Lightweight Mac Danzig has called it a career after nearly thirteen years as an MMA fighter and over six years in the UFC. The former Ultimate Fighter winner released a statement on his Tumblr blog yesterday announcing his retirement from fighting.
The well-conditioned, well-rounded and always exciting fighter had lost three straight bouts before deciding to retire. Danzig, now a father, cited increased brain trauma sustained in training the past few years as the major reason for his deciding to hang up his gloves.
"I really have been struggling the past few years with contemplating retirement. And with it in the back of my mind, my performance has suffered. Only those closest to me know about this. A true fighter never wants to give it up. The will to compete dies hard. I have had to teach myself that intelligently stepping away does not equal 'giving up'.
When you slow down in most other sports, whether due to injury or lack of passion, usually you can still preserve your personal dignity and your physical brain, and keep working hard until you truly know it’s time to leave, but that’s not always the case in MMA.
Physically speaking, I have felt great from the neck-down throughout most all of my career, (with the exception of a few injuries here and there) so it was very hard to consider leaving when I knew my body would continue to perform amazing feats of endurance and skill, should I ask it to. Really, the only physical cue for me to step back from competition came last year, when I began to suffer repeated concussions in training, leading up to what would end up being my first ever actual knockout loss, in July. After that, my ability to take hard strikes in training without losing consciousness began to deteriorate rapidly. After 14 years of training and taking shots like a champ, my brain was finally telling me to chill out. I was never the type of fighter to “train stupid”, but sparring was always something I partook in at full throttle. I truly feel that the damage was done in the gym over the past decade, and hundreds of hard sparring sessions have accumulated, leading me to the situation I find myself in now. Certainly, some of my performances throughout the years in which I had fallen short can be directly attributed to the idea that I 'left it all in the gym.' I would like to serve as an example for the up and coming fighters of the world and hopefully encourage smarter training practices that include less sustained trauma in training camp, leading to a longer, healthier career and better performances in the ring.
As a parent, I must take into consideration how important my sustained brain function is and how tragic it would be to have Parkinsons, Alzheimer’s, dementia, etc. Nobody ever forced me, I chose to be a fighter and I have no regrets about what has already transpired thus far, but I must make the right decision for the future. This was never a concern for me until I became a father. And fighting, to me, had never seemed even the slightest bit dangerous until the past year. That is a good sign for me to bow out. As a hardcore fan, I have seen far too many people in the sports of MMA and boxing let themselves stay in far too long. Legacies get tarnished and the body pays for it as well. Part of me wants to fight forever, but I feel I am making the right decision."
To read Danzig's full blog post, visit his Tumblr page.
The 34 year old Danzig ends his fighting career with a professional record of 21-12. The animal rights activist and part-time photographer also wrote that he hopes to continue coaching and to be involved in some way with the UFC organization.
"I have been lucky enough to leave my mark, compete for millions and inspire many people during my fighting career," Danzig went on.
"That positive energy has always reflected back and resonated throughout me. Thank you for being a part of this. The continuation starts now."
We've enjoyed watching Mac Danzig compete for our entertainment all these years and we wish him the best as he writes new chapters in his life's book.
UFC champion Ronda Rousey was recently a guest on the Power 106 FM radio station (video below) and shed some light on the main difference between MMA and boxing. When asked by the show's host if she'd be able to beat boxing great Floyd Mayweather Jr. in an MMA-rules fight inside the UFC Octagon, Rousey was self-deprecating but honest in assessing that she'd likely be able to take out "Money" if she kept the fight on the ground.
"I’ll tell you what I’d do," Rousey began.
"You ready? I would drop down to the ground and crawl over to him as fast I as I can and then I’d grab him by … I wouldn't even stand up. I wouldn’t be anywhere near him. I would just do a little army crawl over there [laughs]. He’d have to run away and I’d be skittering after him, like the one dude in 'Bloodsport' who was doing the whole monkey-crawl fight system. I would do that. I would just bear crawl over there, just too low for him to hit me and tackle him down."
The show's host then asked Ronda if what she was saying was that, once she were to get the fight with Mayweather to the ground, that would be it.
"Well, I spend a lot of time there. I doubt that he does," Rousey explained humbly.
True enough. Every fighter knows that you fight the way you train.
If a great athlete and fighter like Floyd, who never spends any time defending himself from people grabbing him or trying to take him down and hurt him on the ground, faced someone who trained every day to do those things, chances are that he wouldn't be able to deal with them.
So, yeah. We'd bet on Ronda beating Floyd. They are roughly the same size and, though Mayweather is clearly the better stand-up striker, as Rousey concedes, the UFC bantamweight champ is the more well-rounded fighter.
Check out the video of Rousey's interview below.
