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Throwback Thursday: Tournaments, Heavyweights and Rampage

Vinny Craig



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 May 25 to May 31.


UFC 13: Ultimate Force
In Augusta, Georgia, the UFC put on its first event that involved two tournaments. The most important man in the Octagon was back as Bruce Buffer made his return after making his debut at UFC 10. The Light Heavyweight and Heavyweight tournaments involved a four-man tournament with a Light Heavyweight and two Heavyweight alternate bouts. One of the alternate Heavyweight bouts involved a young Vitor Belfort making his second UFC appearance after winning the UFC 12 Heavyweight tournament. He beat David ‘Tank’ Abbott by TKO 52 seconds into the fight. The other alternate bout was a TKO win for Jack Nilson. In the semifinals of the tournament, we saw future two division champion Randy Couture for the first time when he beat Tony Holme by Rear-Naked Choke under a minute into their fight. In the other semifinal fight, Steven Graham also submitted his opponent by armlock. In the final, Couture beat Graham by TKO over 3 minutes in to win the Heavyweight tournament.

In the Light Heavyweight tournament, we saw another future champion and Hall of Famer in Tito Ortiz in the alternate bout. He started his UFC career off right with a TKO win 31 seconds into the contest. In the semifinal bout, Enson Inoue beat Royce Alger by armlock 96 seconds in to move onto the finals. The other Light Heavyweight bout went the distance between Guy Mezger and Christophe Leninger. Mezger won the fight by decision to meet Inoue in the finals. Inoue was unable to continue and Ortiz stepped in to fight the final fight. He would make a good effort, but eventually lose to Mezger by a Guillotine choke.

UFC 60: Hughes vs. Gracie
In a super fight of sorts, we saw then Welterweight champion Matt Hughes fight Hall of Famer and former tournament winner Royce Gracie at a catchweight of 175 lbs. The event was the first to draw greater than 500,000 pay-per-view (PPV) buys and draw $20 million in gross PPV sales. It was the most bought UFC event up to that point with 620,000 PPV buys. The co-main event was a Light Heavyweight contest between Dean Lister and Alessio Sakara. The prelims started with a vicious KO by Melvin Guillard just over 90 seconds in over Rick Davis.  The next fight saw future Heavyweight title challenger Gabriel Gonzaga beat Fabiano Scherner by TKO. In the final prelim bought, future Middleweight and Light Heavyweight title challenger Chael Sonnen had to replace Evan Tanner in a bout against Jeremy Horn. Horn would win the fight by armbar in the second round.

Starting off the main card was TUF 1 vet Mike Swick. He beat Joe Riggs by Guillotine in the first round for his fourth straight win. The next fight also ended by Guillotine when Brandon Vera beat Assuerio Silva in the first round. In the only decision of the night, Diego Sanchez beat John Alessio by unanimous decision. The co-main event only lasted 2 minutes and 20 seconds when it was ended by a Triangle choke by Lister. The main event almost lasted a full round, but 21 seconds short of the bell was where Hughes won by TKO over Gracie.

UFC 71: Liddell vs. Jackson
At the UFC’s home at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, a Light Heavyweight title fight between champion Chuck Liddell and Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson headlined the bout. It was announced during the event that the winner would fight Pride Middleweight champion, Dan Henderson to unify the belts. The preliminary card saw three straight submission wins to start the night. Din Thomas was one of the three as he beat Jeremy Stephens by Armbar in the second round to take home Submission of the Night honors (and an extra $40,000). In the final prelim fight, Thiago Silva beat James Irvin by TKO for his tenth straight career victory.

The main card started with a middleweight fight between Chris Leben and Kalib Starnes. The fight would go the distance and be exciting, but Starnes would come out victorious. Leben didn’t leave empty handed as the fight was named Fight of the Night. In the co-main event, Welterweight Karo Parisyan took a decision win over Josh Burkman for his second straight win. The main event was a highly anticipated fight between two exciting fighters in Liddell and Rampage. Liddell had defended his belt 4 times previous and looked as though Rampage may have no shot. It was a slugfest through and through with Jackson coming out victorious with a first round KO to win the belt. This started a hot potato of the belt as no one man was able to keep the belt for longer than one defense.

