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Bisping vs Henderson II is More Than a Crowd-Pleasing Gimmick

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The recent announcement of a rematch between Michael Bisping and Dan Henderson has many MMA fans and media members crying foul play, with some even calling it a mockery of the rankings. Is it really inconceivable that UFC needed to make this match? At a glance, it seems absurd that the entire hierarchy of the Middleweight Top 10 is being surpassed by Henderson, who sits in the number 13 slot in the division. However, there is much more to consider.

The state of the murky 185lb contender-ship is far more complex than it initially appears, and a closer examination of the division reveals that the long-awaited rematch between “The Count” and Hendo does not necessarily defy the rankings as blatantly as some choose to believe.

“A lot of people have been talking shit about this match-up,” Michael Bisping said, Thursday, August the 4th on his Sirius XM Radio show, The Countdown. “A lot of people have been very excited about this match-up. I plan on putting a beating on Henderson that people will never forget.”

Let us take a moment to reflect upon some of the key individuals from the division and gain a better understanding why none of them are fighting for the title in place of Dan Henderson. In order to do this, consider the fact that #1 ranked Luke Rockhold and #2 Chris Weidman were scheduled to rematch, with Weidman seeking to reclaim the title from then-Champion Rockhold.

Chris Weidman was forced to withdraw due to injury and Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza was offered the short notice title shot against Luke Rockhold. According to ESPN correspondent Chael Sonnen, the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu ace declined the opportunity, citing injury. How he managed to get injured from the giving end of a lopsided beatdown he put on Vitor Belfort is anyone’s guess, but that is hardly the point.

Michael Bisping was the only man willing to step up to the challenge and faced Rockhold on short notice. If there is anything that infuriates UFC President Dana White and the matchmakers, it is when fighters decline massive, card-saving opportunities. This alone might explain why Jacare was declined by the UFC when it came time to make the first title fight after Rockhold-Bisping II. Though it is probably unfair, it is reality nonetheless.

Thus, by the process of elimination, the Middleweight top-3 were almost immediately scratched from the title conversation without fail. On paper:

1. Luke Rockhold – recently lost VIOLENTLY, to current Champion Michael Bisping
2. Chris Weidman- injured
3. Jacare- injured, and perhaps on Dana White’s naughty list for declining Rockhold

Moving down the ranks leads to Vitor Belfort and Anderson Silva. Would it be prudent to place Vitor Belfort in yet another title fight simply because he holds 2 wins over Henderson and is ranked above him? Despite those accomplishments, doing so would make absolutely no sense. The deflated Phenom is 0-3 in UFC title fights since 2011 and he was demolished by Jacare in his most recent outing. The fact that Belfort is even still in the top 10 rests solely on the resumé he built during a TRT-fueled fairy tale that ended almost 3 years ago.

As for The Spider, Bisping just defeated Anderson Silva in February; and oh, by the way, Silva has not won a fight since 2012. His record is 0-4-1 NC over the last 3 years. Should he fight for the title, over Hendo? Perhaps, but it easy to see that the division is not so cut and dry, therefore Henderson is starting to make sense. And the bottom 5 are not exactly looking like world-beaters at present. Also, a few of them are there by default due to the absence of better fighters who are on the sidelines.

Yoel Romero and Tim Kennedy are not ranked amongst the top-10 at the moment. Make no mistake, inactivity is the only reason they are not in the title picture. If it were not for Romero’s USADA suspension and Kennedy’s extended sabbatical, both would be much more suitable for a shot at the Champion than Robert Whitaker, Uriah Hall or Derek Brunson; at least for the moment.

Do the latter 3 “deserve” a shot because they are ranked above Hendo? Probably, but it matters not because a business decision had to be made and none of those individuals are quite ready to fight for a title. After the ineligible players are taken out of the equation, only a few contenders emerge. A quick review of their status further explains why they were overlooked.

There is certainly a case to be made for the likes of Gegard Mousasi and Jacare Souza. Gegard Mousasi is inconsistent, and although he looked great in his last bout, it was not a victory against a top-10 fighter. As for Jacare, Michael Bisping hit it on the head when he told MMA Latest, “Jacare probably is the next, most deserving guy, but he’s just so boring. You know what I mean? Nobody’s excited to see him fight. All the other top contenders have, kind of, weird situations.”