Who would you put your money on in an MMA rules fight - Rousey or Mayweather? Let us know in the comments section.
Jon Jones hasn't always kept himself in great shape in between fights but if a recent tweet from the UFC light heavyweight champ can be believed, "Bones" is already pretty lean more than a month before he defends his belt at UFC 172 against Glover Teixeira. Jones takes on the Brazilian in Baltimore April 26 and he says he's already well within striking distance of the 205 pound weight limit.
Change your mind change your world pic.twitter.com/wPsv6IHCjJ— Jon Bones Jones (@JonnyBones) March 4, 2014
Fighters routinely cut over ten pounds of water weight the week of a fight in order to make weight. If Jones is indeed just 218 pounds right now, it would appear that he's either sticking at this weight all through camp or getting even lower as the fight draws near in order to avoid severely dehydrating himself in order to make weight.
Do you think Jones staying light (while feasting on what looks like cauliflower, quinoa and a type of white fish) will help him against Teixeira? Let us know in the comments section.
UFC contenders Johny Hendricks and Robbie Lawler will face each other March 15 in a five round pay per view main event with the vacant welterweight world title at stake. Check out the video above for a sneak peak at their respective training camps.
Watch Hendricks spar at his Team Takedown headquarters in Texas and hear him talk about the importance of not letting fights get to the judges. Also, see Lawler go through his grueling strength and conditioning routine in Florida, where he is preparing with the American Top Team.
Matt Brown has put together an impressive six-fight win streak in the UFC's division and earned a fight against former title holder Carlos Condit before having to pull out of the bout with a badly injured back. Now, after a lot of rest and rehab, Brown has been in full-blown for a few weeks and has just inked a bout agreement to face Erick Silva in the main event of May 10th's UFC Fight Night in Brown's home state of Ohio.
The fight against Condit was going to be Brown's coming out party - his opportunity to show the world that he was ready to challenge for the world title. While his skills are as dangerous as anyone in the world, Silva is an opponent with far less name recognition and a less shiny record (he's 3-3 in his last six bouts).
Tuesday we asked Brown if he'd have trouble getting as motivated for this coming fight as he was for the Condit one. His answer - nope.
"Hell no, motivation is not an issue," Brown told Yahoo! Sports.
"This guy I’m fighting is tougher than hell. Just because he's not ranked in the top ten, doesn't mean anything. This guy could beat anyone in the division on any night."
In addition to rehabbing his back, Brown recently went on a tour of Afghanistan to visit U.S. troops with fellow UFC fighters Kyle Kingsbury and Tom Lawlor. "That was really awesome," Brown says of the trip.
"Pretty much every day we had tours of something - different bases, places they worked and they gave us tours of what they do. We had two or three different tours a day then, in the evening time we did a seminar. We taught the troops different things we know."
Brown did a little light grappling with some lighter weight military personnel and says that, other than a little jet lag, he thoroughly enjoyed the trip. Upon his return, he was eager to fight but didn't care who his next opponent would be.
"No," he says.
"im just doing my job. The UF asked me to fight him so I'm going to fight him. There's really nothing more to say about that."
The straight-talking Columbus-area resident will be fighting near home when he headlines with Silva May 10th. In order to keep his focus, Brown says he will keep things as normal as he can during fight week.
"It's actually going to be all the same," he explains.
"I fought here in Columbus years ago against Pete Sell and we did exactly the same stuff. I won't stay in my house, I won't drive a car. It will be just like any other fight."
Luckily for fight fans, Matt Brown has a tendency to turn any and every fight into a barn burner.
Gilbert Melendez has said that he is thrilled with his new UFC contract. It kept him with the top MMA promotion in the world, promised him a coaching role on The Ultimate Fighter season 20 opposite lightweight champion Anthony Pettis and a title shot against Pettis after the show's taping. That said, Melendez' TUF stint will keep him out of fighting action for a long time.
During a recent interview with MMA Fighting, Melendez explained why he doesn't mind taking some time off from the cage. "I've been there before," Melendez said of long absences from competition.
"I'm older in this sport. I get baned up here and there. I've done it before - taken a year off and come back. I'm okay with it. And, also, what I'm okay with is Anthony Pettis will be out longer and is also going to come back from an injury. That makes it a little bit easier. I'd like to fight a little bit sooner but it's the way it worked out. I'm going straight into a title fight."
At 31 years old, "El Nino" is certainly no spring chicken as an MMA lightweight. In contrast, Pettis is just 27 years old.
A long layoff for a battle-worn veteran like Melendez might very well help his body heal up. Additionally, Melendez seems to be assuming whatever rust he may put on will pretty much be a wash with Pettis' own layoff because of his injured knee.
Pettis last fought in August, when he won the UFC belt from Benson Henderson. Melendez last fought and won in October, with a slobber knocker against Diego Sanchez.
