion apparently believes she needs more seasoning before it can serve up an Olympian vs. Olympian clash.

    In the end, the UFC has eschewed new blood for bad blood.

    Rousey is all for it — after getting over her initial shock. Yahoo! Sports’s Kevin Iole, who was at the UFC gym, wrote that Ronda “was clearly stunned” when she spotted Tate, and stormed out in search of White. When she emerged back under the bright lights, Rousey was in full TV publicist mode. “This is what we really wanted all along,” she told Iole. “Everyone said an Ultimate Fighter between me and Miesha would be the best. We have a personal history with each other, and this is a personal show. For some reason, me and Miesha are intertwined in fate like Ali and Frazier or something like that.”

    — Jeff Wagenheim

  • Published On May 29, 2013
  • UFC’s Daniel Cormier to Jon Jones: “We can fight at 220 [pounds] tomorrow”

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    Jon Jones

    Jon Jones retained his light heavyweight title at AFC 159 in April via a first roudn TKO. (Gregory Payan/AP)

    LAS VEGAS — Apparently word got around that Daniel Cormier was going to be taking questions from fans on Friday afternoon at MGM Grand Garden Arena prior to the weigh-ins for UFC 160.

    The news reached all the way to Moscow, where Jon Jones is presenting a mixed martial arts seminar. And the light heavyweight champion couldn’t help but tweak the undefeated heavyweight who keeps talking about cutting down to 205 pounds and beating him up. “Someone ask DC when his diet starts,” Jones wrote on Twitter.

    When Cormier caught wind of the “Bones” tweet, he sidetracked the Q&A session by playfully but forcefully telling the next fan who stepped to the microphone, “OK, your question is to ask me, for Jon Jones, if I’ve started cutting weight yet.” That got a rise out of the crowd, as did the answer Cormier provided the champ: “I haven’t started cutting weight yet. But we can fight at 220 tomorrow if you want. He can walk off the street at whatever he weighs now, and we can fight. Let’s fight at any weight, Jon, you and I.”

    Hmm, Jones has been talking about moving up to heavyweight. But dueling bravado aside, it seems more likely that Cormier will aim for a challenge of Jones at 205 at the end of the year. First he plans to trim from his current 235 pounds to 220 for a heavyweight fight in August or September. He expressed an interest in the winner between Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira and Fabricio Werdum, who meet in Brazil in two weeks.

    If Cormier should get past one of those heavies, it would be down to 205 for him. That clearly will be a challenge for a man who likes to eat as much as Daniel does. What will he have to cut from his diet? “Gumbo,” said the native of Lafayette, Louisiana. “Jambalaya. Red beans and rice. All of the Louisiana food.” As he said this, he looked sad.

    Cormier perked up, however, when he told fans that after the weigh-ins he was planning on taking Cain Velasquez, who defends his heavyweight belt against Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva in Saturday’s main event, out for a movie to relax. Someone asked him if he’d be having butter on his popcorn, and he impulsively answered in the affirmative. Then caught himself. “If I’m going down,” he said, speaking of the long-range weight cut, “well, if I’m going down …” He paused. “Aw, it’s still popcorn with butter!”

    –Jeff Wagenheim

  • Published On May 24, 2013
  • Dana White went soft on Matt Mitrione; updated with fighter’s apology

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    UFC president Dana White lifted Matt Mitrione's suspension despite Mitrione never apologizing for his comments. (AP)

    UFC president Dana White lifted Matt Mitrione’s suspension despite Mitrione never apologizing for his comments. (AP)

    NEW YORK — Dana White was sitting on a brightly lit makeshift stage in the lobby of The Theater at Madison Square Garden, well aware of the irony of him being on this stage on a Thursday afternoon while, two nights later, his fighters would not be allowed to put on a show under the bright lights in the arena behind him. UFC 159 will play out on Saturday night not in New York’s eminent sports cathedral but across the river in New Jersey. It’s as if White’s mixed martial arts organization were the Giants or Jets, except for one tiny detail: The NFL is welcome in the Empire State.

