Cagewriter - UFC Blog

Syndicate content Yahoo Sports
Latest Cagewriter - Mixed Martial Arts from Yahoo Sports
Updated: 1 min 51 sec ago

Glory fighter Tyrone Spong undergoes successful surgery

Tue, 04/15/2014 - 13:35

Tyrone Spong broke his leg last week in Istanbul in the finals of the Glory 15 light heavyweight tournament when Gokhan Saki checked a leg kick from Spong. Simlar to how former middleweight champion Anderson Silva got hurt last year when Chris Weidman checked a leg kick from "The Silva," Spong's leg snapped on contact and fell to the ground.

Fortunately, Spong is home and has undergone successful surgery. "I want family, friends and fans to know I'm okay," Spong said in a report by Dave Doyle.

"The trip home to Florida was a long one and I am thankful to be back in Florida. I had surgery in this morning and it went perfectly."

Spong would appear to be in relatively good spirits and he said his doctors have given him a time table for when he can resume hard training and fighting.

"My doctors said it turned out to be a clean break and they feel confident that I will recover 100 percent," he went on.

"They said I can be training for a fight as early as six months if I rehab properly. I feel very optimistic."

Follow Elias on Twitter @EliasCepeda & @YahooCagewriter

Michael Bisping goes off on Tim Kennedy at presser

Tue, 04/15/2014 - 13:10

Tim Kennedy and Michael Bisping will finally square up in the main event of the TUF: Nations Finale UFC card on Wednesday. As you may have read on our pages here at Yahoo! Sports, Bisping and Kennedy have engaged in verbal warfare leading up to their bout.

When the two middleweights faced-off Monday at the pre-event press conference, Bisping showed that all the trash talk had gotten to him and spouted a slew of profanities at Kennedy. Kennedy, who as a U.S. special forces war veteran, has had much more stressful moments than an un-armed loud mouth shouting at him, just smiled throughout.

Watch video of Bisping losing his cool below. The language is absolutely not safe for work, unless you have a colorful workplace so, make use of those ear buds, bud.

Follow Elias on Twitter @EliasCepeda & @YahooCagewriter

UFC's Mike Brown - 'I don't think I'll fight again.'

Tue, 04/15/2014 - 10:25

UFC featherweight Mike Brown recently pulled out of a scheduled April 19 bout with Estevan Payan because a nagging and serious neck issue had flared up again. While the former world champ is reluctant to use the "R" word, retirement, he says that he likely won't ever fight again.

“I don’t think I’ll fight again,” Brown told MMAjunkie. “I haven’t retired, just in case, because I don’t want to be a guy who walks away and comes right back.”

“I accepted it like seven weeks out, but my neck was kind of bothering me and it’s too much on my neck,” Brown detailed.

“I was training and in good shape, but then I started losing some strength in my hand again. When I get banged in the head some of my grip strength goes away and it’s just a reoccurring injury.”

In a game where you get hit in the head daily, not being able to take those hits anymore should pretty much be a game-ender. Brown's neck issue clearly has to do with disc and nerve issues, resulting in the temporary loss of full use of his left hand.

“It’s hard when you’ve got only one hand that’s working properly. I can’t hold onto anything with my left. If I try to grab somebody’s wrist they can easily pull away because my strength is gone. Usually in a month or two, that strength comes back, but if I bang my head and get a stinger, it goes away again. It’s just continuously active," he explained.

Brown, who won and retained the featherweight world title by beating Urijah Faber twice, currently coaches other fighters at American Top Team in Florida. He feels fortunate to already have that role to transition into fully should he never himself personally compete in MMA again.

“Coaching is something I’ve always wanted to do since I was younger,” Brown said.

“I wanted to coach pro fighters, high-level guys because I love the fight game. I got lucky to be at ATT doing what I love. I would do it for free, and I’m really lucky to do what I do.

“I’m lucky I’m at American Top Team. I’m already in coaching, so I’ll be right into a coaching role and staying involved in the sport and doing what I love.”

Brown is one of the greats and we here at Yahoo! Sports wish him health and happiness in whatever comes next in his life and career.

Follow Elias on Twitter @EliasCepeda & @YahooCagewriter

Rory MacDonald wants UFC title shot with win over Woodley

Mon, 04/14/2014 - 15:40

Rory MacDonald is scheduled to face fellow UFC welterweight contender Tyron Woodley at UFC 174 this summer and, should he win, the Candian believes he will have earned a shot at champion Johny Hendricks “When I beat Woodley, hopefully [I get a title shot] in the fall or winter in Toronto or Montreal,” MacDonald told MMA Junkie in a recent interview.

“Hendricks is a great fighter. I have a lot of respect for him. He’s definitely a good fighter, and I’m excited to see him in the future.”

MacDonald was on the verge of getting a title shot before losing to Robbie Lawler last fall. Since then, MacDonald's teammate and mentor, Georges St. Pierre, left MMA and gave up his welterweight title, and MacDonald got back in the win column by beating Demian Maia.

The young fighter from Vancouver believes that he's finally hitting his potential. “I definitely feel like I’m hitting my stride now this year,” he went on.

“My focus is at an all-time high, and I couldn’t be happier. “I’m striving to be a champion in the welterweight division."

MacDonald doesn't hope to replace St. Pierre, however. All he can do, he knows, is become the best "Ares" that he can be.

“I don’t want to fill Georges’ shoes. That’s an impossible task," he concluded.

"I don’t want to be Georges. I want to be myself. I want to represent my style of martial arts and my own personality."

