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Froback Friday: This Week in MMA History

Vinny Craig



(This is our weekly Throwback Thursday article. Yes, today is Friday. We called it Froback Friday this week. The dress is black and blue. Nick Diaz said so.)

This Week in MMA History

Throwback Thursday is a weekly article written about the events and news that have happened in the world of MMA during this week. The twist, we’ll be going back in time to show you the events that already happened and are forever stitched into our minds. This week we take a look at February 23 to March 1.


UFC 30: Battle on the Boardwalk

Taking place at the Vegas away from Vegas, UFC 30 saw two title fights headline the card. Before those, the preliminary card saw Sean Sherk and Phil Baroni get victories. In the second bout of the main card, future Heavyweight champions Pedro Rizzo and Josh Barnett fought it to the battle. Rizzo knocked out Barnett in the second round, and got a shot at Heavyweight champion Randy Couture.

In the co-main event, Jens Pulver and Caol Uno fought for the ‘Bantamweight’ title of the UFC. Pulver got the Unanimous Decision after five tough rounds, and became the champion. The name of the weight class was changed to Lightweight (155 lbs weight limit) and we didn’t see the Bantamweight (135 lbs limit) class until the UFC/WEC merger in 2011.

In the main-event, Light Heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz knocked out his opponent Evan Tanner just 30 seconds into the match. He would defend his title three more times before losing it to Randy Couture at UFC 44. Tanner would go 9-5 in his remaining fights until his death in 2008.


UFC 41: Onslaught

Just over 2 years after UFC 30, in the same city, the UFC put on another two title-fight card.

The card would see a Heavyweight title-fight between Tim Sylvia and Ricco Rodriguez and a Lightweight title-fight between BJ Penn and Caol Uno. Before the two title fights, we saw victories from Yves Edwards, Din Thomas, Vladimir Matyushenko. Frank Mir beat Tank Abbott in his return to the UFC almost five years after his last fight.

In the first title fight, BJ Penn and Caol Uno fought to a majority draw in the final bout of a Lightweight tournament. The judges scored the card 48-47 Uno, 48-46 Penn, and 48-48. The division would go on hiatus after that and not come back until UFC 64. In the Heavyweight title bout, Tim Sylvia beat Ricco Rodriguez by KO for the vacant tile. Sylvia would be champion and in title fights for the next 5 years.


UFC 82: Pride of a Champion

The UFC dropped in to Columbus, Ohio for a Middleweight super-fight. The main event was to unify the the UFC Middleweight championship and Pride Welterweight Champioship. The UFC champion Anderson Silva faced the Pride Champion Dan Henderson.

The preliminary card would see five good fights. In the first fight, Jorge Grugel won a UD over John Halverson. Diego Sanchez, Josh Koscheck, and Andrei Arlovski all got finished to end the prelims. In the main card, Yuskin Okami would KO Evan Tanner 3 minutes into the second round and Chris Leben picked up $60,000 by his first round KO of Alessio Sakara.

The main event between two champion came through. The first round went back and forth between the two, and the fight was looking as if it would live up to its high expectations. The second round would start the same way, but soon change. The UFC champion Silva would take the back of ‘Hendo’ and submit the Pride champion just before the round ended. That submission earned Silva a Fight of the Night and Submission of the Night Bonuses

UFC 127: Penn vs. Fitch

In 2011, the UFC put on a show in Sydney, Australia to the tune of 18,000 people. The main event was a Welterweight bout between former champion BJ Penn and former title-challenger Jon Fitch. The fight was meant to be a title-eliminator, but neither got a title shot after. It saw 260,000 pay-per-view buys, which was low for the time.

The card saw future stars Mark Hunt, Alexander Gustaffson, Kyle Noke, and Dennis Siver grab victories. In the co-main event, Michael Bisping and Jorge Rivera took to the Octagon. In just the second round, Bisping nabbed the TKO victory just 114 seconds into the round. The main-event saw the two title-contenders fight to a majority draw, as two judges saw the fight as a draw, and one gave it to Jon Fitch. The fight would not result in the next title-challenger.


