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Anthony Johnson dominates Phil Davis at UFC 172

Sat, 04/26/2014 - 22:48

Anthony Johnson is one of the best-205 pounders in the world. After over two years in exile from the UFC, the former welterweight made a triumphant return to the promotion Saturday night, defeating top-ranked Phil Davis by unanimous decision in the UFC 172 co-main event.

Scores were 30-27 all around in favor of Johnson. For three rounds, Johnson used superior striking to tag Davis and excellent takedown defense to keep the fight standing.

Johnson stuffed all eight of the former NCAA Division I wrestling national champion's takedown attempts while landing one of his own. On the feet, Johnson kept his hands low the entire fight but used excellent head movement and footwork to dodge, weave and cut angles while landing punch, after knee after kick to the legs, body and head of Davis.

In his post-fight interview with Joe Rogan, Johnson thanked the man who cut him from the UFC roster two years ago, UFC president Dana White. Johnson failed to make weight before his 2012 fight with Vitor Belfort and ended up losing via first-round submission.

"Mr. Dana White. Thank you for what you did... he's the man who changed me - made me turn into a beast."

The win is Johnson's seventh straight since the loss to Belfort. Davis' loss is only the second of his career and snapped a three-fight win streak for the wrestler.

Who should be next for Johnson after his leap into the UFC light heavyweight division's elite? Let us know what you think in the comments section.

Follow Elias on Twitter @EliasCepeda & @YahooCagewriter

Luke Rockhold submits Tim Boetsch, calls out Vitor Belfort

Sat, 04/26/2014 - 22:22

Luke Rockhold finished the always tough Tim Boetsch with one of the most impressive submissions in UFC history Saturday night at UFC 172. Rockhold forced the tap at 2:08 of the first round with a reverse triangle-Kimura shoulder lock combination.

The two middleweights traded feints and kicks in the opening seconds of their fight before Boetsch shot in for a single leg take down on Rockhold. The former Strikeforce champ scrambled well to defend the take down once but then fed his own leg through and around the arm and head of Boetsch, giving up the take down but - more importantly - securing an inverted triangle choke.

"The Barbarian" looked to be in trouble inside of the choke but did not give up immediately. In fact, Boetsch defended well and continued to move until Rockhold - still holding on to the triangle with his legs - grabbed an arm of his opponent and wrenched it in a Kimura shoulder lock.

"That reverse triangle, that's my bread and butter...I come with different angles. That's like second nature for me. I always go for that Kimura finish," an elated Rockhold said in his post-fight interview with Joe Rogan.

Rockhold has now won two straight bouts and called for a rematch with the last man to beat him - Vitor Belfort. "I want to get a title shot but I want to earn it," Rockhold said.

"I don't want anything given to me and I think the best way to do that is through Vitor Belfort...what better guy to beat than Vitor Belfort?"

Belfort knocked Rockhold out nearly a year ago in brutal fashion. The loss hasn't sat well with Rockhold, however, especially since it took place in Belfort's native Brazil where "The Phenom" was able to use Testosterone Replacement Therapy (TRT) at a time when major athletic commissions like that of Nevada's did not seem receptive to the idea of Belfort - who had been caught with steroids in his system during a 2006 fight - receiving the requisite therapeutic use exemption to use TRT and compete in the states.

Now that TRT has been effectively banned altogether, Rockhold has intensified his trash talk of Belfort in recent weeks. For his part, Belfort gave up a middleweight title shot shortly after the TRT exemption bans in Nevada and California went into effect.

Should he not get a rematch with Belfort, the AKA fighter said he has "unfinished business" with Michael Bisping. Who do you want to see Rockhold fight next?

Let us know in the comments section!

Follow Elias on Twitter @EliasCepeda & @YahooCagewriter

 

Dana White responds to Renan Barao's money complaints

Sat, 04/26/2014 - 13:47

Renan Barao recently complained that the UFC pays him too little compared to opponents like Urijah Faber. Thursday, UFC president Dana White responded to the bantamweight champion's gripes.

"Show me a guy who's thrilled with his contract," White told media assembled at Thursday's UFC 172 media day.

"I want to meet that [expletive] guy."

White took issue with Barao's characterization of his "saving" a UFC event in May after Chris Weidman and Lyoto Machida's middleweight title bout was postponed.

"He 'saved the event'. When guys start talking like that, I hope that's not the direction we're going with Barao right now," White said.

