Josh Hennig Uncensored: Ramblings of a Sports Geek
Just another Unfiltered MMA site

This Saturday’s UFC 136 is one of the biggest MMA fight cards of 2011 with
two title fights, a number one contender matchup, and many major names.  Lets take a look ahead to this Saturday’s
major matchups:

 

1. Frank Edgar versus Gray Maynard III will answer more questions than just
who will walk away with the belt

When Edgar-Maynard 2 resulted in a Draw it was more than just a disappointment
to both fighters but to the rest of the 155 pound division.  Due to their draw and needing a third fight, there is a log jam of top level lightweight fighters who are jockeying to be
next in line for to fight for the UFC lightweight belt.  The winner of Saturdays fight presents a
unique challenge to the rest of the division.  Edgar is a talented wrestler with excellent stamina and good kickboxing skills while Maynard is an elite wrestler with excellent strength and major
power In his hands.  Edgar is a fast paced fighter who utilizes agility and constant movement while Maynard who is a grinder who wants to beat down his opponent.
Both fighters present unique challenges to the other 155 pound fighters
clamoring to be next in line for a title shot.  Clay Guida has six MMA losses by submission; Ben Henderson’s last loss was to a dynamic striker.  Gilbert
Melendez’s last loss was a grinding decision defeat to a grappler.  Meanwhile fighters such as Melvin Guillard and Donald Cerrone are not far behind the top conenders with their recent win
streaks.  Also, if Maynard beats Edgar Saturday night there may be another fighter who may jump into the pool to vie for a shot at the title: former UFC Lightweight Champion BJ Penn.

 

2. Kenny Florian gets another shot at a title and this may be the best
chance he will ever have at winning a belt

Kenny Florian has accomplished a lot in his MMA career from making it to the Ultimate Fighter Season 1 Finale, fighting twice for the UFC Lightweight Championship, and becoming the first UFC fighter to compete in four different weight classes.  This will be his third
shot at winning a UFC title and this may be his best opportunity.  That is no negative against current UFC 145 pound champion Jose Aldo but Florian is a much different type of fighter than
Aldo has faced since he has rattled off 12 wins and defended his championship belt three times.  Aldo has faced fighters with wrestling, judo, and boxing expertise.  Florian presents a different challenge: a talented Brazilian jiu-jitsu fighter with good Muay Thai skills.  Florian’s 5 career MMA losses have been to four wrestlers and BJ Penn while Aldo did not look his best in his last
fight.  It will be interesting to see how Aldo reacts when Florian throws the type of kicks that Aldo is use to inflicting on others.

3. Will Chael Sonnen’s layoff hurt him against an ever evolving Brian
Stann?

The last time Chael Sonnen was in an MMA fight he was 5 minutes away from defeating a man considered the best MMA fighter of all time and becoming the UFC Middleweight champion.  Then Sonnen tapped due to a triangle choke, got suspended for testing positive for high
levels of testosterone, then his suspension got reduced and now more than a year later he is back in action.  The bad news for Sonnen is that this Saturday night he is facing a fighter who seems
unbeatable in Brian Stann.  Stann is the former WEC Light Heavyweight Champion and since moving down to 185 pounds he is on a three fight winning streak with notable knockout wins over Chris Leben and Jorge Santiago.  The biggest factor in this fight will be Sonnen’s wrestling prowess since Stann’s last loss was to Phil Davis (a NCAA Division 1 Wrestling National Champion).  With every fight Stann has improved his MMA game and he will be tested against a tough and relentless fighter in Sonnen.  The real question will be has Stann’s MMA game evolved enough to win or will Sonnen have “ring rust”.

4. Melvin Guillard is on a mission, but will Joe Lauzon or fate get in the
way?

Since 2008 Guillard is 8-1 in the UFC with only two fights going to decision.  Thanks to his work with Greg Jackson MMA Guillard is finally accessing his full potential as a fighter and
it seems like he is on track to get a shot at fighting for the title.  But first he has to get by Joe Lauzon and the last time he faced a fight with good standup and good brazilian jiu-jitsu was
nate Diaz and Guillard was submitted by Diaz.  Since that loss Guillard has faced many talented wrestlers but not another BJJ fighter with above avergae standup skills.  Also, if Guillard beats Lauzon his Jackson MMA teammate Clay Guida has a fight next month that could set him up as next in line to fight the winner of Edgar-Maynard and if Guida wins the belt will
Guillard really fight his teammate?  Only time will tell what fate has in store for Guillard.

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On today’s podcast show, Tom and I look back at UFC 135, discuss the upcoming UFC 139 matchups after the official press conference announcement this week, we had an interview with UFC Bantamweight #1 Contender Demetrious Johnson, talk some Bellator 51 and preview UFC on Versus 6 fight card!  Check out this jam-packed podcast below!

 http://fightlife.unfilteredmma.com/files/2011/09/unfilteredmma-podcast-9-28-11.mp3

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UFC 135 marks the first time new Light heavyweight Champion Jon Jones will defend his belt and he will be tested against one of the top 205 pound fighters in MMA for the last decade years: Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. Here are some reasons why you should be watching this Saturday night’s UFC fights:

 

1. How will Jones handle defending his belt for the first time against a former champion and MMA veteran?

Jon Jones has 14 Mixed Martial Art fights in his career and won the UFC 205 pound title back in March of this year. By contrast, Quinton Jackson has 14 Knockout/TKO wins in his career, he is a former UFC champion and is the only fighter in MMA history to defeat Chuck Liddell twice. “Bones” Jones has been getting hyped for the last two years now but he has never faced a fighter with the level of experience as “Rampage” Jackson. Jackson has said in interviews leading up to this championship fight that Jones’ chin has never been tested and he plans on testing it. Jones is a very talented fighter who still has not reached his true potential yet and down the road he may move up to the Heavyweight division. Facing a fighter like Jackson will tell us a lot about Jones’ growth as a fighterr, how he handles a fighter who may be more intense then he is and certainly much more experienced than him.

