Monday, March 23, 2015

Mark Hunt Tug of War

Here is current UFC HW star Mark Hunt in a Japanese tug of war competition featuring a sumo, Bob Sapp and a world's strongest man.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Best Champions The UFC Needs

Without a doubt, the UFC holds the vast majority of talent in MMA. However, some legit rising fighters exist outside the UFC who should get a shot in the UFC. I've left off Jake Shields and Rouisimar Palhares, as I think more time needs to pass for either to get a shot back at the UFC. I just don't forsee Cyborg making 135 pounds in the UFC, so I left her off.

Here is a look at the top 10.

1. Ben Askren (14-0) the NCAA champ and Olympic wrestler has been devasting his last 4 bouts earning 3 TKO's and a 1st round arm triangle submission. The current One FC welterweight champ next defends his title against Bellator veteran Luis Santos (61-9). Askren had contract discussions with the UFC, but no offer was officially made and One FC offered Askren good money. With a few fights still on his contract, Askren won't hit the market in the near future. With the best wrestling at 170 and increasingly good submission skills, Askren can compete with anyone in the top 10 right now.

2. Marcin "Tybur" Tybura (11-0)- The Polish HW and BJJ black belt has 5 submissions and 4 TKO's on his resume. The M-1 HW Champ seems to be at his best when he throws a few punches, backs his opponent against the fence and works a takedown. From there, Tybura has a solid submission game from top position and uses ground and pound to set up submissions. Tybura's contract status with M-1 could be murky with a champions clause. Tybura hasn't fought since his 1st round submission of hot prospect Denis Smoldarev (11-1). With an aging HW division, the 29 year old Tybura would fit in well as he is in his prime.

3. Justin Gaeje (13-0)- The 26 year old former wrestler has been dominant as WSOF's 155 pound champion. He last defended the title with a close split decision win over Melvin Guillard in his most lackluster performance to date. Prior to that fight, he had 7 straight T/KO's including a 1st round TKO over JZ Cavalcante and 2nd round TKO's over Dan Lauzon and Nick Newell. Gaethje is on his 6th WSOF fight.

4. Shinya Aoki (37-6)- The insane submission specialist is One FC's current 155 pound champion. He last fought on NYE in Inoki Bom Ba Ye, submitting Yuki Yamamoto with a rare twister. He has won 7 straight since a TKO loss to Eddie Alvarez in Bellator. Aoki may be resistant to a move for the US based UFC, as he has gone just 1-2 stateside. Aoki has career wins over Rich Clementi, Kamal Shalorus, Tatsuya Kawajiri, Lyle Beerbohm and Joachim Hansen. At 31 years old and having been TKO'd 4 times in MMA and once in kickboxing, time is not on Aoki's side.

5. Patricio Friere (23-2)- Bellator's 145 pound champ has been on a tear since a narrow split decision loss to Pat Curran at Bellator 85. Winner of season 4 and 9's featherweight tournaments, Friere won a decision over Pat Curran for the title and defended by submitting Daniel Strauss. He also has KO wins over UFC vets Diego Nunes and Wilson Reis.

6. Will Brooks (15-1)- The tenacious wrestler won Bellator's season 9 LW tourney and followed it up with a split decision win over Michael Chandler, then TKO'd Chandler in the rematch. With 8 career Bellator fights, Brooks loyalty might be with the organization. Brooks next fights Dave Jansen at Bellator 136.

7. Jessica Aguilar (19-4)- The current WSOF 115 pound champion has won 10 straight since a questionable split decision loss to Zolia Gurgel in Bellator. Generally ranked #1-2 in the world at 115, Aguilar holds a split decision win over UFC 115 champ Carla Esparza which took place on 6/25/11 in Bellator. Aguilar holds decision wins over Megumi Fujii, Emi Fujino and Lisa Ellis in her career, with a sub over judo expert Alida Gray. Aguilar's solid grappling would give anyone in the 115 pound division trouble.

8. Vitaly Minakov (14-0)- Bellator’s reigning HW champion has not fought much lately. With a background in Sambo, he knocked out countryman Alexander Volkov to win the Bellator belt in November 2013 and then defended with a decision win over UFC vet Cheick Kongo in April. With crisp boxing to go along with black belt judo, Minakov would be a welcome addition. Questions have arisen due to the long layoff whether Minakov is injured or if he is dealing with contractual issues.