The UFC promoter said that he loves Barao as a fighter and is doing his best to promote the Brazilian. And, while Barao isn't a major star worthy of big bucks yet, White believes his popularity and pay days will increase.

"It's always going to be tough and Barao's in this spot. Listen, who's been beating the Barao drum more than me? I think this kid, he's not there yet. He's the champion, but not the big star yet," White said.

"Who says more positive things about Barao than me?...Guy's been winning fights for nine years and hasn't lost, he's on this incredible win streak, he finishes guys. He comes in, he's a fun fighter to watch, exciting. I don't disagree. I don't disagree. You have to be able to deliver the numbers and we're in the process now of building Barao into the star that I think he should be."

How do you feel about White's response to Barao? Do you think that Renan should get a pay raise if he successfully defends his belt against T.J. Dillashaw in late May or should he have to become more popular first?

Let us know in the comments section!

Follow Elias on Twitter @EliasCepeda & @YahooCagewriter

 

[VIDEOS] Countdown to UFC 172

Fri, 04/25/2014 - 12:57

Get inside UFC 172's top two fights with the Countdown videos below. Fight highlights, fighter interviews and analysis from Yahoo! Sports' very own Kevin Iole, plus a whole lot more await.

And, if you want to check out the Countdown video to Luke Rockhold and Tim Boetsch, click here. For a breakdown of UFC 172's top three bouts, check out our Head to Head analysis.

Countdown to UFC 172: Jon Jones vs. Glover Teixeira

 Countdown to UFC 172: Anthony Johnson vs. Phil Davis

 

Follow Elias on Twitter @EliasCepeda & @YahooCagewriter

Head to Head: UFC 172 predictions

Fri, 04/25/2014 - 12:46

UFC 172 is hitting Baltimore Saturday and today Kevin Iole and Elias Cepeda are breaking down the MMA card's three top fights. In the main event, UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones puts his belt on the line against Glover Teixeira.

In the co-main event, the exiled Anthony Johnson returns to the UFC, riding a six-fight win streak and ready to take on the promotion's best light heavyweights, starting with Phil Davis. But before all that, former Strikeforce champion Luke Rockhold will battle Tim Boetsch in a middleweight featured bout.

Check out our analysis and predictions below and then let us know who you're picking and why in the comments section.

Jon Jones vs. Glover Teixeira

Iole's pick - Jon Jones via 4th round TKO over Glover Teixeira

Teixeira is unquestionably a threat to beat Jones. He has great power, good wrestling, is physically strong and has a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt. But he faces three issues trying to unseat Jones. First, he has to find a way to get inside of Jones' reach without getting blasted. Second, he has to overcome a speed and quickness advantage. And perhaps most importantly, he's going to have to beat a motivated Jones who wants to make a statement after many felt he lost his last fight to Alex Gustafsson.

Elias' pick - Jon Jones via 3rd round submission over Glover Teixeira

My specific prediction might be a little different than Kevin's but I can't argue with his analysis. Not only will Teixeira have a tough time getting inside on Jones, if he does, he'll likely just be sat down by the champ with take downs. Teixeira has power, cardio and heart for days and is well-rounded, but I don't think he possesses the attributes that Alexander Gustafsson has and used to take Jones to the brink in their fight last fall, namely, length, and comprable hand and foot speed.

In the end, I think a smart Jones will should be able to grind Teixeira down with take downs and ground striking, force an opening and finish with a submission from on top by late in the third round.

Anthony Johnson vs. Phil Davis

Iole's Pick - Anthony Johnson via 2nd round TKO over Phil Davis

Davis has the far better wrestling and figures to use that to put Johnson down and control the fight. But Johnson is greatly motivated and I think he's going to figure Davis out and land a big shot that ends it.

Elias' pick - Phil Davis by 2nd round submission

Kevin's pick is gutsy, and he very well could end up correct. After all, Johnson has the speed and power in his strikes to knockout a mule. Furthermore, the former junior college wrestling national champ might have enough grappling skills to stuff a few take downs or get up quickly if taken down himself, in order to continue to give himself a striker's chance on the feet.

I just wouldn't bet on it. If Davis is smart enough to keep Johnson at bay with his long limbs until he closes the distance on his own terms and looks for the take down, I think he'll be able to get it, secure top position and use his underrated submission game to finish the fight.

Luke Rockhold vs. Tim Boetsch

Iole's pick - Luke Rockhold via decision over Tim Boetsch.

