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Throwback Thursday: This Week in MMA History

Vinny Craig

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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 16 to February 22.

 

UFC 8: David vs. Goliath

For the first time outside the continental United States, the UFC put on a show. In the event, they pitted bigger fighters against smaller fighters; hence the name of David vs. Goliath. Don Frye went on to win the tournament with victories over Thomas Ramirez, Sam Adkins, and Gary Goodridge. In the main event, Superfight Champion Ken Shamrock defended his title by defeating Kimo Leopoldo by kneebar within the first 5 minutes.

 

UFC 95: Sanchez vs. Stevenson

In London, the UFC put on a memorable card as it was headlined by the first two winners of The Ultimate Fighter. The event drew an average of 2.4 million viewers on Spike TV, with a tape delay being played in the US. The card was headlined by Diego Sanchez and Joe Stevenson and the co-main event of Nate Marquardt and Wilson Gouveia.

The card saw a Heavyweight bout between Junior dos Santos and Stefan Struve. JDS only needed 54 seconds to put the ‘Skyscraper’ away with a TKO victory. Other fighters to pick up victories on the card were Terry Etim, Paulo Thiago, Dan Hardy, and Damien Maia. In the co-main, Marquardt got a TKO victory over Gouveia, and Sanchez with a UD victory over Stevenson.

 

UFC 110: Nogueira vs. Velazquez

In the UFC’s first trip to Australia, they put together a number one contender fight for the Heavyweight division. The event would see 240,000 PPV buyers and a total attendance of 17, 431. Fans would see Antonio Rodrigo Nogeuira and Cain Velazquez fight for the chance to go for Brock Lesnars Heavyweight title.

To start off the PPV, Mirko Cro Crop and Ryan Bader would each get finishes as Cro Cop beat got a TKO victory over Anthony Perosh, and Bader knocked out Keith Jardine. Former Pride Middleweight champion Wanderlei Silva was supposed to face judoka specialist Yoshahiro Akiyama. Akiyama had to pull out, and Michael Bisping would step in for him. Silva would pick up a UD win taking the 29-28 win over all the judge’s scorecards.

In the Main Event, future Heavyweight champion Cain Velazquez would knockout ‘Big Nog’ in just over two minutes. This would earn Velazquez a title-shot at champion Brock Lesnar.

UFC on Fuel TV: Barao vs. McDonald

In the seventh installment in the UFC on Fuel TV, Interim-Bantamweight Champion Renan Barao would look to defend his title for the first time against 22 year-old Michael McDonald. The card would also see Featherweights Cub Swanson and Dustin Poirier. It took place at Wembley Arena in in London.

To start off the card, Matthew Riddle got a Split-Decision win over Che Mills. It was later changed to a No-Contest due to a failed drug test. Others to pick up victories are Gunnar Nelson, Jimi Manuwa, and Cub Swanson by UD over Poirier. In the main event, Barao submitted the youngster McDonald in the fourth round by arm-triangle choke.

UFC 170: Rousey vs. McMann

Everyone was surprised when after UFC 168, the UFC immediately announced Ronda Rouseys next fight against Sara McMann… which would happen in two months. Briefly linked to the event was a Lightweight bout between Gilbert Melendez and Khabib Nurmagomedov. That bout was later scrapped and replaced with a bout between Rashad Evans and Daniel Cormier. That bout would also be scratched due to an injury to Evans. The bout would be changed with Daniel Cormier and promotional newcomer Patrick Cummins.

Future Welterweight title-challenger Rory MacDonald would beat former Middleweight title-challenger Damien Maia with a three-round decision. Cormier would pick up a TKO victory over Cummins in just 79 seconds. Rousey continued her manhandling of her division with a TKO victory over McMann in just 69 seconds, her first victory not by armbar

Pride The Best Vol. 1

On Friday night February 22nd in 2002, Pride put on a big show that could only be called The Best. Victors would include Daiju Takase, Takayuki Okada got a TKO victory over Soichi Nishida, and in the main-event would see Yusuke Imamura submit Joe Son with an elbow lock.