UFC 114: Rampage vs. Evans
A grudge match between two former champions in Rampage Jackson and Rashad Evans would be settled in this event. The fight was scheduled to happen at UFC 96, but Evans was injured and replaced by his teammate Keith Jardine. Rampage won that fight and was expected to face Evans for the title. A jaw injury kept Jackson out of the fight and he was replaced by Lyoto Machida, who would win the fight and the title. After all of that, the drama and feud was still alive, and the UFC scheduled Evans and Jackson to coach on Season 10 of The Ultimate Fighter. The event was just the fifth UFC card ever to reach a million PPV buys.

The preliminary card saw 3 of four fights end before the first bell. The night started when Ryan Jensen beat Jesse Forbes by Guillotine a minute into the fight. In a Light Heavyweight contest, Cyrille Diabate got the TKO win over Luiz Cane. In the final non-televised preliminary fight, Melvin Guillard added another win to his resume with a TKO from knees to the body. On the televised prelims, Efran Escudero and Dong Hyun Kim both picked up decision wins.

The five-fight main card started as it will end. In a Welterweight fight, John Hathaway beat Diego Sanchez in a unanimous decision. In the next fight, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira barely got past Jason Brilz by a hair with a split decision. In the middle of the PPV, Mike Russow picked up the only finish of the main card with a third round KO of Todd Duffee. The co-main was a very underwhelming decision win for Michael Bisping. In the main event, after all the talk was over and the two met in the cage, the outcome was nothing special. Evans cruised for three rounds and won by unanimous decision.

UFC 130: Rampgage vs. Hammill
As per usual, the Memorial Day weekend card happened at the MGM Grand. The main event was a Light Heavyweight fight between Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson and Matt Hammill. The original main event for the Lightweight title between Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard was scrapped when both were injured. Then the new main event of Rampage and Thiago Silva was redone when Silva failed a drug test prior to UFC 125. The co-main event was a Heavyweight fight between Roy Nelson and Frank Mir.

On the prelims, which started out on Facebook, we saw future Bantamweight champion Renan Barao for the first time in the UFC. He beat contender Cole Escovedo by decision to keep his unbeaten streak alive. We saw another good Bantamweight in the youngster Michael McDonald when he beat Chris Cariaso by split decision. On the Spike TV prelims, we saw future Flyweight champion Demetrius Johnson at Bantamweight. He would beat former WEC champion Miguel Torres by decision.

On the main card, we started the night with a KO courtesy of Brian Stann over Jorge Santiago. In a Welterweight matchup, vet Rick Story beat another veteran in Thiago Alves by decision. The Knockout of the Night came by way of a superman punch from Travis Browne against Stefan Struve. In the co-main event, the experience of Mir showed as he handled the power of Nelson all night enroot to a decision win. In the main event, the fight was one that would not be added to the KO file of Rampage, but it got the job done. Rampage took a three round decision on all three judges’ score cards.

UFC 146: dos Santos vs. Mir
In the first title defense try for Heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos was former champion Frank Mir. In an all Heavyweight main card, we saw most of the best over 206 pounds. This would set up the next title challenger for whoever walked away with the title. The Facebook prelims saw two submission wins with an Arm Triangle Choke by future Light Heavyweight title challenger Glover Teixeira and a Triangle Armbar by Paul Sass. On the Televised prelim fights, we started with a KO of Duane Ludwig by Dan Hardy. Ending the prelims was a unanimous decision win for Darren Elkins over Diego Brandao.

Staring off the main card was a submission when Stefan Struve put an armbar on Lavar Johnson in the first round. In the next fight, Stipe Miocic beat Shane Del Rosario by TKO due to elbows in the second round. In one of the Knockouts of the Night, Roy ‘Big Country’ Nelson beat Dave Herman by a KO just under a minute in. In the co-main event, former champion Cain Velazquez made a statement when he beat Antonio Silva in a bloody mess. In the main event, champion Junior dos Santos successfully defended his belt when he beat Mir by TKO in the second round. He would get Velazquez again in a rematch of how he won the title.