Who do you think will benefit or be harmed more by the layoff? Or, do you think it won't be a factor at all?
Let us know in the comments section.
UFC featherweight Clay Guida left his Chicago-area home late last week for New Mexico, where he will prepare for a recently announced featured bout against former Shooto champion Tatsuya Kawajiri in Abu Dhabi April 11 on the UFC Fight Night 39 card. Yahoo! Sports caught up with Guida and asked him about facing the Japanese legend, who many U.S. fans may have not yet heard of because he's only fought once in the UFC before.
"I compare him very similarly to [former Pride champion] Takanori Gomi," Guida said.
"He’s well-known internationally and has accomplished a lot even though he may not be that known to most UFC fans. He’s fought just about everywhere there is to fight, Shooto, Pride, Dream, Strikeforce. It’s pretty awesome to take on this challenge in a guy I grew up watching, in a great event in Abu Dhabi."
Guida fought and submitted Gomi back in 2011. In five weeks he'll face Kawajiri, who also lost to Gomi in a 2005 classic and who won his UFC debut in January.
Guida, per usual, plans to grind it out at Greg Jackson and Mike Winkeljohn's camp in Albuquerque, NM to prepare for battle. One slight change to his training camp schedule will be that Guida plans to head to the U.A.E. early in order to acclimate to the time change before his fight April 11.
Guida has fought all over the world and, though his results have been mixed, isn't worried that the time zone change will negatively affect him.
"The plan is to get out there a couple of days earlier than usual, just to get acclimated," he said.
"My traveling record is not great but we’ve had some great fights. I’m not too worried about that. I can sleep anywhere. No matter where I am, I can be sleeping in five minutes [laughs]."
Guida is eager to get started with his training camp and is confident that he'll be able to get back on the winning track after losing his last bout to number one featherweight contender Chad Mendes last August.
"We will be more than prepared, as always," he said.
"I will be training properly and ready to take on the pressure."
Vitor Belfort won't be fighting Chris Weidman for the UFC middleweight title on May 24 and he's not saying much of anything publicly other than two statements he has released.
But his Los Angeles-based attorney, Neal Tabachnick, agreed to answer questions from Yahoo Sports via email.
In a brief phone conversation Friday, Tabachnick said he felt there was some misunderstanding and mischaracterization of the events of Thursday and early Friday that led to Belfort being yanked from his spot at UFC 173. He wanted to answer via email rather than on the telephone to ensure accuracy.
I had three questions for Tabachnick: Did Belfort's random Feb. 7 test have an elevated T/E ratio? Was Belfort taking TRT at the time of the test? And was Team Belfort ready to appear before the commission in a licensure hearing on March 11?
Tabachinck answered those questions early Friday afternoon Pacific time, and they are below.
Rumors have swirled about the result of the Feb. 7 test. It was collected at an awards show at The Venetian in Las Vegas, with Belfort's consent, because the commission was aware he was slated to face Weidman on May 24. But because he was not yet a licensee of the commission at that point, the commission is unable to comment upon or release the results.
Yahoo Sports: Did the test that Vitor took on Feb. 7 come back with an elevated T/E ratio?
Tabachnick: The test is not relevant as Vitor is not applying for a license to fight in Nevada at this time. The reason for Zuffa replacing Vitor with Lyoto [Machida] for the May 2014 middleweight championship bout was because of the Commission's change in direction on TRT/TUE [Thursday]. Zuffa felt that with this change at the Commission, there is no time for Vitor to drop his TRT program, secure a license for a May 2014 bout and leave Zuffa with time to properly promote the bout.
Yahoo Sports: Was Vitor on TRT at the time he took that Feb. 7 test?
Tabachnick: Yes, under a doctor's care.
Yahoo Sports: Would you have been ready to present Vitor's case to the commission at its March 11 hearing if UFC didn't ask Vitor to step aside from the May 24 fight?
Tabachnick: The intention was to apply for a license on March 11, but the new TRT/TUE ruling at the Commission altered that plan.
Tabachnick's admission that Belfort was using TRT, albeit under a doctor's care, on Feb. 7 could be problematic. The Nevada commission's position on the use of testosterone replacement prior to the ban was that it could not be used by an applicant until after it was granted, even if a therapeutic use exemption had by granted by another jurisdiction.
Thus, simply admitting he was on TRT on Feb. 7 would have been a violation of the commission's regulations.
That, at least, was how the commission viewed the situation prior to the surprise vote to ban TRT on Thursday.
And Tabachnick's point in Question 1, that the test result is irrelevant now, is technically correct. Belfort is not a licensee and has not applied for a license. In that regard, he is no different than a private citizen who gets his blood drawn and has lab work done. Thus, the commission is handcuffed regarding the test results until Belfort applies. Then the result becomes relevant.