Pride 29

Just under three years later, Pride would put on another great show for the Japanese fans. It saw future stars such as Fabricio Werdum, Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira pick up victories. In the co-main event, Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson picked up a Split-Decision win over Murilo Rua. The main-event saw Mirko ‘Cro Cop’ Flipovic knockout the ‘Father of Ground and Pound’ Mark Coleman in the first round.

Bellator XC

At Bellator 90, we saw the tournament final in the Featherweight division and the Light Heavyweight and Welterweight semi-final. The undercard saw three finishes to start the card, and then two decisions. The undercard saw Ben Saunders beat Raul Amaya by knockout in the Welterweight semi-final. For the other Welterweight semi-final, future champion Douglas Lima beat Bryan Baker by first round knockout.

In the Light Heavyweight semi-final, favorite Muhammed Lawal was knocked out by spinning back fist to future Emanuel Newton in the first round. In the main-event and the final for the Featherweight tournament, Shahbulat Shamhalaev kept the streak of knockouts on the card going in the first round over Rad Martinez. This gave Shamhalaev a chance at the Featherweight title against Pat Curran.

Strikeforce Challengers: Beerbohm vs. Healy

Strikeforce produced a ton of future stars, and kept some old ones around. Their Challengers series would get contenders against each other to get their next title challengers. At the Beerbohm vs. Healy, it was just the same. The card saw Ryan Larson, Ryan Couture and future title-challenger Carlo Prater submit over their opponents. In the main-event, Pat Healy got a UD over Lyle Beerbohm.

Future: UFC Fight Night: Bigfoot vs. Mir

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Bellator: Selecting the Four Alternates for the Heavyweight Grand Prix.

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With an 8-man tournament bracket full of legends and former champions, join us as we chose four alternates for the Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix.

Main Tournament Participants:

  • Fedor Emelianenko
  • Frank Mir
  • Chael Sonnen
  • Quinton Jackson
  • Roy Nelson
  • Matt Mitrione
  • Ryan Bader
  • King Mo Lawal

The alternate tournament bracket will consist of: two opening round fights (semi-final), and then two victorious fighters competing against one another at the finale (final). This will determine a worthy contender to step into the main tournament bracket, in case any of the main bracket fighters are injured in their semi-final bouts.

If a pull-out or injury occurs before the opening bouts, I believe Bellator have to select the most decorated fighter, and a natural heavyweight fighter. So in case of a pull-out occurring before the opening round, I would select my #1 alternate, and so on for any more opening pull-outs.

This structure covers all bases, and keeps the Bellator Heavyweight Tournament intense and prestigious.

So with the structure laid out, here is our selected alternate fighters.

  • #1: Vitaly Minakov
  • #2: Linton Vassell
  • #3: Attilah Vegh
  • #4: Emanuel Newton

Alternate Opening Round [Semi-Final]:

  • Bout 1: #1 Vs. #3
  • Bout 2: #2 Vs. #4

Alternate Final:

  • Victor of Bout #1/#3 Vs. Victor of Bout #2 Vs. #4

Linton Vassell vs. Emanuel Newton would be a trilogy that needs to be completed. Linton dominated on the ground for the most part of their first bout, but felt he gave up positions he felt he could have held longer, and took needless transitions and risks; allowing for a very sneaky Emanuel Newton to escape the clutches of ‘The Swarm’, and when the gas tank begins to empty – a scrambling Emanuel Newton is not what you want!

Fighter bios:

Vitaly Minakov: A former Bellator tournament winner, and former Bellator heavyweight champion. A Judo black belt, and multi time Sambo world champion, there’s no denying this man’s resume as one of the best put forth out of these 4 fighters.

Linton Vassell: A man who really lives up to the moniker – ‘The Swarm’, Linton Vassell has dominated and dispatched various opponents Bellator have put across from him. Having fallen short in two title fights, and a close decision loss to King Mo, Linton has shown that he’s there with the best Bellator has to offer, maybe the Heavyweight Grand Prix might see the dark-horse finally come into the lime-light! Currently contracted to Bellator with a 7-3 record for the promotion.

