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Brian Ebersole: The End of a Long Road

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In among the craziness of a UFC Fight Night chock-full of shock KO’s, heavyweight hook kicks, the new side of Ben Rothwell and one MMA icon resurrecting his UFC career, another veteran of the sport gracefully slipped into retirement: Brian Ebersole. In a career that spanned 15 years and a staggering 70 professional bouts, Ebersole, without doubt, is more than worthy of a tag that is far too often overused in this day and age, that of legend.

Ebersole’s introduction to sport came at a very young age when his father introduced him to wrestling. Although, by his own admission, he wasn’t aware wrestling was preparing him for a career as a fighter. A highly successful wrestler in high school, with more than 500 matches worth of experience, he earned a spot on the wrestling team at college in Illinois. However, after an incident that turned violent between himself and a student of a rival university. Despite the fact that Ebersole did not initiate the fracas and no statement was issued against him, he lost his spot on the team. This ended his wrestling career and sent Ebersole into depression, ultimately resulting in him losing all motivation to complete the final year of his history degree and dropping out of college. In a number of interviews since, Ebersole has stated that he should have walked away from the incident without reacting, but that, in hindsight, it helped make him the man he is today.

By then, Ebersole already had a few MMA bouts under his belt, so he pursued it full-time after joining the American Kickboxing Academy (AKA). Although a natural welterweight, Ebersole certainly did not mind fighting at other weight classes. He fought as a light heavyweight against fighters like UFC hall of famer Stephan Bonnar, and even as high as heavyweight. His goal was to fight for the UFC or in PRIDE and he believed that working hard on all aspects of his game as well as fighting regularly was the way to achieve that goal. As far as Ebersole was concerned, a fight was a fight. This is most evident in the fact that between April of 2001 and April of 2003, just a mere two years, he amassed 26 fights, often times with multiple fights per night and in tournaments. He continued this relentless attitude to fighting until he suffered a further setback.

After a fight in 2006 in which Ebersole defeated Shannon Ritch, it was alleged that the fight was faked and ‘worked’ like a pro wrestling style match-up, as it was claimed the two were talking while on the ground and that Ritch tapped out with no submission locked in. Ebersole and Ritch were suspended by the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) and the fight ruled a no contest. It is widely believed that this was due not to the fight being a fake, but to a lack of understanding on the part of the commission. In an interview on the Glove Up or Shut Up podcast some years later, Ritch described what had happened. At some point, Ebersole landed a cartwheel kick, his favourite technique, dropping Ritch and ending up on top of him. This was the first question mark the commission had over the fight, as they didn’t think it was a legitimate technique and more for show, despite, as Ritch said, Ebersole being known for using it. As for the submission, Ritch clarified that he did indeed tap before Ebersole locked in a submission, but not because the fight was worked. Ebersole was wearing a large cup, and when he took the back of Ritch and got both hooks in, the cup painfully pressed into his spine, causing him extreme pain which forced him to tap. Regardless, the suspension and the fact that his integrity was questioned led to Ebersole moving to Australia to further his MMA career.

He fought to a 1 – 1 record there over two months before returning to America to say goodbye to friends and family. While there however, he was offered a short notice fight in the now defunct International Fight League (IFL).  However, he was to fail a post-fight drug test for marijuana, which he explained was due to eating marijuana cookies before he even knew he was going to fight and that the marijuana did not have enough time to leave his system. Once again, he was suspended by the CSAC. He continued with his plan and moved back to Australia, where he travelled across the country fighting as often as he could, but also training the local fighters. He admitted subsequently that fighting in Australia wasn’t the best way to put himself firmly in the minds of the powers that be at the UFC, but he was earning good money for the first time. In that run, he fought Hector Lombard handed future UFC fighter Dylan Andrews his first competitive loss and defeated former UFC welterweight champion Carlos Newton by decision at the inaugural event of Impact FC. With his professional record standing at 46-14-1-1, Ebersole got the call he had waited for his whole career. The UFC were holding an event in Australia and Carlos Condit had pulled out of his fight with Chris Lytle, leaving them with less than 3 weeks to find a replacement. That was right up Ebersole’s alley and he was offered the fight, an opportunity that he was not going to turn down. After 11 years and 53 fights, he had achieved his goal of fighting for the UFC.

In a result which shocked many, as Lytle was being talked about as a potential title challenger and, despite his long record, he was relatively unknown by a lot of fans, it was Ebersole who had his hand raised at the end of a fight that received Fight of the Night honours. Before the end of that year, he had notched a further 2 wins in the UFC; a TKO victory over Dennis Hallman (in a fight also remembered for Hallman’s Speedos ring attire) and a decision over Claude Patrick. With another win over TJ Waldburger in 2012, Ebersole was on a hot streak, but back to back losses to James Head and Rick Story firmly put the brakes on his surge up the division. He would bounce back by beating John Howard, before his final fight last Saturday against Omari Akhmedov. Heading into that bout, he has said he had a hard training camp, with niggling injuries to his back, neck and knee troubling him to the extent that he had to visit specialists. During the fight, he took several heavy leg kicks to that knee and, sitting on his stool after round 1, he knew it was over. He signalled for the referee to stop the fight, thus ending his MMA career.