 

2. This may be MMA legend Matt Hughes last UFC fight

 With 53 MMA fights and 12 championship bouts in his UFC career, Matt Hughes has nothing to prove to anyone. This is the last fight of Hughes’ current UFC contract and his wife has wants him to retire already. He comes into this fight against a fighter who many consider a younger version of himself: Josh Koscheck. Both fighters are talented wrestlers who are hard to takedown and have serious power in their hands. Only 5 fighters have beaten Hughes in his career and before his loss to BJ Penn last November Hughes was on a three-fight winning streak. So if Koscheck does defeat Hughes this Saturday night that will be a major ccomplishment for Koscheck and for Hughes losing to a top tier Welterweight fighter whose last loss was to George St. Pierre, there is no shame in that for Hughes. If Hughes does retire after this fight, atleast he will have done it on his own terms without his body or UFC management ending it for him.

 

3. Nate Diaz versus Takanori Gomi is a pre-UFC 135 “Fight of the Night” candidate

 During his time in the UFC Nate Diaz has earned four “Fight of The Night” bonuses for his gritty, hard nosed performances against top tier fighters such as Marcus Davis, Joe Stevenson, and Clay Guida. This Saturday Diaz makes his return to the 155 pound division to face a fighter who likes to stand and bang: Takanori Gomi. Gomi is 1-2 in the UFC but the two fighters he has lost to are Kenny Florian and Clay Guida and both of those fights went past the first round. Gomi is the former PRIDE Lightweight Champion and went 13-1-1 while fighting in PRIDE. It should be noted that he had a loss that was turned into a No Contest after Nick Diaz (Nate’s brother) tested positive for marijuana post-fight. Both Gomi and Diaz are coming into this fight after suffering losses so expect these guys to come out motivated and intense. When you have two fighters who will to leave it all in the Octagon and want to put on a show, the fans are the real winners.

 

4. Both Ben Rothwell and Mark Hunt need wins to stay relevant this Saturday night

 Ben Rothwell was the arguably the best Heavyweight fighter during his time in the IFL where he compiled a fight record of 9-0. But since the IFL shut down Rothwell is 2-2 with losses to Andre Arlovski and Cain Velasquez. Mark Hunt back in 2006 had compiled an MMA record of 5-1 and had wins over Wanderlei Silva and Mirko ”Cro Cop” Fillipovic. But then he proceeded to accumulate a 6 fight losing streak in MMA with losses to Josh Barnett, Fedor Emelianenko, Gegard Mousasi, Allistair Overeem Melvin Monhoef, and Sean McCorkle. Rothwell and Hunt won their most recent fights and are looking to gain some mommentum in order to stay in the UFC. There was a time that these fighters were considered top tier MMA fighters, now they are fighting to stay relevant in the UFC heavyweight division.

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Post-Bellator 49 Recap/Interviews

Bellator 49 was a great event at Caesars-Atlantic City and I was there from beginning to end for all the action.  Above is the audio from my radio show in which I played my post fight interviews.  Take a listen!

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This Saturday’s Bellator 49 event is the opening of Bellator’s Fifth television season series and opening matchups for the latest Welterweight Tournament. Although we are still waiting for the last Welterweight Tournament winner Jay Hieron to face Bellator 170 pound champion Ben Askren, this next tournament winner is next in line for a title shot. Also, this will be my first live Bellator event and first Bellator event I will cover on site. Here is a preview for this Saturday’s main card that will be featured on MTV2:

 

1. Chris Lozano and Brent Weedman both have a chip on their shoulders coming into this tournament                                                                                                                                                                   

These two fighters have more in common than just their weight class: they both lost their previous Bellator fights to men who have won Bellator tournament by Decision. This is significant because both Lozano and Weedman like to finish fights. Four of Weedman’s six career losses are by decision while 17 of his 18 career MMA wins are via Knockout/TKO or submission.  Lozano’s only career loss is via decision and all 8 of his career wins are finishes.  Weedman still has the sour taste of the controversal decision loss to Jay Hieron at Bellator 40 in his mouth while Lozano lost to former Bellator Welterweight Champ Lyman Good in a fight he knows he could have won. If you want to see an exciting fight, then make sure you don’t miss the fireworks when Weedmen and Lozano throw down.

 

2. Can Ben Saunders continue to be undefeated outside of the UFC?

Not many fighters can say that they have never lost a fight outside of the UFC yet Ben Saunders has a career MMA record of 10-3 and his record in the UFC is 4-3. Those three UFC losses were to Mike Swick (TKO), Jon Fitch (Decision) and Dennis Hallman (Decision). Saunders is a talented fighter who got lost in the shuffle of the UFC’s deep 170 pound division. Now he has the chance to make a name for himself in Bellator by making his way through the tournament to get a shot to fight for the Bellator Welterweight Championship. Saunders was supposed to fight Rick Hawn but Hawn was injured during training and he has been replaced by little known 13-3 Chris Cisneros.  Cisneros is a talented fighter who has the boxing skills to end a fight stand while also being able to finish a fight from the ground as well. Saunders has to be careful to not let Cisneros make a name for himself at Saunder’s expense. Being one of the big name fighters in the tournament doesn’t mean it will be easy-going for Ben Saunders.

 

3. At 30 years old can Dan Hornbuckle live up to the high expectations or has he hit a career plateau?

Dan Hornbuckle is one of the more interesting fighters in the Bellator organization. Considered an up-and-coming MMA star, Hornbuckle was 19-2 before joining Bellator with 18 of those wins by Knockout/TKO or Submission. But since joining Bellator he is 3-2 and in his last fight lost a rematch with Brent Weedman. Before his last 3 fights Hornbuckle had not been in a fight that went to decision since 2007 but now he has been in 3 fights that went to the judges score cards. Whether the step up in competition is to blame or maybe Hornbuckle has hit a plateau in his MMA career it is hard to know. Yet at 30 years old, Hornbuckle still has time to reinvent himself as a fighter or atleast revist his previous self and fight up to his potential.  This will be his 3rd Ballator Welterweight tournament appearance so there is no better time then the present to show the world (and Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney) that he is still a force to be reckoned with in MMA.  By the way, Hornbuckle’s opponent is Luis Santos, a fighter who has a career MMA record of 49-6-1 with 26 Knockouts/TKO’s and 10 submissions. This is one fighter Hornbuckle cannot boast to have the edge in MMA experience.