This story is a long way from being over.
Vitor Belfort, who has been under fire for his use of testosterone replacement therapy, told Fox Sports 1 early Friday that he had opted to pull out of his planned May 24 middleweight title fight with champion Chris Weidman that had been set to be the main event of UFC 173 at the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas.
Former light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida will replace Belfort in the title fight.
Belfort said in a statement to Fox Sports 1 that he made the decision after the Nevada Athletic Commission voted 4-0 on Thursday to ban the use of testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) effective immediately.
In his statement to Fox Sports 1, Belfort said:
The Nevada State Athletic Commission recently altered its policy and will no longer permit testosterone use exemptions and will not permit a TRT program. Other jurisdictions may follow suit. I'm going to drop my TRT program and compete in MMA without it. Given the time constraints between now and my proposed next bout in May, I have determined not to apply for a license to fight in Nevada at this time.
Part of Belfort's reasoning is likely because of pressure from the UFC. If Belfort were to have applied for a license in Nevada, he would have been forced to appear in front of the entire commission, because he is 35 and it is commission policy for athletes over 35 to meet with the commission before being licensed. But also, the next hearing is scheduled for March 11, and Belfort likely wouldn't have been able to prepare a presentation by that point.
The commission meeting after March 11 is scheduled for sometime in April, and that likely would not have given the UFC enough time to find a replacement for a major pay-per-view show had Belfort not gotten licensed.
Belfort fought three times while using TRT, with all three fights coming in his native Brazil and all three resulting in spectacular knockout finishes. He stopped Michael Bisping in the second round with a kick on Jan. 19, 2013; finished Luke Rockhold with a head kick in the first on May 18, 2013; and stopped Dan Henderson with a kick just 77 seconds into their Nov. 9 bout.
Belfort, 36, tested positive for the anabolic agent 4-Hydroxytestosterone following an Oct. 21, 2006, bout at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas and was suspended for nine months.
A common side affect of steroids usage is the inability of the body to produce sufficient testosterone.
On Feb. 7, the night of a mixed martial arts award show at The Venetian in Las Vegas, Belfort was tested by the Nevada Athletic Commission. Belfort consented to the test. The results of the test are unknown.
However, because Belfort has not applied for a license in Nevada yet, his records are not likely to be public. When an athlete applies for a fight license, it is a privileged license and as part of the application process, the fighter agrees that things such as drug test results become public information. But Belfort is not licensed in Nevada and has not applied; as a result, even if the commission has his result, it likely can't release it and can't do anything with it.
Belfort said he would apply for a license to fight in Nevada at a later date, at which time he would undoubtedly be asked about the result of the Feb. 7 test, if it is not public by that point. Because the test is commonly known -- UFC fighter Brian Stann saw the testers approach Belfort and tweeted about it -- even if Belfort applies in another state, he'd likely be asked questions about it.
Belfort hasn't fought in Nevada since getting knocked out via front kick by Anderson Silva in a middleweight title match at UF 126 on Feb. 5, 2011. The last time he fought in the U.S. was at UFC 133 in Philadelphia when he stopped Yoshiro Akiyama on Aug. 6, 2011.
Belfort attorney Neal Tabachnick could not be reached for comment on Belfort's statement.
"It’s the best organization in the world, has the best fighters in the world, it’s where I wanted to be, but I had to put that aside to think about my family and my future. …I had to weigh it out and I had to explore my options. I got to a point where I had a good plan for my future, and I just had to hope that the UFC would come along with me so I could get to that point and still be with them.”
"El Nino" says that he is "extremely happy" with his new UFC contract. In fact, he was so happy when he heard the news that the UFC was re-signing him that he jumped for joy.
“It was on a conference call and I had to put them on mute,” Melendez remembers of when he received word.
“I was just smiling and yelling and dancing around like a little girl. I was just really excited.”
Before Melendez and the UFC came to terms on a new contract, UFC president Dana White publicly voiced his displeasure at working with Melendez' management and said that he was handing over the reigns of the negotiation to organization owner Lorenzo Fertitta. Given that Melendez succeeded in both staying with the promotion he wanted to and in doing so for terms that made him "dance around like a little girl," one of the take aways for observing fighters may be that they need to seek out savvy and strong management for themselves.
The former Strikeforce champion says that having his own management serve as negotiators and a buffer between he and the UFC was crucial to getting the deal done. “I have a great team and I left most of it to them,” Melendez said.
“They’re a great management team. I voiced my opinion, and they helped me keep my emotions in check. When it comes to stuff like this, you have to take your emotions out of it and think of your family. It’s about more than just the title shot.”
Follow Elias on Twitter @EliasCepeda & @YahooCagewriter.