    “It is what it is,” the UFC president told a gathering of reporters, pulling out a well-worn phrase of his, but this time with what seemed more resignation than usual behind it. White has seen MMA sanctioning legislation have its moments up in Albany, like a fighter getting in a few crisp jabs and leg kicks early in the first round, self-assuredly sticking and moving, looking like it’s his night. Until he runs into an overhand right. The leadership of the New York State Assembly, which again and again has KO’d an MMA bill before it even could come up for a vote, packs a mean punch.

    “I’m so over it,” said White, sounding like he’s anything but. Unless by “over it” he means keeping his nose out of a lobbying effort that can only suffer from his crudely tactless manner. That’s why the company’s visits to Albany are being made by CEO Lorenzo Fertitta, whom White characterized as “the kinder, gentler side of the UFC.”

    But as the UFC pushes for the sanctioning it needs to celebrate its 20th anniversary come November with a gala fight card in the Garden, which the organization has expressed keen interest in doing, White continues to play a significant role. How could he not? More than any fighter, the boss is the public face of the company. What he says and does matters.

    That is why the irony White missed on Thursday was more telling than the irony he acknowledged. Sure, he noticed the row of sports photographs that line one of the walls of the Garden lobby, prominent among them a shot of a kickboxing match. That sport is sanctioned in New York, along with boxing and other combative disciplines that are elements of MMA, while MMA itself is not? Right there from a frame on the wall, irony was getting up in White’s face.

    At the same time, the UFC poobah chose not to look squarely in the eye of the situation’s other source of irony. That would be the shameful saga of Matt Mitrione. You know, the heavyweight who back on April 8 had his UFC contract suspended after he’d spewed a venomous tirade against transgender fighter Fallon Fox. Back then, the UFC had rose petals thrown at its feet for swiftly bringing the hammer down.

    As it turns out, though, the hammer was only a Nerf hammer, the suspension no more than a kid’s timeout. Fox Sports reported on Wednesday that Mitrione will fight on the network’s UFC card in Seattle on July 27. So that’s it? A suspension lasting 16 days, which since “Meathead” wouldn’t have been fighting anyway amounts to nothing at all? White wouldn’t address the upcoming fight, reportedly to be against fellow Season 10 alum of The Ultimate Fighter (and fellow ex-NFL player) Brendan Schaub, but said Mitrione was fined “enough to make him call me 40 times and ask me not to fine him that much.”

    The takeaway: Open your wallet, Matt, but no need to publicly acknowledge that calling Fox a “lying, sick, sociopathic, disgusting freak” was vile and unbecoming of a professional athlete employed by the UFC.

    Of course, White doesn’t see it that way. “If a guy comes out and says something stupid, I don’t go to him and say, ‘Here’s what you’re going to do. You’re going to apologize,’ and you’re gonna do this and that,” he said. “You can’t make somebody apologize. If I make him do it, it’s not real. Then he’s not really apologizing.”

    There’s truth in that. All too often, athletes and others in the public eye issue faux mea culpas crafted by their PR teams. Those apologies aren’t worth the breath wasted on them. But the UFC is not the NFL or Major League Baseball, sports organizations that are already well established in the public perception, sometimes for the better, sometimes not. White’s fight league is on the fringes, vying for attention.

    Positive attention, that is, as opposed to having its notorious history of misogyny, homophobia and other antisocial behavior continually spotlit by groups like the Culinary Workers Union, Local 226. The Las Vegas-based outfit has long waged a battle with UFC majority owners Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta in an effort to unionize the brothers’ other business, Station Casinos. Recently the local has dragged the UFC into the fight, using the union’s political muscle in New York to lobby against MMA legislation. White calls this “dirty.”

    No, what’s dirty is masking Mitrione’s depraved hatred under the guise of having an opinion but just expressing it wrongly. Here’s what White said on the Mitrione matter on Thursday: “I don’t think that somebody who used to be a man but became a woman should be able to fight women. I don’t. But the way he said it? If he was standing in front of a courtroom because he was so passionate about this, in front of a judge or a committee or something like that, he wouldn’t have said it the way he said it. Maybe he thought he was trying to be funny? It wasn’t funny. My guys aren’t comedians, and they really need to figure that out and learn it. You wanna be funny, do it in with your friends, around your crew and everything else. Don’t do it on any public forum.”