 

4. Will Steve Carl versus Douglas Lima be Bellator’s version of Brain Stann versus Jorge Santiago?

Okay so maybe I am being a bit stereotypical about this matchup but lets look at the facts: both Carl and Stann are Iraq war veterans with impressive MMA career records while both Lima and Santiago are both Brazillian fighters who train at American Top Team. The difference in matchups is that while Stann and Santiago were known for their standup skills, Lima and Carl are known for their submission skills. Carl has 9 of his 14 MMA career wins by submission while Lima has 11 submission wins to account for his 18 career MMA wins. The major difference is that Lima is the new guy to Bellator, spending the last year fighting in MFC in Canada while becoming the MFC Welterweight Champ. Carl meanwhile lost in the Semi-finals of the Welterweight Tournament at Bellator 19 and has not fought since August 2010 when he earned a spot in the Bellator season 4 Welterweight tournament. It will be interesting to see whose “baggage” will be more of a factor Saturday night: Lima’s step up in competition to debut in Bellator or Carl’s MMA layoff.

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After his overwhelming victory at UFC 134 there should be no questions that Anderson Silva is not just top Pound for Pound MMA fighter fighting today but the Greatest MMA fighter of all time. Although MMA is a very young sport, Silva is an athlete with amazing talent and if anyone was “born to be a fighter” it certainly is Anderson Silva.

So The question now is: who is next on the list? Every one has fighters they like, dislike, cheer for, and despise so you probably cannot get too much agreement on any list of the best fighters in MMA today let alone a look at the last 18 years of MMA competition. When making any list you have to set criteria for what makes a fighter great. For me, I have decided to use to following criteria in making my list of who are the greatest MMA fighters of all time:

*(CAC): Career record against fighters who have won championship belts in UFC, PRIDE, Strikeforce, and WEC (only Featherweight and Bantamweight)

-This is important because it shows how a fighter has faired against top-level competition during their fighting career. Just to have a winning streak long enough to get into title contention is an accomplishment but beating the best of an era puts you ahead of the pack.

*Have you won a championship and how many belts can you lay claim to?(Championships)

-Like is any sport, the best separate themselves with the number of championships and title defenses they have on their resume. In turn, the best fighters have not just won a belt once and lost it or have only won the title, lost it, then fade into history. No, the best fighters create legacies with their championships and even when they do lose they come back better than ever.

*(CRCF) Career record in championship fights

-A reason why this is important because it shows how fighters handle the big stage, the main event with all the pressure on them. Being a champion is more than luck, it’s the product of hard work combined with talent and execution on fight night.

Now you may say that these three criteria doesn’t tell the whole story and I agree because a fighter’s career tells us his true legacy. For example, I give more credit to fighters such as Randy Couture and BJ Penn for doing what they did in two different weight classes because they proved that their talent and ability to win transcends a weight class. As you will see in my list that fighters like Penn and Couture are weak statistically in comparison to some other fighters in certain categories yet time both Penn and Couture compiled a career of taking on the best of the best in different eras, weight classes, and under different sets of MMA rules. The purpose of these statistical criteria is to weed out fighters who had good careers yet they either did not fair well against other champion fighters, fought weaker competition, or they were at their peak as fighters before the sport had brought along fighters of equal talent.

This proves out when looking at the careers of guys like Mark Coleman, Jens Pulver, Ken Shamrock, and Pat Militech. All four of these fighters are considered pioneers in MMA and are real legends. But when you look at their careers closer you will see that they do not matchup against other all time great fighters. Despite winning three MMA tournaments (2 UFC, 1 PRIDE) Mark Coleman has a career record of 1-6 against fighters who have won titles in major MMA organizations and is 1-1 in Championship fights. Coleman was an MMA pioneer who opened the doors for many star amateur wrestlers to make the transition from wrestling to MMA. I am a HUGE Pat Militech fan, one of my favorite fighters ever! But he also does not belong on a list of MMA all time greats but not because he isn’t a great fighter but because when he was great when the sport was still finding itself. Militech also is an MMA pioneer who was one of the first guys who was a major threat on both the feet and the ground. Through his Militech Fighting System he trained other fighters to be champions such as Matt Hughes, Jens Pulver, and Tim Sylvia. Although he was 5-1 in Championship fights he also has a meager record of 0-1-1 against fighters who have won championships. One more example of being an MMA pioneer/legend but not stacking up with other great fighters in Ken Shamrock. Ken was one of the first MMA superstars and he never backed down from a fight which made him even more popular. But by the time MMA had evolved into a major sport Shamrock was already in his early to mid 30′s. Despite winning three championships in his careers he compiled a record of 4-6-2 against champion fighters and two of those wins were against a young, inexperienced Bas Rutten while another victory was a submission against Maurice Smith back in 1994 when most kickboxers had little idea about submission fighting.

So now that I have set the ground work, here is my list of the greatest MMA fighters of all time:

 

12. Frank Shamrock

CAC: 2-4 (Beat Tito Ortiz; 1-2 against Bas Rutten; lost to Nick Diaz & Cung Le)

Titles: 4 (Interim King of Pancrase Champ 1996; UFC LHW Champ Dec 1997-Sept 1999; WEC LHW Champ 2003; Strikeforce MW Champ June 2007-March 2008)

CRCF: 8-2

Frank Shamrock is more than just an MMA Legend and Pioneer, he was one of the first fighters to win championship belts in multiple weight classes and organizations. Shamrock’s fighting career covered two decades and is one the fighters on this list who was able to fight high level competition from beginning to end. Also Frank was one of the first fighters to be a dual threat, on the feet and the ground. I am disappointed that his proposed matchup with Pat Militech never happened. Aside from being a great fighter, Frank Shamrock is one of the toughest MMA fighters the sport has ever seen, just go watch his title bouts with Tito Ortiz (1999) and Cung Le (2008).

 

11. Bas Rutten

CAC: 5-3 (Beat Guy Mezger & Maurice Smith, 2-1 against Frank Shamrock, 0-2 against Ken Shamrock)

Titles: 3 (Interim King of Pancrase Champ then unified with King of Pancrase Belt in 1995; UFC HW Champ 1999)

CRCF: 3-1

Bas Rutten in March of 1995 had a career record of 7-4 with two losses to Ken Shamrock and another loss to Frank Shamrock. Rutten is one of the most talented kickboxers in MMA history but he had to learn grappling and submission fighting. Once he gained grappling and submission skills Rutten would finish his career winning 21 of his final 22 finals (the one non-win was a draw due to injury). Many american MMA fans don’t know about Rutten’s fighting career because he spent most of his time fighting in Japan. After becoming UFC Heavyweight champion Rutten would sustain a serious neck injury during training that forced him to retire from fighting. If it were not for this injury who knows how great Rutten would have become in the UFC with his famous liver strikes and devastating leg kicks. Rutten would return for one more fight in 2006 after being cleared by doctors: a TKO victory over Ruben “Warpath” Villareall via leg kicks. “El Guapo” would return to retirement, this time on his terms and not because of injuries.