"There's not a part of me that is glad we didn't get to fight."
Quinton "Rampage" Jackson is talking about Tito Ortiz. The two former UFC light heavyweight champions and training partners were scheduled to fight one another in Bellator's first ever pay-per-view last year.
Ortiz broke his neck during training, the pay-per-view was scrapped and the fight didn't happen. Instead, Jackson fought Joey Beltran in his first-ever Bellator contest.
Jackson fights again this Friday in the first round of a Bellator light heavyweight four-man tournament, against Christian M'Pumbu. The other side of the bracket has Muhammed Lawal taking on Mikhail Zayats.
The downside for Jackson of Ortiz pulling out of the fight is obvious. He missed out on a marquee pay-per-view fight and instead had to fight a lesser-known fighter in a no-win situation just to earn a payday.
With that understood, wasn't there some part of Jackson, we ask, that was glad he didn't have to go out there and hurt a former training partner and friend with whom he's never appeared to have any animosity towards?
"Fighters, we’re different," he begins to explain.
"We’re the alphas of the human race. We don't need animosity between one another to fight. Basically, every time Tito and I trained together it was while he was training for a fight. So, I took it easy on him a lot of times. I always wanted to know if I could beat Tito. He beat people that I lost to and I beat people he lost to. I hope the best for him. I just want him to heal up so that if we are set to fight again, he'll be able to do it for sure."
Jackson went on to knock out Beltran last November and earn his first win since 2011. Jackson didn't just leave the UFC on a three-fight losing streak against some of the best fighters in the 205-pound division, he left feeling profoundly unhappy with the way the promotion treated him.
He headed to Bellator with ideas of easier fights, pro-wrestling work and cross-over movie and television opportunities through Bellator's parent company Viacom. Several months and one fight in, Jackson says that he's not happy with absolutely everything that has happened thus far, but that Bellator itself treats him with respect.
"The last organization I was with kind of sapped the love I had for MMA but it's starting to come back with Bellator. There are a few things I'm not 100 percent happy with. Some things are better than others and some things [Viacom] said they were going to do, I wished they'd worked out better. But Bellator itself, they treat me with respect. My relationship with Bellator, which is who I have contact with on a day-to-day basis anyway, the way the promotion and Bjorn Rebney treat me is with respect. There are a few things outside of their control that I want worked on that I'm not worried about now because I'm focused on my fight but I'm sure those guys will work on it and fix it for me when we do talk. My body is feeling good and I'm more excited to fight than I have been in awhile."
Jackson must have been happy and relieved to get back in the win column against Beltran but he says that he whether or not he's a winner has little to do with his arm getting raised in the cage after a fight, these days. "I win no matter what," he says.
"Even if I get knocked out, even if I get submitted, I still feel like I won. I came from no where in my life back in Mississippi to fighting in front of millions of people at a professional level. I've fought on the biggest shows on the planet. At one point in my life I was the number one fighter in the world at my weight. I was MMA's first ever unified champion. It may be hard for people to understand what I'm saying when I say this but, coming from where I'm from, I win even before I step into the cage."
This perspective may be the key to understanding Jackson's at times contradictory statements about things like winning, entertaining and motivation. This writer remembers interviewing the fighter years ago when he couldn't hide his ambition to be the best light heavyweight in the world.
In recent years, however, Jackson has made public comments that sounded as if he had no particular desire to train hard or win anymore and that he had given up on the idea that he could become champion again - a particularly dangerous mindset to have in a fighting sport where the difference between winning and losing can sometimes be measured in amount of brain trauma. Jackson may be honest and reflective about where he is in his career now compared to, say six or seven years ago, and he says winning fights is no longer the most important thing, but perhaps that's a stance not formed simply from feeling defeated but rather from understanding that he's blessed.
"I’ve always felt that way ever since my first professional fight in King of the Cage," Jackson says of feeling like a winner no matter the result of a bout.
"I lost that fight but I got paid. Because I got paid, I was able to buy food, eat and then I got back into training. I lost my first professional fight but I won. People remembered me, they wanted me to come back. Even though I lost, I still won. No matter what, I’m winning in life because I'm successful, can feed my kids and provide them with things that I didn't have growing up.
"Just because you lose a fight, don’t mean you’re a loser. Even if I don’t ever win another fight for as long as my career lasts, I'm a winner because I've accomplished so much in this sport that I used to love."
Follow Elias on Twitter @EliasCepeda & @YahooCagewriter.
Of all of UFC president Dana White's recent, unhinged and unadulterated moments, his criticism of featherweight champ Jose Aldo earlier this month stood out. Even after Aldo soundly beat Ricardo Lamas to earn his 17th straight win, White somehow found a way to bash "Scarface."