If you would like to follow the Bellator Heavyweight Tournament, you can check out the opening round bouts on the following Bellator MMA events:

Emanuel Newton: Already holding two victories over King Mo, who’s allocated in this Heavyweight main tournament bracket – that alone is just cause to enter Emanuel. An exciting and unpredictable entry this would be. Bellator parted ways with Emanuel in 2016. Currently, Newton is not on the best of runs, but this tournament needs a ‘wild-card’, and Emanuel owns that title.

Attilah Vegh: A former Bellator LHW champion. Not currently signed to Bellator. Was strangely released in 2014 after having a record of 5-1 with the promotion, and some victories over some very reputable names. Currently on a 2 fight win-streak outside of Bellator MMA.

If you would like to follow the Bellator Heavyweight Tournament, you can check out the opening round bouts on the following Bellator MMA events:

 

Bellator 192 at The Forum – Jan. 20, 2018: Quinton “Rampage” Jackson (37-12) vs. Chael Sonnen (30-15-1)
Bellator 194 at Mohegan Sun Arena – Feb. 16, 2018: Matt Mitrione (12-5) vs. Roy Nelson (23-14)
Bellator at Allstate Arena – April, 2018: Fedor Emelianenko (36-5, 1 NC) vs. Frank Mir (18-11)
Bellator at SAP Center – May, 2018: Ryan Bader (24-5) vs. “King Mo” Lawal (21-6, 1 NC)

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Exclusive: Hisaki Kato: “My priorities are in MMA”

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French-Japanese middleweight Hasaki Kato returns to the Bellator cage Friday as he takes on former welterweight Chidi “Bang Bang” Njokuani. Ahead of the high-level striking match-up, Kato took the time out of his busy schedule to speak with MMA Latest.

Rangy striker Njokuani makes his middleweight debut Friday as he looks to erase his loss to Andrey Koreshkov from recent memory. It isn’t lost on Kato just how tall and lanky the 6’3 striker truly is. “Well he’s very tall,” Kato tells MMA Latest. “He was a welterweight but even for a middleweight he’s really tall he’s like 6’2, 6’3 taller than me, longer reach than me. Obviously, I was watching his fights, he’s fighting with range and using his reach to fight so that’s his number one weapon.”

In Njokuani’s last fight, Koreshkov, the former welterweight champion, held Njokuani down and elbowed him until the ref stepped in. So what exactly went wrong in the fight? “Well, first I think Koreshkov is really, really strong,” Kato explains. “Chidi Njokuani normally escapes the ground part or at least he’s on top of his opponent. But Koreshkov has good pressure and good grappling and he could take the top position. Obviously, Njokuani is not comfortable when he is on the bottom. So yeah, I think he couldn’t play his game during the last fight because Koreshkov was putting too much pressure on him.”

Former UFC fighter, Gegard Mousasi, recently made his debut against Alexander Shlemenko back in October. The Dutchman had a tough debut that resulted in a controversial decision win, Kato weighed in on whether or not he’s eyeing a fight with him and what he thought of his Bellator debut. “If I have an offer I will fight him,” he says without any particular enthusiasm. “I will fight everybody in the division. Yeah, for the last fight, well, I think luckily for him it was a three-round fight. I think if it was a five round fight the victory would have gone to Shlemenko. I don’t know maybe he had a bad camp, I don’t know but he was doing terrible.”

Kato also believes a title shot isn’t far away. “I believe I’m really close to that (a title shot),” he says. “After the win, after the Gracie fight, even if it was a decision win, the Gracie is a big family name so I was expecting a title fight. I didn’t have it so I guess if I win this time I have a good chance to have it.”

Whatever you do, don’t expect to see Kato back in a kickboxing ring anytime soon. Does it interest him to return? “Not really,” Kato replies after giving the question some thought. “If the offer is good then why not, for now, I feel more comfortable in MMA so my focus, my priorities, are in MMA.”

Many fans were very disappointed with the way his last fight turned out. Paired up against jiu-jitsu fighter, Ralek Gracie, Kato ended up going to the judges for the first time in his career. “Yeah the fight itself was really frustrating,” Kato admits. “I couldn’t do what I wanted and after two rounds, I knew I had done enough to win, and I knew he would push more. So I decided ‘yeah ok then it’s going to a decision’ but at the very least I had to win that fight.  That’s why I didn’t take too many risks in the third round. During the first and the second, I really wanted to end that fight like I always try but I couldn’t do it.”