 

10. Urijah Faber

CAC: 4-4 (2 wins over Jens Pulver; beat Eddie Wineland; 1-1 against Domick Cruz; lost twice to Mike Brown; beaten by Jose Aldo)

Titles: 4 (Gladiator Challenge LW Champ June 2004-Sept 2005; KOTC Bantamweight Champ Nov 2004-Oct 2006; Gladiator Bantamweight Champ 2006; WEC Featherweight Champ March 2006-Nov 2008)

CRCF: 14-5

Although he is only 32 years old, Faber is an MMA pioneer for the lighter weight classes. He was one of the biggest stars in the WEC and without his popularity who knows how long it would have taken for the “small guys” to get the recognition they deserve as fighters. As a guy who has fought in three different weight classes and won titles in three different organizations Faber was a superstar fighter before most people even knew there were MMA fighters who were under 155 pounds. Faber is famous for his wrestling and submission skills with 13 of his 25 career wins by submission. Two of his five career losses were in Championship fights in which he went head to head for five rounds against two guys who are talented strikers: Jose Aldo and Dominick Cruz. The full story of Faber’s career is yet to play itself out so who knows if he will add a UFC title to his resume and if he does that then I would move him up this list of all time great fighters.

 

9. Chuck Liddell

 CAC: 10-6 (Defeated Vitor Belfort, Guy Mezger, Murilo Bustamante, Kevin Randleman, Allistair Overeem, Wanderlei Silva; 2-0 against Tito Ortiz; 2-1 against Randy Couture; 0-2 against Quinton Jackson; beaten by Rich Franklin, Maurico Rua, Rashad Evans)

 Titles: 2 (IFC LHW Champ 2000; UFC LHW Champ April 2005-May 2007)

 CRCF: 5-2

 Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell is one of the biggest stars to come out of MMA and be known in mainstream media. Originally a talented collegiate wrestler, Liddell took up kickboxing and became a famous knockout artist. From 2001 through 2007 Liddell was one of the most feared strikers in all of MMA and 13 of his 21 career wins have been by TKO or KO. He went 14-5 during that dominant stretch from 2001 through 2007 and two of those losses were to Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. Despite losing his last three career fights via knockout, Liddell is still a legend in the sport and is a major reason why the UFC became a mainstream sport organization. I still contend that even his prime Liddell would have had a lot of trouble against the likes of Frank Shamrock, Bas Rutten, and Dan Henderson because there were holes in his overall MMA game that Liddell seemed uninterested in fixing. These flaws in Liddell were exposed twice by “Rampage” Jackson and Jackson did so with almost four years in between matchups with “The Iceman”.

 

8. Matt Hughes

 CAC: 7-4 (2-0 against Carlos Newton; defeated Sean Sherk, Royce Gracie, Matt Serra; 1-2 against BJ Penn; 1-2 against George St Pierre)

 Titles: 2 (UFC Welterweight Champion Nov 2001-Jan 2004; Oct 2004-Nov 2006)

 CRCF: 9-3

 Having a fighting record of 45-8 is impressive for anyone. But to have that record, be UFC champion for almost 5 years and have to face some of the top fighters in the world makes you a legend and that is what Matt Hughes is. Hughes, the protegé of former UFC Welterweight Champion Pat Militech, seem to make the best of his opportunities in the UFC compiling a record of 18-6 in the octagon. Four of his eight career losses have come against BJ Penn and George St Pierre, so if you are going to lose might as well be to two guys who are all time great fighters. More so, Hughes has beaten both Penn and GSP once in three times against them, not many fighters can say they even have one win against those guys. Hughes was best known for his great wrestling, excellent strength, and ability to find away to finish his opponent. From March of 2001 to September of 2006 had 16 wins by either submission or TKO/KO and 3 decision victories. Hughes only real flaw is that when he got older everyone else got better. And by the way, he hasn’t retired yet so he still has time to put more “icing on the cake” of his legendary career.

 

7. Antonio Rodrigo “Minotauro” “Big Nog” Nogueira

 CAC: 6-6-1 (Wins over Randy Couture, Tim Sylvia, Ricco Rodriguez, Mark Coleman; 1-1 against Josh Barnett and Dan Henderson; 0-2-1 against Fedor; lost to Cain Velasquez and Frank Mir)

 Titles: 3 (PRIDE HW Champ Nov 2001-March 2003; Interim PRIDE HW Champ Nov 2003-Dec 2004; UFC Interim HW Champ Feb 2008-Dec 2008)

 CRCF: 3-3

 ”Minotauro” Nogueira tends to get overlooked because he was the greatest heavyweight fighter in PRIDE history not named Fedor Emelianenko. Nogueira is the only man to ever win championship belts in PRIDE and UFC. This is disputed sometimes because Dan Henderson, Maurico “Shogun” Rua, and Mark Coleman won a championship belts in one organization and a tournament title in the other organization. Nogueira is famous for his Brazillian Jiu Jitsu skills and 20 of his 33 career MMA wins have been by submission (Also, “Big Nog” has never lost via submission). It will always be held against Nogueira that he is 0-3 when defending his belt and he never got a win against Fedor. But look at the caliber of fighters he has fought and beaten over a period of 12 years and its hard to deny his place as an MMA legend. Also, notice that Nogueira’s career MMA record is 33-6, which means all of his career loss have been to former champions (he is one of only 3 fighters on this list that has that distinction).