Follow Eiias on Twitter @EliasCepeda & @YahooCagewriter

Rashad Evans talks Alistair Overeem leaving team

Mon, 04/14/2014 - 12:31

 

UFC heavyweight Alistair Overeem has left the Blackzilians team of South Florida and appears to be headed to Jackson/Winkeljohn's MMA team in Albuquerque, NM. Blackzilians team leader and former UFC champion Rashad Evans himself trained for years at the Jackson/Winkeljohn MMA hot-spot and doesn't seem to torn up about the Dutch fighter leaving the Jaco Training Center.

"It’s not a big deal at all to be honest," said Evans in a recent interview with John Joe O'Regan.

"Alistair was one of those guys who was on the team but never really committed to being part of it. He would run his own camps, bring in his own guys, train by himself, so him going somewhere else won’t make much difference, it isn’t a huge loss.

"The funny thing was, he would run his own camps and bring his own people in, then go out there and lose and blame everybody but himself. So now if he goes to Jackson’s and doesn’t learn to open up and step out of himself then he is going to get the same results...He just doesn’t trust people."

According to Evans, Overeem is not a coachable fighter and so, isn't a fighter who improves that much. "Suga" says that a great MMA fighter needs to live outside of their comfort zone.

"And at the end of the day as an athlete you have to be coachable. And being coachable is a humbling thing. You have to be like, ‘let me put aside all my own thoughts and let me hear what is coming in’. Then afterwards you might weigh up what you want to take on and what you don’t," Evans said.

"But when you come into a situation with a mind set on only what you want to do, only think what you want to think, then you’re not going to get any better.

"The thing with Alistair is he only does what he wants to do. He doesn’t want to get out of his comfort zone. He doesn’t want to do anything to get out of his comfort zone, even in training. He doesn’t want to train too hard or push himself too hard because it’s out of his comfort zone.

"But if you look at a fight, it is anything but comfortable. So when you’re fighting tough guys and you’re not willing to go out of your comfort zone, you lose."

Despite his criticism of Overeem, Evans insisted that he doesn't harbor a grudge against the former K-1 kickboxing champion.

"There’s no hard feelings, I just think he is always going to be that rolling stone," Evans claimed.

"He is always going to be in between places, trying to figure out where he belongs. And the problem is that when he gets somewhere that he may belong, he doesn’t open up enough or trust enough to really let a relationship develop."

Follow Elias on Twitter @EliasCepeda & @YahooCagewriter

Nick Diaz to Roy Jones Jr. - Buy out my UFC contract so we can fight

Mon, 04/14/2014 - 11:18

Nick Diaz was at Saturday's Manny Pacquiao vs. Timothy Bradley II fight in Las Vegas and afterwards spoke about his love for boxing and his own boxing aspirations. "I love to watch [Pacquiao]," Diaz began in his interview with Fight Hub.

"I love the way he fights. I try and take what I can. This year has been good to me because I can go out and make a lot of these boxing shows. Usually I have to fight. People don't think I am a serious boxing fan but most of the time I had 3 to 6 fights a year in a career that lasted 13 years."

The kinda, sorta retired UFC welteweight loves boxing so much that he says he hopes someone buys his contract out from the UFC so that he can box professionally.

‘If I could get somebody to buy my contract out from the UFC, I'd be fighting out here. Tell [Roy Jones Jr.'s] guys to buy my contract so we can fight," Diaz said (video below).

Jones Jr., of course, is a former pound-for-bound boxing king, but is well past his prime and should have retired for the sake of his health years ago. That hasn't stopped him from seeking out big MMA names like Diaz and Anderson Silva as prospective opponents in recent years, however.

Diaz, who has always found success with his hands in MMA bouts, says that his decades of experience in the practice ring sparring high-level boxers makes him curious how he could do against them in competition. The Stockton native also specified that he'd like to box at 167 pounds, if possible.

"Of course, sparring is different than fighting but I'd love to see what I could do," he said.

For now, Diaz is still in the UFC and is sticking by his demand of $500,000 to fight or a title fight.

"I'd like to fight for the world title against Johny Hendricks but these guys [the UFC] are kinda holding out. I'm trying to renegotiate my contract and negotiate some fights for this year. I don't know what will happen, maybe nothing. That's fine. Either way I can't complain. I had a good run. I've already had 37 fights but I would like to make a boxing run. It's always up to Dana White and always up to who's got the real money."

Follow Elias on Twitter @EliasCepeda & @YahooCagewriter

Rich Franklin - I believe I can beat Anderson Silva

Mon, 04/14/2014 - 10:27

Rich Franklin may have just been called out on Twitter by MMA's favorite felon - Chael Sonnen - but that isn't who "Ace" was talking about in a recent interview. The former high school match teacher has already lost badly to Anderson Silva twice but a true champion never gives up.

That's why, though he says he doesn't hold a grudge for the Brazilian who took the UFC middleweight title away from him in 2006, Franklin says he'd not only welcome a third crack at the injured "Spider" but is also confident he would beat him.

“Would I fight Anderson a third time? Absolutely," Franklin said during a interview on Submission Radio (audio below. Franklin comes on at about the 1:25 hour mark.)

"Is it because I feel like I have some unfinished business? Not at all. It’s just, in my mind as a champion and to have the mentality of a champion I 100% wholeheartedly believe that I can beat Anderson in a fight. Not just Anderson but just anybody like that’s the mentality you have to have. If somebody says 'Rich do you think you can beat Anderson Silva in a fight?' Absolutely, yes. 'Rich do you think you could beat Jon Jones in a fight?' Absolutely yes. Like, you have to answer yes to those questions and not just because it’s a formality, but because you believe that stuff, because you believe in yourself and if you don’t believe in yourself then you don’t have any business pursuing a title in a sport or something like that, you don’t have any business in the pursuit of being the best. And so yeah I would take a fight with Anderson. It wouldn’t be for any reason like redemption of vengeance or retribution or any other kinda cool word that we’ve seen on a UFC poster before, but yeah I would fight him and I believe I could beat him and that’s just me with the champions mentality.”