    Now, there’s nothing wrong with White expressing an opinion of whether a trans woman should be allowed to compete with other women in combat sports, particularly in light of what he said next: “And you know, I’ll leave it up to the athletic commissions and the doctors and scientists, or whatever it is, to see if you have that surgery and you go through that stuff, if you actually become a … but bone structure is different. Hands are bigger. Jaw is bigger. Everything is bigger. I don’t believe in it. I don’t believe that someone who used to be a man and became a woman should be able to fight a woman. I don’t.”

    So White believes what he believes, but he’ll leave it to the experts to decide on how to proceed. Fine. The UFC president is not alone in that evenhanded stance. However, neither he nor anyone else who has commented on the matter — other than Mitrione — has darkened his or her opinion with a nasty personal attack. If the UFC wants to get past dirty politics, it needs to clean up its act by cleaning out the haters. Not by simply telling them to just whisper their malevolence to their buddies.

    Dana White might not get that, but his light heavyweight champion sure does. Jon Jones, who’ll defend his belt against Chael Sonnen in Saturday night’s main event at the Prudential Center in Newark (10 p.m. ET, PPV), offered up his own opinion of Mitrione during Thursday’s media gathering. “I think he’s terrible for that,” Jones said. “It’s ridiculous. I think Fallon Fox, that’s a strong person. Despite what the person has been through in their life, that’s a strong person. I’m a fan of that person because of what they’ve gone through and what they’re willing to go through. People like Matt Mitrione are scumbags. He’s a scumbag. I don’t care if he’s off suspension or doesn’t fight again. He’s a ridiculous person.”

    You might have noticed that Jones, even in defending Fox, did not once use a female personal pronoun. Taken within the context of what he said, he clearly meant no disrespect. Jones was just speaking outside his comfort zone. The emergence and gradual acceptance of transgenders and others who’ve long been shunned or ignored is a work-in-progress in sports as well as all of society. Comfort zones  can only expand along with education and compassion. One wonders whether that’s a lesson the UFC is even remotely interested in teaching Matt Mitrione.

    – Jeff Wagenheim

    UPDATE: Mitrione issued an apology on Friday via a UFC press release: “I want to apologize for my hurtful comments about Fallon Fox and a group within our society which, in truth, I know nothing about. I know now there’s an important line between expressing an opinion on a subject and being hurtful and insensitive. I crossed that line by expressing my views in an ugly, rude and inappropriate manner.”

    So, is this one of those meaningless apologies White was talking about? The jury is out on that, as Mitrione himself went on to acknowledge: “Anyone can say ‘I’m sorry’ to get themselves out of trouble. That’s not the kind of person I want to be. I am embarrassed I chose to express myself in such a fashion and am looking forward to living up to this apology through my future actions, words and conduct.”

    A couple of word choices suggest that perhaps the fighter is learning something from this ordeal. Describing transgenders as a group “I know nothing about” is a simple yet difficult acknowledgement that he was speaking out of ignorance. It also was good to hear Mitrione talk about “living up to this apology” with not just words but actions, a commitment the UFC plans to hold him to. Lawrence Epstein, the promotion’s vice president and COO, said Mitrione will work with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender groups “to make amends to the community he hurt.”

    How many grains of salt with which you take all of this depends on your own degree of naivete, cynicism or pragmatism. But if Mitrione is sincere in his desire to move forward, he has an opportunity here. There’s no better way to develop respect for a group of people different from you than to spend time around those people learning ways in which you’re the same.


  • Published On Apr 26, 2013
  • Predictions for UFC 159: Jon Jones vs. Chael Sonnen

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    Chael Sonnen (right) is considered a heavy underdog against Jon Jones . (Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

    Chael Sonnen (right) is considered a heavy underdog against Jon Jones . (Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images) analysts Loretta Hunt, Jeff Wagenheim and Jon Wertheim provide their predictions for UFC 159, which takes place Saturday (10 p.m. ET) and will be blogged on

    Jon Jones vs. Chael Sonnen

    WAGENHEIM: When the time comes, Chael P.’s music will start to play, he’ll put on his short pants and go to work. And as soon as the guy in the snake suit moves out of the way, he’ll put his head down, walk across the cage and put Jon Jones on his prissy little … oh, wait, I’m describing the fight as it plays out in Sonnen’s melodramatic fantasy narrative, not the way it really will.