So why hasn’t Kato fought since January? “I had an offer in September,” he says. “But I got injured during the training and had to go into surgery, and after the surgery, the process is really long to recover so that’s why.”

So what does Kato predict for the fight? “Obviously his nickname is ‘Bang’ you know, he likes to fight and that’s all I like doing too,” Kato laughs. “I’m really thinking about having a big knockout with my hands.”

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Exclusive: Fernando Gonzalez talks Paul Daley and Michael Page fights

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Long-time Bellator welterweight contender, Fernando Gonzalez, has made a career out of fighting the best fighters his promotion had to offer. The always tough Californian has displayed this willingness to fight the best when he took on Paul Daley in a kickboxing match and when he took on Michael ‘Venom’ Page, in what was supposed to be Page’s coming out fight.

The kickboxing match with Daley happened back in 2015 at “Bellator MMA and Glory: Dynamite 1” in an event that featured both Glory kickboxing as well as its fair share of intriguing Bellator MMA fights. Gonzalez would go on to lose the fight in what many fans called a ‘lackluster’ contest. Speaking to MMA Latest, Gonzalez was asked if he had any interest in returning to the kickboxing ring and why he participated in Glory kickboxing.

“No. Honestly, that kickboxing match was more just to get Daley; because they kept trying to give him to me on short notice and one was on an injury,” Gonzalez told MMA Latest. “So I was like, ‘no I don’t want to give him an easy win’, but the only thing they came up with was that kickboxing match in that time. So ever since that fight, I was like ‘listen dude lets do this MMA’. I’m an MMA guy, I know how to kickbox and I’m good with it but I prefer MMA. I love doing MMA. I don’t like to have too many rules put on me. I like being able to go out there and flow freely. Honestly, I want Daley in an MMA fight so he gets the real fight.”

Gonzalez’ fight with Michael Page was booked as the veteran getting fed to the younger up and coming contender. The fight was Page’s opportunity to add another highlight reel knockout to his collection. Obviously, someone forgot to tell Gonzalez. Gonzalez went out and made sure he never gave Page any openings, unfortunately, he would go on to lose the fight by split decision. Fernando explains what went wrong in his only Bellator loss.

Honestly the only thing that went wrong in the fight is how people viewed the fight”, Gonzalez explains. “If you really look at the fight he really didn’t land anything. The whole first round they’re talking him up, how he’s dancing and how it’s putting me into a lullaby and this and that. I was never in danger. He was not throwing a single punch. This is MMA, you cant just take on the fight with one style, you have to fight different styles for different people. If it was just boxing, you would fight a boxer just one way realistically, but Michael Page has the karate style. So you have to come up with a different formula if you’re going to fight somebody like that.”

“So my style with him, I knew that he’s used to everybody rushing him and trying to take him down. I’m a striker so I don’t mind striking. If I’m not in danger then I’m going to keep it striking. So what I did was I circled, I kept him at arm’s length, so he constantly had to throw long arms where he’s having to reach out and grab you. He’s throwing those arms out, that makes him have to basically hold his arms out a lot longer than he’s used to. He’s used to guys rushing in on him. So with me playing that outside game, obviously my legs are a lot longer than my arms, so I had to throw a lot more kicks, there was a lot of head kicks to take away his power-punch where he leaps in. By doing that, that made him work a lot longer in the second and third round where he’s normally finishing guys. By that third round, he was completely exhausted and couldn’t throw. He said his timing was off and this and that, but he was just exhausted. I had already gassed him out and he had just enough to stay away from me.”

“Really it’s just how you see the fight. They automatically assumed I had to take him down to win and that’s not necessarily true. If I’m not in danger, and I’m landing kicks, and I’m landing good shots, and he’s hitting my arms. Realistically most of the shots he landed were on my arms and that really doesn’t count. So it’s really just how you see it and that’s why one judge had it 30-27. It’s just how you’re seeing the fight. If you’re a striker you would know what you’re looking at, but if you’re a ground guy, of course, you’re going to say ‘oh I got to get it to the ground’ which is what the commentators were; two ground guys talking about what I should’ve done.”

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