Training to and then ultimately getting in a ring or cage to fight another trained athlete for sport is a pretty audacious thing. As Franklin explains, real fighters - especially fighting champions - necessarily have an almost illogical belief in their abilities to conquer any foe.

So, don't jump all over Franklin for responding in the affirmative when asked if he'd fight Silva. We're sure that Silva would say the same thing about fighting Chris Weidman for a third time.

Fighters gon' fight.

That said, Franklin hasn't fought since 2012, though maintains that he isn't retired yet. Who would you like to see Franklin fight next?

Follow Elias on Twitter @EliasCepeda & @YahooCagewriter

Matt Brown training with Jon Fitch for UFC Fight Night

Sun, 04/13/2014 - 11:36

UFC welterweight contender Matt Brown has a new training partner in his camp as he prepares to take on Erik Silva May 10 in Cincinnati - former world title challenger Jon Fitch. For years, Fitch was a top-5 welterweight before being unceremoniously released by the UFC last year.

Brown is known for duking it out on the feet while Fitch is most known for his excellent wrestling. Cagewriter spoke with Brown from his camp in Syracuse, NY recently and "The Immortal" said that the contrast in styles between he and Fitch has proven useful.

"We are very different fighters in that a lot of the things I want to work on, he’s really great at and some of the things we likes to work on, I’m decent at," Brown said.

"Specifically, getting to work on wrestling with him. But, we’re also not so different of fighters after all, you know? (laughs)".

Indeed, both men are well-rounded and, despite their different strengths, each in their own way fight with a blood and guts style. Brown's Brazilian Jiu Jitsu coach recently accepted a teaching job at the gym Fitch works at and moved to from California awhile back.

That re-location of his coach prompted Brown to move his camp to New York as he prepares for the fight with Silva back in his own home state of Ohio. That Fitch has fought and beaten the Brazilian is certainly not lost on Brown either.

"Plus, he fought Erik Silva," Brown said, adding on to the positives of working with the grinding former Purdue wrestling team captain.

"He’s probably spent more time in the ring with Silva than any other person in the world...We talk about him as an opponent all the time. That helps me get a feel for what he may be like to fight."

Brown is returning to action after a serious back disc injury that forced him out of a scheduled fight against Carlos Condit in March. He has the bulk of camp left to go before fighting Silva but so far he couldn't be happier with the experience.

"It's worked out," the fighter out of Columbus said.

"It might make more sense in the future to just live up here so I won’t have to go back and forth for camps. That's something I’ll think about more after the fight."

Follow Elias on Twitter @EliasCepeda & @YahooCagewriter

Ronda Rousey vs. Alexis Davis set for UFC 175

Sat, 04/12/2014 - 11:19

UFC bantamweight Alexis Davis made a good point after her most recent win (in February against Jessica Eye) when she asked, rhetorically, who else in the UFC women's 135 pound division was 3-0 other than her and champion Ronda Rousey. No one, it turns out.

That accomplishment has evidently not gone unnoticed by the UFC brass and, despite weeks of other rumored opponents for Rousey, Davis will get the next shot at Rousey's title stap. Friday night the UFC announced Davis will challenge Rousey at UFC 175 on July 5 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The UFC continues to bet big on women's fights, placing this one on the July 4 weekend card, historically one of its top cards each year. Rousey has also emerged as one of, if not the, most in-demand fighter in the UFC.

The fight will be Rousey's third in about six months' time. She would have filmed two major motion pictures within a year by that point as well.

Do you think Davis can threaten Rousey' reign of armbar terror? Let us know in the comments section.

Follow Elias on Twitter @EliasCepeda & @YahooCagewriter

Nathan Corbett heads into hostile territory at Glory 15 with a smile

Sat, 04/12/2014 - 10:26

What's in a staredown? Everyone knows that it's the fight that settles everything between pugilists but so much of the gamesmanship and anticipation happens before the first bell rings.

If you're a big time fighter, say Australian kickboxer Nathan Corbett, and you fight in a major company like Glory, the promoters will do all they can to create public tension between you and your opponent. There are often press conferences, during which you are seated near one another and asked about one another.

Sometimes, fighters are brought together at the center of the ring by the presiding referee right before the fight's start to go over final instructions. Most of all, however, there is the stare down, which occurs right after both fighters weigh in the day before the contest.

Both men have trained for weeks, singularly obsessed with one another, are often extra irritable from having just dropped a considerable amount of weight and now are made to stand inches from one another in a fight posture, but not to actually fight just yet - to simply pose for photos.

When you actually think about it, the ceremony is as strange as it is familiar to fight fans. However, the reason it persists is simple - we think we can see something in the fighters based on how they react to the awkward situation.

Fighters often think they can tell something about their opponent in those moments as well. Some fighters  huff and puff, some look anywhere but their opponent, others smile, and sometimes - if we're lucky - a mini brawl breaks out right there on the stage.

Corbett has tried just about every approach throughout his career. "I've tried to look into the eyes of my opponent, other times I've looked away so I wouldn't lose focus," he recounts to Cagewriter shortly after weighing in to fight Gokhan Saki in Istanbul on Friday.

The two will fight one another in the semi-finals of the Glory light heavyweight tournament Saturday. Whoever wins will fight again that same night in the finals against the winner of Saulo Cavalari vs. Tyrone Spong.

Corbett has used different approaches to weigh-in face-offs in the past, but this time he did what came naturally. "This time I just smiled at him," he chuckles.

"I'm in a good place and I wanted to stay there. I'm calm and ready to fight. [Saki] was trying to look like a mean, scary guy, and he is a mean scary guy, but I just wanted to keep myself in the good place I am."

Focusing on himself in that moment is an extension of what Corbett has done throughout his training camp for this fight and tournament. He explains that focusing on one's self is about the only thing a fighter can do when heading into an unpredictable tournament where you don't precisely know how many times and everyone who you will fight.