UFC 144: Edgar vs. Henderson

The UFC’s first return to Japan since UFC 29 came with many of the countries former stars from Pride. The headliner was a Lightweight title fight between champion Frankie Edgar and Benson Henderson. The card had a seven fight main card, which aired on PPV and got 375,000 buys.

Before the main event, former Japanes stars such as Takanori Gomi, Hatsu Hioki and Mark Hunt picked up wins. Others guys like Yushin Okami and Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson took losses. Future Lightweight champion, and former WEC champion, Anthony Pettis picked up a Knockout of the Night with a headkick to Joe Lauzon.

In the main event, longtime champion Frankie Edgar faced former WEC Lightweight champion Benson Henderson for all the marbles. Edgar was facing a different man other than BJ Penn and Gray Maynard for the first time in almost two years. The fight would go into the championship rounds after three hard fought rounds. Eventually, the challenger would bring the belt back with him to Phoenix and held it through his next four fights. The next man to take it from him was the last man to beat him before that in Anthony Pettis.


UFC 157: Rousey vs. Carmouche

Anyone remember Dana White saying he would never let a women in the UFC? Well that all changed when he  found Ronda Rousey. After the UFC signed Strikeforce, it also took on its Women’s Bantamweight division and its champion Ronda Rousey. The champ would get the chance to be the first women to fight in the UFC, and would do so by headlining a card. The fight took place in Anaheim, California near where Rousey trains. She would face former Marine Liz Carmouche who would try and ruin the Rousey party.

Before we would see the women, the rest of card would see good fights to start off. Brendan Schaub would pick up a victory over Lavar Johnson to end the prelims. To start off the main card, future champion Robbie Lawler would KO Josh Koscheck cold in the first round. Former WEC featherweight champion Urijah Faber continued his impressive streak of non-title fight wins with  a first round RNC of Ivan Menjivar. In the co-main event, Lyoto Machida took the UD over Dan Henderson.

Then came the main event. Carmouche looked good early, taking punches and giving them right back. She would take the champs back mid-way through the round, and try to sink in the RNC. When she couldn’t get the arm under her chin, she looked for a neck crank. Just before it looked too late, Rousey shook her opponent off and ended up on top. This is where she worked her judo magic and got to her famous armbar position from the top. She would finish Carmouche with just 11 seconds left in the round to defend her belt for the first time.


The Ultimate Fighter China Finale: Kim vs. Hathaway

The UFC put on its first version of The Ultimate Fighter in China. The season would see fighters in the Featherweight and Welterweight divisions. The Featherweight final would be cancelled for this event due to an injury to Yang Jianping. The main event would be Asian superstar Dong Hyun-Kim and John Hathaway.’

The card had very little hype to it, but did see nice KO’s by Wang Anying over Albert Cheng and Matt Mitrione over Shawn Jordan. The Welterweight final would see Zhang Lipeng defeat Wang Sai by Split-Decision to take the contract. The main event one of the best KO’s of the year as Kim hit Hathaway with a beautiful elbow to the head.


WEC 39: Brown vs. Garcia

The originally scheduled title fight between Carlos Condit and Brock Larson was cancelled due to an injury. It was then announced that the Welterweight division would dissolved into the UFC. The main event changed to Mike Brown and Leonard Garcia for the Featherweight title.

In the prelims, Johny Hendricks got a UD over Alex Serdyukov and Danny Castillo an SD over Phil Cardella. Future WEC and UFC champion Jose Aldo would pick up a TKO win over Chris Mickle. He would get the title shot two fights later and never leave it again. In the main event, champion Mike Brown put an arm-triagle choke on Garcia and made him tape before two minutes of the first round.