Remarkably, that result marks the first time in his 70 fight career that he has received a loss on his record via TKO. Considering he has fought far larger opponents than himself as well as some devastating strikers, that is a highly impressive statistic. In total, his record finishes as 51-17-1-1, with a finish rate of 66% (14 knockouts, 20 submissions). His exciting style and willingness to use unorthodox techniques endeared him to fans. His humorous side too, often shaving designs like arrows into his chest hair for fights for example, was also a factor in his growth in popularity during his UFC stint. Brian Ebersole retires with the respect of everyone who knew him, be it as a fan, trainer, student or fellow fighter, but also, on his on terms, an option which many in the sport don’t get. His knowledge and skills as a trainer would be an invaluable tool for any fighter to have the opportunity to learn from, and I doubt he will be short of offers on that front. Brian Ebersole deserves to, and will, be remembered as a legend of this great sport of MMA. Thank you Brian, and enjoy your retirement.

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UFC looks for undefeated fighters for the next season of TUF

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As the latest season of The Ultimate Fighter comes to a close in a few weeks, UFC has set tryouts for the next season of The Ultimate Fighter on December 12th but there is a catch, participates must hold an undefeated record.

Titled The Ultimate Fighter 27: Battle of the Undefeated, the next installment of TUF will be looking for male fighters with an undefeated record with a minimum of 3-0 to apply for the show. The casting call asks for featherweights and welterweights but in the early stages of tryouts, a weight class will be decided later in the process.

Fighters must be aged between 21 – 34 and will grapple and light spar in front of UFC matchmakers and must be prepared to stay in Vegas until December 16th.

It is unknown what the future of TUF will be after the TV deal with FOX ends next year but the show has been a success for the company and many fighters to emerge from The Ultimate Fighter have become champion including current interim Lightweight champion Tony Ferguson, Bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw and Strawweight champion Rose Namajunas coming from past seasons of the show.

This will be the third time in a row that a gimmick will be added to the show that has been on the decline in the ratings in recent years but yet to use only undefeated fighters. An undefeated streak can be one of the most prestigious records to keep in mixed martial arts with the wins and losses being so vital in a fighters career.

Who will keep their zero? Who will be the next Ultimate Fighter? Who will be the coaches?

These questions will be answered when the new season of TUF begins shooting in January and the show premiering later in the year.

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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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2017 IMMAF World Championships: Finals fixtures

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After 4 days of non stop action from Monday to Thursday we have our final 14 bouts to determine the 2017 IMMAF World Champions. Most of these fighters have fought four times for their slot  in the final and tomorrow will be their chance to finish off what has been a fantastic week of fights.

Kicking off the action tomorrow will be Michele Oliveira vs. Danni Neilan. Both women have looked extremely impressive in their bouts so far, Oliveira has spent less time in the cage than her opponent after finishing two of her fights. Neilan is the Irish teams last chance of a gold in this competition and comes into this after a war of a last fight. She is constantly pressuring and has solid striking with incredible ground and pound from any position on top.

Joel Aronlainen came down to featherweight after testing the water at lightweight in the European Championships. His lanky build and impressive overall skill set has seen him pick up 3 finishes in the competition so far. His opponent Delyan Georgiev is undefeated and will be a tough challenge for him. Georgiev has dominated the featherweight division at amateur, his gold medal at the European Championships could now lead to him becoming a world champion if he continues to perform like we’re used to seeing him do.

At 155lbs, Vitali Andruhovich will take on top American prospect Quintin Thomas for the gold. Andruhovich has been on the right side of two very close split decisions in this tournament so far. His controversial win over Irishman Ciaran Clarke had many people scratching their heads at the decision. He now has the chance to prove himself with a win against Quintin Thomas. Thomas is the UMMAF National Champion and a very experienced amateur fighter. Racking up 13 wins he has been a dominant fighter in most of his fights, his sole losses coming from sustaining an injury and a split decision loss.

For the Middleweight medal we have a battle of the Nordic fighters. Iceland’s Bjorn Lukas Haraldsson has looked phenomenal in his fights so far, finishing each and everyone inside a round. The Mjolnir fighter has been to many the highlight of the tournament, but has a tough task a head of him in Laallam who’s had half the number of fights in this tournament and looked impressive in both.

Bahrain’s last hope for a medal lies in the hand of Light Heavyweight finisher Murtaza Talha Ali. Ali has finished all four of his bouts so far, 3 via TKO/KO and his last being by way of submission. Standing in his way of gold will be Pavel Pahomenko from Belarus who’s proven to be lethal with submissions once an opportunity arises scoring two submission wins inside the first round.

Here is the full fixture list for the finals tomorrow:

  • Michele Oliveira  vs.  Danni Neilan 125 lbs
  • Anna Astvik  vs.  Hannah Dawson 115 lbs
  • Chamia Chabbi  vs.  Manon Fiorot 135 lbs
  • C. McCrudden  vs.  Fabiana Giampà 145 lbs
  • Gase Sanita  vs.  Kaycee Blake 155 lbs
  • Yernaz Mussabek  vs.  Serdar Atlas 125 lbs
  • Gamzat Magomedov  vs.  O. Moldagaliyev 135 lbs
  • Joel Arolainen  vs.  Delyan Georgiev 145 lbs
  • V. Andruhovich  vs.  Quitin Thomas 155 lbs
  • Sola Axel  vs.  Benjamin Bennett 170 lbs
  • B. Haraldsson  vs.  Khaled Laallam 185 lbs
  • Pavel Pahomenko  vs.  Murtaza Talha Ali 205 lbs
  • Irman Smajic  vs.  Lev Vins 265 lbs
  • Atanas Krastanov  vs.  Marcin Kalata 300 lbs
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