Rockhold has the better overall game and he'll use those tools to stay out of danger and win a comprehensive decision.

Elias' pick - Rockhold by decision over Tim Boetsch.

Yeah, Rockhold is indeed the more well-rounded fighter in this match up and it's always a good idea to bet on that guy or girl, so I'm also picking Rockhold via decision. However, Boetsch has a propensity to use his power punches to rip victory from the jaws of defeat with last-minute KO's so the big man is certainly a live dog here.

How do you see these three UFC 172 fights going down? Are there undercard bouts that you're more excited for than the top ones?

Let us know in the comments section!

Follow Kevin on Twitter @KevinI and follow Elias on Twitter @EliasCepeda & @YahooCagewriter

Ahead of UFC 172 fight, Anthony Johnson talks growth

Fri, 04/25/2014 - 11:15

Back in 2012, Anthony "Rumble" Johnson was set to fight Vitor Belfort when he missed weight, again, badly. Johnson had repeatedly struggled and failed to make the welterweight limit prior and moved up to middleweight to try and make the weight cut more doable.

Johnson's body refused him, however, and he missed weight by over ten pounds against Belfort. Then, Johnson went out and lost in the first round to "The Phenom."

Johnson was immediately cut from the UFC. Since that time, Johnson has fought and won six times, at heavyweight and light heavyweight. On Saturday, he makes his return to the UFC in the UFC 172 co-main event against Phil Davis.

Johnson recently spoke with the Las Vegas Review Journal about his first UFC run with regret. The fighter wasn't big on specifics but emphasized his growth over the past couple years.

“I was young and stupid," Johnson said.

"Plain and simple. Stupid in the cage, stupid out of the cage. I was just stupid back then. I was just making dumb choices and not doing things the way I needed to. Just young and dumb and not caring as much as I should have. I can’t say I didn’t care because I did care. But my head just wasn’t completely in it.

“When I was first in UFC I was just an athlete that didn’t know much and was just relying on natural ability to get by. Now, I’m someone who actually loves the sport. It was fun back then, but it’s more fun now. I had to mature.”

Johnson said that, ultimatey, he was forced to grow or fail in his career.

“I finally hit the wall where I had no choice but to grow," he went on.

"Everybody has to go through that in their life. Every man has been through that point in their life where they think they know everything. You just have to hit that wall where you just realize I don’t know everything, and that’s when you start accepting things and become willing to expand your mind and learn.”

The thirty year-old never held a grudge against the UFC for releasing him and also never fixated on making a return to the promotion.

“I don’t blame UFC and Dana for cutting me. They did what they had to do and I respect that," he said.

 

“I haven’t thought about a second chance...I kinda just went with the flow of life, and if it happened, it happened, and if it didn’t, it didn’t. I didn’t put all my eggs in the basket of getting back here. I was focused on performing for whoever I was working for at the time.”

Now, he's working with the UFC once more with a huge opportunity in his return match. Are you looking forward to seeing what "Rumble" can do in the UFC's light heavyweight division?

Let us know in the comments section.

Follow Elias on Twitter @EliasCepeda & @YahooCagewriter

 

Former champ Andrei Arlovski returns to UFC

Fri, 04/25/2014 - 10:49

Six years after leaving the UFC, former heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski is back with MMA's top promotion. UFC president Dana White announced Arlovski's return via twitter Thursday.

Welcome back Andrei Arlovski!

— Dana White (@danawhite) April 24, 2014

Arlovski, 35, held the UFC heavyweight belt in 2005, before losing it to Tim Sylvia. After losing two straight to Sylvia, Arlovski strung together three consecutive wins in the UFC but couldn't come to terms on a new contract and left the promotion.

Since leaving the UFC, Arlovski has fought fourteen times for seven different promotions, going 8-5 with 1 no contest. MMA Junkie reports that the UFC is trying to match Arlovski up with Brendan Schaub for a UFC 174 scrap.

We will keep you posted with updates and details as this story develops. Are you excited to see "The Pitbull" back in the big show?

Let us know in the comments section.

Follow Elias on Twitter @EliasCepeda & @YahooCagewriter

Jon Jones invites Chuck Liddell to super fight

Thu, 04/24/2014 - 11:00

 Retired former light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell is understandably supporting his long-time training partner Glover Teixeira as the Brazilian challenges Jon Jones this Saturday at UFC 172 for the 205 pound world title. "The IceMan" recently went further than that support of Teixeira, however, when he said that he feels in his prime he would have "walked through" Jon Jones' punches and knocked "Bones" out.

