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In the Trenches with Rodney James: International Fight Week



To be a great writer, one must adhere to a certain rule set that is usually engrained at the university level, if not earlier. One such cardinal rule is: never write in the first person. For this particular series – from here to eternity, I will write in the first person.

Call it a blog if you want, but this series of articles (which I have titled “In the Trenches”) is much more than that. I must get my hands dirty, or even my face bloodied to bring to you something worthwhile.

The stories contained within are not second-hand experiences, generated by vicariously following another’s journey; instead I provide a more candid view …from the trenches. Now that you’ve skimmed through the lengthy preamble, let’s talk UFC International Fight Week!

My hike began 1,286 miles ago from my home in San Antonio, Texas. With a Uhaul trailer, a toddler and a pregnant wife in tow, we set sail like some modern day frontier pioneers.

For three grueling days we ventured west across the arid grassland and deserts of west Texas, New Mexico and Arizona before making a safe landing at our temporary Las Vegas home on the eve of Independence Day.

Along the way we visited the infamous Roswell, New Mexico; the location of an alien spacecraft crash landing in 1947 (allegedly). There appeared to be many aliens in that town, or maybe just tweakers.

Speaking of tweakers, Albuquerque was another mandatory stop – home to the massive hit TV show Breaking Bad and the spin-off Better Call Saul.

Inside and outside view of “Los Pollos Hermanos”

Waking up in Vegas on the 4th of July meant the Edgar clan arrived just in time to enjoy the holiday and FIGHT WEEEEEK! Our condo is literally walking distance to the world famous Las Vegas strip, or a 5 minute drive to UFC’s premiere venue, the T-Mobile arena.

The first stop was my new proving grounds, Xtreme Couture. After all, I have a fight to stay ready for in Las Vegas on 21 July. When I arrived to hop into Ryan Couture’s MMA class, I was surprised to find that the gym was closed. Expecting to accomplish little more than venting frustrations – I tweeted the gym and quickly received a reply from the manager, Eric Nicksick, who invited me to come spar with the pro and amateur fight team.

Be careful what you wish for. Ray Sefo led the pack of wolves through 5 rounds of sparring at 5 minutes each. I took my lumps and hung in for all 5 rounds. It hurt, in a good way, and was much needed.

That evening was a typical 4th of July on the Vegas strip: equal parts fireworks and drunken tourists. I’ve seen this movie many times, but I was glad to be home.

And finally, July 5-8 promised an International Fight Week experience to make the summer trek worthwhile for the fans. I must be frank and give you the bottom line up front: this was NOT the fan expo that we all know and love. This was much different. It was low energy, somewhat depressing and devoid of many events that usually accompany fight week.

But I played the game. First up were the open workouts. Perhaps the fans who travelled to the UFC mecca enjoyed themselves, and I hope they did. That said, it was a much different experience than expected and was largely uneventful. Hence, I have included no photos from open workouts.

My fight week rhythm became routine very quickly. The mornings were devoted to training with the best team in town and the rest of the day was spent in the UFC experience. So, the afternoon of the 6th started with the TUF 25 Finale weigh-ins, followed by a few cold beverages with old pals Jim Edwards and Dan Tom, as well as new pals Dave Madden and James Lynch.

July 7th was more of the same, only after the weigh-ins for UFC 213 there was a fight card to enjoy. I spent the prelims with Dave Madden at the Vdara and saw a few people you may know; including Michael Bisping, Don Frye, Big Nog, and Rumble Johnson, who all came through during that time.

I migrated to Fremont street for the main card, where I discovered a wonderful hidden gem, the Nerd Bar, where Miesha Tate was holding a viewing party. This place is amazing! Free video games! Free pool! And…free bowling! It’s now my favorite bar in Las Vegas.

Former UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion, Miesha Tate

Ultimate Fighter: Redemption winner, Jesse Taylor


Of course, in the TUF Finale Jesse Taylor truly earned his redemption after a disastrous exile from the UFC in his original run. It was a great fight, but nothing in all of 2017 outshined the barnburner main event, bah gawd! If you missed Michael Johnson taking on Justin Gaethje, stop what you are doing and watch it…several times!