"With a tournament, you just have to focus on the one fight in front of you because you don't know what will happen after that. You have to focus on yourself, and what you need to sharpen, what your strengths are," he says.

Corbett says that Saki is unpredictable himself as well. "[Saki] goes hard, is explosive, has power in both hands and switches his stances," he details.

"So it's difficult to plan too carefully for what a guy like that will do because you don't know what he will do at any given moment."

Corbett has also not allowed himself to think too much of what might happen should he beat Saki - specifically that he could face Spong in the finals. Years ago, Corbett knocked Spong out but hit him after the stoppage and the bout was changed to a no contest.

Last fall, Spong got his revenge and stopped the Australian. Corbett would surely like the chance to break the tie with Spong but is focused on Saki.

"I'm just focused on fighting Saki, not would could happen after him," he insists.

Corbett will admit to needing the boost he received from a win in his home country two months after the last Spong fight. "I definitely needed that," he says.

"The opponent they gave me [Henriques Zowa] was a good match up for me and I was fighting at home but it was good to get another win. I needed to get the last fight out of my mind."

Corbett brings his surging confidence into hostile territory today against Saki - a Turkish fighter. Corbett has fought many times in his native Australia and knows that it won't be easy fighting a home town hero on his own turf.

Similar to the weigh ins on Friday, however, Corbett plans to confidently be himself when faced with the pressure and smile back. Well, smile and hit back.

"I'm used to being the hero, fighting at home. I've thought about that a lot already. The last time, I thought about my opponent. Everyone was cheering for me and I thought about what it felt like to be him in that moment, because I knew it would be me some day," Corbett says.

"The fans will get [Saki] more excited and he'll come out even harder against me. That's fine. Whatever type of energy it is, it is still energy, and I'll take it in and use it as well."

Follow Elias on Twitter @EliasCepeda & @YahooCagewriter

Chael Sonnen explains his part in brawl with Wanderlei Silva, which airs Sunday on Fight Pass

Fri, 04/11/2014 - 19:02

During a media scrum before a pay-per-view event several months ago, UFC president Dana White grinned broadly and told the assembled reporters that coaches Wanderlei Silva and Chael Sonnen were fighting during the filming of an episode of "The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 3."

Well, on Sunday on UFC Fight Pass, the episode will air.

I had the opportunity to see an advance screening of the episode, and after watching was left with three impressions:

1, Silva was highly agitated for no apparent reason.

2, He didn't really want to fight.

3, One of his coaches is a total cheap-shot artist who deserves to be penalized for escalating and not stopping the incident.

It was Sonnen who made the first physical contact, though that came after a long period of agitation from Silva, who not only spat at Sonnen but gestured wildly at him and invaded Sonnen's personal space.

Sonnen responded by shoving Silva with two hands to the chest and then the fight broke out. It was the first time in TUF history that coaches fought on set, but the worst part was the action of Silva assistant Andre Dito. A one-time Pride fighter, instead of playing the peacekeeper role and putting the combatants apart, Dito got involved himself.

It was bad enough that Silva was involved, but the assistant coaches should have been smart enough to keep their cool. But Dito did not and made a bad situation worse by taking cheap shots at Sonnen.

Now clearly, emotions were boiling over. Silva is one of many Brazilians who are outraged by Sonnen's trash talk toward former middleweight champion Anderson Silva and Brazilians in general. Sonnen speaks like a professional wrestler in a bit to hype and bring attention to his fights, but in reality he's a very bright guy who is nothing like the "American Gangster," he portrays himself to be.

Wanderlei Silva, though, seems to have taken most of what Sonnen has said about Brazilians over the last several years seriously and not as a way to hype lucrative fights against fighters such as himself, Anderson Silva and Vitor Belfort.

In a telephone interview with Yahoo Sports on Friday, Sonnen said the fight was "100 percent real and there was nothing fake about it."

But Sonnen also was perplexed and disappointed it occurred.

"It was real unfortunate and it never should have happened," Sonnen said. "It's not a bravado moment in the least. It was a bad moment. It was a negative thing between he and I. It's regrettable. It never should have happened. It never should have turned physical. It's never happened in the past.

"If you watch The Ultimate Fighter at all over the course of the time it's been on the air, you see a lot of situations where the coaches don't care for each other. They bring coaches in who don't like each other and you get a little banter back and forth. But on our very first day, he threatened me and physically shoved me twice."

The episode opens with both teams awaiting Silva's arrival in order to pick the next fight. He was late and said he was at the doctor and got stuck in traffic. But Sonnen said he reeked of alcohol and looked like he hadn't slept the night before.

Sonnen said, "I outed him for being drunk and I don't think he liked that." He added that he thought being outed is what pushed Silva over the edge.

The American also noted that on the day the fight occurred, which happened before a weigh-in, Silva was dressed in fight clothes with a cup on and a mouthpiece, as if he were ready to fight. Sonnen was wearing jeans and flip flops.

The UFC has hyped the brawl relentlessly, hoping to build interest in their July 5 fight at UFC 175 in Las Vegas.

Sunday on UFC Fight Pass, viewers can make up their own minds about the brawl and whether it makes them want to see them fight any more.

Roy Nelson KO's Antonio Rodrigo "Minotauro" Nogueira

Fri, 04/11/2014 - 15:08

All it took was three big overhand right punches for Roy Nelson to snap a two-fight losing streak Friday in Abu Dhabi against legendary former heavyweight champion Antonio Rodrigo "Minotauro" Nogueira. The two grapplers decided stand and trade punches for all of the nearly three minutes that their bout lasted and Nelson's power proved to be superior as he scored a walk-off KO win over the Brazilian.