Ever the instigator (and we love ya for it, Chael), UFC fighter and UFC Tonight co-host Chael Sonnen asked Jones what he thought of Liddell's comments Wednesday.  “You’ve got to expect Chuck to take his boy’s back or have his boy’s back, and that’s what he’s doing,” Jones began.

“He’s coming out saying a lot of other stuff like he would walk through my punches if he ever fought me and he would have beat me in his prime and all this other stuff.

“I’m not going to sit here and insult Chuck. He’s a very, very loved person by the masses, so I’m just going to keep my mouth shut. But I mean, it’s like, come on, Chuck, just knock it off. Keep your mouth shut.”

Jones seemed to take Liddell's trash talk in stride but struck a serious note when he welcomed Liddell to come out of retirement and back up his words in a superfight against the champ.

“At the end of the day, if Chuck wants to come out retirement, I welcome him to a superfight,” Jones said.

Would you pay to watch Liddell come out of retirement and fight Jon Jones? And, who would you pick in their respective primes - Liddell or Jones?

Let us know in the comments section!

Follow Elias on Twitter @EliasCepeda & @YahooCagewriter

Jon Jones: 'I went 80 percent against Alexander Gustafsson'

Thu, 04/24/2014 - 10:42

The admittedly "lil' arrogant" UFC light heavyweight champ Jon Jones has an explanation for why his last fight with Alexander Gustafsson was so close -- Jones says he didn't try all that hard. In fact, Jones has an exact number for how much he tried against Gustafsson while defending his UFC belt.

"Going into the Gustafsson fight I had just beaten Chael Sonnen, somebody that almost beat Anderson Silva twice, and I dominated Chael Sonnen in a minute and thirty seconds," said Jones during an interview with Jim Rome on Wednesday.

"I think for the first time in my career I really started to feel myself. I really started to think, 'Maybe I've got this extraordinary talent and maybe I just can't be touched.' I went 80 percent [against Gustafsson]. I'm not making any excuses. Gustafsson did a great job in the fight but I know that I had a lot more in me. I did some of the cardio tests that I normally do and my numbers weren't the same. Me knowing that, I still went into the fight thinking, 'Well, since I've performed excellent, maybe I'll still perform really really high, do really good and the fight may be a little closer if I just put half the effort in. I learned a lesson the hard way that you have to give full effort."

Jones probably found that his conditioning wasn't particularly helped by starting out his training camp for Gustafsson fat, either. So, that's another lesson he may have learned.

Those two can be added to the lesson Jones said he learned after nearly getting caught in an arm bar by Vitor Belfort in 2012 -- that he needs to train Brazilian Jiu Jitsu every day. Umm...yeah.

As a free tip to Greg Jackson and his camp, we've compiled a short list of other things his fighters will find slightly helpful to do on a daily basis - eating, breathing, sleeping.

Jones defends his UFC 205-pound belt once more on Saturday in Baltimore, against Glover Teixeira in the main event of UFC 172 on pay-per-view. Do you think Jones will take Teixeira seriously?

Let us know in the comments section.

Follow Elias on Twitter @EliasCepeda & @YahooCagewriter

Lyoto "The Slacker" Machida works on his balance

Thu, 04/24/2014 - 10:18

 Well, we now know how Lyoto Machida is spending his time as he waits for Chris Weidman to heal up before they can fight this summer for Weidman's UFC middleweight title. "The Dragon" has taken a cue from acrobats and hipsters everywhere and begun practicing his balance on a slackline.

Check out the former light heavyweight champion show off on his slack line in the two videos released on Instagram recently, below.

Follow Elias on Twitter @EliasCepeda & @YahooCagewriter

Ex-UFC fighter Homer Moore charged with first-degree murder in 1999 case

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 18:03

A veteran mixed martial arts fighter who lost to Evan Tanner in his only UFC bout was arrested in Glendale, Ariz., on Monday and charged with the first-degree murder of a 19-year-old. He is being held on a $1 million bond.

Homer Moore, 42, of Phoenix, was arrested by Tempe police in connection with the August 1999 murder of Karam Hussein Jabbar, 19. Jabbar went missing in late July, and his body was found in the trunk of a car on Aug. 3, 1999. According to police, Jabbar's hands and feet were bound and there was a bag over his head.

The official cause of death was listed as asphyxia.