    A more realistic, if less infomercial-ish scenario: Sonnen comes out boxing and moving forward, and at the first glimpse of one of Jones’s skinny legs, moves in for a takedown try. If he gets it, the crowd will go crazy and we’ll get a rare look at the “Bones” bottom game. Does Jon have the jiu-jitsu chops to become the latest to submit a guy whose walkout music should be “Taps”? Chael is not known for inflicting much damage while smothering an opponent, so it’d be interesting to see if Jones would put those treacherous elbows of his to use and be the ground aggressor. Or would he just work his way back to his feet?

    If, on the other hand, Sonnen fails on his takedown attempt, it will be an ingloriously short night for the unworthy challenger. Jones by KO.

    HUNT: Jones by TKO.

    WERTHEIM: Put simply, it’s hard come up with a conceivable scenario in which Jones loses this fight. He’s superior on virtually every dimension — If he’s not Sonnen’s equal as a wrestler, he comes awfully close — he’s younger,  more athletic and will be the crowd favorite. The best Sonnen can hope for: a respectable showing will suggest that he, in fact, earned this opportunity and didn’t simply talk/market himself into a title shot. Jones by TKO.

    Michael Bisping vs. Alan Belcher

    WAGENHEIM: If you spend a few minutes around these men, as I did on Thursday, it’s hard to picture Belcher winning this fight. Bisping is so supremely confident that he speaks of his opponent as if he were a yokel from Double-A ball who will be unable to get a piece of the Brit’s major-league playoff heater. And Belcher is, well, low-key and thoughtful and a little bemused by the leadup to what he acknowledges as the biggest fight of his career. Is the man with the tattoo of “The Man in Black” on his arm really in over his head? Tough to say, but I’m going to go with no. I think he’s going to give “The Count” a fight he’ll remember. Belcher might even beat him. But I’ve got to go with Bisping. This is the type of fight he’s won for all of his career (only to lose when he’s another step or so closer to the pot of gold). Bisping by decision.

    HUNT: Belcher has the heavier hands (and kicks, for that matter), but Bisping can win this if he plays it smart, mixing up his punches with takedowns like he did against Brian Stann last September. Bisping by decision.

    WERTHEIM: One hopes the fight lives up to the considerable advance trash talk. While it’s not all-out desperation time, Bisping is 34 now and has lost two of his last three fights. In Belcher, he gets a UFC veteran with a battery of skills and deceptive power. If both fighters are willing to stay on their feet, this has TKO potential. If it goes to the ground, we could have five rounds or stall-and-sprawl. Either way, I pick Bisping by decision.

    Roy Nelson vs. Chieck Kongo 

    WAGENHEIM: Kongo has the power to test Nelson’s hard-as-a-mulleted-rocker chin. But Cheick is known to make mistakes, and Roy is known to capitalize on them. Nelson by KO.

    HUNT: Though Nelson, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, could devour Kongo on the mat, he’ll likely stand with the chiseled Frenchman, who is yet to amount to the powerhouse fighter his appearance suggests he’d be. Nelson by TKO (R2 or R3).

    WERTHEIM: You love Roy Nelson or you hate him, but have to admire both the durability and the unlikely skill set of Big Country. He won’t win any sculpted physique contests, but he can win fights — in a variety of ways. In Congo, he faces a veteran who seems to lose when he’s on the verge of a breakthrough; and win when he’s on the verge of being written off. Look for a TKO — and potential KO/fight of the Night — but I’ll say it’s Nelson who, like his belly, comes up big. Nelson by TKO.

    Phil Davis vs. Vinny Magalhaes

    WAGENHEIM: If Davis wants to make another go at the top of the light heavyweight division, he simply cannot slip up. Or tap out. Davis by decision.