In his post-fight interview, "Big Country" praised his opponent, giving him credit as a pioneer of the sport. "If it wasn't for him, we wouldn't be fighting in MMA as heavyweights," Nelson said of Nogueira.

Nelson went on to say that he planned "to go the full five rounds," but that his "right hand just landed first." It did indeed, early and often.

The round began with the taller Nogueira pumping his lead jab out at Nelson as the corpulent warrior covered up, crouched and bobbed. After about one minute, Nelson landed his first overhand right, dropping "Big Nog," to the canvas.

The submission ace seemed to regain his bearings immediately as he looked up at Nelson from an open guard. When they returned to their feet, it was more of the same - Nogueira confidently pumping his jab, catching mostly air, and Nelson bobbing and weaving out of danger.

Nelson got inside and took advantage of Nogueira's low hands once more with an overhand to the chin, knocking the former Pride and UFC champ down again. Nogueira got back to his feet but it was clear that he was done as he wobbled back and forth before taking one more blast to the chin, putting him down, cold and out for good - his arms and legs stretched out, stiffly.

The Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt has been in some of the sport's biggest wars, and has come out on top in most of them. This loss is the latest in a disturbing trend of trauma-inducing losses for the future Hall of Famer, however.

Nogueira, a near fifteen year veteran, has now lost three out of his last four fights, and five out of his last eight, dating back to 2008.

Follow Elias on Twitter @EliasCepeda & @YahooCagewriter

Clay Guida wins decision over Tatsuya Kawajiri

Fri, 04/11/2014 - 14:50

Clay Guida got back on the winning track with a unanimous decision win over Tatsuya Kawajiri in the co-main of UFC Fight Night: Abu Dhabi Friday. Guida won the bout with scores of 30-27 on all three judges' scorecards.

Of the two scrappy featherweights, Guida struck first, landing a big right hand that floored Kawajiri. The Japanese legend hung tough as Guida then took his back, and avoided giving up a submission. Kawajiri fought back with shoulder lock and arm bar attempts but Guida fended those submissions off before taking the back again.

Kawajiri managed to score a take down before getting caught in a Kimura shoulder lock hold of his own to close the first round. The two engaged in a close grappling war in the second round, which Guida edged out with takedowns and effective scrambling.

In the third, Guida landed more strikes on the feet and scored a big slam. Kawajiri refused to give in and threatened with a guillotine choke and heel hook attempt.

Guida escaped both and walked away with the win.

Follow Elias on Twitter @EliasCepeda & @YahooSports

Ronda Rousey - Gina Carano deserves title shot

Thu, 04/10/2014 - 12:33

If Gina Carano comes back to MMA, she'd likely fight Ronda Rousey and if she fights Rousey, the UFC bantamweight champion wants to put her belt on the line against "Conviction." "I think it would be the best thing for women's MMA," Rousey said during a recent media event.

"I think it would be the highest profile fight that could be done. I don't think it would make sense for her to come back and fight somebody else and take the risk of maybe losing and not being able to capitalize on the fight between me and her. I think it would make more sense to go straight to a title fight."

Carano last fought in 2009 and lost badly to Cris "Cyborg" Justino. Even so, Rousey believes that Carano deserves a shot at UFC gold because of her fame. Rousey says that she owes everything to a pioneer like Carano.

"She's one of the pioneers on the sport," Rousey said.

"She's the reason I fight at all. You can't say she's just coming in off the street. How can you say no to the woman that I owe everything to? I would bend over backwards to fight her. I'm not going to make her run through the gauntlet to fight me. I would show up at her house if that's where she wanted to fight."

Carano has only once fought MMA at 135 pounds and often had trouble making 140 pounds. Do you think it's possible for Carano to make the bantamweight limit and, if so, would it help or hurt her against Rousey?

Let us know in the comments section.

Follow Elias on Twitter @EliasCepeda & @YahooCagewriter

Clay Guida promises to push pace against Tatsuya Kawajiri

Thu, 04/10/2014 - 10:50

UFC featherweight Clay Guida has a lot of praise and respect for his opponent tomorrow in Abu Dhabi, Japanese legend Tatsuya Kawajiri. "Going to be a heck of a fight. He's fought for belts, he's had belts. He's had some amazing fights, some amazing submissions, very memorable battles in Pride Bushido, Shooto, and it's cool to see the UFC give me this opportunity in neutral ground, in Abu Dhabi in front of just amazing fans," the ever-positive Guida recently told Ray Flores on ESPN Chicago's Fighting Words podcast.

That said, "The Carpenter" is certain that he can push Kawakiri to his breaking point through his conditioning and relentlessness. "I don't know if he knows what deep water is, yet," Guida said.

"He's fought a couple 45ers and he's about to see what fast-paced is...he's about to see what a full gas tank is at 110 miles per hour."

The American wrestler himself has not fought since August of last year when he lost to top contender Chad Mendes via TKO. Since that time, Guida has rested, coached, traveled and rehabbed injuries.

The time off was well-spent, according to the fighter, and he says he's in a good mental place to rebound from the loss.

 

"You have to have short-term memory. I believe, sometimes in life and definitely in sports," Guida explained.

"Chad taught me a valuable lesson, just like Kenny Florian did right before I went on a pretty good win streak. Just little things that my brother tells me every day in practice. 'Hands up, stay off the fence.' 'Hands up, don't back up.' Chad made me pay for it, unfortunately.

"I'm really looking forward to bouncing back after a nice lay off, resting my body. The body needed to readjust and repair. I had some lower back issues that called for rest. Did a lot of traveling, a lot of coaching, a lot of learning and developing of some skills."

Who are you picking in Friday's UFC co-main event? Let us know in the comments section.

