Posts Tagged ‘UFC’

John Dodson to try out for NBC’s “American Ninja Warrior”

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John Dodson has not had any fights scheduled since his loss to Demetrious Johnson (left) in January. (AP)

John Dodson has not had any fights scheduled since his loss to Demetrious Johnson (left) in January. (AP)

John Dodson wants to be known as more than just a great fighter. He’d like to add the title, “American Ninja” to his resumé, too.

Dodson, the UFC’s second-ranked flyweight, will travel to Denver next month to try out out for the NBC reality show, American Ninja Warrior.  The television series challenges contestants to run, jump, flip, and fly through a grueling urban obstacle course that, naturally, any ninja could complete.

The 28-year-old says the UFC contacted him and wanted him to appear on the show as the sport’s ambassador. “They have more faith in me than I do,” says Dodson.

Dodson’s unusual athletic abilities show through in his backflips in the cage and basketball dunks that defy his 5’3” frame — the stuff that makes him the sport’s most ninja-like candidate.

Dodson most recently fought last January for the flyweight title, suffering a unanimous decision loss to Demetrious Johnson. With Johnson recovering from an injured shoulder and no fights on Dodson’s immediate horizon, he jumped at the chance to try out for the show.

He’s been known to frequent gymnastics gyms to practice his flips and says he’s hit park playgrounds to practice jumping off jungle gyms in preparation for the show.

“I just want to stay busy, have fun with my life,” says Dodson.  “I don’t want people think fighting is just what I have to do. I only train about four or five hours a day. So the rest of them I have to be a normal person.”

Or an exceptional ninja.

– Melissa Segura

  • Published On Apr 10, 2013
  • Commission to reevaluate Nevada’s drug testing policy for fighters

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    Lavar Johnson tested positive for elevated testosterone levels after his UFC 157 fight. (Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)

    Lavar Johnson tested positive for elevated testosterone levels after his UFC 157 fight. (Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)

    The Nevada State Athletic Commission Steroid and Drug Testing Advisory Panel is reevaluating the state’s drug testing policy which allows athletes a testosterone-to- epitestosterone level of 6-to-1, compared with the World Anti-Doping Agency’s allowable limit of 4:1.

    The panel made recommendations Thursday to begin researching the baseline testosterone-to- epitestosterone levels of combat sports participants, including boxers, mixed martial artists, and kickboxers.  The panel recommended anonymously testing a collection of past samples taken from athletes competing in Nevada to develop a profile of hormone levels specific to fighters.  The idea, says Nevada State Athletic Commission Executive Keith Kizer, is to gather data specific to the average fighter rather than the population at large.

    If the commission is not able to test the samples collective from previous fights, the panel suggested using samples from future fights to create the baseline.

    The information could be the first step in lowering Nevada’s allowable levels, which are higher than those permitted in Olympic sports and by Major League Baseball.

    The advisory panel will meet in late April to begin discussing its marijuana policies. All recommendations by the panel are just that — recommendations — and require adoption by the full Nevada State Athletic Commission.

    – Melissa Segura

  • Published On Mar 21, 2013
  • Ronda Rousey to coach “The Ultimate Fighter” with male and female fighters

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    Ronda Rousey, who beat Liz Carmouche at UFC 157, will be one of the coaches in next season's "The Ultimate Fighter." (Jae C. Hong/AP)

    Ronda Rousey, who beat Liz Carmouche at UFC 157, will be one of the coaches in next season’s “The Ultimate Fighter.” (Jae C. Hong/AP)

    MONTREAL — Somebody’s about to learn the armbar.

    We knew the UFC was only getting started riding the wave of Ronda Rousey’s barrier-busting appeal. And here comes the next breaker, rolling in from the horizon.

    The indomitable 135-pound champion, who just three weeks ago transformed the first women’s fight in UFC history into an event that transcended mixed martial arts and even the sports page in general, has been enlisted to breathe new life into another facet of the fight promotion’s business. Company president Dana White announced during Saturday night’s UFC 158 prelims telecast on FX that Rousey will coach the next season of The Ultimate Fighter along with the winner of the April 13 bout between former Strikeforce champ Miesha Tate and Cat Zingano.

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  • Published On Mar 16, 2013
  • Injury could spell the end of Dominick Cruz’s UFC reign at bantamweight

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    Dominick Cruz may be stripped of his bantamweight belt because he's been out with a knee injury for more than a year. (Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)

    Dominick Cruz may be stripped of his bantamweight belt due to injury. (Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)

    MONTREAL — One UFC champion might be dethroned this weekend. And the fight promotion also could soon unseat another champ without him even setting foot in the octagon.