Moore debuted on April 7, 1999, with a victory over Jason Middaugh at Rage in the Cage 4, about three months before Jabbar's death. Moore faced several notable fighters, including current UFC light heavyweight Chael Sonnen and UFC Hall of Famer Dan Severn. HIs only UFC appearance came at UFC 34 on Nov. 2, 2001, at the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas, where he was submitted by Tanner via arm bar at 55 seconds of the second round.

Moore, who last fought in 2007, was 25-9-2.

Tempe police are  seeking other suspects in the case.

UFC champ Renan Barao unhappy with contract

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 16:03

Renan Barao hasn't lost a fight since 2005, is 32-1 and may be the most dominant bantamweight the UFC has ever had. Yet, he says he still made a pittance compared to his last opponent, Urijah Faber.

The two rematched in February with Barao coming out on top for the second time. The Brazilian, who has been bantamweight champion since mid-2012, is stepping up to fight again at the end of May to replace the postponed Chris Weidman vs. Lyoto Machida middleweight fight.

The champ hopes to be able to successfully defend his belt against Faber teammate T.J. Dillashaw on May 24 at UFC 173, but he also recently told Brazilian outlet UOL that he hopes to get a new contract after the fight as well.

"I'm very happy being a UFC champion. But I would like to improve my contract," Barao said.

"Actually, an example: I know that Faber is a much older guy in the UFC, but he's not even the champion and has a much better purse than mine.

"It is what it is, we're working for it to improve. I hope that after this fight i can have a much better contract. I hope it improves every day. This depends on the contract, but I hope they remember that I saved an event."

Despite never holding a UFC belt, Faber was once recognized as featherweight world champion when he held the WEC strap, and is one of the UFC's biggest stars. As such, he makes more than relative newcomer Barao.

Understandably, that is little consolation to the champ Barao, especially as he heads into a fight that he didn't particularly want but says he took to help out the UFC.

"I prefer to rest a little more, but the UFC needed me, so I'm here to save the event," he said.

"Unfortunately, Weidman got injured, so they called me and I accepted. It's always good to fight in these big events, I was pretty happy."

Do you think it is fair for Faber to make more than the champion, a man who has twice beaten him? Let us know in the comments section.

Follow Elias on Twitter @EliasCepeda & @YahooCagewriter

UFC Champ Jon Jones - 'I am a little arrogant.'

Wed, 04/23/2014 - 12:35

Jon Jones is done fighting the "arrogant" tag many critics have labled him with. "I think I am. I think I am a little arrogant," the UFC light heavyweight champ said Monday.

Jones defends his title against Glover Teixeira Saturday at UFC 172 in Baltimore. Jones became the youngest UFC champion in history over three years ago and sometimes seems to have as many vocal critics as he does ardent fans.

Jones undoubtedly works quite hard to achieve and maintain all that he has in the sport and so used to bristle at the criticism that he was "cocky," or "arrogant." Now, the young champ has seemed to make peace with the fact that all elite athletes (elite anything for that matter) need a certain amount of selective arrogance to succeed.

"I think it's really important. The thing about me I say all the time is, I notice that I'm full of myself and I am arrogant to some degree, but it's obviously only when it comes to talking about MMA, where literally, I do the wildest stuff," Jones said.

As for his personal life, Jones said that is where he is just normal old Jon. "I don't think I live like a celebrity at all," he said.

"All my friends are normal people, normal dudes who do the most normal stuff all the time. But when it comes to MMA, there is a big chip on my shoulder. There is a way that I look at myself, and I think it's really, really important. It's something I'm not really apologetic for. As I get older and as I win more, I start to embrace it even more. The biggest thing is not to be apologetic for it. I realize it's a big part of the reason I'm able to perform out there. The moment I let fear seep is the moment the fights start getting closer and closer. So yeah, I think it's important to be an absolute believer and have that confidence."

Jones cites the strong way he closed his last title defense, against Alexander Gustafsson, last September. Jones was on his way to perhaps losing his fourth straight round to the Swede challenger when he says he decided that was quite enough.

"It was the fourth round and I literally looked up at the clock before hitting him with that elbow, and when I looked up at the clock, I realized, 'I may be losing here. Let me win. Let me win,'" he said.

"I simply won. I simply started winning. I think that's something champions have."

Follow Elias on Twitter @EliasCepeda & @YahooCagewriter

Phil Davis goes full third person, blasts Jon Jones

Tue, 04/22/2014 - 09:11

Dana White recently bashed Phil Davis for supposedly not wanting to be a champion bad enough. How did White know that Davis didn't want to reach the top?