Pride 19: Bad Blood

The year is 2002, the date is February 24th and the location is Saitama, Japan. The event in Pride 19, and it was awesome. Rodrigo Gracie submitted Daijiro Matsui by Guillotine, and Carlos Newton put an armbar on Jose Landi. Things get pretty interesting after that, as Big Nog put a triangle on Enson Inoue. The main event was a Middleweight title fight between legend Wanderlei Silva and Kiyoshi Tamura. Silva would knock him out in the second round, and keep his title. 4


Pride 31: Dreamers

In one of its last events, Pride put on a super event. ‘Rampage’ Jackson and Fabricio Werdum  got the decision wins. Then a much smaller Alistair Overeem got the TKO win by knees over Sergei Kharitonov. Big Nog picked up the submission win, and Mark Coleman the TKO over Shogun. In the main event, Mark Hunt got the KO win in the Mark Hunt fashion over Yosuke Nishijima.


Pride 33: The Second Coming

The title says it all, as Pride put on one of its biggest shows. Frank Trigg beat Kazuo Miskai by decision in the Middleweight division. Hayto Sakurai put the KO on Mac Danzig just 23 seconds into the fight. ‘Shogun’ Rua and Alistair Overeem did not last long as Rua KO’d Overeem three and a half minutes into the fight. In one of the best fights of all time, Nick Diaz put a gogoplata on legend Takanori Gomi. The victory was later changed to a NC when Diaz tested positive for Marijuana. The main event saw champ Wanderlei Silva get KO’d by Dan Henderson to become the first two-division title holder in Pride history.


Bellator XCI

In the first event of season 8 for Bellator, we would see the Lightweight tournament. In the semi-final, David Rickels beat Jason Fischer by decision and Saad Awad beat ‘Ill’ Will Brooks, future champion, by TKO just 43 seconds into the fight. For the Light Heavyweight title, champion Christian M’ Pumbu lost his title by decision to Attila Veigh. Before the main card, Holly Holm picked up another TKO victory when she beat Katie Merrill.


Bellator CX

In the first event for Season 10, we saw Light Heavyweight and Featherweight tournaments. The quarterfinal for the Featherweights would see Daniel Weichel, Will Martinez, Desmond Green, and Matt Bessette get victories. The only finish by those guys was Weichel getting the RNC over Scott Cleve. In the Light Heavyweight semi-finals, ‘King’ Muhammed Lawal got the UD to move onto the final. In the other semi-final, Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson got the KO over former champion Christian M’Pumbu.

Strikeforce Challengers: Kaufman vs. Hashi

In this Strikeforce event, the Women’s Bantamweight championship was on the line. Before we would get there, we would see finishes by Jesse Tobar, Tristan Arenal, and Wayne Phillips. Future Middleweight champion Luke Rockhold  got the TKO over Paul Bradley. In the main event, Sarah Kaufman beat Takayo Hashi by five round decision to take the belt. She would beat Roxanne Modafferi to defend it in her next fight, but lose it to Marloes Coenen. She would get another shot at the title when she faced Ronda Rousey. She would lose by classic armbar.


Future: UFC 184: Rousey vs. Zingano, Bellator 134: The British Invasion


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Bellator 194, Nelson vs. Mitrione Pre-Fight Notes



Bellator takes over the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut later tonight. The promotion hosts, Bellator 194: Nelson vs. Mitrione from the venue, beginning at 6:30 pm (ET). Bellator 194 marks the 17th trip to the Mohegan Sun Casino. Their last trip, took place a little more than a few months ago in October of 2017, Bellator 185. The first trip to the Connecticut casino, occurred all the way back in April of 2009, and the second ever event held by the promotion, Bellator 2.

Twenty four fighters will make the walk later tonight, giving fans 12 bouts to watch from prelims to main event. Of the 24 athletes set to compete, five make their professional debuts. Peter Nascimento, Mike Kimbel, Pat Casey, Ross Richardson, and Ronnie Leon all fight for the first time, professionally. As amateurs, the group holds a combined record of 18-12. Only Ross Richardson maintained an undefeated amateur record (3-0).

