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Former TUF 12 Cast Mates Nam Phan and Andy Main’s Seemingly Imminent Clash in Tokyo

Steven Cavagnino

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Generally speaking, it is assumed that once a fighter hits the UFC, their career path is at its highest point. After all, the UFC is the big show, the Super-Bowl of MMA, the place where the best fighters in the world go to compete, and the best of the best stay. So when an MMA fighter is released from the UFC, where do they go? Doesn’t that mean they are on the downslide of their career? I’ve come to tell you that it is, in fact, possible for a fighter to thrive, grow, and maintain a successful professional MMA career even after they have competed in the UFC.

Take Nam Phan and Andy Main, two perfect examples of veteran fighters whose skills and careers have continued to flourish despite their non-UFC ties, and whose respective careers also happen to be very closely and very uniquely tied together.

In June of 2010 taping for the twelfth installment of The Ultimate Fighter reality show began when it saw 28 lightweight prospects look to compete for a spot on either Georges St. Pierre’s team or Josh Koscheck’s team. After both successfully claiming a spot and eventually landing on Josh Koscheck’s team, Main and Phan were to be teammates for the duration of the 7 week period in which the season was filmed.

When the season ended, only a handful of contestants were signed by the UFC, including Nam Phan, Alex Caceres, Michael Johnson, and the show’s winner, Jonathan Brookins. It was at this point that Phan and Main’s respective career paths diverted from each other. Phan went on to compete in the UFC as both a featherweight (145 lbs.) and a bantamweight (135 lbs.) earning both exciting wins and one-sided losses. Never finding much consistency in the UFC, a three fight losing streak saw Phan released from the promotion in 2014. After four years, 8 fights and a 2-6 record, Phan was forced to reevaluate his career. Having fought some top talent even before he was in the UFC, Phan was certainly a draw to other promotions.

After TUF 12, Andy Main was one of the many cast members who the UFC decided not to sign into the promotion. However, Main, at 22 years old and only a professional fighter for a year, had a 4-1 record, and the experience of a fighter many years his senior. The opportunity to be locked inside a gym with the top UFC fighters for 7 weeks was something that kickstarted his MMA career and he has been busy since then.

Posting a 6-1-1-1 (one draw and one no contest) record, including a robbery of a loss, Main has not slowed down. Not only has he stayed busy as a fighter, but Main also opened up a Martial Arts school with his younger brother, who is a talented BJJ black belt in his own right. In his six wins since TUF 12, Main has posted five finishes. Four of those fights have been in the longtime Japanese promotion Pancrase, which has seen the likes of Ken Shamrock, Bas Rutten, Ricardo Almeida and Josh Barnett grace its ring. Pancrase has also recently signed a deal with UFC Fight Pass to show its old and new events.  With a record of 3-0-1, Main is undefeated in Pancrase and has finished his last two opponents. One win by way of TKO and, in his most recent fight, by submission less than one minute into the first round against an opponent who had previously never been finished.

Phan, since being released from the UFC has put together a 3-1 record, with 2 of those wins fighting for, you guessed it, Pancrase. Phan won the Pancrase featherweight title in his second fight for the promotion, and in that time Main has been climbing the ranks in the very same division, knocking off challenger after challenger. After his most recent fight this past weekend, Main has outright stated that he believes, after finishing two straight opponents, he is the #1 contender and deserves the Pancrase title shot against his old Team Koscheck teammate. Those who run the organization apparently agree as the updated rankings were released just a few days ago and it saw Main skip over a few names to land as the well-earned #1 contender in the division.

Strange how careers can weave through and even run into each other over the course of years. An interesting point to consider is that, while Phan had his stint in the UFC, Main never truly got to fight for the promotion. It’s easy to forget that, despite having an impressive 10-2 record, and competing on The Ultimate Fighter over 4 years ago, Andy Main is only 25 years old!