Jacare is not necessarily as uninteresting as Bisping claims he is, especially to the MMA purist. The problem is that his drawing power is pale in comparison to Henderson’s. In fact, he and Mousasi combined do not have a fraction of Hendo’s appeal, so there is an element of profit over the sport in their case. In light of the situation, they are the only two fighters that are legitimately getting passed up for a shot.

Above all else, be it rankings or marketability, there is most definitely some unfinished business between Michael Bisping and Dan Henderson, and it makes a great headline. As Bisping explained on his radio show last Thursday, “Dan Henderson knocked me out at UFC 100 and, when I was unconscious, (he) flew through the air and delivered a forearm smash that could’ve left me severely brain damaged. I owe that guy big time.”

The bad blood alone is enough to generate plenty interest for this fight. The fact that it will most likely be Dan Henderson’s final walk to the Octagon makes it special and nostalgic for hardcore fans and putting the title on the line is a testament to the respect Henderson’s legendary status brings him. And do not forget: he is still dangerous. His signature highlight reel KO was the UFC 100 defeat Bisping mentioned previously, why not run it back? After all, Hendo is still perfectly capable of knocking out anyone on the planet.

Bisping knows all too well, and he doesn’t take the assignment lightly. “He just knocked out Hector Lombard, which was an incredible knockout; almost as good as the one he got on me. So, the guy’s still knocking people out,” Bisping told MMA Latest.

The purpose of this discussion is not to dismiss the fact that some, not all, UFC top-10 Middleweights probably should have been chosen over Dan Henderson; rather highlight that it was in fact only a handful that was passed up, not exactly the entire division. The situation is the textbook definition of a perfect storm. While it certainly bends the rankings, this rematch is not the outright blasphemy that some have called it.

Due to non-availability or lack of momentum among most of the top-5, and a lack of readiness or profitability of the bottom-5 this fight actually makes plenty of sense, even from a rankings perspective. Incorporate the critical need for this rematch to occur and the farewell party that it means for the legendary Dan Henderson, the headliner clearly has all 3 elements to make a great fight: sport, interest, and purpose. The bout is scheduled for the UFC 204 Main Event, which takes place in Manchester, England on October 8th, 2016.

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Tom Gallicchio on UFC Release “It’s Been a Dream of Mine to Fight in KSW”

Harry Davies

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MMA Latest spoke to TUF 22 and 25 season competitor Tom Gallicchio about being cut from the UFC, and potential promotions that he could sign for in the future.

Gallicchio (19-10) signed for the UFC after reaching the semi-finals of The Ultimate Fighter: Season 25. Losing to James Krause in his debut, “Da Tank” was informed earlier this month that the UFC had parted ways with him.


Q: Before we jump into the whole free agency stuff, talk me through how the UFC broke the news that they were going to release you?

I thought I was going to have another fight, this time at lightweight. I got a letter dated July 7th, saying they were going to keep me, I received it in September. I was getting emails to update my USADA, I never got a cut letter and I got tested by USADA on October 24th. I was hoping to fight sometime in January or February, then they broke the news to me that they need to make a room for new talent.

Q: You made your UFC debut against James Krause in July, then 4 months down the line, they cut you. How surprised were you at this somewhat out of the blue decision?

I’m thankful for my opportunity in the UFC and the fact that they gave me another shot, but it was definitely surprising how it happened.  They released a newsletter in September welcoming Jesse (Taylor) Dhiego (Lima) and myself into the UFC, all signs pointed towards another fight. Hearing that I was cut was just heartbreaking.

Q: Have any talks started with a new promotion. I saw you name a few on Twitter, the likes of  Bellator, BAMMA, KSW and ACB. Who do you see yourself signing for?

I would love to compete in any of those! A couple of them hit me up, one of which I am very happy to talk with. Since they came out, It’s been a dream of mine to fight in KSW. They’re taking care of their fighters, I would love to fight for them. I want to travel, I want to see the world, I want to fight. I’ve got a lot of fans overseas and I want to give them a show.

It’s been a dream of mine to fight in KSW.

Q: Your long time friend Jesse Taylor was victorious in the TUF 25 Finale, but he has since accepted a 1-year ban for failing a USADA test. What is your take on this given how close you two are?