“The thing about Jose Aldo that drives me crazy is the kid has all the talent in the world,” White told ESPN.com.
“He’s explosive, fast. He can do anything but he just lays back and doesn’t let anything go."
Right, Dana. Like Aldo held back with kick after thundering kick to the shoulder of Chan Sung Jung en route to a nasty TKO win in his prior fight once he realized the Korean was hurt.
Or, when Aldo defended a take down from Chad Mendes, spun around and knocked him out with a knee with less than a second left in the first round of a prior title defense in 2012. Or his crushing TKO win over Mike Brown or double flying knee KO of Cub Swanson or – the point is, there are more exciting highlight reel finish examples from Aldo's career than we have time to go into here now.
Of Aldo's 24 career professional MMA wins, sixteen have been finishes.
Aldo can't help it when he unloads on a guy like Lamas or Kenny Florian for five rounds and they are too tough to go down. Fighting is hard.
Much harder than a non-fighter, corporate executive like White can understand. He could, of course, still be respectful of that which he doesn't understand.
Aldo recently responded to White's criticism and doesn't seem to put much stock into it. "I never fought so well like in my last fight," Aldo told Guilherme Cruz in a recent interview.
"I attacked him the whole time. I did my best. We need to know how to handle the criticism. You dedicate and suffer a lot to showcase your technique and ability, things that few people can do, and some people say you’re laying back. It’s tough, but I don’t care about this."
Aldo has not lost in eight and a half years and believes that he's as strong as ever, if smarter. "I don’t think I have slowed down," he went on.
"I may be more strategic, but offensive as always. I attacked a lot in my last fight. We always try the knockout but it’s hard to get it if the opponent always runs away."
At the end of the day, the Brazilian champ knows that there are no true conciliation prizes for losers, no matter how exciting they are.
"If you lose, no one will remember you, but if you’re the champion they will always remember you. I want to keep winning, no matter what."
Follow Elias on Twitter @EliasCepeda & @YahooCagewriter.
Bellator may not have been able to successfully nab top UFC lightweight contender Gilbert Melendez this week but they have re-signed their own longtime middleweight champion Alexander Shlemenko. The promotion announced Monday that the 29-year-old Russian champion has signed a new multi-year, multi-fight contract with Bellator.
“Bellator has been my home for many years, and it’s where I want to be,” Shlemenko said.
“[Bellator CEO] Bjorn Rebney made me a promise and he lived up to that promise to provide me with a new deal. I have made a home here at Bellator, and I will continue to represent Russia in my efforts in the cage...I will enjoy being Bellator’s longest running champion. I will continue wearing that belt with honor during my time with Bellator, which will now be at the peak of my career.”
Rebney praised Shlemenko in a statement, calling him "one of the most dominant champions in MMA."
"It’s an honor to have him fight in this organization," Rebney went on.
"I look forward to watching his career continue inside the Bellator cage for years to come.”
Shlemenko will next defend his title against season 9 tournament winner Brennan Ward March 28. The champion is on a twelve fight win streak and has not lost since dropping a decision to Hector Lombard in 2010.
After losing a decision to Benson Henderson last month in the main event of the UFC on Fox 10 card, a dejected Josh Thomson said that he may retire from MMA. The veteran top fighter out of San Jose was discouraged by the controversial loss but claimed in the post event press conference that he'd already been thinking of retirement before the Henderson fight.
Thomson injured a thumb in that contest as well and we hadn't heard much else from the American Kickboxing Academy product since then until this morning. Turns out, Josh Thomson isn't really in a retiring mood after all, at least according to a post on his instagram account.
Earlier this morning, Thomson posted a photo of Anthony Pettis and his rival Gilbert Melendez, who it was just announced will coach opposite one another on The Ultimate Fighter season 20 and then fight for Pettis' lightweight title afterwards. The photo was accompanied by this comment from Thomson:
Saw this last night and couldn't sleep, makes me sick to my stomach. Back at it, 5am cardio workout, Radio interview at 102.5 KDON and a meeting with my managers later this afternoon about our next step in kicking these guys asses. "Don't throw dirt on my grave just yet!" @ufc #tuf20 #ComingForYou
Thomson may or may not be back to full-fledged MMA training yet on account of his injured hand but if his post tells the truth, he's stayed on his fighter's schedule with early morning workouts. However you scored his fight against the former champion Henderson, Thomson looked sharp and quick as ever in the fight, despite being 35 years of age and nearly fifteen years into his MMA career.
If he wants to step away after a long and accomplished career, good for him. However, it appears that Melendez getting a brand spanking new contract and a series of life-changing opportunities has lit a new fire under Thomson and he wants to keep on fighting.
Who do you want to see Thomson fight next? Let us know in the comments section.
UFC welterweight Nick Diaz misses fighting. Well, sort of.