While Phan is no old man, at 32 years of age with an astounding 35 fights and a career that started almost 15 years ago, he is a hard-worn, journeyman fighter who is definitely a tough test for anyone looking to break into the next level of their fighting career. The skill level between these two fighters is remarkable, and if a fight does come to fruition, it will be one that showcases decades of practice and perseverance. Up until a week ago, no one would have guessed it, but it’s a fight 5 years in the making, since the moment Josh Koscheck chose both men to represent his team.

MMA is alive and well outside the UFC, make no mistake about it. And to see two men; one who fought in the UFC, and another who may yet do so, take the next step in their respective careers in the motherland of Martial Arts, after coming in close contact years ago, is a storyline that is only written about in movies. It’s intriguing and inspiring. It’s a tale that crosses nations and disciplines, experience and personal growth. It’s the fight to make, it’s the fight to see, and it features two fighters who have spent most of their fighting years outside of the UFC.

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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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Why It’s Time to Cherish Michael Bisping and Stop the Hate

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Ever since the Ultimate Fighter 3, Michael ‘The Count’ Bisping has been one of the most hated fighters on the UFC roster. Since he was painted as the big bad Brit against the American hero Dan Henderson, Bisping has been the villain. He has played up to the reputation of being one of the biggest heels in the UFC, with his arrogance, trash talk and often disrespectful attitude.

But nothing has summed up Michael Bisping more than the events of this past week. After losing his Middleweight Championship to Georges St. Pierre at UFC 217, no one would blame Bisping for wanting a few months on the couch whilst sinking a few beers before retiring at UFC London in March.

After hearing that Anderson Silva had tested positive for a banned substance, it was announced that Bisping would fill in for Silva to face Kelvin Gastelum in the main event of UFC Shanghai. A fight that nobody else would have wanted. A fight that he has less than three weeks to prepare for.

The fight does nothing for Bisping. Gastelum is a rising, rejuvenated contender and Bisping knows he can not take him lightly. But he’s also seven places below him in the rankings. Although, this doesn’t matter anymore as Bisping has announced this will be his second to last fight ever before hanging up his gloves.

Nothing sums Bisping up better than his comment on Gastelum’s Instagram post “See you in China. Loser buys the beers”.

He sounds relaxed. Perhaps he’s enjoying his last two fights and is at peace with his impending retirement.

In an era all about money, fighters like Bisping are rare and hard to come by. Fighters that only care about one thing, fighting.

Sure, his title reign wasn’t the best. But the UFC offered him the Henderson fight, to bring back some feeling of nostalgia that has been missing in the modern times of the UFC. And who in their right mind wouldn’t want to face one of the greatest ever in GSP.

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND – JULY 17: Michael Bisping of England steps on the scale during the UFC weigh-in inside the SSE Hydro on July 17, 2015 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

It’s easy to forget amongst all the trash talk that Bisping has always played by the rules, and been anti PEDs during a time when a majority of the roster was using some form of performance enhancers. Fighting PED users has given Bisping most of his losses and has even led to him losing sight in one of his eyes.

Most of Bisping’s outrageous acts, have been him using a ‘pro wrestling’ act in order to hype up his fights and put bums in seats. That isn’t an excuse for some of his obnoxious behaviour. But when he’s not in the zone, it’s clear to see what a respectful and humble man he is. Like his moment after UFC 217, where he approached Cody Garbrandt to tell him how proud he was of him, or his post fight respect for Anderson Silva, where they both bowed on their knees to one another.

This is me and Anderson exchanging respect while being attended to by the doctors.

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The truth is, Bisping is an incredible ambassador of the sport and one of the pioneers across the pond.

Bisping should be remembered and appreciated as the workhorse warrior who brought absolutely everything he had to the cage every time he fought. He always comes to fight, whether it’s three weeks notice or more. He’s simply tough as hell.

Believe you me Michael Bisping is a true old school legend of this sport and should be cherished whilst we still have him, cause we will miss him when he’s gone.

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