 

6. Fedor Emelianenko

 CAC: 7-1 (Defeated Kevin Randleman, Tim Sylvia, Andre Arlovski; 2-0 against Mark Coleman; 2-0-1 against Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira; lost to Dan Henderson)

 Titles: 2 (PRIDE HW Champ March 2003-2007; WAMMA HW July 2008-June 2010)

 CRCF: 7-0

 Despite the three straight losses in the last two years, from January 2001 to June 2010 Fedor went undefeated as an MMA fighter. 13 of his 28 wins during this stretch where by submission and only 6 wins via decision (among the fights who took him the distance we Mirko “Cro Cop” Fillipovic, Nogueira twice, Renato Sobral, and Semmy Schilt). His background in Sambo enabled him to be a great grappler and he has dangerous power in his right hand. The major knock against Fedor has been the type of competition he faced over his career. When he fought Sylvia, Arlovski, and Goodridge they were on the downside of their careers and the same can be said of the second time Fedor fought Mark Coleman. Also, after PRIDE folded into the UFC here are some of the guys he defeated: Matt Lindland (a middleweight fighter), Choi Hong-man (2-3 as an MMA fight with a win over Jose Canseco), and Brett Rogers (only big name win was Andre Arlovski and has been finished by Fedor, Allistair Overeem, and Josh Barnett before the end of the 2nd round). Even while fighting in PRIDE there were rumors he avoided fighting heavyweights such as Josh Barnett, Gilbert Yvel, and Kimo Leopoldo while also turning down super fight matchups with Ken Shamrock, Dan Severn, Wanderlei Silva, and Vitor Belfort. So while the question of how great he was will always be up for debate I for one cannot take away from Fedor the winning streak or the excellent MMA record he compiled while fighting in PRIDE.

 

5. Randy Couture

 CAC: 8-8 (Defeated Tito Ortiz, Kevin Randleman, Maurice Smith, Tim Sylvia, Mark Coleman; 2-1 against Vitor Belfort; 1-2 against Chuck Liddell; lost to Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Brock Lesnar, Lyoto Machida, Josh Barnett, Ricco Rodriguez)

 Titles: 6 (UFC HW Champ Dec 1997; UFC HW Champ Nov 2000-March 2002; Interim UFC LHW Champ 2003; UFC LHW Champ Sept 2003-Jan 2004; UFC LHW Champ Aug 2004-April 2005; UFC HW Champ March 2007-Nov 2008)

 CRCF: 9-6

 Randy Couture spent 14 years as an MMA fighter and he is one of the most successful and accomplished fighters in UFC history. He is one of only two men to ever win UFC championship titles in different weight classes (the other is BJ Penn). An Olympic wrestling alternate, Couture went from being a wrestler fighting in MMA to a fighter who is dangerous in every aspect of the MMA game and he seemed to get better with age. He defeated Tim Sylvia to become UFC Heavyweight Champion at the age of 43 and even defended his right to the belt against a fighter almost half his age. Also, he won his first and last UFC heavyweight belts 10 years apart! Couture is a pioneer in MMA not just as a fighter but a role model for other fighters in standing up for their rights as a fighters and not letting anyone choose for him when he was done fighting. Couture was a game plan fighter who tried to use his opponent’s weakness against them: he was faster than Tim Sylvia, better at submissions then Mark Coleman, more crafty than Tito Ortiz, and pushed the pace to get wins against Vitor Belfort. A criticism of Couture is that he was never able to defend his title more than two times and never had a winning streak longer than four in a row. Yet those who have these criticisms forget to look at the level of competition Couture took on through out his career; he never took easy fights and instead he was willing to fight anyone at anytime and anywhere. His MMA career record of 19-11isn’t very impressive, but having 8 wins against championship level fighters is tied for 2nd among fighters on this list behind Chuck Liddell.

 

4. Georges St Pierre

 CAC: 7-2 (Wins over Jake Shields, Sean Sherk; 2-0 against BJ Penn; 2-1 against Matt Hughes; 1-1 against Matt Serra)

 Titles: 2 (UCC WW title 2002; UFC WW Champ Nov 2006-April 2007; Interim UFC WW Champ Dec 2007, unified with UFC WW belt to become Champ from April 2008-present)

 CRCF: 11-2

 Despite the debate about how great GSP is as a fighter, no one can deny that he is one of the top MMA fighters of all time. He has defended the UFC Welterweight belt six straight fights. He has only two losses in 24 fights and both were losses he avenge later in his career. St. Pierre has exhibited excellent wrestling skills and his boxing is sharp also. Despite having an excellent fighting record, the major criticism of GSP has been that he fights not to lose instead of looking to win. He has a record of 17-2 in the UFC but 9 of those wins have been by decision including five of his last six wins (the fight that wasn’t a decision was a TKO via corner stoppage). His lack of ability (or motivation) to finish his opponents is something I hold against him because the only other fighter who has more wins by decision than any other type of winning method on this list of fighters is Randy Couture. Couture has won multiple titles in different weight classes while GSP has never fought outside of 170 pound weight classes. Good news for St. Pierre is that he is the youngest fighter on this list so he still has time to build his legacy as a fighter.

 

3. BJ Penn

 CAC: 6-7(Defeated Sean Sherk, Takanori Gomi, Matt Serra; 2-1 against Matt Hughes; 1-1 against Jens Pulver; 0-2 against George St. Pierre and Frank Edgar; lost to Lyoto Machida)

 Titles: 2 (UFC WW Champ Jan 2004; UFC LW Champ Jan 2008-April 2010)

 CRCF: 5-5-1

 BJ Penn is only the second fighter in UFC history to win championship belts in two different weight classes. Penn came onto the MMA scene as a famous brazillian jiu jitsu prodigy (which is where his nickname comes from) and over the years has developed great boxing skills. He is one of the most talented MMA fighters of all time and he has fought some of the biggest names in MMA over the course of nine years. Penn is only the second fighter on this list who has never lost a fight via submission and is only the 6th fighter on this list who has faced at least 10 championship level MMA fighters. He is also one of the few MMA fighters to ever beat two different Gracie family fighters (other famous fighters who have done so are Matt Hughes and Kazushi Sakuraba). One of the knocks against Penn is that in the past he lacked the work ethic to be a great fighter and got by in matchups on talent alone. Yet such a criticism is another example why he is so great (let us remember the same criticism was said of Babe Ruth and look at what he did in his baseball career). Like St. Pierre and Faber, BJ is still in his early 30′s and has time to build on his already legendary MMA career so who knows what other great things he may accomplished.

