What’s a dissatisfied plumbing and heating engineer from Armdale, Scotland and the 2006 Commonwealth Games bronze medal winner in Judo to do?
For Robert “The Hammer” Whiteford (12-2 with 6 KOs and 1 submission), the answer was clear. Jump head first into MMA. Whiteford, who describes himself as, coming from nothing and receiving a degree from the school of hard knocks in scrapping, started out his career training at local gyms before joining Dinky Ninjas Fight Team/The Griphouse Gym in Glasgow.
After just two amateur fights, both victories, Whiteford turned pro in 2009. His professional debut ended with a loss due to a doctor stoppage. After that Whiteford racked up ten wins in a row, becoming both the Vision and Supremacy featherweight champion.
His big break came in October 2013 when he signed a contract with the UFC to be the replacement for Dan Wilkinson against standout BJJ practitioner Jim Hettes. The first Scottish fighter in the UFC and owner of five first round finishes had only two weeks to prepare. Hettes who had 3 UFC fights, and an 11-0 record under his belt at the time caught Whiteford in a triangle choke and submitted him at 2:17 of the second round.
After that loss Whiteford put some more thought into his training. While still remaining a member of DNFT, Whiteford began training at American Top Team, explaining, “The depth of the coaching in America is another thing. There’s a specific guy for every single specific part of MMA…I’m training specifically for the fight, I walk back and forth to the gym every day. I eat, sleep and train and there’s nothing else to think about, apart from the fight.”
The move to ATT paid dividends, The hard hitting southpaw, with a rock solid chin looked like a much more polished fighter for his next bout at UFC 171 when he faced a UFC seasoned, Daniel Pineda and scored the victory via unanimous decision. The win made him not only the first Scotsman to fight in the UFC but also the first to win in the sports premier promotion.
You would have thought the win lifted a weight off his shoulders. It had to be difficult carrying around the hopes and pride of a nation, not to mention the lingering memory of the loss in his UFC debut, but that wasn’t the case at all. After the fight “The Hammer” was heard to say, “I didn’t feel any pressure. I do what I do, I’ve been fighting since I was in primary school and it’s no different to me. It’s the same emotions drinking a cup of tea as it is when I’m fighting.”
The UFC recently held its inaugural event in Scotland at the 13,000 seat SSE Hydro arena located in Glasgow, and it sold out within hours. Who better to be on that card than Scotland’s first representative in the UFC, Robert Whiteford? He was matched up against the10-6 Irishman, Paul Redmond, who came into the fight as the underdog, after losing his only previous UFC bout.
Whiteford entered the octagon to thunderous applause and did not disappoint the hometown crowd. He quickly landed a couple of hard, short, right hooks. Then he dropped into what has become seen as his “signature style.” Whiteford lets his hands drift low and takes a couple of steps backward, inviting his opponent’s pressure, but the move is deceptive, a ploy designed to set up his technique of choice, the body-head combo. First he pokes a jab out front, however it’s used as a range finder and a way to get his foe to momentarily halt their pursuit, rather than being a designed scoring shot; as soon as they stop Whiteford explodes forward and delivers a hard left to the body followed by the right hook to the head. Just when Redmond thought he could recognize the combination coming Whiteford switched it up and went one-two to the head, a stiff right jab followed by a hard left hook that dropped Redmond. Whiteford pounced and referee Marc Goddard stopped the fight immediately as Redmond went limp. The entire crowd was on its feet as Whiteford leaped out of the octagon to join them in the celebration.
After the victory Whiteford stated that he hoped his fight against Denis Siver (22-11) originally scheduled for UFC Fight Night 53 in October of 2014 could be placed on the card for the upcoming October 24th Fight Night in Dublin, Ireland, which will feature recently announced main event Joseph Duffy versus Dustin Poirier.
The fight seems like a great matchup for Whiteford and is likely to take place, though no statement by the UFC has been released. Siver has lost his last two fights, included the pummeling delivered to him at the hands of interim champ Coner McGregor. However, Siver is still ranked number fifteen and will be the biggest name Whiteford has faced to date.