Well, not for lack of any effort or apparent improvement in his fights. Rather, White dismissed Davis simply because he said the former national champion collegiate wrestler doesn't talk enough trash.

"[Phil Davis is] one of the best light heavyweights in the world, but he doesn’t come off to me like…dude, I got guys breathing down my [expletive] neck wanting fights. I want this fight, I want a title fight, I want this I want that," White said.

"Phil Davis is kind of like, eh. I’ll hang out around No. 4 here and meh. He’s not that guy that comes across like I [expletive] want it. Like I want to be the champ, I want to be the best in the world. He’s sort of, eh."

Well, Davis corrected that problem this week during the UFC 172 media call. Davis fights Anthony Johnson in the co-main event this Saturday on pay per view and light heavyweight champion Jon Jones defends his belt against Glover Teixeira in the main event.

Davis took aim at Jones, interrupting him often and criticizing the champ during the call. Before he did, however, Davis replied to White's strange criticism. We knew something was about to go down when Davis began referring himself in the third person.

"That’s not necessarily Phil. It’s really just a miscommunication. So I’m just going to make sure I’m going to do what I’ve got to do Saturday, then I’ll call out whoever the champion is after Saturday night, simple as that," Davis said.

Of course, Phil didn't wait until Saturday to unload on the champ. Take, for example, his description of Jones' controversial last win against Davis' training partner Alexander Gustafsson.

"Here’s what happened. Jon Jones came out doing his regular deal and Alex - because Alex and I, we train together and we went over some things to do - I said, listen man, what you really need to do is you need to strong arm him like an American and hit him with a backhand pimp slap. I’m telling you right now, Alexander threw seven different kinds of smoke at this dude, Jon Jones didn’t know up from down when he was fighting Alex. He didn’t know what hit him. He didn’t know why he hit him, why he was hitting so hard.

"I honestly still don’t really understand really how [Alex] lost, but I will say this: Jon Jones came back the last two rounds, fourth and fifth rounds, came back like a champion. Did he do enough to win? Absolutely not," Davis said.

"But, I’m going to tell you this, seven different kinds of smoke. Jon Jones was one fire, seven different kinds of smoke he had."

You can listen to all of Davis' verbal explosion on the full call audio below. For his part, Jones tried to take the above-the-fray approach.

"I think if anything Phil’s embarrassing himself with all the antics," the champ said.

"But it’s what he decided to do today. You know, I’m a champion. I’m a champion, and I fight the top dogs and my whole career has been in the fast lane. I am not going to sit here and belittle myself by entertaining Phil. At first I thought it was funny, but it’s just silly. And I’m fighting Glover, and he’s fighting Anthony Johnson. I really need to stay focused on Glover, and Glover’s a great challenge to me.

"I just think when you talk like that, and you be so goofy, it puts a lot of pressure on you. I mean, what if he goes out there and gets caught with one of those high kicks from Anthony Johnson and gets knocked out? It’s going to be really embarrassing to talk so much trash to me and then get knocked out by Anthony Johnson. So I’m going to keep my mouth shut and stay focused for what I’m here for, and that’s Glover."

Follow Elias on Twitter @EliasCepeda & @YahooCagewriter

Chuck Liddell 'can't stand' Chael Sonnen's trash talk

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 16:16

It never took much for former UFC light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell to get amped enough to fight. The retired legend is the epitome of a game fighter and let his fists and shins do his talking.

Perhaps that's why the "IceMan" says he "can't stand" the way fighters like Chael Sonnen use over the top trash talk to promote fights. Liddell likes Sonnen personally but can't get past his pro-wrestling type of antics.

“Chael’s a nice guy. I’ve met him and hung out with him. I like him, and he’s a nice guy. I can’t stand the way he promotes fights," Liddell recently told MMA Junkie.

“I understand what he’s doing; he wasn’t the most exciting fighter, so he made himself exciting by promoting the fight really well, and he got himself a couple of title shots for it. It works, but that whole crazy WWE-type stuff, that over-the-top stuff when you’re fighting a guy, doesn’t make sense to me, and I don’t like it.

“But it is what it is. Some of the fans like it, and it gets people to watch fights, that’s fine...Some of the things he said, as far as I’m concerned, are over the line.

"Unless you’re known as an actor or being a WWE guy, you can get away with some of that stuff because everybody knows it’s fake.”

