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The Debate: Johny Hendricks vs Stephen Thompson

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The second instalment of The Debate is here and this week, the fight to be discussed is Johny “Big Rigg” Hendricks vs Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson. In the blue corner, representing Thompson we have Chase Carle and, in the red corner, arguing the case for Hendricks is Muhammad Hazwady.

To start things off, the topic of discussion was quite simple: Who wins and why?

Chase Carle: Wonderboy is 11-1, riding a 5 fight win streak and his only loss came via decision to Matt Brown, so it’s not like he lost to some no name fighter. He’s arguably the best pure striker in the Welterweight division and possibly the UFC as a whole. He has made huge strides in his ground game/wrestling and his last 3 wins are over Jake Ellenberger, Patrick Cote and Robert Whittaker, 2 of which were 1st round knockouts. He gets better every time he steps into the Octagon and I think he’ll look the best we’ve ever seen him on Saturday.

Muhammad Hazwady: Hendricks is the uncrowned champion. Arguably he won the fights with GSP who was the king of 170, and then the current champion Robbie Lawler, which was a split decision. He is now undoubtedly the best wrestler in the division with a very underrated stand up game, toughest chin and stupid power in his left hand. He might have some problems with the weight cut but recent pictures of him show he has no problems with cutting this time round. Johnny can beat anyone in the division in any given day and Wonderboy is no exception.

CC: You call Hendricks the uncrowned champion, but just as much as people say the challenger has to “take” the belt from the champion, the champion can’t lean into a guy trying for a takedown for over half the fight and expect to keep his belt (looking at the Lawler fight). His power has shown itself in the past but he hasn’t finished a fight since 2012 and he has trouble finding a home for that left hand against guys with great movement, which Wonderboy definitely has. He’s fought against some of the best in the division but I still don’t think he’s fought someone who fights the way Wonderboy does. And I’d argue the toughest chin fact simply because whenever he’s been tagged he goes into panic mode and shoots for the takedown immediately so his chin hasn’t held up so much as he doesn’t like to get hit.

MH: Sure I’d give to Wonderboy for being the best pure striker in the division and he has improved his grappling game, but we are talking Johny Hendricks’s wrestling here. If he needs to lay on you until you get pregnant, he will. He has taken down everyone has fought, win or lose. Remove the entertainment aspect, he gets the job done. I see Wonderboy trying to go for his trademark high kick and Hendricks will take him down in an instant. No one has ever finished him, not even Condit, who arguably has better movement than Wonderboy. And fact: Hendricks was getting the better of Lawler in the stand up in the earlier rounds of their last encounter. He threw combos like he was the pure striker. I see no problems for Hendricks in this fight in all departments. No one has ever finished him and Wonderboy will not do so either.

Two strong debaters here, I think you will agree. The talk then moved to what key attribute each fighter has that would enhance their chances of victory, which began with a light-hearted moment.

MH: His beard that protects his chin.

CC: Can confirm. Source: I have a beard.

MH: (laughs) Seriously, he has eaten every God damn punch and shaken it off; nobody at 170 can finish him.

CC: For Wonderboy, I think it’s going to be his takedown defense. Obviously Hendricks is an elite calibre wrestler, but I think Wonderboy is severely underrated in that aspect. He hasn’t been taken down since the Matt Brown fight and that was in 2012. I also think that even if he gets taken down, he’s got the ability to get it back to the feet fairly quickly.

MH: Yeah, he’s gonna get up and get taken down again.

Arguably the most important aspect of winning a fight is successfully exploiting your opponent’s weaknesses. With that in mind, I asked both men how their chosen fighter would do just that.

CC: I think the obvious answer is Hendricks’s gas tank. He says he’s changed a lot for this camp and that he’s in better condition than before, but he’s got to prove that. I think if Wonderboy can keep up constant movement and set the pace that he wants to, he’ll be able to wear Hendricks down so that, if he doesn’t end up catching him in the 1st round with a KO, he’ll be able to do it in the later rounds.

MH: Wonderboy’s weakness for this fight is obviously wrestling. As I said before, I’ve seen he has made improvements in his takedown defense, but Hendricks is a different animal. And I truly believe that bad weight cuts resulted in his poor gas tank of late and he will prove it against Wonderboy. He will be the one wearing down Wonderboy with his grappling.

Another much talked about area of MMA currently is the mental side. While there has not been any trash talk of note going into this fight, the guys discussed how much of a role the mental side would play in this fight.

CC: I think it’ll more be one of them getting into his own head rather than letting the other guy into his head. I think Hendricks will feel pressured to prove that he’s still got that finishing ability and that the weight cut issues are behind him. If he thinks about that too much then I think it’ll throw him off his game a little bit.

MH: I disagree. Hendricks has always been focused regardless. He has always had to prove himself ever since the GSP fight and even when he had the belt. This is no different for him. Just another day in the office.

CC: I don’t disagree with that necessarily, I just think that the mental game won’t play a big role in this fight but if it does, then that will be how it comes into play in my opinion, but I really don’t think either fighter is going to let the mental aspect get to them too much.

MH: Agreed.

That amicable moment did not last for long, however, as discussion turned to whether or not the fact that the fight had been changed from a 3 rounder to a 5 rounder had any significance.

CC: I think it changes Wonderboy’s approach in the sense that he’s never been in a 5 round fight and, even though I don’t think this fight goes all 5 rounds, he still has to pace himself as if it will. He’s gone 3 rounds before but he needs to factor in the possibility that this fight may end up being 10 minutes longer than any fight he’s been in before.

MH: I remember Hendricks was the one calling out for it. Obviously it is to his advantage as he has been in 5 rounders. I don’t think he will be changing his approach much. It is just another factor that will lead to better chances of him winning.

Each fighter will also need to find a way to counter the other’s strengths as well as implementing their own. Both men were confident that their chosen fighter would do just that and followed up with their final fight predictions.

 CC: I’m incredibly confident that Wonderboy will be able to overcome Hendricks’s wrestling, which is his greatest strength, and I think he’ll do it by keeping distance, using his striking effectively and most importantly, knocking him out before he gets the chance to use it.

MH: Hendricks will trade whenever he pleases and will bring it to the ground whenever he pleases. Hendricks can afford to eat shots to get a takedown, which is where he will reign supreme. Distance is obviously key in this fight and Hendricks will use it to his victory.

CC: I know I said 1st round knockout earlier, but I think that Wonderboy will use the 1st round to get a feel for what Hendricks wants to do and, once he gets a feel for it, he’ll strike. 2nd round knockout, head kick.

MH: Hendricks via 3rd round TKO, ground and pound.

That wraps up the debate for this week, I think you will agree that it was a fun one. Who do you think argued the better point for their fighter and has either man made you reconsider your own prediction? Get in touch and let us know!

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Announcement

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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