UFC 160: Velazquez vs. Bigfoot II
With the new (or is it the old) Heavyweight champion in place, the headliner was a rematch of a bloody mess from UFC 146 (see above). Heavyweight champion Cain Velazquez was looking for his first title defense against Antonio ‘Bigfoot’ Silva. The co-main event was another Heavyweight fight between contenders Junior dos Santos and Mark Hunt. The night started with a decision win for Jeremy Stephens over Estevan Payan. The prelims ended with two split decisions as Dennis Bermudez beat Max Holloway and Mike Pyle beat Rick Story.

Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone started off the main card with a decision win over KJ Noons. The fight came after a loss to future Lightweight champion Anthony Pettis. In a knockout of the night effort, TJ Grant beat former title challenger Gray Maynard by TKO in the first round. The next fight was the Submission of the Night as Glover Teixeira beat James Te Huna by a Guillotine choke. In the co-main event (and the Fight of the Night), former champion Junior dos Santos beat contender Mark Hunt with a head kick in the third round. The kick barely grazed Hunt as he went down. The main event was another destruction of Bigfoot as Velazquez needed a little over a minute to win the fight.

Pride 14- Clash of Titans
Pride 14 was the first time we saw Chuck Liddell under the Pride banner. Starting off the night was an armbar by Antonio Schembri. In his Pride debut, Liddell got a KO in the second round against Guy Mezger. It was his sixth win in a row and kept his UFC title chances going. In the next fight, legend Gary Goodridge got a submission by knee. Future Pride champion Dan Henderson continued his brilliance as he beat Akira Shoji by TKO. Then Middleweight champion Wanderlei Silva staked his claim as one of the best fighters in the organization with a 30 second destruction of Shungo Oyama. The last two events ended by submission as Igor Vovchanchyn beat Gilbert Yvel by Rear-Naked Choke and Kazuyuki Fujita beat Yoshihiro Takayama by Arm-Triangle Choke.

Bellator 9
In the second to last event of Season 1, two Middleweight fights headlined the card. On the prelims, a split decision won by Chas Skelly started off the night. A Heavyweight bout between Shawn Jordan and Jayme McKinney lasted only thirty seconds as Jordan won by Rear-Naked Choke. In the final match of the prelims, Nick Ring beat Isidiro Gonzalez by Guillotine in the first round. The main card started with Jared Hess’ TKO win over Yosmany Cabezas. In the main event, up and comer Hector Lombard beat Damien Stelly by TKO just under three minutes in

Bellator 20
You got a little taste of all facets of MMA with Bellator 20. On the prelims, three straight submissions (all by Rear-Naked choke) were right in the middle of the prelim card. Starting off the main card was a chance for Season 3’s Heavyweight tournament. Eddie Sanchez beat Marcus Sursa by TKO and was ultimately matched up with Neil Grove in the quarterfinal. In the Middleweight tournament semifinal, Alexander Schlemenko moved on with a TKO win and Bryan Baker by Triangle choke. In another Middleweight tournament semifinal (and the main event of the night), Bryan Baker made quick work of Eric Schambari with Triangle choke midway through the first round.

Bellator 70
Ending Season 6 for Bellator was the 70th event put on the fighting organization. It had a Bantamweight tournament semifinal, Heavyweight title fight and Lightweight final. Jonas Billstein beat Mike Seal by first round Rear-Naked choke. The next fight was fought at a catchweight of 190 pounds and ended by kimura in the third round. In a Welterweight bout, the fight ended in the second round when AJ Matthews hit Charlie Rader with a soccer kick. The main card started with a Guillotine put on by Derek Campos against Rich Clementi. The Bantamweight semifinal was one by Hiroshi Nakamura with a third round KO to move onto the final. In a Heavyweight title fight, Cole Konrad continued his undefeated MMA streak with a first round kimura on Eric Prindle. We haven’t see Konrad since that fight after he retired to become a commodities broker. In the main event, Rick Hawn won the Lightweight tournament with a unanimous decision win over Brent Weedman. Hawn would get his chance at champ Michael Chandler, but ultimately lose by submission.

Future: UFC Fight Night: Condit vs. Alves

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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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