9. Marlon Moraes (14-4)- the WSOF 135 pound champ has won 9 straight fights, defeating former WEC champ Miguel Torres, TUF vet Cody Bollinger and Josh Hill(then 10-0). With Dominick Cruz's career likely over, Moraes would look good on the roster. The 26 year old is 1-2 fights into his new WSOF deal which is a multi-fight, multi-year deal.

10. Liam McGeary (10-0)- The new Bellator LHW champ just dominated Emanuel Newton for five rounds at BFC 134. The 6'6" McGeary had never been to decision before that fight, winning the Bellator LHW tourney with TKO's of Egidijus Valavicius and Kelly Anundson. He has 7 straight Bellator wins.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Ten Potential HW Prospects for the UFC

Many MMA fans whine and cry about the lack of depth in the heavyweight division. Four legit promising HW's are currently on the Bellator roster, with Vitaly Minakov (14-0), Alexander Volkov (22-4), Augusto Sakai (7-0) and Blagoy Ivanov (11-1) starting to make some noise.

The UFC recently signed two promising undefeated fighters in Josh Copeland (9-0) and Alaskan Jared Cannonier (7-0). Copeland, who has shown a powerful brawling style, will fight fellow high level prospect Ruslan Magomedev (12-1) at UFC Fight Night 57. Cannonier, who recently won a split decision over Tony Lopez (34-16), will fight Shawn Jordan (16-6) at UFC 182.

 Here they are:

1. Marcin "Tybur" Tybura (12-0)- Tybura is a Polish heavyweight and BJJ black belt with 5 submissions and 4 TKO's on his resume. He seems to be at his best when he throws a few punches, backs his opponent against the fence and works a takedown. From there, Tybura has a solid submission game from top position and strong ground and pound.

Tybura has 6 straight wins in M-1, submitting Bellator veteran Damian Grabowski with a 1st round north south choke, TKO'ing Maro Perak, submitted Konstantin Gluhov and TKO'ing Chaban Ka, winning the M-1 Grand Prix in the process. The biggest obstacle at this point may be freeing Tybura from his M-1 contract. His last bout saw him dominate fellow prospect Denis Smoldarev finishing him with a 1st round rear naked choke. Having been out of action since the November Smoldarev win, it is unknown if he is in a contract dispute, dealing with injuries or having a tough time finding a fight.

2. Denis Smoldarev (10-1)- Listed between 6'5" and 6'7" the tall 250 pound Estonian bounced back from his loss to Tybura with a keylock submission of Maro Perak (23-5). Smoldarev began training judo at age 12, and also has combat sambo and kickboxing skills. He has 6 career M-1 wins, with a TKO over fellow 6'5" prospect Ante Delija and a decision win over Akhmed Sultanov.

Smoldarev likes to throw heavy leg kicks and power punches standing. From the bouts I've seen, he will look to isolate an arm for a submission when on the ground. Smoldarev is susceptible to the takedown and is not the best fighting off his back.

3. Smealinho Rama (9-1)- The 22 year old Canadian recently won the WSOF Heavyweight Title in his second WSOF bout by TKO'ing Derrick Mehmen (18-6) in the first round. He has other career victories over UFC vet Tim Hague (19-9) via KO and a decision over Olympic wrestler Steve Mocco. His only loss was to current UFC fighter Anthony Hamilton. Rama likely has 2 more bouts on his WSOF deal. Rama should be able transition faster on the ground with increased experience. He is scheduled to fight Blagoi Ivanov at WSOF 21 in June. WSOF has not been good about getting fights to Rama since he joined the organization.   

4. Dmitriy Sosnovskiy (8-0)- The 6'3" Russian has back to back 1st round TKO's over Ivo Cuk and Aleksander Emelianenko. With solid grappling skills and plenty of power, foes will be afraid of his power double leg. He has 6 first round finishes, although the his opponents have generally been sub-par. His kickboxing needs a little improvement as he continues to face better competition.

5. Michal Wlodarek (7-0)- The Polish fighter picked up a decision victory over Szymon Bajor in his last bount, and has a split decision win over current UFC fighter Daniel Omielanczuk (15-3) and a TKO over Michal Andryszak (12-5) in KSW. Wloderk is explosive, with the ability to brawl and work the ground game. Look for Wlodarek to get a couple more KSW bouts against other European prospect before moving to the big show.