    Or because he isn’t setting foot in the octagon.

    During a conversation with reporters at the Bell Centre following Thursday afternoon’s press conference to hype UFC 158 — and in particular, the main event, Georges St-Pierre’s welterweight title defense against Nick Diaz — company president Dana White was asked if he had any news to share about another of his belt holders, Dominick Cruz. The bantamweight titlist is recovering from a second knee surgery after the first one failed to fix a torn ACL. He has not fought in nearly a year and a half.

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  • Published On Mar 15, 2013
  • Dana White: ‘If you have to use TRT, you’re probably too old to be fighting’

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    UFC president Dana White hopes to ban testosterone replacement therapy from MMA. (AP)

    UFC president Dana White hopes to ban testosterone replacement therapy from MMA. (AP)

    MONTREAL — From Chael Sonnen to Forrest Griffin, Frank Mir to Dan Henderson, Vitor Belfort to Rampage Jackson and beyond, mixed martial artists at the sport’s highest level have successfully persuaded state athletic commissions to OK medical exemptions for them to use testosterone replacement therapy.

    But Dana White has a different message for those fighters: “If you have to use TRT, you’re probably too old to be fighting.”

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  • Published On Mar 15, 2013
  • UFC suspends Thiago Tavares for failed drug test, reveals Vitor Belfort’s use of TRT

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    Thiago Tavares has been suspended 9 months after failing a drug test. (AP)

    Thiago Tavares has been suspended 9 months after failing a drug test. (AP)

    It was Friday evening, a little over 24 hours before a featherweight championship bout in Las Vegas that the UFC was hyping as a superfight. But the chatter in the various online meeting places of mixed martial arts fans was about a different fight, one that took place nearly two weeks earlier and 6,000 miles away.

    The circulating rumor that Vitor Belfort had failed a drug test following a Jan. 19 victory eventually reached Michael Bisping, who had a vested interest in the matter because he was Belfort’s opponent in that middleweight bout in Sao Paolo, Brazil. In fact, had Bisping won that night, he’d have earned a shot at the division’s champion, Anderson Silva. But the Brit had his hopes doused and his senses scrambled by a second-round head kick that led to a Belfort TKO.

    Now Bisping was wondering if he’d been in a fair fight. “About a certain someone who I fought recently failing his drug test,” he wrote on Twitter. “I hope it’s not true.”

    Well, it’s not.

    UFC president Dana White insisted over the weekend that while there had been an “irregular” test result, it did not involve Belfort. And on Wednesday the fight promotion issued a press release announcing that the failed drug test belonged to lightweight Thiago Tavares, whose results showed the presence of the anabolic steroid Drostanolone. The substance did not exactly enhance the 28-year-old Brazilian’s performance, as he was knocked out in less than two minutes by Khabib Nurmagomedov. Tavares was handed a nine-month suspension by the UFC, which assisted the new Comissao Atletica Brasileira de MMA, or Brazilian MMA Athletic Commission, in overseeing regulatory aspects of the event.

    However, that’s not the end of the story. In the same press release, the UFC revealed that Belfort competed while undergoing an approved regimen of testosterone replacement therapy (TRT). Vitor has been evasive whenever questions about TRT have been raised. And when he met with reporters prior to Saturday night’s fights in Las Vegas, and Bisping’s accusatory tweet was mentioned, the 37-year-old implied that what you see is all natural. “I think people get jealous,” he said with a smile, “when a guy at my age is destroying these people getting title shots.”

    Jealous, perhaps, or maybe just uncomfortable. Belfort has broken no rules. Neither has Chael Sonnen, Dan Henderson, Quinton Jackson, Frank Mir or anyone on the growing list of MMA fighters who’ve received athletic commission exemptions to use TRT to maintain their testosterone levels. But make no mistake: Legal or not, that’s a performance enhancing substance, allowing an aging veteran to punch and kick like a younger man. And when you see a KO like the one Belfort put on Bisping, you’ve got to wonder when this sport will take a stand. What’s at risk in MMA, after all, is much greater than in other sports. The worst thing a baseball player on a PED can do is wreck some pitcher’s ERA. An enhanced fighter poses a far scarier threat.