    HUNT: This one will depend on the superior wrestler Davis, who can rack up points with takedown after takedown, as long as he doesn’t dawdle inside the Brazilian’s dangerous guard for too long. Davis by decision. 

    WERTHEIM: His nickname notwithstanding, Mr. Wonderful doesn’t often impress. A rangy wrestler and methodical fighter, Davis likes to do what’s necessary to win, seldom taking advantage of an inevitable reach advantage. Magalhaes looked good in his UFC return last year, but can he make inroads against a superior wrestler? The guess here: no. Davis by a (boring) decision.

    Jim Miller vs. Pat Healy

    WAGENHEIM: If you’re looking for aesthetics, change the channel. This ain’t going to be pretty. It isn’t, either. Miller and Healy both are grinders who close distance. When they meld into one, I expect the Jersey guy to grind just a little bit better. Miller by decision.

    HUNT: Miller will have a significant edge in speed everywhere and Healy’s strong suit, his boxing, isn’t dynamic enough to catch the hometown favorite. Miller By submission.

    WERTHEIM: Not dissimilar fighters, UFC veteran tough guys with submission-based ground skills and some power. Fighting in front of a home crowd, Miller, a New Jersey native, should prevail. Miller by decision.

  • Published On Apr 26, 2013
  • At UFC 156, Rashad Evans is looking for a win … and for what’s been lost

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    Rashad Evans

    Former light-heavyweight champ Rashad Evans will fight Antonio Rogerio Nogueira in the co-main event of UFC 156. [Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images]

    LAS VEGAS — Rashad Evans will be looking for a defining win on Saturday night. He’ll also be looking for something not so tangible, something that’s been lost.

    “The competitor has been brought back to life, the one who truly just loves to compete,” Evans told reporters on Thursday, two days before his UFC 156 co-main event fight against Antônio Rogério Nogueira at the Mandalay Bay Events Center. “So many times when you’re competing, you kind of fall out of love with it. It becomes like a song and dance, and you kind of get like, ‘Ah, yeah, gotta do this, gotta do that.’ To really love to compete, to really love every aspect of it, is a passion that a lot of people don’t have. I’ve found myself, within the last 11 months or so, just falling in love with competing again.”

    That period coincides with a time during which the 33-year-old “Suga Rashad” has settled in with a new team of training partners, the Blackzilians in south Florida, after an acrimonious and very public departure from his longtime home, the Jackson-Winkeljohn gym in Albuquerque. And the change of camps is related, of course, to the former light heavyweight champion’s most recent fight, last April’s loss to the division’s reigning king, teammate-turned-mortal enemy Jon Jones. While this weekend’s fight could have major implications for his career — there’s talk that Rashad could be next in line to face middleweight champion Anderson Silva, and a rematch with Jones is also a possibility — the aspect that most stirs up Evans (17-2-1) is that he and Nogueira (20-5) will simply be competing against each other. Nothing more.

    “I felt like last time with Jones I got too distracted by everything else that was going on, the whole back story,” said Evans, referring to the teammates’ split over one man grabbing the belt that the other wanted as well, and their departure from a shared pledge to put team first and never fight each other. “It kind of took away from the fight for me. I thought it did the same thing for him as well. I don’t think he was at his best that day, either.

    “It took away what competing is about. It kind of scarred me in a way that made me mot want to compete anymore. I was like, ‘This is not about fighting.’ It’s just about a bunch of b.s. It’s not what I love about fighting. What I love about fighting is the actual fight, the feeling that I get when I walk into the cage and I see the mat and I see all the blood and all the sweat and everything else that everybody laid out. And when they say go, that feeling, that’s what I like about fighting.”

    -Jeff Wagenheim

  • Published On Feb 02, 2013
  • Chael Sonnen and Jon ‘Bones’ Jones find themselves to be friends — sort of

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    Jon 'Bones' Jones

    Jon Jones will defend his light heavyweight title in April. (Dustin Bradford/Icon SMI)

    The second the cameras stopped rolling, UFC fighter Chael Sonnen turned to Jon “Bones” Jones and slapped him on the knee.

