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The Chopping Block: UFC Fight Night 68

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Welcome fight fans to the first installment of what I hope is a running theme for big fight cards. Introducing what I like to refer to as The Chopping Block.

This article, as well as articles to follow, will basically consist my opinion regarding which fighters may be on thin ice with a loss or poor performance in their upcoming fights. I will also give my opinion on a potential game plan for said fighter to potentially avoid the pink slip.

Let’s dive into it!

Justin “Fast Eddy” Edwards (8-4-0, 2-4-0 UFC)

First fighter we’ll be looking at is TUF 13 alum Justin Edwards. Edwards was brought in as an injury replacement when Keon Caldwell was unable to continue. He had the misfortune of getting matched up with eventual season winner Tony Ferguson for his first bout, in which he lost via upkick KO. He went on to alternate wins & losses in his next five UFC bouts, defeating Jorge Lopez & Josh Neer, while losing to Clay Harvison, John Maguire, & Brandon Thatch. Edwards then tested the waters at lightweight for his next fight, again coming up short against Ramsey Nijem. Riding a two fight losing streak, as well as having only fought once per year since 2012 due to injuries, “Fast Eddy” may be on rocky terrain here.

In order to keep his UFC career alive, I think Edwards must come into his bout with Joe Proctor aggressively searching for the takedown. Six of eight wins via submission, five of those by guillotine choke, it is simple to say his strengths lie in the grappling. Search for that trademark guillotine, & wrench it every time the neck of his opponent is in range. Make this a grappling match, & I think Edwards can live to step foot in the octagon again.

Francisco “Cisco” Rivera (10-4-1, 3-3-1)

“Cisco” Rivera is next up on the possible Chopping Block. Rivera started is Zuffa career in the now-defunct WEC promotion, where he lost his first & only fight to Erik Koch. The UFC then consolidated the promotions, bringing Rivera over to the UFC. He went on to lose his first fight to Reuben Duran & was released after the bout. “Cisco” had a brief two-fight stint in Tachi Palace Fights, winning both bouts by first-round KO. Rivera then began his second stint with the UFC defeating Alex Soto by Unanimous Decision. He looked off to yet another good start, finishing Roland Delorme in his next fight, but failed the post-fight drug test, having the loss overturned. Rivera rallied off two back-to-back stoppage wins before again hitting another series of bumps in the road in the forms of Takeya Mizugaki & Urijah Faber. The latter loss came not without controversy after Faber unintentionally poked Rivera in the eye & sinking in a rear naked choke after the referee did not acknowledge the mishap. With a loss here, I honestly don’t think that Rivera should be released, based solely on the performance against Faber, & I don’t think it will happen. That said, three losses in a row usually mean doom in this business, so I feel inclined to add him here.

What’s he do to avoid that dreaded third loss? Rivera simply needed to fight like Francisco Rivera. He needs to work his ever-improving footwork & leg kicks, while in turn looking to set up his powerful hand combinations up top. Rivera can show us here that he belongs & he has more to offer in this division.

Alex “Bruce Leeroy” Caceres (10-7-1, 5-5-1)

Very much similar to the case of his opponent Francisco Rivera, TUF 12 alum Caceres finds himself on the verge of three straight losses. After winning the preliminary fight to gain entry to the TUF house, Caceres defeated Jeff Lentz by triangle to make it to the quarter-finals, but lost in the next round to eventual finalist Michael Johnson. “Bruce Leeroy” didn’t attain his first UFC win until his third bout, losing his first two by submission. After his first win over Cole Escovedo, Caceres again struck rough times, losing his next fight to Edwin Figureoa. After this loss, Alex seemed to find his rhythm in the cage, going 4-0-1 in his next five bouts, the only blemish being a win over Kyung Ho-Kang that was overturned due to Caceres failing the post-fight drug test for marijuana. Nowadays Caceres is riding a two fight losing streak like his foe, losing his last two to Urijah Faber & Masanori Kanehara respectively.

The keys to winning this fight in my opinion would have to be the movement, reach, & kicks of Caceres. Caceres should look to continuously circle away from Rivera’s power hand, land kicks at all levels, as well as pump a strong jab out. If he sees the opportunity to take it to the ground, do so. Even though, five of his seven losses have been via submission, Caceres’ offensive jiu jitsu is very slick, he could very well catch Rivera sleeping.

Dan Henderson (30-13-0, 7-7-0 UFC)

*Activates Fire Retardant Shields*

I know, I know, NOT HENDO! Believe me, I completely agree, & honestly if Dan loses here, I really don’t seem him being cut, more so I see retirement on the horizon.

Hendo, Hendo, Hendo. One could go on for hours trying to list a mere portion of the accomplishments of this legend so I won’t even begin to go there. If you don’t know who Dan Henderson is, you must live under a rock. Henderson is definitely a future hall of fame inductee, no question about it.

That said, Dan is 2-5 in his last 7 UFC bouts. Each fight has just been rougher & rougher to watch. The fight Shogun fight was absolutely brutal, but he gutted it out. He went on to lose his next two fights, but both were closely contested, though thoroughly uneventful, split decisions to Lyoto Machida & Rashad Evans.

Dan then faced Vitor Belfort. This is where things get hard to watch, as Dan only lasted a little over a minute before succumbing to a Vitor high kick. The sequel to the Shogun fight was not much easier for us to see. Dan was hurt early & often in the opening two rounds, in & out of consciousness for the majority of the rounds. Then Dan did what he does, landed his patented “H-Bomb” to rally back for the win. His next fight we saw something we had never seen prior, someone manhandle the former PRIDE champion. That someone was now current Light-Heavyweight Champion, Daniel Cormier. Henderson lost the fight via third round submission.

Dan then decided to drop back down for another run at middleweight, squaring off against Gegard Mousasi. Again, we saw a punch that the Henderson from five years ago would have ate for breakfast, lunch, & dinner, hurt Henderson about a minute into the opening round. See the pattern? It’s just seeming to take less & less to send him to queer street, & in facing a heavy hitter like Tim Boetsch next, it’s definitely a scary fight for the fans.

All of this said, at 44 years of age, if anyone can do it, it’s Dan Henderson. He’s a legend in the sport, he still packs dynamite in his fists, & can lay any man on the planet out with one shot. The only question is “Will he be able to land first?”. We’re going to find out at UFC Fight Night 68!

Well ladies & gentlemen, fight fans alike, this has been The Chopping Block. I hoped you’ve enjoyed it, & I hope you tune in next week for the next installment for UFC 188: Velasquez vs. Werdum!

 

 

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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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IMMAF

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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