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UFC 203 – The Perils of a Hometown Advantage

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Every fighter will try their best to defuse the situation when asked is their added pressure associated with a certain fight. “It’s just a fight” is thrown out religiously in combat sports and while the contest immediately in front of an athlete is always the most pressing there are certain situations in an athlete’s career where added pressure is certainly present. For reigning heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic UFC203 has the potential to be one of these situations.

The opportunity to fight in front of one’s hometown can be viewed as a blessing as well as a curse. This is the cauldron of pressure that Miocic will step into this Saturday as he faces Alistair Overeem at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio.

The sport of mixed martial arts has had some revered champions in the past. These men and women are appreciated by the fans for a number of reasons, be it , an entertaining style, an outspoken personality or a combination of both. The most striking characteristic that can be attributed to the likes of Anderson Silva, Ronda Rousey and Georges St- Pierre that separates them from the rest, is their unique ability to perform whether or not they are walking into the lion’s den of an unforgiving crowd or in front of favorable home support.

GSP is the perfect example of this. Throughout his illustrious run as UFC welterweight champion, some of St Pierre’s greatest performances took place in front of thousands of home fans urging their champion on with fervor. GSP unified the welterweight title in Montreal against Matt Serra. He would go on to defend the belt four more times in Canada to cement his legacy as the sport’s biggest star, becoming a household name in the Great White North in the process.

While he smashed some of the UFC’s attendance records for his fights in Canada, Georges also beat a who’s who of welterweight greats in the US proving his physical and mental dominance in both situations. His continuous display of mental fortitude in the line of fire was an integral part of who Georges’ was a champion and why he is still loved to this day.

Stipe Miocic has experienced one side of this double edged sword so far. In 2015 the Croatian-American brutalized Mark Hunt in Adelaide Australia, the Super Samoan’s back yard.

The Heavyweight Champion put on a show in Curitiba, Brazil this past May when he downed hometown hero Fabricio Werdum with one punch, a punch that shook up the world. Miocic showed his championship mettle as he snatched the belt, shocking the 45,000 Brazilian mixed martial arts fans in attendance that had been baying for his blood throughout fight week. The lights and spectacle of a huge pay per view had certainly rattled Werdum causing him to rush in with his chin raised against one of the heavyweight division’s most talented boxers.

Almost one year prior to UFC198 Fabricio Werdum captured heavyweight gold in similar circumstances. Fighting for the title in Mexico City against Cain Velasquez was a big ask. Velasquez an American of Mexican descent held home court advantage and was already a two-time heavyweight champion at this stage. Despite the fact Werdum had captured interim gold previously in the Arena Ciudad de Mexico he would be viewed by the majority in attendance as an outsider looking to play spoiler to a Mexican crowd starved of a hero in Mixed Martial Arts.

What unfolded was a masterclass in every facet of MMA. Werdum beat Velasquez in the clinch, on the outside and in the third round pounced on a sloppy takedown attempt to wrap up a guillotine choke. Velasquez did not factor in the toll that fighting at high altitude would play and paid the price as a jubilant Werdum stunned Mexico.

When looking at these past two heavyweight championship fights two conclusions can immediately be drawn. The volatile nature of the heavyweight division can is clear for all to see. One punch can prove to be the defining moment of any fight. The second question worth looking at is; Is it an easier task to build up confidence walking into a foreign arena? A siege mentality certainly seems extremely difficult to break. With little or no pressure on a foreign challenger, it can simply allow the fighter to concentrate on the task at hand and not the magnitude of the occasion.

Just as the MMA world had begun to place Werdum’s name at the top of the sports heavyweight greats, his title reign came to a screeching halt before it had truly begun. The party for Stipe, on the other hand, had only just got going.

An avalanche of promotional work accompanied his ascension to the heavyweight throne. His title victory was the first championship won by an athlete or team from Cleveland in 52 years. Having broken the infamous “Cleveland sports curse” the champions success prompted an NBA finals victory for the Cavaliers. The cities sports scene is flourishing.

While Cleveland rides a wave of success, the familiar traps could easily have been laid for a title upset on September 10th. Miocic will have to separate himself from the 20,000 odd screaming fans to decipher the complicated puzzle that is Alistair Overeem.

If Miocic has learned anything from his experiences this past May he will not have overlooked the dangers of a hometown advantage while lavishing in its benefits. If this is the case we may well have another cause for a sporting celebration in “The Land” and Miocic may well join the list of former champions who rose to the occasion under the brightest of lights. Either way, UFC203’s main event is sure to be a cracker.

Stay tuned to MMALatestNews this week for pre and post-fight coverage of UFC203 which takes place this coming Saturday in Cleveland Ohio.


For the latest MMA news, live event coverage and more follow @mmalatestnws on Twitter.