6. Chris Barnett (12-1)- fighting mainly at super heavyweight well north of 300 pounds, the 28 year old Barnett has made a commitment to get under 265 pounds. The former football player at USF and Tae Kwon Do black belt has a decision win over former UFC fighters Walt Harris, TKO over former UFC fighter Travis Wiuff and TKO win over Elite XC/Bodog vet Mario Rinaldi (13-5). With deceptive strength, power and agility, Barnett TKO'd Shinichi Suzukawa in IGF - Bom Ba Ye in Japan on New Years which was his last bout.

7. Karol "Coco" Bedorf (12-2)- The 6'2" 260 pound Polish bruiser has five straight wins since a decision loss to Rogent Lloret. The KSW champ, he defended his belt by TKO'ing Rolles Gracie and won the title by TKO'ing Pawel Nastula. He's also won decisions over UFC vet Oli Thompson and midwest vet Karl Knothe (21-9). A BJJ blackbelt and ADCC competitor, his grappling is up to par for high level competition. He next fights Bellator vet and former pro kickboxer Peter Graham (11-7) at KSW 31.

8. Cody East (9-1)- East won the Legacy HW title in his last bout, TKO'ing Vernon Davis in the first round. He has a decision over Bellator veteran Nick Rossborough (25-18) and TKO over brawler Lolohea Mahe in his career. A move to Jackson's camp and training with better competition should help East reach the next level. He next fights Brice Ritani-Coe(4-2) at Legacy 40 for the heavyweight title.

9. Dillon Cleckler (8-0)- The Florida based fighter has finished 7 of 8 fights in the first round. The problem, his best wins are over journeymen Richard White (16-17 and Jonathan Ivey (30-53). He'll next fight against Alex Nicholson (4-1) in Square Fight Promotions.

10. Zelimkhan Umiev (5-0)- The 6'5" Russian from Team Berkut has weighed around 240 pounds for his fights. He has not faced legit competition thus far.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Weird MMA

MMA has definitely had some interesting, weird and bizarre story lines and figures since the UFC, Shooto and Pancrase started the modern MMA movement. Here are a few:

Steven Seagal: This 60 year-old action movie star and 7th-dan black belt in Aikido, has found his way into MMA history by aligning himself with UFC champion and legend Anderson Silva and former champ Lyoto Machida. Surprisingly, Seagal stated that he would fight Randy Couture in a street fight with no rules and no witnesses. He has also implied a possible confrontation with Jean Claude Van Damme.

After training for one session (or so) with the now plump Seagal, Anderson Silva unleashed a front kick straight down the pipe to the face of Vitor Belfort at UFC 126. Lyoto Machida then added a jump to his Karate Kid style front kick to KO Randy Couture at UFC 129. Despite the front kick being taught on virtually all levels of Karate and Tae Kwon Do, Seagal took credit for both insanely awesome KO's.

Anderson did say Seagal learned the move from Seagal at the post fight of UFC 126. Bizarre interviews and videos later, and the exact merits of Seagal's contributions are certainly in question.

Joe Son: The diminutive Asian first appeared at UFC 3 as the manager of Kimo. He then took to the octagon himself at UFC 4, infamously carrying into the arena a massive cross bigger than himself. Moments later he was taking multiple punches to the cup from Keith Hackney which were legal at the time. Three more losses including two bizarre ones in Pride and Joe Son's MMA career was done at 0-4. He next appeared in a couple movies, including that of Random Task in Austin Powers.

Then it got really crazy for the inventor of Josondo. In October of 2008, Joe Son pled guilty to vandalism and as part of his plea deal gave a DNA sample. The sample linked him to a 1990 gang rape for which he was convicted of felony torture and sentenced to life. While in prison, Son allegedly killed his cellmate, a convicted sex offender.

Charles "Krazy Horse" or "Kid Khaos" Bennett: This self "trained" fighter has certainly made a name for himself in the martial arts world, helped by his power right hand and odd antics. From facial contortions to the camera before the fight, not shaking hands, back flips off the top of the cage, celebrations mid fight, and double push kicks off the corner post, you never quite know what Bennett will do in the ring.

Outside the ring, Bennett also made a name for himself. He has been arrested on drug charges in 2000 and assault charges in 2007. He also was famously in a brawl with Christian Marcello following his win in Pride over Ken Kaneko, which led to Bennett being choked unconscious.