Follow Elias on Twitter @EliasCepeda & @YahooCagewriter

Nick Diaz – "I'm not fighting for less than $500,000"

Thu, 04/10/2014 - 10:34

UFC president Dana White recently said that he offered retired former two-time welterweight title challenger Nick Diaz a fight with Hector Lombard. According to White, Diaz was interested in the bout but then never got back to him. In a recent interview with MMA Fighting, Nick confirmed that story, but added some crucial details.

"All I said was, 'What am I getting paid?' And he said, 'Let me check your contract.' And the last text I got from him was what I would be fighting for. I didn't consider fighting for that kind of money. I didn't say anything back to him, right, but usually that means something. I'm not considering even for a second fighting any of those guys for less than $500,000. There's no way," Diaz explained.

Diaz last fought in March, 2013, when he unsuccessfully challenged then-champion Georges St. Pierre for his welterweight title. Diaz retired for the second time in three fights after that one, but so far, has stuck to that status, with the occassional teases.

"I'm retired. Completely retired. Unless the UFC wants to renegotiate for something I'm happy with or I'm going to be fighting for the world title, which is obviously going to be for something I'm happy with because I'll make a ton of money," Diaz went on.

The Stockton fighter says that paying him more would be a win all-around. He'd get more money, the UFC would get a draw and the fans would have their bad boy back.

"The UFC wants me to fight. The people want me to fight. I don't want me to fight. So if we're going to need me to fight, we're going to have to work out the right deal," he said.

Do you think the UFC should renegotiate Diaz' contract to bring him out of retirement? Let us know in the comments section.

Follow Elias on Twitter @EliasCepeda & @YahooCagewriter

Nate Diaz speaks out about UFC 'con,' Dana White responds

Wed, 04/09/2014 - 11:28

So, UFC lightweight contender Nate Diaz isn't very happy with his contract. If you couldn't glean that from his tweet requesting his release from the UFC in February, his first interview since beating Gray Maynard last November made it clear.

"I'm ready to fight but not for some funny money that they're trying to give me," Diaz recently told MMA Fighting.

"They can let me go or they can let me fight, but let me do something. They know I need to make some money. I feel like they're just trying to keep me on the waiting list. I don't even want to communicate through anybody. If they want to figure out what's going on, we should talk. No one is contacting me. I'm just doing my thing. Training every day. I'm ready to fight tomorrow.

"They need to be about more money. My contract is all [expletive] up. I want to be paid like these other fighters. I'm over here getting chump change. At this point, they're paying all my partners and other people I train with are getting real money, and it's too embarrassing for me to even fight again for the money they're paying me. So they can either pay me or let me go. I'm with that.

"I train harder than everybody in the UFC. And then there's boxers out there getting multimillion dollar contracts, and I'm a bigger draw than boxers. It's embarrassing. I think I'm the biggest draw in the lightweight division. I feel like they're trying to weed me out of the top 10. I saw that I went from no. 5 to 6 in the rankings, for some reason. That doesn't make any sense."

Diaz says that his brother Nick and training partner Gilbert Melendez now make a great deal more money than he does, though he believes that even they don't get all they deserve from the UFC.

"I don't get paid [expletive], and I'm about to tell the world. I didn't like what my brother and my partners got paid. Now that they got a better contract, which still ain't [expletive], it blows what I get out of the water. And they deserve triple what they get. I've been in the UFC for eight years and never turned down a fight. It's not like I'm getting paid 20 bucks an hour and they're getting 50 bucks an hour. I'm getting 20 bucks an hour and they're getting paid 15,000 bucks an hour. They blow me out the water. At this point, I can't even go to lunch with my partners because if we start talking about contracts or our business, I don't have anything but bitter [expletive] to say. We're entertaining entertainers. We get Shaq, Justin Bieber and Lil' Jon at the show. How are we entertaining billionaires and we can't even get [expletive]?

"My partners still make [expletive] money for what the company is bringing in. They're happy because they're not getting paid what they used to get paid, so they get little chunks to shut up. As far as I'm concerned, I don't get paid [expletive]. I get $60,000 [to show] and $60,000 [to win]. If I were doing this for the fame, I would have quit seven years ago. I can't tell you what my brother and Gil make, but I can tell you that they signed a contract for more than I get paid to headline and win a fight, and that's bull-[expletive]. So you understand where I'm coming from? I can't even fight for the money they're offering me. So I ask to get released because I can't fight there for that."

Diaz went so far as to say that the UFC "conned" him into signing his last contract. The fighter claimed that he signed that contract with the UFC just weeks before fighting Benson Henderson for the lightweight title, a fight he would go on to lose in a lopsided five-round decision.

After fighting Henderson, Diaz got TKO'd by Josh Thomson, but then rebounded with a nasty KO win over Gray Maynard. Three fights into his new contract, Diaz has had enough of it and wants to renegotiate.

He claimed that the UFC told him that they would renegotiate with him after a couple fights if he just signed that new contract before taking on Henderson. Predictably, UFC president Dana White had a much different message in response to Diaz's complaints.

"Nate Diaz came in and signed a new deal and was very happy with his new deal. We gave him a shot at the title and he lost to Benson Henderson. If he would have won, obviously his deal would have changed if he became champion, which he did not. Then he got stopped by Thomson. Thomson finished him," White said.

"Now he comes off a win over Gray Maynard and feels like he should be making Justin Bieber money. Nate needs to get back in there and start fighting, win fights again and earn a title shot again.

"Guess how much money he makes sitting at home? Zero. Get back to work, Nate."

Follow Elias on Twitter @EliasCepeda & @YahooCagewriter

Alexander Gustafsson - I'm a bad matchup for Jon Jones

Wed, 04/09/2014 - 11:09

 It's pretty clear that UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones doesn't want to fight Alexander Gustafsson for a second time after walking away with a razor-thin and controversial decision win over the Swede last year. First, Jones didn't grant the automatic rematch to Gustafsson that was warranted and then he had the gall to suggest that Gustafsson should have to win two consecutive fights to earn the right to challenge him once more.