According to "The Pit" fighter, promoting fights comes a distant second or third to fighting itself and being a man or woman with respect for yourself. For example, Liddell cited the recently aired fight on the set of The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil between former champion and Sonnen as an example of "The American Gangster" going too far.

“I’m sure [Sonnen] didn’t mean to start it, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he crossed the line and Wanderlei took a swing at him,” Liddell said.

“Everyone has a line, and especially fighters.”

Do you prefer fighters like Liddell who like to let their actions speak for them or the wild-talking of someone like Sonnen? Let us know in the comments section.

Follow Elias on Twitter @EliasCepeda & @YahooCagewriter

Alex White gets back to work after UFC win

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 15:08

Many Cagewriter readers were touched to read about Alex White's inspiring path to the UFC late last week. The fighter overcame nearly dying as a child and homelessness as an adult and ended up fighting his way into the best MMA promotion in the world.

After White's incredible success in his UFC debut on Saturday, where he earned a first-round KO and a $50,000 Performance of the Night honors bonus check, we got even more requests to check back in with the hard-hitting featherweight.

Like most fighters starting out in the UFC, Alex works hard at a day job. This morning, less than 48 hours removed from winning in the Octagon, Alex was back at work in Missouri.

"There's no rest for the wicked," he jokes.

Alex won't call them "UFC jitters" but he admits that it took him a few moments to collect himself once his first UFC bout had begun. "Yeah, I went in there and it took me a little bit to get warmed up," he says.

"After a little bit, I was able to think to myself, 'This is what you've been training to do. Do this, and this and this.'

It only took White a few punches to knock opponent Estevan Payan out cold. White was and is the undefeated prospect but Payan had far more big-stage experience than White.

"Yeah, it felt good," White said of the step up in competition.

"It was my first UFC fight and it was a different level of fighting. I was pretty pumped and I'm pretty happy now."

White had to wait a little bit longer than expected to begin celebrating once the ref had called a halt to the action, however, because once Payan regained consciousness, he angrily began to protest the stoppage.

For his part, White never let his guard down, and stayed close to Payan, seemingly ready for the fight to continue. "Yeah, I wasn't for sure what was going on," White says of those tense moments immediately following the fight's end.

"I was totally unloading on him and he didn't get up til the ref pushed me off. I wasn't for sure what was going on - if the ref had stopped it or was going to continue it so I tried to stay in the mode."

Once White's victory did settle in, the blue-collar fighter didn't hit the Florida clubs or beach for a wild party. At six feet tall, it must be a task for White to make the 145-pound featherweight limit and after cutting weight on short notice for his UFC debut, Alex and his team had a practical celebration.

"We went to IHOP," White says.

"I had one of those bacon omelets and pancakes."

Now back to work at his day job, White plans to take a week off from training and plan a party for his supporters in town.

"I want to spend time with family and I'll probably throw a bar-b-que for my supporters in the park," he says.

"I'd like to have a bunch of food for everyone so people can relax, have a good time and so that I can let them know how much I appreciate all their support and help."

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Mike Winkeljohn: Alistair Overeem will have to be team player

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 10:45

There is no shortage of former teammates who say that UFC heavyweight Alistair Overeem isn't a team player. Rashad Evans recently said as much after Overeem left his Blackzilians team for Team Greg Jackson/Mike Winkeljohn.

However, If Overeem is going to be accepted at his new team, coach Mike Winkeljohn says that the Dutch fighter is going to have to have a selfless attitude. "That's just the way our camp is," Winkeljohn said during a Submission Radio interview.

"It's first and foremost you have to help others and if you start helping other people out, if he could help other people out with his stand up and his knowledge in different positions, then the team is going to help him. If not, he will be ostracized real quick and he'll be gone."

The striking coach went on to say that his team is a close-knit one where the culture is such that everyone lends helping hands.

"The guys won't do it themselves or want me to be a jerk about it, which I'm usually a jerk, but it just happens that way. That's why we're so good at what we do I think is, the guys help each other and that's huge, because you can't do it by yourself no matter how good you think you are, you need to help others to become successful in this sport," he said.

With all that said, Winkeljohn said that he is excited to have Overeem in Albuquerque. "I haven't spoke with him yet, but as soon as he comes I'm going to be excited to be working with him," he said.

"The guy can hit hard, I mean [former Overeem opponent and Jackson/Winkeljohn team member] Travis Browne told me how hard he hit, but the thing is I want him to not be striking and then standing in a place where he can get counter punched and or taken down. He needs to strike and then make slight angle changes, I think that will change his game tremendously."