 

2. Dan Henderson

 CAC: 8-5 (Beat Fedor Emelianenko, Rich Franklin, Carlos Newton, Vitor Belfort; 2-0 against Murilo Bustamante; 1-1 against Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Wanderlei Silva; Lost to Anderson Silva, Jake Shields, Quinton Jackson)

 Titles: 3 (PRIDE Welterweight Champion Dec 2005-March 2008; PRIDE Middleweight Champion Feb 2007-Sept 2007; Strikeforce LHW Champ March 2011-Present)

 CRCF: 3-3

 Dan Henderson is one of the most accomplished MMA fighters ever. He has won four MMA tournaments (Brazil Open 1997; UFC 17 Middleweight; Rings King of Kings 1999; PRIDE 2005 Welterweight Grand Prix) as well as winning championship belts at 185 and 205 pounds. When the UFC absorbed PRIDE Henderson was the man holding championship belts in two weight class simultaneously! Since 2003 Henderson has a record of 16-5 with losses to Jake Shields (former Strikeforce and Elite XC Champ), Anderson Silva (who has never lost a matchup in 15 UFC fights), Quinton Jackson (The only fighter to ever beat Chuck Liddel twice), Kazuo Misaki (a fighter whom Henderson has beaten), and “Big Nog” brother Antonio Rogerio Nogueira. Henderson’s MMA career is a list of who’s who in MMA history since he has taken on so many fighters over a period of 14 years. In fact, Henderson is the only fighter on this list who has never been Knocked out or lost a fight via TKO while 13 of his 28 career MMA wins are via KO or TKO. A highly accomplished amateur wrestler, Henderson uses his wrestling typically to keep the fight standing so he can be able to use his powerful right hand to try to end fights. Henderson says he still has a couple of years of fighting left in him and he still has time to defend his Strikeforce 205 pound belt and maybe take some more fights in the UFC.

 

1. Anderson Silva

 CAC: 6-0 (Defeated Vitor Belfort, Dan Henderson, Carlos Newton, Forrest Griffin; 2-0 against Rich Franklin)

 Titles: 3 (Shooto MW Champ 2001; Cage Rage MW Champ Sept 2004-April 2006; UFC MW Champ Oct 2006-Present)

 CRCF: 14-0

 The numbers above only tell half the story of how great Silva is as an MMA fighter. Since his debut in PRIDE in June of 2002 Anderson Silva is 23-3 with 15 Knockouts/TKO’s and only 5 wins by decision. Silva is one of the best Muay Thai practitioners in MMA history and he is also a threat for submissions with six submission wins in his career. Silva is unique for his ability to beat an opponent with speed or power. His only real “weakness” in recent years is wrestling yet the two wrestlers who able to win a round against him in a fight (Dan Henderson and Chael Sonnen) both lost by submission. On top of all of this Silva has fought at weights from 168 to 205 pounds and has won at every level in MMA competition. Calling Silva the “Michael Jordan” or “Mohammed Ali” of MMA is an insult to Silva since he has been more dominant in MMA than either of those athletes were in their respective sports. At age 36 the question becomes “will” Silva ever lose again in MMA instead of “when” because he may retire before he has another chance to suffer defeat again.

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Rumble on the Rock in Hawaii held a Welterweight Tournament in 2006.  Anderson Silva and Yushin Okami met in the first round of that tournament.  Chael Sonnen claims Silva kicked Okami illegally because Silva “didn’t like how the fight was going”.  Silva claims that Okami faked injury and that Okami should have kept fighting.  Well here’s the fight below, and you the MMA fans can make up your own mind about the first encounter between this Saturday Night’s UFC 134 main event fighters

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UFC 134 (also known as UFC: Rio) marks the first time the UFC has hosted an event in Brazil since 1998.  So it was logical to have big time Brazilian MMA stars such as Anderson Silva, Maurico “Shogun” Rua, and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueria on the main card.  Here are my “things to know” heading into this Saturday’s UFC 134:

 

1. Anderson Silva looks to avenge blemish from his fighting record again Yushin Okami

 

Anderson Silva has been one of the most dominant fighters in UFC history.  He has never lost a fight while in the UFC and has one blemish on his fighting record since 2005: a Disqualification loss to Yushin Okami at Rumble on The Rock in January of 2006.  He was disqualified when he landed a controversal upkick from the bottom position on the ground.  While Okami looked able to continue the fight the referee decided to end the fight and allow Okami to move on in the tournament.

Since then Silva has not lost a fight while Okami has lost to Jake Shields, Rich Franklin, and Chael Sonnen.   Now the two finally have the opportunity to rematch, Silva will be very motivated to avenge this “loss”.  Both fighters have improved since their 2006 fight, but it has been Silva who has become one of the greatest MMA fighters of all time while Okami has been “good enough” to stay relevant at 185 pounds.  Despite the fact that Okami has been training with Chael Sonnen for this rematch, it is hard to see Okami duplicating the performance Sonnen had for the first four rounds of his fight with the UFC Champion Silva.  Defeating Okami this Saturday night would be a major victory for Silva’s personally and career wise: to redeem himself and beat the last man to walk away from  fight with him not a loser.

 

 

2. Can Forrest Griffin stay relevent in the UFC Light Heavyweight Division?

 

Forrest Griffin is 10-4 in his UFC career; he is the former UFC Light Heavyweight champion and won the first season of the Ultimate Fighter.  A good career by many people’s standards.  Griffin is a very popular fighter in the UFC but he needs a win over “Shogun” Rua to stay in the top tier of the 205 pound division.  Since beating “Rampage” Jackson for the 205 pound belt back in 2008, Forrest lost back to back fights, took some time off, then came back and has won two straight.  He has never won more then three fights in a row during his time in the UFC so he needs to show he can build significant mommentum and the type of winning streak to earn him not just another shot at fighting for the belt but also show he can still be a perennial contender in the UFC.  Forrest has accomplished so much in his career that he could retire in the next couple years and most fans would not hold it against him.  Coming into his rematch with Maurico “Shogun” Rua at UFC 134, Griffin has admitted he will be cutting a lot of weight to get down to 205 by the day of weigh ins.  The question has never been is Griffin talented, strong, or tough enough to fight in the UFC, the real question is how bad does he want to be champion again?  Does the fire still burn in him that will drive him to be the best? This Saturday night will show us where Forrest is at in his MMA career.

 

 

3. Brendan Schaub wants to take out big names on his way to the top

 

Since losing to Roy Nelson in The Ultimate Fighter Heavyweight Finale, Schaub has won four straight fights.  In his last two fights he has beaten Gabriel Gonzaga (former UFC number one contender) and Mirko “Cro Cop” Fillipovic (2006 PRIDE Open Weight Tournament Champion).  Next he faces Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, the former PRIDE Heavyweight and Interm UFC Heavyweight Champion.  Also, Schaub has said he wants to fight Frank Mir soon, another former UFC champion. But Schaub has been criticized by some “experts” because he has beaten both Gonzaga and “Crop Cop” when they are on the downside of their fighting careers.  Nogueira is coming off surgeries on both of his knees and a hip while not fighting since February of 2010 so we are unsure how good he will be in his return to action.  