In recent cards past, only some full broadcasts brought forward newly professional fighters. Events such as Bellator 191, 190, and 187, only broadcast short main card. While events like 193, 192, 189, 188, and 186 broadcast full fight cards. Since November of 2017, 15 fighters made their pro debuts with the Bellator promotion. Including Khonry Gracie in his unanimous decision loss to Devon Brock (Bellator 192), and Ty-wan Claxton, in his amazing KO finish of Johnny Bonilla-Bowman in the first round of Bellator 186. Claxton makes his second pro appearance tonight at Bellator 194 against Jose Antonio Perez, whom also fights for the second time professionally.

Upon completion of Bellator 194’s broadcast, 50% of the promotions first round matches in their Heavyweight Grand Prix will be decided. It is nearly impossible to choose, one match-up more interesting than the others. Yet, the Mitrione vs. Nelson match up is not only puzzling to fans and media alike. One half of the main event, at least, was once annoyed by the prospect of fighting his former TUF cast mate. Mitrione spoke to MMAJunkie about his reaction to the match-up, “Well, I asked them, how does that make sense? Roy is arguably the #2 guy in the division… Explain that to me, is there any seeding?…” He continued, “But the more I thought about, the less I really cared. Either I beat Roy when I have the strap, or I beat Roy to get the strap. What the hell difference does it make?”

In one bit of event news, fan favorite flyweight, Heather Hardy missed weight, in what turned out to be an odd set of circumstances. According to Hardy, she believed she made weight, without stripping down and using the towel. It was her understanding that the Mohegan Tribe Department of Athletic Regulation gave her a weight allowance for the bikini top and bottom she wore while on the scale. Hardy weighed in at 126.25 lbs. with the aforementioned bikini top and bottom.

This understanding was not shared by president of Mohegan Tribe Department of Athletic Regulation, Mike Mazzulli. The president made the decision to record Hardy’s weight without allowing her to disrobe, or take use the extra two hours allotted to make weight. It was his understanding upon examining and attempting to communicate with Hardy whilst she stood on the scale that brought him to the decision. After renegotiation of the bout agreement, Hardy was fined 20% of her purse which goes to her opponent Ana Julaton.


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Bellator 194 Weigh Ins Live Video



Bellator 194 takes place Friday, February 16th at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. The stacked main card features the second bout in the Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix matching Roy Nelson against Matt Mitrione. Both former members of the UFC roster, Mitrione and Nelson look to make a further impact in the Bellator Heavyweight division with a potential step towards the divisions championship crown. In the co-main event, MMA veteran Patricky Pitbull takes Derek Campos. The two will most likely battle for the next shot at the promotions Lightweight title, following the Brent Primus (c) vs. Michael Chandler rematch. Other notable bouts on the card include Liam McGeary vs. Vadim Nemkov, Heather Hardy vs. Ana Julaton, and Tywon Claxton against Jose Antonio Perez. Bellator 194 airs live on the Paramount network, main card beginning at 9 pm.

The official weigh-ins took place earlier today, the results are listed below.

Main Card (9 PM ET, Paramount Network)

Roy Nelson (23-14) vs. Matt Mitrione (12-5) Heavyweight bout.

RN: 265 lb.

MM: 255 lb.

Patricky Freire (18-8) vs. Derek Campos (19-6) Lightweight bout.

PF: 155 lb.

DC: 154 lb.

Heather Hardy (1-1) vs. Ana Julaton (2-3) Women’s Flyweight bout.

HH: 126.25 lb*

AJ: 125 lb.

Liam McGeary (12-2) vs. Vadim Nemkov (8-2) Light Heavyweight bout.

LM: 203.75 lb.

VN: 205 lb.

Tywan Claxton (1-0) vs. Jose Antonio Perez (0-1) Featherweight bout.

TW: 145 lb.

JS: 142.25 lb.

Preliminary Card (7 PM ET)

Ross Richardson (3-0, Amateur) vs. Ronie Arana Leon (2-5, Amateur) Lightweight bout.

RS: 155.5 lb.

RL: 156 lb.

Mike Kimbel (4-4, Amateur) vs. Geoffrey Then (0-1) Bantamweight bout. 

MK: 135.75 lb.

GT: 135 lb.

Regivaldo Carlvalho (4-2) vs. Thomas English (6-8) Featherweight bout.