    —Jeff Wagenheim

  • Published On Feb 06, 2013
  • For his biggest fight, Edgar returns to scene of his other biggest fight

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    Frankie Edgar

    Frankie Edgar (left) defeated Tyson Griffin in his UFC debut on Feb. 3, 2007. [Josh Hedges/ Zuffa LLC via Getty Images]

    LAS VEGAS — When Frankie Edgar makes the long, lonely walk to the octagon at the Mandalay Bay Events Center for the biggest fight of his career on Saturday night, he might experience a flashback to the other time he made the long, lonely walk to the octagon at the Mandalay Bay Events Center for the biggest fight of his career.

    It was six years ago almost to the day, at the traditional Super Bowl Weekend fight card on Feb. 3, 2007. Edgar was 6-0 at the time, but he’d fought outside his native New Jersey only once, in his first professional bout on an unsanctioned card in a dingy gym in the Bronx. Now he was under the sparkling lights of Vegas for UFC 67, making his debut with the sport’s behemoth fight promotion.

    So while the then-25-year-old’s fight with Tyson Griffin was one of the early prelims — not the main event, as will be the case this weekend when Edgar (15-3-1) tries to dethrone featherweight king Jose Aldo — it sure was a big deal to Frankie. Griffin was also unbeaten, with wins over Duane Ludwig and Urijah Faber. Edgar, meanwhile, took the fight on four weeks’ notice and had his training interrupted by “the worst sinus infection of my life.”

    “I remember just coming here and that week I felt like I still had to get in shape to fight on Saturday,” he recalled in a conversation with reporters on Thursday. “It was wild, man.”

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  • Published On Feb 01, 2013
  • Experts’ Predictions for UFC 156

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    Jose Aldo

    Two of’s three experts believe Jose Aldo (above) will defeat Frankie Edgar on Saturday. (Andrew Richardson/Icon SMI) analysts Dave Doyle, Loretta Hunt and Jeff Wagenheim provide their predictions for UFC 156 on Saturday in Las Vegas. 

    Jose Aldo vs. Frankie Edgar

    HUNT: This is one of those rare occasions where I’m glad a fighter was cajoled into something he didn’t want to do. After a stellar run at lightweight, the smaller Edgar makes his featherweight debut against the explosive Brazilian champ, who will finally have an opponent who can match his speed and skill. Trilogy potential here. Aldo by decision.

    DOYLE: This is the toughest pick I’ve had to make in seven years covering MMA. I’ve changed my mind 100 times and might change it 100 more before fight time. As of now, I think Aldo’s kicks will be enough to keep Edgar from getting his offense fully untracked. Aldo via decision. 

    WAGENHEIM: Anyone have a coin I can borrow to flip? Too many variables here for the math to make any sense to me, so let me try to keep it simple: Aldo has won 14 straight fights, while Edgar has lost two in a row. So obviously the answer is… well, “The Answer” is Frankie. Why? Because he always has an adjustment, an answer, for anything thrown at him. So look for him to weather an early storm (been there, done that) and settle into a rhythm and a pace that gradually makes him the lead in this dance. Edgar by decision.

    Rashad Evans vs. Antonio Rogério Nogueira

    HUNT: Speed and nimbler footwork will give Evans the edge against the more plodding Nogueira. Evans by TKO.

    DOYLE: “Li’l Nog” has always been just a cut below the championship level, and he isn’t getting any younger. Evans is going to be motivated in his first fight since losing to Jon Jones. I smell 30-27 across the board. Evans via decision.

    WAGENHEIM: “Little Nog” is coming off a win, but beating Tito Ortiz does not mean what it used to. On the other hand, losing to Phil Davis and Ryan Bader speaks volumes. Nogueira is a solid light heavy, but Rashad is simply too quick, too slick, too good for him to contend with. Where a victory here will lead “Suga Rashad” is uncertain, but that’s a question for another day. Evans by KO.

    Alistair Overeem vs. Antonio Silva

    HUNT: This is a career re-builder for Overeem, whose reputation took the hit everyone anticipated when he was flagged for steroid use last summer. With a brutally bloody battering from Cain Velasquez still in the back of his mind, the 6-foot-4, 285-pound “Big Foot” won’t be overshadowed by Overeem’s stature, but he will be bullied on its feet and from his back. Overeem by TKO.

    DOYLE: I’m calling an upset here. Overeem has been out a year and his win streak is frankly a bit of a hype. Silva seems to perform best when he’s counted out. “Bigfoot” tags a rusty Overeem and scores the early finish. Silva via TKO.

    WAGENHEIM: Overeem might be rusty after being idle since December 2011, and “Bigfoot” might have what it takes to step up. Silva is coming off an upset of rising heavyweight Travis Browne, and the two losses that preceded it were to the iron of the division, Cain Velasquez and Daniel Cormier. But “The Reem” has too much riding on this. Overeem by KO.