The possible jump in competition level doesn’t bother Whiteford a bit; in fact he is inviting it. He recently told Ariel Helwani, in a comment seemingly more directed at UFC matchmakers than anyone else, “Bring him over to Dublin and I will smash him into the ground. Mark my words.”
No one could be happier about his recent success than Whiteford himself, except maybe an entire nation of rabid Scottish fans. A victory over Siver would catapult him up the rankings and put the entire division on notice.
Whoever his next fight is against, whether it be Siver or someone else, they will have their hands full. The emblem of Scottish mixed martial arts, with serious power in both hands and a judo background that provides great takedown defense, is a difficult puzzle to solve. Another impressive win and Scotland’s first UFC fighter will be a household name inside the entire MMA world. The self-described man who, “came from nothing” could end up having it all.
FURY FC 17 Preview: UFC Veteran Roger Narvaez Set to Fight For Gold
Deep in the Hill Country of Texas, there is a storm of MMA action brewing on the horizon in the historic city of San Antonio.
In 1836 the most iconic siege ever to take place in the American West was waged between Santa Anna’s Mexican forces and a small band of Texans fighting for their independence at the Battle of the Alamo. On June 10th that tradition of never backing down continues as Fury Fighting Championships 17 takes place at the Shrine Auditorium with a card that was originally slated to have 20 bouts of MMA action. At the top of the bill, there will be a familiar face as former UFC fighter, Roger “The Silverback” Narvaez, looks to capture his first championship in the sport when he faces Antonio “Doomsday” Jones for the vacant middleweight title. The event will also feature a hot prospect, a kickboxing champion, and a grudge match.
Fury FC 17 will be broadcast live on FloCombat.com.
While the 33-year-old Narvaez (8-2 MMA, 1-2 UFC) has already realized his ultimate goal of getting to the highest level of MMA, fighting for a title has always eluded him. The 6’3″ fighter nicknamed “The Silverback” due to his abnormal 79.5″ wingspan, or monkey arms as he calls them was twice scheduled to fight for the Legacy Fighting Championship Middleweight Title against then champion Bubba Bush who now fights in the UFC. An injury caused the first fight to be canceled. Then a call up to the UFC to fight an unknown opponent on short notice put an end to plans for the another scheduled title fight.
To Roger, the secret to grabbing the attention of the world’s biggest MMA promotion is fighting for several different promotions. He fought for six different organizations winning all of his fights before getting a call from the UFC’s former matchmaker Joe Silva to ask if he was ready to make the move. Narvaez feels that fighting for multiple shows tells the UFC that a fighter is ready to fight whoever and whenever. His first fight for the promotion was a loss to Patrick Cummins at UFC Fight Night 42 in Albuquerque where he fought at an altitude of over 5300 feet sea level, something he says will not do again unless he is training at altitude. To put it bluntly, he plainly states “the altitude in Albuquerque sucks.” After a win against Luke Barnett, he faced Elias Theodorou. In that fight, he broke his arm before ultimately losing, and was then cut by the UFC.
At this point in Narvaez’s career, his goals now are different:
“The next goal for me, to be realistic, is to make as much money as I can. I love fighting, but at the same time, I have a family that I am trying to support. That is always first and foremost now…[and] Fury is doing a pretty good job of taking care of me…This is a really big deal for me. I am probably training harder for this fight than I have ever trained before. Part of that is with age comes knowledge and experience and I am doing everything I need to do the right way to get ready to come home with that strap, but that strap means ever thing…I didn’t quit fighting with a broken arm, it is going to take something pretty drastic to get me stop. I don’t think the guy I am fighting is going to be able to break my will or test my heart to where I am not going to be able to pull through…coming home with that title is a big deal.”
That home is one of a fighting family. Narvaez’s wife Brandi is also a fighter who recently made her professional debut at Legacy Fighting Alliance 7. His stepson is a gray belt who competes in Jui-Jitsu year round, his daughter also trains in the sport. They understand the hard work that their dad puts in more so than the average fighter’s family. As he puts “it’s not normal, but it is normal to us.”