Bennett is still fighting to this day, owning 1st round KO's over KJ Noons, Yoshiro Maeda and Shad Smith. Odds that he ever makes it to the big show again are slim, but odds are he will keep entertaining crowds in the regional circuit for a couple more years.
Krazy Horse Pictures, Images and Photos

Jason "Mayhem" Miller: With his gang of "Mayhem Monkeys" the quirky Jason Miller conquered the art of self promotion in MMA. First using Myspace, then Facebook, Twitter, Tumbler and any other social media he can find he has built a following and odd antics. He has also engaged in plenty of interesting walk-out's before fights, including dancing with Japanese school girls.

All that led Mayhem into getting his own TV show, Bully Beatdown; a TUF coaching gig; a role in the Kevin James movie "Here Comes the Boom" and several other appearances. His personality also led him into one of the most infamous MMA brawls in history at Strikeforce: Nashville when Miller entered the cage during Jake Shields post fight interview. The Diaz brothers and Gilbert Melendez ended up getting the better of him.

With striped hair and a fighting style that usually focuses on grappling, Mayhem has picked up several big wins in his career, defeating Robbie Lawler, Tim Kennedy, Niko Vitale and an aging Sakuraba.

Legal trouble has also popped up for Mayhem, with simple assault and false imprisonment charges in August of 2011. After losing two straight in the UFC, Mayhem was found naked in a church after spraying a fire extinguisher and arrested. A very bizarre interview followed on "The MMA Hour" with Ariel Helwani, where Mayhem referred to himself as "Lucky Patrick." Mayhem has yet again found his way into trouble, being charged with corporal injury of a spouse following his domestic violence charges.

Tiger Mask and Minowaman: Japan's Tiger Mask wrestling persona is legendary in the land of the rising sun. The manga anime styled cartoon was a hit for Japanese kids, featuring a wrestler who is originally is a villain in America who comes back to Japan to become a hero.

The cartoon character was brought to the real professional wrestling arena by Satoru Sayama. After three other Tiger Mask's, Dream's "Super Hulk" champion, Ikuhisu "Minowaman" Minowa has taken the reigns as the 5th Tiger Mask. Minowaman, an MMA veteran since 1996, is a character in his own right, exclusively wearing pro-wrestling speedos in the ring while donning a mullet haircut. Wins usually result in fist pumps that the crowd repeats back.

In the real MMA world, Minowaman has defeated several giants in MMA including Jimmy Ambriz, Bob Sapp, Hong Man Choi, Butterbean, Gilbert Yvel and Errol Zimmerman. Against the big boys, Minowaman (54-34) usually goes for a leg lock, though his biggest win came from a big KO against Sokoudjou to capture the Super Hulk crown.

The television show "Iron Ring:" With the Ultimate Fighter doing so well in the ratings for Spike TV, BET decided in 2008 that they should throw their hat into the MMA reality show business. Instead of finding 16 legit prospects, putting them in a house and having them fight for a tournament championship, they went for a little more of the entertainment factor.

They decided to have teams, coached by an MMA "personality" with a "celebrity" as an owner. What resulted were teams like the Floyd Mayweather's "Money Mayweather Boys," "Team Luda," "Team Nelly," "Team Dipset," T.I.'s "Team Grand Hustle" and Lil Jon's "Headbusters." Some coaches were legit, like The coaches include UFC vet Shonie Carter (Lil John), Pride/Elite XC vet Krazy Horse Bennett (TI), UFC vet Roberto Traven (Mayweather) and UFC vet Jermaine Andre (Nelly). But, there were some that were plain odd like Abdul Mutakabbir (Luda)(Inventor of S.W.A.M.) and Novell G. Bell (Dipset)(Claims to have trained in Asia).

The editing of the show was all over the place with soundbites, jump cuts and ridiculousness. Pretty sure that most of the celebrity coaches were inebriated for most of the filming, who mostly wanted to just see someone knocked out. Jamie Yager eventually won the 185 division, Josh Gaskins the 170 divsion and Ron "Abongo" Humphrey took the heavyweight crown. $100,000 was initially declared the prize money, but nobody really knows how it was divided.

The UFC "Superfight" Champ: In the sports early days, mixed martial arts was "no holds barred" fighting with limited rules, no rounds, no gloves and little thought of weight divisions. One night tournaments were the norm.

Being more "Super" than any other sport, the best in the UFC fought for the "Super" Fight Championship belt rather than a heavyweight championship. Ken Shamrock fought Royce Gracie to a draw at UFC 5 for the inaugural belt. Shamrock then won the superfight belt over Dan Severn at UFC 6. Severn won the belt at UFC 9, then lost to Mark Coleman at UFC 12 as the belt was officially changed to "heavyweight."