So is it really that big a deal if Schaub is beating these big name heavyweights when they are not at their best on fight night?  I understand the old saying “In order to be ‘the man’ you have to beat ‘the man’” but to use big name fighters to build your career when those fighters are not what they once were?  Some people say this is wrong and “doesn’t seem right”.  Yet Schaub has said in interviews he wants to fight guys who “scare him” because it brings out the best in him.  So to him it is not disrespectful or him picking on old competition to beat these MMA stars.  If we go by what Schaub says, he is fighting guys who in his mind are dangerous and beating them means a lot to him.  Either way, building a win streak that has names such as Gonzaga, “Cro Cop”, and Nogueira on it is definately a sure way to get into the top tier of UFC heavyweight fighters.

 

 

4. Different career paths have brought Ross Pearson and Edson Barbosa to face each other

 

This matchup of two young and talented lightweight fighters has potential to be Fight of the Night at UFC 134.  But their paths to this fight are very different.  Pearson won The Ultimate Fighter Season 9 Final and has gone 4-1 during his time in the UFC.  Going through TUF is a major promotional platform for young fighters and typically guys who win TUF get more chances from the UFC to show they can be successful.  On the other hand, Barbosa is 8-0 in his MMA career and has won his first two UFC fights.  He is the former Ring of Combat Lightweight Champion and 7 of his 8 MMA wins have been finishes via knockout or submission.  A showdown of two dynamic, young fighters is always sure to be a good fight and the winner of this fight is likely to evelate themselves in the UFC’s 155 pound division.  Should be interesting to see whose fighting style will be more successful standing: Pearson’s sharp boxing or Barbosa’s techincal Muay Thai.  Also, Barbosa has a purple belt in Brazilian jiu-Jitsu and Pearson has a brown belt in Judo.

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The UFC and FOX had a major press conference yesterday to announce their new television contract. According to Sports Business Daily and ESPN the deal is for seven years and 90 million dollars. Dana White announced that the first “UFC on FOX” live event is scheduled for November 12, 2011. The deal calls for four major UFC events on FOX network television a year, a long with six “UFC Fight Night” events on FX cable television. Also, “The Ultimate Fighter” reality TV series will be on FX on Friday nights starting in 2012 and will be live instead of Spike’s condensed six weeks of filming. Included is the agreement to have some Prelim fights and other UFC related broadcasts (“UFC Countdown”, “UFC Primetime”, “UFC Unleashed”, “Best of Pride” etc.) on FX and Fuel TV.

 

Now that I have given you the contractual basics, I want to look at why this deal happened and its affect not just on Mixed Martial Arts but on the Professional Sports landscape. As someone who has worked in different areas of media (broadcast and print) I want to break this down for everyone in a unique way.

 

FOX has been looking to boost their ratings for the last few years. Popular shows such as “24″ and “The Shield” are no longer on the air and even “Rescue Me” is coming to an end on FX. Loosing such staple programming has been weakness for FOX because they have not been able to introduce much program to replace these popular programs. Also, the loss of traction by programs in the ratings such as “Bones” and “House” has put FOX in the odd position of trying to keep up in many head to head matchups with the seasonal programming on CBS and ABC. In fact, there have been weeks in which some of the popular USA network shows have beat out FOX and FX programming in the ratings. In recent years networks have leaned on their sports programming not just for revenue and ratings but for promotion of their regular television programming. This is something CBS has been very successful with during NFL and college basketball seasons. FOX usually gets some boost from NFL season promotions but there has been mixed reviews from MLB and NASCAR broadcasts. Part of the problem with those two sports is that with baseball there is no consistency for the viewer in broadcast times (some weeks its 1pm ET, other weeks it 3 or 4pm ET) while NASCAR is considered a “niche” mainstream sport whose viewing demographics are limited in terms of age, gender, and financial class.

 

When FOX lost to NBC in recent bids for Olympic coverage, they knew they needed to gain a new televised sports franchise to grab ahold of. UFC expiring contracts with Spike TV and Versus the perfect opportunity for FOX to gain access to the 18-36 year old male demographic was there for the taking. Average age of viewership for other sports programming is at least ten years older in age and those viewing customers are more set in their ways in terms of products they buy and the kinds of programming they will watch on TV. The younger, the better in the media world since many young people are still flexible in terms of what is new whether the product is a television show or beverage FOX had a history already in place with the UFC: UFC 37.5 was broadcast on FOX Sports’ “Best Damn Sports Show Period” and was the first mixed martial arts event broadcast on cable television. During the Early 2000′s, FSN’s “Best Damn Sports Show Period” frequently covered MMA fighters from PRIDE, UFC, and IFL. But since the early to mid 2000′s UFC average viewership has almost tripled and in 2011 the time was now for FOX to get ahold of viewership that was being under served.

 

Consider this: in 2011 UFC Prelim live broadcasts on Spike TV averaged 1,467,000 viewers per showing and on ION Television the average viewership was 771,000. Now that may sound small, but it is actually very significant because both Spike and ION did little promoting of these Prelim broadcasts and neither channel had the big name parent company to help promote any of their daily or special programming. The UFC was generating viewership for programs such the Prelim Live fights, “Best of Pride”, “UFC Countdown” and others shows basically through Twitter, Facebook, their website, and email newsletters. By broadcast media standards that is very weak promotion and to get those kinds of numbers means that there is vast unlocked potential in viewership on cable and network television for UFC programming. Also realize that “UFC on Versus 5″ gained an average viewership of 779,000 and the peak was near a million during the Hardy versus Lytle main event fight. They got this number on a traditionally poor television viewing night (Sunday) in the middle of the second worst time of year for ratings (Summer time) on a channel that is available in about 30 percent FEWER homes in North American than FX or Spike TV.

 

So this deal is a major win programming wise and viewership wise for FOX. For the UFC this is their big time step into competing with the other major professional sports organizations on Network Television. Unlike the CBS ventures with Elite XC and Strikeforce, the UFC has a very deep roster of excellent MMA talent and mainstream recognizable fighters. Also, Joe Rogan outside of MMA is still well-known for his stints on the TV comedy series “Friends” and his time hosting the reality show “Fear Factor”. Being the top organization in a sports field also has the perks of being able to say that your champions and top-level athletes are the very best in the world.