I know Jesse is not a juicer, I’ve known him ever since I came down to (Team) Quest. It’s probably come from some supplement that he’s taking, it sucks for him. I think he went into a little bit of panic mode, he could have done a better job of handling it.

I don’t take supplements, if there was a way, I’d still keep myself in the USADA pool just because I believe in a clean sport. I think it’s important we keep the sport clean and if we’re cleaning up the supplement companies then good, because no one else is.

Where would you look to see Tom fight next? Let us know below!

 

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ACB

Rany Saadeh pleased with the opportunities ACB brings, promises a finish in his debut on Saturday

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The BAMMA Flyweight belt was ruled for years by none other than Rany Saadeh, During his reign as champion he successfully defended the belt on two occasions. His dominance over the division saw him go undefeated in BAMMA and without a loss since 2012. Following the expiration of his contract, Rany vacated his BAMMA belt to explore new challenges.

He has now signed with ACB and is set to make his debut in only a matter of days at ACB 74 in Austria where he will take on Darren Mima. In a recent catch up with Rany, he explained his reasoning behind joining ACB and his goals in the promotion.

“ACB is the fastest growing organization in MMA. They’ve promised me an active career with events all over the world and a tempting bonus structure. It was just what I was looking for. I’ve looked into the competition and I can honestly say that the competition at flyweight is just as good, if not even better than in the UFC. Being the ACB title holder would make me a legit world champion.”

Ahead of his bout with Mima, we are set to see some new stuff from Saadeh as he claims to have changed up his style after a solid camp for this fight, guaranteeing us a surprise.

“I didn’t need to change anything for him but my style changed in general since my last fight. I’ve had an excellent camp with high-level training partners and coaches. I’m very grateful for my coaches who have put hours of private work into me this year. Especially with my new boxing coach Luciano Robledo, I can guarantee a surprise.”

The confidence is evident as he tells me how he sees the fight going. Promising his well-rounded arsenal of both strikes and grappling are worthy of bonuses, something he’d be very keen on considering the set-up in ACB.

“I will not just completely dominate but also finish.” He began, “I can imagine this fight being a wild brawl and dropping my opponent. Also on the ground, I have some slick submissions that are bonus-worthy.”

Having been successful in BAMMA, Rany is striving for more glory as plans on taking home the ACB title becoming the first Western European to do so.

“Of course!” he says with determination in his voice, “I’m coming into ACB as a world champion and the #1 ranked flyweight in Western Europe. After winning this fight, the title fight is right there”

It’s now been over a year since we’ve seen, “Prince” enter the cage. A decision voluntarily made by the German as he adjusted his game.

“It was mid last year when I had started to adjust my game. These changes take time and as the wished competition wasn’t there, I decided to take some time off fighting to prepare for a bigger challenge.”

Now having departed ways with BAMMA, the British promotion now has a new champion in Daniel Barez. Unfortunately for Rany, his reasons for leaving was the lack of competition has beaten everyone put in front of him with money being an issue that stepped in the way too. Despite any negativity derived from his departure, he does not rule out a return to the promotion where he was once Flyweight king.

“The competition in Europe just got very thin. With five fights in BAMMA, I somehow wasn’t very impressed with the opportunities left. Neither I got the fights, nor the purse that I needed to take my career further. After two title defenses, it felt like I was standing still which isn’t just BAMMA’s fault. Altogether, they are a great promotion and I wouldn’t exclude a return.”

When the UFC announced they would have the best flyweights from around the world enter the TUF house with a shot at the belt going to the winner. Many would have thought Rany Saadeh would have been up there. The season had champions from all over the world but no one from BAMMA, something strange considering the number of champions they signed in the past year from the promotion.

In an unfortunate circumstance for Saadeh, it was not his fault he wasn’t in the house as the UFC did come knocking but BAMMA just weren’t letting their champ go. Despite this situation, there is no bad blood anymore as Saadeh has moved on with things now.

“The UFC was definitely interested in putting me on the show and it is not true that BAMMA wasn’t asked. They were asked but didn’t want to be part of it. Without their permission, I wasn’t able to take part in the TUF. But I’m not mad at that anymore, I feel like it will make better opportunities possible.”