The bombastic contender last fought in March 2013 when he lost a one-sided unanimous decision to then champion Georges St. Pierre. Before that, Diaz served a suspension for failing a drug test and lost a close decision to Carlos Condit for the interim UFC welterweight belt while St. Pierre was out of commission with knee issues.
This past weekend, Diaz was at UFC 170 to watch his home girl Ronda Rousey defend her women's bantamweight title against Sara McMann. Afterwards, Diaz spoke to reporters about sitting on the sidelines the past year and the prospect of his returning to action.
"I miss feeling like I have something important coming up sometimes. For sure," Diaz admitted.
"As far as missing fighting? No. I don't miss going in to get my ass beat. So it's something where I'd like it to be an important deal if I'm going to fight."
The one thing that Diaz claims will bring him out of his pseudo, conditional retirement is another title fight. The Cesar Gracie black belt believes that he deserves a third straight crack at UFC gold because he's a draw.
"I'm talking about a title fight matchup," he explained.
"Bottom line, I'm the only draw here. Bottom line. We had like the third biggest [pay-per-view]. That wasn't just because of Georges St. Pierre. And these guys aren't doing that. People want to pay to see me fight, they want to see someone get knocked out or someone get tapped out, or they want to see me get my ass whooped like they've been waiting to see but they still don't get to see.
"I've been fighting for 11 years. I already did all those [contender] fights. I don't have to take a warmup fight. Why would I take a warmup fight? To help somebody out? To bring them to my level? I've already been through all that."
After St. Pierre's own departure from competition, Johny Hendricks and Robbie Lawler will face one another next month for the vacant UFC welterweight championship. St. Pierre teammate Rory MacDonald may have moved himself back into prime contender position with a decision win over Demian Maia at UFC 170.
Should the UFC skip Diaz ahead in line and offer him the winner of Hendricks vs. Lawler? Let us know in the comments section.
Not long after Gilbert Melendez signed a contract with Bellator, he received a phone call from UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta. The UFC had the right to match the Bellator contract, and Fertitta wanted to discuss Melendez's long-term goals.
The fruits of that discussion were a new-long term UFC deal for Melendez that will result in him serving as a coach on Season 20 of The Ultimate Fighter against lightweight champion Anthony Pettis. The series, which will highlight women's strawweight fighters, will film beginning in May and air first on Fox Sports 1 on Sept. 10.
Pettis and Melendez will fight for the title sometime later this year after the conclusion of the show.
Melendez said the deal will enable him to build his brand, but he admitted Fertitta's involvement in the matter made a difference. Fertitta got involved in the talks after UFC president Dana White was unable to make headway with Melendez representative Rodolphe Beaulieu.
"Getting a call from Lorenzo himself makes you feel elite," Melendez told Yahoo Sports. "It makes you feel important and wanted. Of course, Dana is the man and they're both great businessmen. It's great to be recognized and get that respect. I feel I'm a great investment for them and they made me feel that way, as well."
Melendez said he never had any hard feelings toward the UFC, even when talks weren't going smoothly. He said everything was about business and making the best deal for himself.
He noted that he would have been happy in Bellator, particularly since it has two elite lightweights in champion Eddie Alvarez and former champion Michael Chandler. But he said the list of great potential opponents in the UFC is appealing to him.
He is eager, he said, to not only face Pettis for the belt, but to get the exposure that coaching on TUF will provide.
"I'm really looking forward to that experience and I'm looking forward to seeing the new 115-pound women's division and coaching those ladies," Melendez said. "Doing [television] is something I've always wanted to do, and have loved to do. I always wanted to be on camera and be an ambassador for this sport.
"I love to coach and this is a great opportunity for me to build my brand and build my team's brand, as well. It really builds up an awesome main event against an awesome competitor. I am very jazzed on the whole situation; very excited on the whole situation. I was pumped by the idea and it definitely helps."
Melendez, 31, is 22-3 in his mixed martial arts career and 1-1 in the UFC. He is coming off of a victory over Diego Sanchez on Oct. 19 in Houston at UFC 166 that is widely regarded as one of the best matches in UFC history.
UFC bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey will have a lot working against her Saturday as she defends her title against Sara McMann in the main event of UFC 170. For one, Rousey has had no rest since her last fight in late December against Miesha Tate at UFC 168.
In that bout, Rousey fought longer than ever before and ate some stiff shots to the dome. Also, the past year has been an incredibly hectic one for the "Rowdy" one. After Saturday, she will have fought three times, filmed a reality show and a motion picture in about twelve month's time.
All of that is to say nothing of her opponent, who may very well be the toughest matchup Rousey has ever had. Unlike all of Rousey's other opponents in the past, McMann is also a world-class athlete and also possesses excellent take downs and grappling.