RC: 145 lb.

TE: 146 lb.

Jarod Trice (2-0) vs. Walter Howard (3-4) Light Heavyweight bout.

JT: 205.5 lb.

WH: 203 lb.

Marcus Surin (4-1) vs. Dean Hancock (3-1) Lightweight bout.

MS: 156 lb.

DH: 155.25 lb.

Peter Nascimento (2-1, Amateur) vs. Kastriot Xhema (1-1) Catchweight (165 lb.) bout.

PN: 163.5 lb.

KX 164.5 lb.

Tyler Hamilton (1-0) vs. Pat Casey (7-2, Amateur) Lightweight bout.

TH: 154 lb.

PC: 155.5 lb.

*Heather Hardy missed weight by ¼ of a pound and subsequently fined 20% of her purse. The fine will go to her opponent Ana Julaton.

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Exclusive: Saad Awad looking for the quick knockout at Bellator 193



Saad Awad makes his return to the Bellator cage Friday as he takes on JJ Ambrose.

The veteran Awad has been with Bellator since 2013, amassing a 9-5 record in the process, with five of those wins coming via knockout. Impressive wins against Will Brooks and Evangelista Santos feature on his 21-9 record.

The heavy-handed striker gets to fight in his backyard of California for the first time in over a year. A native of San Bernardino, Awad is fighting only forty-five minutes from his home, in the co-main event no less.

It’s great,” Awad told MMA Latest about co-main eventing in California. “I’m about forty-five minutes from my house, the arena sold out the week they released the tickets. So I know a lot of people are going to be here and the energy’s going to be really good, it’s going to be great, and it’s going to help me mentally.”

Meeting Awad in the co-main is a fellow California native himself, JJ Ambrose. Ambrose has been fighting since 2005 and has amassed 26 wins in his 13-year career.

He’s a veteran, he kind of flew under the radar,” Awad said. “He’s fought all over the place. I think he brings a lot of experience, a good solid stand-up, and ground game, and wrestling.”

Although Awad highlighted Ambrose’s quality, make no mistake, the “Assassin” believes he holds all the advantages.

I match-up with him great, to be honest, I think my striking is a little bit better, I think I hit a lot harder and my jiu-jitsu’s going to be a bit better, and I’m going to be able to outwrestle him,” Awad explained. “So I think stylistically it’s a bad matchup for him.”

Awad is coming off of a quick KO, one minute, seven seconds, over Zach Freeman. The quick win didn’t come as a surprise to Awad as he always expects to finish his opponents quickly.

I mean, not be cocky, but I expect to get a quick KO against everybody,” Awad said. “When I don’t get a quick KO then I’m like ‘okay something’s wrong’ so then I have to change my gameplan up. So nothing against Zach Freeman, I mean, every fight I go in there looking for the quick knockout.”

Currently, on a solid two-fight winning streak, Awad highlights what exactly the key’s been for him to get this far.

Honestly, I’ve just been training a lot,” Awad said. “I’ve just been training and focusing a lot on little details that I knew were my flaws, and every fight I’ll keep something new. If I see something go wrong in one of my fights, I’ll tweak that out and train it and get a little bit better and then just try and keep improving.”

With a win taking Awad to three victories in a row, it would make sense to offer the veteran a big fight. But Awad doesn’t have a name in mind next, although he doesn’t believe it would matter anyway.

Whoever they give me,” Awad said. “I can ask for fights but they won’t give them to me. “My only thing is trying to get a title fight, I’m not even going to ask for that anymore. I’m going to ask them to keep me busy. I just want to stay busy. I get paid the same no matter who I fight so as long as they keep me busy, that’s what I’m happy for.”

As for 2018, Awad’s goals remain simple.

Keep winning,” Awad said. “Stay busy and keep winning.”

If things go the way Awad expects, fans are in for a treat. As for Ambrose? Not so much.

I’m going to go in there and leave with a knockout, a violent knockout,” Awad said. “Get my hand raised, talk some shit, and leave.”

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