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Rich Franklin could fight in UFC and work for ONEFC

Mon, 04/21/2014 - 10:23

Former UFC middleweight champion Rich Franklin hasn't fought in awhile, but never said he was retiring, just yet. Now, it looks like the UFC star is close to signing with Asian MMA promotion ONEFC, as an executive.

According to UFC president Dana White, that possibility hasn't strained relations with Franklin. In fact, being a vice-president at ONEFC wouldn't even preclude Franklin fighting again in the UFC.

"You know, we have a good relationship with Rich. Rich got offered a really good opportunity to go work with those guys and I'm happy for him," White said at the UFC on Fox 11 post-event press conference.

"Hey listen, how can be upset with a guy for trying to better his life or taking a great opportunity somewhere? You can't. It's the sneaky guys that lie to your face and all that stuff."

Should Franklin want to fight again, he's still under contract with the UFC and White seemed to suggest that they'd be happy giving him another bout. "He's still under contract to fight, if he ever wanted to fight," White said of Franklin.

"It's not like if he takes this job that's it, we'll never have him fight in the UFC again. If he came back and wanted to fight he's still under contract with us, and he hasn't officially retired. Rich is out there making some moves. He started a business, he's got this business that he's running and he's putting all his time, effort and money into it, but he needs another source of income for more money to come in. So these guys gave him a huge opportunity and he's going to take it."

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Miesha Tate 'over the hurdle' with first UFC win

Sun, 04/20/2014 - 08:26

Miesha Tate had a simple goal at the start of her UFC on Fox 11 main card bout against Liz Carmouche on Saturday night. "I was just trying not to be a psycho in the fight," she said.

Tate has become one of the main faces of female UFC fighters but had yet to earn a victory in the Octagon heading into Saturday night. In her first UFC fight, Tate lost a great battle to Cat Zingano.

Next, she rematched (they first fought in Strikeforce) her nemesis and UFC champ Ronda Rousey and lost via arm bar once more. Tate believed that she had perhaps spent herself too quickly in prior fights on account of fighting too emotionally.

Against Carmouche, Tate wanted to "be a little bit more calculated," as she said at the UFC on Fox 11 post fight press conference.

That may have resulted in a slow start for Tate, however, as Carmouche got her down early and dominated the first round. Tate rode out the storm and earned the unanimous decision and her first UFC 'W' after three rounds, though, and beat back some demons in the process.

"I was struggling with a mental hurdle. Losing two in a row is really rough. And, starting to think, you know, 'am I cursed?' just going through all those weird questions," she revealed.

"I started off slow. There's a fine line, for me, between thinking and going. And, when I go, that's what happens in the third round. When I'm thinking, that's what happens in the first round. It took me a minute to be like, 'you know what? I've got to go.'"

And, 'go' Tate did. Now with a UFC win under her belt, the former title challenger says she'll face the future with more confidence in herself. "I'm definitely capable of better. Anyone who has ever seen me fight can say, yeah, it's not typical for me to start to slow. I did, this fight. But, I'm over the hurdle now," she said.

"I won the fight. I'm happy. I got my first UFC victory and I think that's going to motivate me more."

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Fabricio Werdum earns title shot with dominant win

Sat, 04/19/2014 - 21:37

Fabricio Werdum earned a UFC heavyweight title shot with a dominating win over Travis Browne Saturday night in the main event of UFC on Fox 11 card. Scores were 49-46 and 50-45 (twice) in favor of the Brazilian.

Werdum tagged Browne over and over for five rounds, though the Hawaiian hung tough and heard the final horn. From the start, the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu expert landed the cleaner and more frequent strikes on the feet, scoring to the head, body and legs with punches and kicks.

Werdum also managed to take Browne down three times throughout the fight, the first times the resilient slugger has ever been taken down in his UFC career. Werdum added insult to injury as he taunted Browne repeatedly in between landing big strike combinations.

For his part, Browne started the taunting when he made light of the first big body kick that Werdum would score in the fight. Browne also refused to quit, even when he was dazed and slowed by the accumulation of strikes absorbed, and landed one of his best combinations of the fight in the closing seconds of the fifth.

With the win Werdum has now won four straight and likely earned a chance to challenge Velasquez at a future event, expected to be held in Mexico. Browne's loss snapped a three fight win-streak.

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