A lot of fighters in Gustafsson's position might pick up the trash talk at this point but the soft-spoken contender doesn't seem interested in doing that. He'll readily admit that Jones does not seem to want to fight him but the Nordic fighter won't attribute that to simple fear in "Bones."

"The thing is he knows - he knows I'm a really bad matchup for him. He knows that," Gustafsson said in a recent FoxSports interview.

"I don't think Jones is scared or he's trying to run or anything like that. He just knows that I'm a really bad matchup and he knows that we will fight one day. He knows that, but he's trying to avoid it as long as he can."

Jones fights Glover Teixeira later this month in defense of his 205-pound belt. Gustafsson is picking Jones to win but, whomever walks away with the belt, he expects to be the next man to step in the cage with them.

"It feels great, I can't wait," Gustafsson said about getting another title shot next.

"The future looks very good and I'm very excited."

Follow Elias on Twitter @EliasCepeda & @YahooCagewriter

[EXCLUSIVE] Josh Burkman talks WSOF controversy

Tue, 04/08/2014 - 15:28

No outside observer could have known something was wrong. Josh Burkman was set to fight the tough Tyler Stinson March 29 in Las Vegas, Nevada on the World Series of Fighting (WSOF) 9 card and hoped to get back on the winning track after losing to Steve Carl last Octobepromotion. The WSOF matchmaker got involved, mean things were said and, for some reason, Vinny Magalhaes even got into the scrap.

It was ugly, and then it was over. Burkman announced soon after the twitter spat that he was staying with WSOF and that things were now all good.

Fans were left wondering what in the heck had just happened. Josh Burkman sat down with Cagewriter this week to explain his side of what, exactly, the fuss was all about between he and WSOF.

I can't work on going anywhere else unless #WSOF releases me. If so, we will start fresh somewhere else...

— Joshua Burkman (@JoshBurkman) April 3, 2014

It’s Monday morning in Utah and “The People’s Warrior” is more thoughtful and measured than the terse, angry-sounding version we got from him on Twitter. 140 character-maximum mediums of mass communication are not great for conveying nuance or detail, it turns out.

Burkman, who has just gotten back into the gym recently to begin the slow process of preparing for his next fight – whoever it ends up being against - , wants to explain his account more fully.

“It’s easy for things to get overlooked,” he begins.

“WSOF is a new and fast-growing organization. They’ve got a lot of fighters and a lot of contracts and it’s possible that they don’t know what each one says, you know?”

At saying that, Burkman chuckles. A few weeks ago, however, the situation was not comical to him in the slightest.

“I’ve got a clause that keeps me active, meaning they have to give me a certain amount of fights in a certain period of time. Going into the [WSOF 9] card, we were coming right up on that deadline where they owed me another fight. I told [WSOF matchmaker] Ali [Abdelaziz] that I wanted to fight on the card, but he said the card was filling up and at budget.

“I understood and I’m sure he was right, but I needed another fight. I wanted to fight again after my last one to prove that I had an off night. So, I reminded him that it was in my contract that they needed to get me on this card.

“So, they put me on the card against Stinson but sent me a bout agreement that paid me less than what my contract with them said I am supposed to get paid. So, right then, I made a plan to fight Stinson, hopefully win, and then ask for my release. I was pretty sure that with the way I’d been fighting in recent years, that if I could get another win, I’d be able to sign with other organizations.

“To be honest, I didn’t think they’d mind too much. Ali and Ray Sefo had been saying that they wouldn’t stand in the way of fighters leaving if they wanted to leave. I never thought that it would create this big stir”

The very night he beat Stinson, Burkman says that he told WSOF president Ray Sefo that he wanted to be released. The fighter says that he also spoke with WSOF consultant Shawn Lampman and asked for his release.

Burkman says that both men expressed understanding of his position but asked him to sleep on it for a day or two.

“Shawn Lampman told me, ‘Josh, we’ve put millions of dollars into marketing our top guys and you’re one of those guys. We’re giving you fights, we’re putting you out there,’” Burkman remembers.

“This is all before anything was posted on twitter.”

“When I next talked with Shawn, he said, ‘nope, we’re not releasing you.’ I got pissed off. I had to convince them to give me a fight they owed me, then they paid me less for it than they owed me and now I wasn’t even going to be able to carry out this plan and go elsewhere where I felt I could be appreciated. On twitter, someone posted something about me and [new WSOF welterweight champ Rousimar] Palhares fighting next for the WSOF welterweight title and I tweeted back that I didn’t want the belt. That’s how it all started. I was in a bad mood at the time and I didn’t want the belt. I wanted the money that was owed to me or I wanted to be released.”

Burkman explains how, far from having a prima donna attitude, he actually understands that fight promotions like WSOF have a lot to manage and that matchmaking and keeping contracts current can be difficult.

“Here’s the thing, WSOF has a lot of things on their plate and a lot of goals. And, they are good for the sport of MMA. I realize that I’m just a small part of that or any organization and so, I can be easily overlooked,” Burkman acknowledges.

“That’s why you have to fight for what you deserve and are owed. A lot of people are afraid of confrontation, even if they are right. So, they avoid it at all costs. I have no problem with confrontation if it’s to get something just or if I was wronged. I’ve always managed myself and I’ve always had that attitude.

“As MMA fighters, we are independent contractors. We are 1099, basically. We don’t get insurance, we don’t have 401k retirement plans to pay into. If you lose, you are overlooked. It’s understandable that promotions are like that.”

Burkman is trying hard to convey that he understands why promotions may look at fighters as pretty expendable. He doesn’t begrudge them for it, it’s just the reason why he is so assertive in advocating for himself.

