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“This Week in MMA History” UFC 52: The Beginning of the UFC’s Golden Age

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While MMA has not been around as long as most major sports, it is no longer the red head step-child of the sports world. We have been enjoying this sport for almost 25 years depending on who you ask, and now it is time that we look back on the historical nights that we have witnessed. In “This Week in History” we will take you back to the fights of yesteryear and examine their lasting impact on the sport that we love so much. This is the first installment and in it, we will cover a night that changed the landscape of the MMA world and helped to usher in what I like to think of as the first golden era on MMA. So get ready to get nostalgic with us once a week as we remember the great fighters and fights that made MMA what it is today.

UFC 52: Couture vs. Liddell

Set at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, April 16, 2005 might have been the most epic night in all of MMA history. Ahead of this main event title match, Randy Couture and Chuck Liddell had served as coaches on the first ever “The Ultimate Fighter.” The show was a pivotal turning point for the company. If TUF Finale was the show that saved the UFC, this was the PPV that coincided with that resurrection. At the time this event was the highest-grossing UFC event ever with a live gate of $2,575,450.

Couture, former 2 time UFC Heavyweight Champion, had just won his UFC Light Heavyweight title back after losing it to Vitor Belfort at UFC 46 via doctor’s stoppage due to a severely cut eyelid and he had already defeated Liddell for the interim belt at UFC 43. Liddell was quoted as saying that he had “underestimated” Couture in their first meeting, causing him to neglect his cardio training. He vowed to not make that mistake again. At the time of this fight, Couture was at the middle of a messy divorce with his second wife, and mother to his three kids, Tricia. Couture later admitted that the divorce caused himself not to be able physically and mentally apply himself the way that usually did during training camp, and he felt that reflected in his ability to perform to his fullest potential inside of the cage that night. This was a highly anticipated rematch due to the exposure on TUF that drew in more casual fans than any PPV before it.

The fight itself was a short one. During a clinch at the beginning of the round Couture complained about being poked in the eye. The crowd and fans watching at home held their collective breath, hoping that there was not another freak injury like the one we had seen in Couture’s first fight against Belfort. The fight was stopped and after over a minute of examination, the doctor said that Randy was fine to continue. When the fight was restarted Couture, seemingly mad from the infraction, dashed towards his opponent throwing a flurry of punches and was caught with by a punch that hurt, but did not drop the champion. In true “Captain America” style Couture continued to come forward attempting to land shots of his own. Liddell back pedaled and kept his composer, waiting to land the more precise blows and he did just that in the form of a straight right that sent Couture down, laying on his right side and not defending himself. A few follow-up punches, and Big Jon called a stop to the contest at just over 2 minutes. Liddell was now the new champion.

770 days later Quentin Jackson knocked him out with a right hook after a second ill-advised lead punch to the body at UFC 71. That loss would signal the beginning of the end of the “Iceman’s” career as he would only win one more bout against Wanderlei Silva in 2007 and suffer three knockouts in a row to end his career. He had made 4 title defenses and was the poster boy for the UFC during it’s meteoric resurgence to mainstream America.

Couture would lose the rubber match with Liddell 10 months later but go on to win the UFC Heavyweight Title for a third time his very next fight against Tim Sylvia. He stands as the only 5 time UFC Champion, the only fighter to hold any one UFC title 3 times, the only 3 time UFC Heavyweight Champion and the only man to ever regain the UFC Light Heavyweight title.

Not to be overlooked on the card was another rematch between UFC Welterweight Champion Matt Hughes versus Frank Trigg. Their first fight had been at UFC 45 and was also for the title. Hughes won that contest with a standing rear naked choke in the first round that left Trigg unconscious. He lost his title to BJ Penn in his next fight and regained by beating Georges St. Pierre after the title had been vacated when Penn left the company to compete for K-1. This fight was to be the first defense of his second title reign.

Just like their first fight, this one did not make it out of the first round. When Hughes was hit with a low blow in the groin early in the contest, he looked to the referee for assistance, but the ref had not seen the foul. Sensing his opponent was not 100 percent, and seeing that he was not protecting himself while complaining to the official, Trigg launched an pugilistic attack that staggered Hughes and sent the fight to the canvas. “Twinkle Toes” started a in with a ground and pound volley and then went for a rear naked choke as Hughes gave up his back as a result from the assault. The Champion struggled to fend off the submission attempt for almost two minutes, but once he finally freed himself, the immensely strong wrestler from Illinois lifted Trigg into the air, carried him across the Octagon and slammed him to the ground. It was, and is still, one of the most memorable slams in the history of MMA. Now it was Hughes’ turn to show his ground and pound skills before securing his title with a rear naked choke of his own.

There will not come a day when this fight is not in the conversation for top 5 of comebacks of all time. In 2015 this bout became the first fight to be ever be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame. Dana White, a longtime boxing fan, has been quoted as saying it was not only his favorite fight in all of MMA, but of any type of fight in general.

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

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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.

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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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