Of course, Rousey is still confident that she'll get her arm raised at UFC 170 and stay undefeated. The biggest reason for her confidence has nothing to do with skills, however.
The two-time Judo Olympian simply knows that she wants it more than her opponent.
"I'm willing to die in there," Rousey said during Wednesday's UFC 170 open workouts at Mandalay Bay in Vegas.
"I'm willing to die in there and [McMann] can't."
Rousey acknowledges that she may be facing her athletic equal in the Octagon Saturday but draws confidence from the fact that McMann simply has more important things in her life than MMA and titles.
"Sara, on paper, is a great athlete, and on paper you could say that we are very close to equals and that's why people are so excited for this fight," Rousey went on.
"I think that I'm more of a fighter than she is. I can tell that this title is not as important for her as it is for me, she had a kid at home and she has to go home to that kid, and I can afford to be selfish, where she can't."
Parents out there, let us know what you think of Rousey's statements. Is McMann's parenthood an advantage because she may have more to fight for is it, as Rousey suggested, a hindrance because she will value being able to go home, safe and sound, to her daughter more than winning at all costs?
Let us know in the comments section.
(Video via of Shoot Media)
Wrestler Daniel Cormier famously suffered a kidney failure after weighing in for the 2008 Olympic games. Back then, Cormier went about dropping weight all wrong - he walked around entirely too heavy and then essentially underwent a controlled, forced dehydration of dangerous magnitudes.
When he decided to get into MMA, Cormier then also decided to compete at heavyweight. He would be undersized against the behemoths of the division but at least Cormier wouldn't have to cut weight anymore.
This Saturday, Cormier will fight in the co-main event of UFC 170 in Las Vegas and he will do so, for the first time, as a light heavyweight. This time, however, Cormier isn't planning on cutting an extreme amount of water weight before weighing in tomorrow.
Instead, Cormier has spent months making small but crucial adjustments in his nutrition and workout regimen in order to more gradually and healthfully lose weight. He may have gorged on Popeye's chicken for one night last week after learning that his originally scheduled opponent, Rashad Evans, had pulled out with a knee injury, but for the most part, Cormier has been diligent with his new lifestyle.
The folks at Shoot Media recently interviewed Cormier about how he's lost the weight and is now walking around lighter than he has in years. According to "DC", instead of restricting water, he's been drinking two gallons a day and eating four healthy meals each day.
Also, he's put in more "road work" or, running, during this camp. Not only has it helped him drop weight, he says the solitude has helped him focus and stay motivated.
Check out the video above to see what Cormier is eating, drinking, how much and how often and about the changes he's made in his work outs to safely drop weight in advance of his sudden grudge match against Patrick Cummins.
There is little love lost between UFC fighters Wanderlei Silva and Chael Sonnen. Ever since the former Pride champion put Sonnen in his place verbally in a car years ago (video above) for "The American Gangster's" frequent and often bigoted insults of fighters and the nation of Brazil, the two have flamed one of the sport's more heated feuds.
Now, they're coaching opposite one another on the coming next season of The Ultimate fighter: Brazil, and are set to fight one another afterwards at UFC 173. Reports had it that they didn't wait to lock up, however, and actually fought on the set of TUF.
Silva spoke with Brazilian outlet UOL Tuesday about Sonnen and their reality show fight. "The Axe Murderer" maintains that he was in the right and was instigated by Sonnen's actions.
"It was the worst part of the show," Silva said.
"I tell the other guys (on the show) ‘don’t do this and don’t do that,’ but (Sonnen) drives me nuts. I even apologized to the crew, but I’m not meek and mild.
"There are things I can’t handle. The boss [Dana White] likes what it’s fair, he was not upset about it. When they air that on TV, you’ll see that I was right. I did what I had to do."
Silva, of course, didn't limit his criticism of Sonnen to that particular incident. The long-time champion was also critical of Sonnen's use of Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT), especially after he failed a drug test once before and lied during subsequent athletic commission hearings.
Of Sonnen's hypogonadism and the TRT he uses to treat it and maintain healthy testosterone levels, Silva mockingly said, "If he needs that, what can I say?"
"I thought about using it, but my wife told me she would ask for a divorce, so I said I wouldn’t. People say (Sonnen) only has one ball, so if he has to use it maybe he can’t get it up."
And, that's pretty much where we're at with this feud between Sonnen and Silva. Sonnen has repeatedly taken to twitter and video interviews to insult Silva and apparently urinate on a car with his likeness on it. For his part, Silva has confronted Sonnen directly, in person, several times now.
We've had the talk, had the run-ins and had more than our share of silly tweeting. All that is left now is for the two to square up and fight inside the Octagon.
Who are you rooting for in the finale of this feud? Let us know in the comments section.