“Fighters just have to stand up for themselves,” says the self-managed fighter. “I never have and never will complain about the type of work I’m in or the lack of security and stability that being a fighter offers. I don’t cry about that. I knew it going in and I love training and fighting so that’s why I do it.

“But, because fighters are basically on their own, you just have to make sure that you get what you are owed while you can and then be smart with your money so you can possibly have it for the future to open a gym or do something else.

“I’ve been fortunate in that I’ve been smart with my money, in that I have a gym. It’s nothing fancy, but it’s mine.”

So, Burkman felt wronged and then stymied by the WSOF. He took the matter to his attorney, who then wrote a letter and sent it to WSOF officials.

“I took it to my attorney and he drafted up a letter and sent it to the people at WSOF that needed to see it. Basically, I needed to be released or paid they money they owed me and then I would have no problem fighting the last fight on my contract for them,” Burkman recounts.

Once they received a letter from Burkman’s attorney, the fighter says that WSOF officials were happy to sit down and negotiate with him.

“Basically, we got into a room and worked it out,” he says.

 

Burkman got he wanted in back pay and WSOF got what it wanted in The Ultimate Fighter vet staying on their roster. “I honestly think that my relationship with WSOF is better for all this happening,” Burkman maintains.

“I also think that WSOF is better off for it happening. Like I said, they are a new promotion and growing fast. It is going to be hard to keep track of all the moving parts they have. I think they are good for the sport but I just needed to advocate for myself.

“As my own manager, I’ve always believed hard in fighting for myself but I’ve also always tried to see the promotion’s perspective. So, you just try to get what is possible and best for you as the fighter and the promotion.

“So, WSOF paid me what they owed me and I agreed to fight the last fight on my contract for them.”

Observers may assume that Burkman’s next fight will be for a title but he says that a lot of work is still needed for that to come to fruition.

“They want it to be a title fight, fine. I’m perfectly fine fighting for a title. But a lot of things have to fall in place for that to happen. If they do, great. If not, I’m happy to fight anybody,” Burkman says.

Burkman may be riding high now, but he explains that things could have very well ended up quite differently for him.

“Now, because I won my last fight with a good knockout, I’m in a decent place in my career. But, if I had lost, then people would think, ‘oh, he lost two in a row, he’s 33, 34 and his best days are behind him.’ Now, I look good and people might think my best fights are ahead of me,” he says.

“But it could have gone another way if I’d lost. Then, I’m sure the WSOF would have had no problem releasing me and I would have just made less to fight than I was supposed to."

MMA business stories may be a niche, but Burkman believes that his struggle really is a universal one. Standing up for yourself is a value and philosophy to the thirty three year-old father.

“This is a bad trend in MMA right now but also in the whole country and world. I wish we could still deals on a handshake, but we can’t,” he begins.

“If you’re wronged or owed something, you need to fight for it. Now a days, there’s lots going on that may make people uncomfortable. Maybe it’s at work, maybe it’s with laws being passed, maybe it’s with rights being taken away. People are uncomfortable with these things happening but they don’t want confrontation. “That’s why things are not going well in this country right now. If there’s an injustice happening, or an inequity, we all need to fight that. Keeping peace isn’t worth everything. Justice before mercy.”

With how hard he fights for himself as his own manager, we ask Burkman if he’s considered managing other fighters once he retires from competition. He says that anything is possible, but that he hasn’t seriously considered it yet.

“Things have worked out a very particular way for me because I’ve lots of help, whether it’s from attorneys or others,” he says.

Burkman does hope to get one important message out to fighters everywhere, though, through his example. “Contracts should be honored at all times,” he concludes.

“They shouldn’t be overlooked when a fighter loses and gone over with a fine-tooth comb when they win. Contracts need to be honored at all times.”

Follow Elias on Twitter @EliasCepeda & @YahooCagewriter

Stefan Struve medically cleared to fight again

Tue, 04/08/2014 - 12:36

 

UFC heavyweight Stefan Struve was forced to take a leave of absence from competition in 2013 after a scary heart condition diagnosis. Yet, through it all, the big man never gave up hope that he would return.

Slowly, with treatment, his condition and health began to improve until, by the start of 2014, Struve reached the point where he fully expected to eventually make a return to fighting. Today, the seven foot slugger says he's medically cleared to fight once more.

“I’m just working on the last details with the UFC right now for my clearance,” Struve told USA TODAY.

“They’ve got everything — my doctor’s letter, medical files and everything. Everything is there, and we’re just waiting on the UFC to do their thing."

Once the UFC does their thing, Struve said that he is ready to head into a training camp immediately.

“I want to fight,” Struve insisted.

“I’m ready to go into a training camp. I can be ready in two or three months.”

Struve expects to need surgery one day but hopes that less traumatic treatment will suffice for awhile.

“The chamber where the aortic valve is connected is the left chamber of your heart, and that chamber was a lot bigger than it was supposed to be,” Struve said of his condition.

“A lot of that was the high blood pressure. Now they treated me for it with blood pressure medicine, and it got smaller.

“Because of that, the opening where the valve is got smaller, too. Normally, when the chamber gets bigger, like often happens with athletes, the valve gets bigger, too, so that it closes. “

But in my case, the opening got bigger and the valve didn’t grow, so the leakage got worse and worse. But now, it’s smaller again and the valve closes better.”

For Struve, nothing can cure his heartache like stepping back into the UFC Octagon. The twenty six year old is eager to pick up where he left off.

“I left a year behind me that was the most difficult year of my life, but now I’m here. I’m back, and I want to fight," he concluded.

"I want to show that I’m one of the best heavyweights in the world. I really feel like I’ve got another shot at all of this and I’m better than I’ve ever been.”

Follow Elias on Twitter @EliasCepeda & @YahooCagewriter