The prospect to keep an eye on is Two-time Alabama state wrestling champion turned lightweight MMA fighter, Alec Williams (5-1 MMA) from Birmingham. Williams will be looking to rebound from his first professional loss as he takes on Travonne “Prince Scorpion” Hobbs. In his last fight, Alec relied on his wrestling and got it in his head that he did not want to stand and trade with his opponent. That mentality ultimately not only cost him his undefeated record but also to sustain four broken bones in the right side of his face.
“I didn’t get knocked out, I still got the takedown after I broke those four bones. I know it is going to be pretty difficult to knock me out…Honestly, the loss kind of took any pressure off. Before I was undefeated, that loss was going to be a big change and now a loss is just another loss.”
For this fight, Williams says he has been working with MMA legend and former UFC fighter Pete Spratt on his stand up and will not make the same mistake twice.
Also featured on the card is the first Brazilan World Cup Kickboxing Champion, welterweight Washington “Washingthai” Luiz. Originally slated to fight Nickolay Veretennikov, “Washingthai” Luiz will now take on lesser known Danny Ageday. With a new opponent on just four days notice, the man who has aspirations to become a champion in GLORY Kickboxing is not fazed.
“I did my whole camp studying my first opponent who is a striker like me, but I do not feel harmed by the change. I’m ready for this war…The main reason for my change to the USA is the opportunity to be in the biggest events in the world I have already fought the biggest events in Brazil in kickboxing and MMA. I have fought in big events in Europe and now my challenge is the biggest event of kickboxing, GLORY. But I also love MMA and when a fight appears for me, I do not refuse.”
The grudge match at Fury FC 17 comes to us from the flyweights division’s Mark “The Sparrow” Plata and David “Gallito” Miramontes. These two men were scheduled to fight previously but Plata had to pull out due to his wife giving birth to twins. According to Plata, that is where the beef began.
“The day my twins were born he was messaging me talking about how this was not a good reason not fight and that I just did not want to fight him. My kids were in ICU at the time and he just keeps messaging me over and over…it upset me at the time because they were dying, they were trying to survive, but it just added more fuel to the fire. Then he kept asking promoters to fight me. He asked two or three different promoters to set it up. I got tired of him asking for me. So then I was like, alright cool if you want it that bad, let’s do it…His fighting style matches his personality. He tries to be a bully, and that’s cool, I don’t mind shutting bullies down.”
Titles, champions, prospects, legitimate bad blood…what more you could ask for in a local card?
This is an event not to miss and thanks to Fury FC having a deal with FloSports, you do not have to.
Tune in for all the action live at 6:00 PM CST on FloCombat.com this Saturday.
*VIDEO* Francis Ngannou has his eyes on the UFC Heavyweight Title
UFC Heavyweight Francis “The Predator” Ngannou has taken the heavyweight division by storm.
Currently 5-0 in the UFC and riding a 9 fight win streak, the native of Cameroon possesses vicious power and has shown improvements each time he steps inside the cage.
Hear Ngannou talk about his journey and plans for the future:
The humble beginnings of the Korean Zombie
The featherweight division has become one of the most exciting in the UFC in the last few years. With the arrival of Conor McGregor, and an influx of exciting talent, new life has been breathed into a division that was suffering due to Jose Aldo’s dominance.
A notable absentee during this rise has been “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung, who returns for the first time in three years against Dennis Bermudez on Saturday. The fight features as the main event of UFC Fight Night 104, and Jung is making his long awaited return after serving his mandatory military service duty for the South Korean Army.
With the fight with Bermudez fast approaching, the buzz for Jung’s return is noticeable throughout the MMA community. With a return of this magnitude, it is always fun to look back at the career of the fighter and relive the moments in his career that make the fan in all of us excited for his return.
The humble beginnings of the Korean Zombie
Chan Sung Jung was widely considered to be one of the best prospects to emerge from the far east when he was signed by WEC to face Cub Swanson in 2010. An injury forced Swanson out of the contest and Leonard Garcia stepped in as a replacement.