 

The UFC though will suffer the same network television growing pains of other “non-team sport” organizations such as NASCAR and PGA because their potential is only as good as the stars who shine on the big stage. Golf has suffered tremendously in the ratings without Tiger Woods and with seven straight Major Championships won by first time Major winners the casual fans have no clue who is who and have no incentive to watch. NASCAR’s two biggest names, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon, have not been big winners over the last few years and the same guy has won the last five straight overall Championships and Jimmie Johnson has typically done so in undramatic fashion. What the UFC has going for them that these other sports do not is they have more than a couple major big names and have numerous other rising stars that can be promoted and built up.

 

Also, the timing of this announcement was perfect because FOX played UFC promos (commercials that promote programming) a few times during the Eagles-Steelers Preseason showdown and they can spend the rest of the Pre season leading into the NFL regular season promoting the November 12th UFC on FOX event. This is significant because the NFL is the top sport with crossover viewership for MMA.  Surveys show that NFL viewers are the most likely to watch MMA than any other Professional Sports fan and according to a Twitter study 61 percent of UFC fans also follow NFL players and reporters on twitter also.

 

Lastly, this is big for Mixed Martial Arts financially. Once Spike TV and Versus no longer have rights to UFC or WEC programming then those channels are free to pursue other MMA organizations. Bellator could easily move from MTV2 to Spike TV or Versus and fill the slots where the UFC had been without the networks skipping a beat. TJ Tompson of ProElite MMA has talked about making a deal with a TV network once the organization gets more events set up. The UFC being broadcast on the big stage opens broadcasting opportunities for other orgnanizations just like the NFL’s popularity has opened up financial and television opportunities for other football organizations such as AFL (Arena Football League), CFL (Canadian Football League), LFL (Lingerie Football League), and the upstart USFL (United States Football League) that had limited success in the 1980′s. And with more television exposure there are more marketing and promotional opportunities for MMA fighters. Remember the old days when CondomDepot.com was a major fighter sponsor? Now we have Budweiser and Bud Light commercials with Anderson Silva and Jon Jones. The next step is for Verizon or AT&T to sponsor the UFC instead of Boost Mobile or have Nike expand their clothing lines to MMA.

 

The future is now for all of MMA. The mainstream media cannot just ignore it anymore as a rogue activity and it’s not like the movie “Bloodsport” with fights occurring in underground tournaments with “go for the kill” calls. These are athletes who have real training backgrounds and compete to make a living.  They are no less athletes than the pros who compete in the NFL, NBA, MLB, or NHL. The UFC has done promotion and broadcasting by themselves for years, now they have a major network standing by their side. Like the Bud Light commercial says, “Here we go!”

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Bellator has been establishing their organization as the top “Not Zuffa owned” Mixed Martial Arts organization in North America. CEO Bjorn Rebney has done a good job of amassing talent while not signing every Zuffa washout to come into the free agent market. It was also a smart move for Bellator to make the move to MTV2 so they can ensure all events are free for anyone with more then a basic cable or dish television package can watch. Bellator 48 is more than just the Featherweight Tournament Finals but is also an event hosting two solid Heavyweight fights on the Main card that showcases Bellator’s growth as an organization in overall talent and name recognition. When the fans can tune in and recognize most of the names on the fight card without having to do Google research, that is always a positive.

1. Can Pat Curran win two different weight class Bellator tournaments in a period of 14 months?
The 23 year old Pat Curran is building a name for himself by reaching two Bellator Tournament finals. What makes this even more impressive is he has done it at 155 pounds AND 145 pounds. He has looked faster and sharper on the feet at Featherweight while not losing his wrestling strength.
But he is facing a much different opponent in this tournament finals in comparison to last year. In June 2010 Curran faced a veteran fighter in Toby Imada who has really good grappling skills. This Saturday night Curran faces Marlon Sandro: a dynamic fighter with a 19-2, one of those losses was by controversal Split Decision to current UFC fighter Michihiro Omigawa. Both Sandro and Curran have gotten 47 percent of their career wins via decision so expect this to be a three round war.
If Curran can win this matchup it will boost his MMA resume. Expect him to get some serious interest from the UFC when his Bellator contract runs out.

2. How will Bellator Heavyweight Champ Cole Konrad handle a step up in competition?
Cole Konrad is a young Heavyweight MMA prospect who will be facing a fighter Saturday Night in Paul Buentello who has been in 6 times as many fights (42) than Konrad (7). Konrad was a great collegiate and international wrestler before coming to MMA and he trains with former UFC Heavyweight Champ Brock Lesnar. Yet training at Lesnar’s camp can only do so much to prepare a young fighter to face a man who has fought for Heavyweight titles in four different MMA organizations.
Buentello’s MMA record is composed of a “Who’s Who” of upper level MMA heavyweights who have fought over the last ten years. He has faced 11 fighters who have fought in the UFC, compilling a record of 3-8. This matchup with Buentello is a good fight to measure where Konrad is at in his MMA career. Despite the paradox of Konrad not defending his belt in his fight this Saturday (a “tradition” Bellator does with many of their belt holders, reserving championship fights for winners of their tournaments) defeating a veteran like Buentello would be a good sign that Konrad has made the big step from MMA prospect to serious MMA Heavyweight fighter. Also he would avoid the comparisons to guys like Todd Duffee and Brandon Vera who were hyped Heavyweight prospects that came up short of the hype and expectations.

3. What does the future hold for Ricco Rodriguez if he keeps winning?
Former UFC Heavyweight Champion Ricco Rodriguez is on an unique winning streak: he has won 12 straight fights while fighting for 12 different MMA organizations. Since returning from his suspension by the California Athletic Commission in 2007 Rodriguez has amassed a fighting record of 21-5. Although he has not beaten any big names during that stretch winning can do a lot for a fighters confidence. Hopefully Rodriguez has finally found a fighting home with Bellator after his MMA world tour for the last four years. He faces another former UFC fighter, Seth Petruzelli, who is best known for his fast knockout of Kimbo Slice in 2008. If Rodriguez wins his fight this Saturday night he will have beaten two Ultimate Fighter Alums in two of his last three fights while extending his winning streak to 13 fights. Having a fighter with Rodriguez’s name recognition and winning streak is a nice perk for Bellator as they continue to grow in popularity.

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