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Interviews

Exclusive: Derek Brunson: “Anderson was definitely a little lubed up”

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Derek Brunson fought Anderson Silva back in February of this year, at UFC 208. Brunson would go on to lose the fight by controversial unanimous decision. However, the controversies didn’t stop at the questionable decision, Brunson also claims Silva was greasing during the fight. The Wilmington, North Carolina native, posted about it on Twitter a few days ago:

Speaking with MMA Latest, Brunson explained why he believes Silva was greasing during the fight. “Anderson was definitely a little lubed up. Every time I grabbed him he was just slipping out of everything, and his takedown defense was really good that night. I was definitely curious to know why he was very slippery, which I definitely think he had some kind of substance on his body. He knows I’m a wrestler obviously, he’s an old, savvy veteran, so he was definitely trying to play all the rules and be very strategic, and make it harder for a wrestler to grab him.”

Brunson is set to face Lyoto Machida come October 28, when asked about whether he was worried about Machida greasing, considering Gegard Mousasi accused him of doing so in their fight, Brunson admitted he wasn’t too worried.

Well I’m not too worried, but like I said, I put it out there because I know they’re friends and I know, obviously, that’s kind of what the guys do when they know they’re fighting a wrestler. They want to lube their body up really good to make it hard to grab hold, Anderson did a great job defending my takedowns. It’s because he was all greased up so he was able to stop a lot of them. When I grab guys in the clinch, it’s very tough for them to get away and I’m pretty good with my Greco takedown. He was pretty much pulling through my clinch when I had a tight grip on him and if you have some kind of substance on your body it’s easy to pull them.”

Neither Silva nor his management have commented on the greasing allegations. Anderson Silva makes his return against Kelvin Gastelum later this year, in China. While Brunson makes his return to the Octagon on October 28th, in Brazil, where he looks to add Lyoto Machida’s name to his impressive list of victories.

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Announcement

Ovince Saint Preux Steps in to Face Corey Anderson at UFC 217

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UFC 217 just got even more interesting. Earlier this week, Patrick Cummins pulled out of his light heavyweight matchup with Corey Anderson due to a Staph infection. Corey “Overtime” Anderson was not happy with his opponents decision, even calling out his opponent on Instagram asking how Cummins could, “call it quits so far from fight night”.

The UFC left Anderson on the card, and he found an opponent through the magic of Twitter. Ovince Saint Preux tweeted out directly to Anderson stating:

It didn’t take long for Anderson to respond agreeing to the fight, tagging Mick Maynard and Dana White in his response.

Only a few short hours later, the fight announcement came from the official UFC twitter account.

 

This top 10 Light Heavyweight matchup should add to an already amazing card coming in November at Madison Square Garden. Saint Preux is coming off of back to back wins both due to the very rare von flue choke, he finds himself ranked #7th in the latest edition of the 205-pound rankings. Corey “Overtime” Anderson is 4-2 in his last 6 fights, but is coming off a brutal first round knockout loss to Jimi Manuwa in March.

With such a exciting fight added to this card, what do you see happening November 4th?  Will Corey Anderson bounce back and look to jump into the top 5 of the rankings, or will Ovince Saint Preux go for a third straight von flue choke? Let us know.

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Announcement

*Watch* Bellator 185 Weigh in: Live Stream, Results

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Watch the live weigh-ins for Bellator 185 here.

Gegard Mousasi takes on Alexander Slemenko live this Friday night October 20th at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville CT. This is the first appearance for Mousasi in the Bellator cage as he looks to secure a title shot with a win over the very tough former Bellator champion Slemenko. Joining these men of the main card will be a pair of welterweights as Neiman Gracie from the famous Gracie BJJ family takes on Zak Bucia in the co-main event.

Full Weigh-in Results: (Updated in real time)

Main Card:

Gegard Mousasi (185) vs. Alexander Shlemenko (186)
Neiman Gracie (170.5) vs. Zak Bucia (170)
Heather Hardy (126) vs. Kristina Williams (126)
Ryan Quinn (155.5) vs. Marcus Surin (155)
Ana Julaton (125.5) vs. Lisa Blaine (122)

Preliminary Card:

Jordan Young (200) vs. Alec Hooben (194)
Costello van Steenis (185) vs. Steve Skrzat (186)
Vinicius de Jesus (170) vs. Joaquin Buckley (171)
John Beneduce (154.5) vs. Dean Hancock (155)
Timothy Wheeler (144) vs. Pete Rogers (144)
Don Shainis (150) vs. Matthew Denning (149)
Frank Sforza (149) vs. Vovka Clay (150)
Kevin Carrier (156) vs. Jose Antonio Perez (153)
John Lopez (126) vs. Billy Giovanella (125)

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