The fight between the two would take place on the preliminary card of Jose Aldo Jr. vs. Urijah Faber for the WEC featherweight championship. The event was the first and only WEC pay-per-view card and with Zuffa on board, the event was treated as such with Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan on commentary.
That night, MMA fans were treated to one of the greatest fights in mixed martial arts history and widely regarded as the best fight ever in the lighter weight classes. Many fans call a fight “a war” in an exciting contest between two fighters, but the fight between the Zombie and Garcia was more like a demolition derby.
Both men threw their strikes with wreckless intent and dropped each other on numerous occasions. The fight went to a split decision with Garcia getting the nod from the judges. Many considered Jung the winner, but the fight received praise from every media outlet in the days following the card. Dana White would wear a shirt with the now famous “Korean Zombie” logo at the following UFC PPV weigh ins in support of the epic fight.
Jung returned to the cage to face George Roop in his next outing in the WEC and lost the fight by a vicious head kick. This would be his final fight in WEC as the UFC went on to absorb the WEC’s featherweight and bantamweight divisions and bring both into the UFC.
Jung was scheduled to make his promotional debut for the UFC against Rani Yahya at UFC Fight Night 23, but was forced out of the fight with an injury. Ironically Leonard Garcia’s opponent Nam Phan would suffer an injury before their scheduled fight. It seemed like fate that Jung and Garcia would do battle once more. The Korean Zombie came in as a late replacement for the injured Phan. The rematch between the two was highly anticipated and the UFC was promoting the fight as the rematch to the greatest fight ever.
The fight was set as the opener to the main card for UFC Fight Night 24. What came next was history in the making. Both fighters were tentative in the early exchanges in the fight and didn’t have the same enthusiasm to brawl as the previous encounter, but in the final few minutes of the opening round, Jung took the back of Garcia.
In an unorthodox position on the ground, Rogan said on the desk, “Looks like he is setting up for a twister”. The twister was not seen in the UFC at this point and with the clock ticking, Jung stretched Garcia in a position where his spine was turned into a pretzel and Garcia tapped. Jung stated in the post-fight interview with Rogan that he had learned how to do the submission watching videos of Eddie Bravo doing the move. The win won multiple awards for submission of the year.
After that win, Chan Sung Jung was set to face Mark Hominick at UFC 140 in Toronto. Hominick, who fought Aldo for the title at UFC 129 in his hometown, came into the fight as the underdog, but in seven seconds that all changed. Jung cracked Hominick, tying the record for the second fastest knockout in UFC history. A win over a former title challenger launched the South Korean into title contention.
Following another historic win, Chan Sung Jung was now set to take part in his first ever main event against rising star Dustin Poirier with the winner receiving a title shot against UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo at a later date.
Jung went on to put on another fight of the year that night. The one-man zombie horde overwhelmed Poirier in the early rounds with his aggressive style. Numerous submission attempts and transitions by Jung frustrated Poirier. As Poirier became more aggressive and careless in the fight, Jung launched a flying knee in the third round and rocked his opponent. Poirier attempted to take Jung down, but the Zombie caught Poirier in a D’Arce choke in the third round to get the win.
Multiple injuries, and scheduled title fights between Jose Aldo and Frankie Edgar; and Aldo and Anthony Pettis, delayed Jung’s title shot. After Pettis was forced out of the title fight with Aldo because of an injury, Jung was called up as a late replacement and finally get the title shot he earned by defeating Poirier a year earlier.
The fight would take place in Brazil and was surprisingly lacklustre. Both fighters were sizing each other up for the majority of the contest. Jung suffered an injury during the fight when he dislocated his shoulder and in typical zombie fashion, Jung attempted to put his own shoulder back in place. Aldo used this time to attack, winning the title fight by TKO.
This would be the last time we saw the zombie in the cage as he would be drafted by the South Korean Army to do his two-year mandatory military service. Jung has not fought in three and a half years.
Now the burning question is how will the Korean zombie look after such a long absence. One thing is sure though, fans are extremely excited to see his return and on Saturday, The Zombie Apocalypse could be on the cards if the South Korean comes out of the cage with a win.
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