    Jon Fitch vs. Demian Maia

    HUNT: BJJ black belt Maia’s work ethic is top-tier in and he constantly pushes himself out of his comfort zone to even out his skill set. This isn’t necessarily a bad matchup for him — Fitch is a wrestler and Maia is a shark on the canvas — but if Fitch pushes this one to the fence and lingers there, he can eat crucial time and ride out a decision. Fitch by decision.

    DOYLE: Fitch has never been known to take easy fights. This is no different. Maia’s undergone a career rebirth at welterweight, but ultimately, Fitch’s wrestling and submission defense will be too much for the jiu-jitsu specialist. Fitch by decision.

    WAGENHEIM: Wouldn’t it be a cool turnabout if the crowd were to boo as the fighters come out of their corners and trade punches, then let out one of those bloodthirsty cheers as soon as they take the contest to the mat? After all, it is in the grappling (usually a dirty word for cageside fans) where the magic will happen. Fitch by decision.

    Joseph Benavidez vs. Ian McCall

    HUNT:  A rebound fight for Benavidez, the faster, more assertive, and most importantly, more marketable fighter of the pair coming off a split decision loss against champion Johnson. Benavidez by submission.

    DOYLE: McCall’s had a nice run at flyweight, but Benavidez is simply a notch above. I see a dominant win for Benavidez, the type that demands a shot at Demetrious Johnson’s title. Benavidez via submission.

    WAGENHEIM: I must admit I was surprised to see Demetrious Johnson beat Benavidez, who I thought was going to own the new UFC flyweight division. Now Joseph faces a guy “Mighty Mouse” had to fight twice on the way to the championship. All roads lead to rematch, no? Benavidez by decision.

  • Published On Jan 31, 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
  • Quinton “Rampage” Jackson accuses the UFC of mistreatment

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    Quinton Jackson will leave the UFC after his fight on Jan. 26. (AP)

    Quinton Jackson will leave the UFC after his fight on Jan. 26. (AP)

    Quinton “Rampage” Jackson is living up to his nickname by going on one, accusing the UFC of mistreating and underpaying fighter to denying him the ability to wear Reebok products in the cage.

    Jackson (32-10) will be leaving the UFC after his Jan. 26 matchup with Glover Teixeira and he isn’t going quietly. In a conference call with reporters on Tuesday, Jackson said, “[The UFC] offered to renegotiate the contract but I didn’t want to. I don’t want to renegotiate with them. I think the UFC don’t know how to treat their athletes, in my opinion. The fighters, I feel like we do a lot for this sport and I just feel like we’re not taken care of. I feel like they’re getting rich off of us. We’re all having surgeries and stuff like that. Some of these guys can’t even afford to pay sparing partners. Some guys fight for $10,000 or $20,000. That ain’t right, man. . . I want to go somewhere they take care of their fighters and treat us like human beings.”

    He says money isn’t the only reason behind his departure.

    “It’s not just about money, it’s about respect,” he says.

    The former UFC light heavyweight champion claims the UFC prohibits him from wearing gear from his sponsor, Reebok.

    “Other fighters are sponsored by Nike and stuff, so why can’t I wear Reebok,” he asked.

    Heavyweight Junior dos Santos, for example, donned Nike apparel into the cage for his UFC 155 rematch with Cain Velasquez last month.

    “We work with apparel companies from all over the world through our approved partnership program,” a UFC spokesperson said. “We’ve not yet been approached by Reebok on behalf of Rampage, but welcome the conversation. We do everything we can to support our athletes getting these types of sponsorships and will continue to do so moving forward.”

    Jackson, 34, says his experience with the premier mixed martial arts promotion “turned me into a very negative person. I just want to be a positive person. I got to get rid of all the negativity in my life. . . No matter what the outcome is on Jan. 26, I’m going to be happy for everything. . . I’ve trained to destroy him, and then leave the UFC to leave on a positive note and let the UFC be my past.”

    He didn’t mention any specifics for his future but suggested the possibility of working more in the film industry [he’s appeared in the movie The A-Team and has two films in post-production] and, perhaps, a professional boxing stint.

    “There’s nothing going on right now. I’m just concentrating on this fight. This fight is very important for me. I’ve put my time in. I did my thing. . .  Maybe I want to try some boxing. . . I’ve done, jujitsu tournaments,  wrestling tournaments, kickboxing fights but I’ve never been a boxer.”

    - Melissa Segura

  • Published On Jan 15, 2013