    “I can’t believe you did that! How could you?!” Sonnen joked, acting not unlike a married couple. Or, at the very least, friends.

    Conducting an interview in the Sports Illustrated studio, Jones had just given away one of the results of a yet-to-be-aired episode of FX’s The Ultimate Fighter, and there would have to be a re-take.

    Having spent so much time together in recent weeks taping The Ultimate Fighter, the days of Sonnen trash-talking Jones seem too long gone. Despite the fact that they are preparing to fight each other on April 27, they really do seem like friends.

    So are they actually?

    “Yeah we are [friends],” Sonnen said. “The single most disappointing part about going through this coaching process was finding out what a nice and genuine and passionate person that he is. [Spending so much time with someone] is really a recipe for disaster. Most of the time tensions fly… but for whatever reason Jon’s and my personality really hit it off.”

    Jones does not entirely agree with such a flowery characterization, though.

    “Oh no, me and Chael are not friends,” he quickly interjects. “We’re far from friends. We’re definitely more friendly than I would have expected, but that’s just my nature – I’m a friendly person.”

    Whatever the status of their relationship, the fact remains that they are three months away from meeting in the octagon.

    Jones has a belt to hold on to — a belt that Sonnen covets dearly. Expect all niceties to be spared.

    R.J. Rico

  • Published On Jan 25, 2013
  • Source: UFC talking to Anderson Silva about more than one superfight

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    Anderson Silva

    UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva has two bouts left on his existing UFC contract, and both could be superfights. [Tom Szczerbowski/US Presswire]

    Three weeks ago, Georges St-Pierre returned from a 19-month absence and showed himself to be fully recovered from knee surgery with a gritty victory over Carlos Condit. Anderson Silva was cageside in Montreal that night to watch it all unfold … and to let it be known that he was interested in fighting the UFC welterweight champion.

    Prior to that, however, when there was talk of the middleweight king taking on another belt holder, the speculation usually centered on the possibility of Silva stepping into the cage with light heavyweight champ Jon Jones.

    So which superfight are we going to see?

    Well, how about both?

    A reliable source has told that Silva had a meeting scheduled with UFC president Dana White on Wednesday night to discuss superfights. Yes, that’s superfights, plural.

    Silva’s manager, Ed Soares, confirmed that a meeting took place but would not say what was discussed. He would only reveal that “Anderson got a beautiful Bentley.”

    That’s the same make of vehicle that was driven by Jones before the then-24-year-old wrecked it in a drunken crash in May.

    Jones and Silva have said they would not fight, citing their friendship as well as concerns that they would be putting their legacies and endorsement deals at risk. But White has talked of staging a superfight in 100,000-seat Cowboys Stadium outside Dallas, which would make the bout a huge moneymaker for the UFC, with appropriately hefty fighter purses.

    Might the gift of a Bentley be the first step in paving the way for the superfight of all superfights, with the UFC ensuring that Silva and family keep up with the Joneses?

    – Jeff Wagenheim

  • Published On Dec 06, 2012
  • UFC’s White: Cowboys Stadium could host superfight between GSP, Silva

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    Georges St-Pierre

    Georges St-Pierre (left) is returning to the cage for the first time in 20 months. [Al Bello/ Zuffa LLC via Getty Images]

    “We missed him,” said Dana White, the words spoken with a hint of longing. “It’s good to have him back.”

    The UFC president was speaking of his company’s most lucrative pay-per-view draw, welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre, who is indeed back after 20 months away from the octagon because of knee surgery and the rehab that followed. White was so thrilled that GSP is ready to fight again, in fact, that he assembled MMA reporters on Wednesday afternoon to hype the superfight between St-Pierre and middleweight champ Anderson Silva.

    No, wait, the media conference call was actually about Georges’ bout against interim champion Carlos Condit a week from Saturday in the main event of UFC 154 in Montreal. At least that’s what the press release said the call was going to be about.

    As things turned out, though, the session came as close to being an announcement of GSP vs. Silva as the fight promotion could muster without issuing an official poster.

    Read More…

  • Published On Nov 07, 2012