MMA writer, analyst and podcaster, Derek Bowe

Saturday night I caught up with another old MMA Latest alum, and frequent podcast collaborator, Derek Bowe. And who showed up shortly after we sat down? It was none other than Miesha Tate, yet again. I’m pretty sure she was stalking me. UFC legends Phil Baroni and Stephan Bonnar also made an appearance. With the wife and kids along for family UFC night – we had a blast watching the co-main event turned main event between Yoel Romero and new Interim Middleweight Champion Robert Whitaker.

Rodney James, Adam Hunter and Dave Madden

Lastly, no UFC experience in Las Vegas is complete without a trip to the Stratosphere to catch MMA Roasted host, Adam Hunter performing his signature stand-up comedy. For $20, you can purchase a wristband for unlimited drinks, which is far and away the best deal you can find at a Vegas bar, or maybe any bar! 6 double Jack and Cokes later, I got my fill of whiskey and laughs. Despite waking up to a massive headache – I was in the gym training bright and early!

Standing ready for my victory on 21 July

Now I am at the end of the road for most, McCarren International Airport. For me it’s just a quick round trip for some military training and by this time next week, I’ll be basking in the desert sun of this magical oasis called Paradise, Nevada.

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Tom Gallicchio on UFC Release “It’s Been a Dream of Mine to Fight in KSW”

Harry Davies



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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2017 IMMAF World Championships: Finals fixtures



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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Why It’s Time to Cherish Michael Bisping and Stop the Hate



Ever since the Ultimate Fighter 3, Michael ‘The Count’ Bisping has been one of the most hated fighters on the UFC roster. Since he was painted as the big bad Brit against the American hero Dan Henderson, Bisping has been the villain. He has played up to the reputation of being one of the biggest heels in the UFC, with his arrogance, trash talk and often disrespectful attitude.

But nothing has summed up Michael Bisping more than the events of this past week. After losing his Middleweight Championship to Georges St. Pierre at UFC 217, no one would blame Bisping for wanting a few months on the couch whilst sinking a few beers before retiring at UFC London in March.

After hearing that Anderson Silva had tested positive for a banned substance, it was announced that Bisping would fill in for Silva to face Kelvin Gastelum in the main event of UFC Shanghai. A fight that nobody else would have wanted. A fight that he has less than three weeks to prepare for.

The fight does nothing for Bisping. Gastelum is a rising, rejuvenated contender and Bisping knows he can not take him lightly. But he’s also seven places below him in the rankings. Although, this doesn’t matter anymore as Bisping has announced this will be his second to last fight ever before hanging up his gloves.

Nothing sums Bisping up better than his comment on Gastelum’s Instagram post “See you in China. Loser buys the beers”.

He sounds relaxed. Perhaps he’s enjoying his last two fights and is at peace with his impending retirement.

In an era all about money, fighters like Bisping are rare and hard to come by. Fighters that only care about one thing, fighting.

Sure, his title reign wasn’t the best. But the UFC offered him the Henderson fight, to bring back some feeling of nostalgia that has been missing in the modern times of the UFC. And who in their right mind wouldn’t want to face one of the greatest ever in GSP.

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND – JULY 17: Michael Bisping of England steps on the scale during the UFC weigh-in inside the SSE Hydro on July 17, 2015 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

It’s easy to forget amongst all the trash talk that Bisping has always played by the rules, and been anti PEDs during a time when a majority of the roster was using some form of performance enhancers. Fighting PED users has given Bisping most of his losses and has even led to him losing sight in one of his eyes.

Most of Bisping’s outrageous acts, have been him using a ‘pro wrestling’ act in order to hype up his fights and put bums in seats. That isn’t an excuse for some of his obnoxious behaviour. But when he’s not in the zone, it’s clear to see what a respectful and humble man he is. Like his moment after UFC 217, where he approached Cody Garbrandt to tell him how proud he was of him, or his post fight respect for Anderson Silva, where they both bowed on their knees to one another.

This is me and Anderson exchanging respect while being attended to by the doctors.

A post shared by Mikebisping (@mikebisping) on

The truth is, Bisping is an incredible ambassador of the sport and one of the pioneers across the pond.

Bisping should be remembered and appreciated as the workhorse warrior who brought absolutely everything he had to the cage every time he fought. He always comes to fight, whether it’s three weeks notice or more. He’s simply tough as hell.

Believe you me Michael Bisping is a true old school legend of this sport and should be cherished whilst we still have him, cause we will miss him when he’s gone.

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