Having missed out on a possible UFC opportunity before, it isn’t on his mind anymore as he remains pleased with his life and is mainly looking to support his family in the future.

“I really don’t care, I’m set for the next few fights. All I want now is a decent living from fighting and provide for my family in the near future. ACB is not just giving me the chance to reach that goal but also giving me the challenges that I need. So far, I’m a very happy person”

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Bellator

Anthony “PrettyBoy” Taylor wants to knockout Trey Branch then fight Brian Moore in Bellator on St. Patricks Day

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Going from postlim fights in Bellator to a co-main event and then a main card fight after with such little professional experience isn’t something you’d hear of very often in the slightest. In this case Anthony “PrettyBoy” Taylor is the exception, who in only his third professional fight went to Ireland as part of the co-main event for a fight with James Gallagher. Taylor became well known to many in the build-up to that fight for being so outspoken and quite an entertainer, something he carries with him to the cage.

Anthony Taylor now has himself a fight lined up in a regional show near his home in California at California Fighting Championships. This will be his first time fighting back in America since May 2016. His last two bouts were in Europe as part of Bellator’s expansion into Europe. Following two losses he now hopes to get back in the win column in front of a home crowd. Taking this fight as a tune off fight Anthony is confident he won’t be touched by his opponent Trey Branch.

“Well, I’m taking this fight because Bellator said I’ll be fighting next year for overseas and it will be a good tune off fight for me. I think of trey like any other fighter. Just a guy who’s not going to touch me nor beat me.”

His opponent Trey Branch is jumping up from flyweight for this fight, Anthony believes he’s going to dominate his opponent and knock him out with ease. Now having 3 career losses coming via submission, he is not worried about his ground game, guaranteeing it was improved from training with some of the top fighters in Bellator.

“I believe I’m going to overpower him and KO him. He’s coming up from 125lb to fight me which I stated to the world on Bellator that I’m the strongest 45er in the world!! And as far as my ground game, it’d be covered and it’s great. Thanks to AJ McKee, Baby Slice, Joey Davis and Aaron Pico. My ground game is great and up there to the level, as there’s”

Looking ahead to next year when he competes in Bellator again, Taylor has his eyes set on a big fight in a return to Irish soil.

“Well Bellator loves me and I proved them that I belong there. I haven’t been told when I was fighting but I hope it’s back in Ireland, and maybe on St. Patricks day and hopefully I’ll fight Brian Moore because me and him been wanting to fight the longest.”

As a training partner for AJ McKee, Taylor was very pleased with how the fight went down, claiming it was a simple enough fight for his teammate that apparently didn’t train much for the fight. Suffering a loss on the initial trip to the emerald isle, “PrettyBoy” wants to come back and take home a win next time around.

“Oh man it was an easy fight for AJ, he only trained 2 weeks for that Brian Moore fight” he laughs “but absolutely it would be a great show if I was also on the show me and James alone still holds the record of views internationally and I’m looking to come back and taking what’s mines which is that W”

The win against Brian Moore could now potentially line up a fight between McKee and James Gallagher, fight fans have long sought after. Having fought against James and training with McKee on the regular Taylor isn’t convinced that Gallagher is ready for the AJ just yet. He also had some words about SBG fighters who were calling out Baby Slice.

“James is not ready for AJ. And people calling out slice since he’s new in the game. Why are sbg guys not calling out Joey Davis?? They are all talk and think that they’re better than everyone.”

With a win on Saturday, Anthony Taylor thinks it will kick him off to a series of consecutive wins that could ultimately land him in a fight with Emmanuel Sanchez.

“Yes it will start off (Saturday) and I believe it will set me up tremendously. I’m only getting better and I plan on winning fights in Bellator and then taking out Emanuel Sanchez. I do not like him, I hate him”

“I don’t like his style and he’s always hating on my teammates so I want his head” he added

Away from the fight scene, Anthony is pleased with the life that he’s got set up for himself with his newfound love since joining Bellator as he now aims to break into the movie industry too.

“Man it’s been great I now have a wonderful woman in my life so I’m happy. I’m acting too, trying to get into the movies industry and God has blessed me which so much love”

You can follow Anthony Taylor on all his social media accounts to keep an eye out for all his upcoming fight information and results.

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