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UFC 188: Velasquez vs. Werdum Preview

Vinny Craig

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For the sixth week in a row, UFC fans can enjoy the greatest sport on earth. The seventh pay-per-view (PPV) of the year is a Heavyweight match-up that’s been almost a year in the making. After 19 months off due to injury, Heavyweight champ Cain Velasquez returns to try and defend his belt yet again. This is the second time the UFC has gone to Mexico, with the first scheduled to be the headliner from this card. This time around, the Mexican pride is deeper and the crowd will be crazier. Let’s see what’s in store

Teccia Torres vs. Angela Hill
A fight between two TUF (and tough) competitors starts off your PPV. Teccia Torres (5-0 MMA; 1-0 UFC)* and Angela Hill (2-0; 1-0) will meet after being on The Ultimate Fighter season 20 together. Both lost to the #1 seed on the show in Carla Esparza with Torres getting two shots to move on in the show. Both won their debuts at the finale in December of last year.

Torres is a former Invicta star who came with a group of others with the newly formed UFC Strawweight division. She started her career 4-0 with wins over Paige VanZant, Rose Namajunas and Felice Herrig. Her first UFC fight was a decision win over the heel of the season in Angela Magana. ‘The Tiny Tornado’ landed 96 Significant Strikes** with a knockdown in her fight with Magana, while stopping 2 takedown attempts.

Hill had her only career fight in 2014, before joining the UFC in USFFC. She won her only fight by TKO in the second round. She won her fight against Emily Kagan at the finale where she scratched out a decision win. She attempted 159 Significant Strikes while hitting her opponent with 67% of those. She would stop 10 of Kagan’s 12 takedown attempts in the fight.

Yair Rodriguez vs. Charles Rosa
A Featherweight matchup sees the Mexican-born Yair Rodriguez (4-1; 1-0) against Charles Rosa (10-1; 1-1). This is a fight between two inexperienced guys with only 16 professional bouts between them. Both will look to make a statement and move up in the Featherweight rankings.

Rodriguez won the first season of TUF: Latin America for the Featherweight division. He got two submission wins to put him in the finals against Leonardo Morales. He would get the win by decision in the Finale and win the Featherweight division. That was the last time he fought and he hasn’t been in action since. In his last fight, he would only land 40% of his Significant Strikes thrown, but got the nod with his 2 takedowns and five submission attempts.

Rosa started his UFC career off with a decision loss to Denis Siver at UFC Fight Night: Nelson vs. Story. This would earn Fight of the Night honors with a tightly contested bout that saw him get hit over 100 times. He would get back to the winning column with a D’Arce choke win over Sean Soriano at UFC Fight Night: McGregor vs. Siver. He would do much better, but still got hit more than he hit his opponent (37 total strikes for Rosa compared to 72 for his opponent). He was always searching the submission attempt with 4 of them on the night and finally caught his opponent in the third round.

Kelvin Gastelum vs. Nate Marquardt
In a Middleweight bout many are looking forward to, Kelvin Gastelum (10-1; 5-1) makes his return to Middleweight against the veteran Nate Marquardt (33-14-2; 12-8). Gastelum is seeing the Middleweight division for the first time since TUF 17 while Marquardt has been a lifelong 185 pounder for the UFC (two Welterweight fights in Strikeforce)

Gastelum was The Ultimate Fighter Season 17 winner when he beat Uriah Hall by decision. Gastelum was the heavy underdog and overcame the odds to win. He won his next four straight with two finishes over Brian Melancon and Jake Ellenberger. He would get his toughest test to date with a co-main event slot against Tyron Woodley. The entire experience was a bad one as Gastelum came in 10 pounds overweight and was almost pulled from his fight. Gastelum would lose the fight by split decision for his first career loss. Gastelum comes into the contest with 3.26 Significant Strikes Landed per Minute (SLpM) and only 2.51 Significant Strikes Absorbed per Minute (SApM). His 71.7% Striking Defense is good for third all-time in the Welterweight division.

Marquardt is a former UFC Middleweight title challenger and Strikeforce Middleweight champion. He beat now UFC contender Tyron Woodley in 2012 for the title. He has also been in multiple title eliminator fights in his career. He started his UFC career with four straight wins to earn his shot at then Middleweight champion Anderson Silva. His title shot was short lived as he was TKO’d in the first round. ‘The Great’ has struggled as of late, losing 4 of his last 5. His stats are impressive as his 1.54 SApM is good for third lowest in the active division. He has the second most knockdowns of any Middleweight ever with 9 (behind Anderson Silva with 12).

Gilbert Melendez vs. Eddie Alvarez
A matchup that’s been years in the making will finally happen when Gilbert Melendez (22-4; 1-2) and Eddie Alvarez (25-4; 0-1) face off. Both have seen championships and different organizations through the years before their paths crossed in the UFC. This is an event that Melendez wanted to be on badly due to his Mexican heritage.

Melendez is the former Strikeforce Lightweight champion and the inaugural WEC Lightweight champion. He started his professional career with 13 straight wins before losing his first fight. He would win the Strikeforce Lightweight belt in his next bout but lose it immediately to Josh Thomson. After that loss, he rattled off seven straight wins which included winning and defending the interim belt and unifying and defending the belt some more. His first UFC fight was for the belt against Benson Henderson where he lost a split decision. He has gone 1-1 since then with a Fight of the Night with Diego Sanchez and another title fight loss to Anthony Pettis. ‘El Nino’ has a Striking Differential of +1.57, which would be good for third in the division if he was eligible.

Alvarez is the former champion for multiple organizations with Bellator being the most recent. He was on a seven fight win streak stretching from 2009 to 2011 when he saw his best competition yet in Michael Chandler. The Fight of the Year would be victorious for Chandler as he gave Alvarez his first loss in over two years. Alvarez would start another win streak as he entered the Octagon for the first time with three straight wins. He would lose his UFC debut to the next Lightweight title challenger in Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone. He was very inaccurate in his fight with Cowboy, only landing on 34% of his Significant Strikes and landing 0 of 5 takedowns.

Cain Velasquez (c) vs. Fabricio Werdum (ic)
In a title unification bout, Undisputed Heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez (13-1; 11-1) will try and keep his belt against interim champion Fabricio Werdum (19-5-1; 7-2). The two were scheduled to fight at UFC 180 before Velasquez injured his knee and an interim title fight was scheduled between Werdum and Mark Hunt. Werdum won the fight by second round KO and was awarded the Interim title.

Velasquez has been the champion since UFC 155 where he beat then champion Junior dos Santos by decision. That avenged his only loss as dos Santos had beaten Velasquez by knockout at UFC on Fox 1 just thirteen months prior. Since then he has defended his belt against Antonio ‘Bigfoot’ Silva and dos Santos. Velasquez is top 5 in most categories for the division, and #1 with 6.21 SLpM and +4.52 Striking Differential. He takes down his opponents at 5.28 per 15 min. while having 88% Takedown Defense (TDD)

Werdum is a champion for the first time in his career. He has won five straight fights to get to this point including a five round destruction of Travis Browne in a title eliminator fight. His most impressive win came over legend Fedor Emilianenko after he had a 28 fight unbeaten streak. ‘Vai Cavalo’ is a ju-jitsu world champion who has transitioned into MMA very nicely. He comes in with only 1.90 SApM to go along with his 3.05 SLpM

*All records from Sherdog.com

**All stats from FightMetric.com

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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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