Cain Velasquez savors big-fight opportunity
The former Pac-10 All-American wrestler launched his MMA career with decisive victories in Strikeforce and BodogFIGHT in a span of just over two months in 2006. Showing signs that the transition from wrestler to fighter was quickly taking hold, the Salinas, Calif. born Velasquez stopped both opponents by TKO within the first five minutes.
Velasquez, now 25, spent the next year looking for another chance to prove he belonged in the UFC.
"We were trying to get some fights locally to build my record, get some ring time and get to the UFC," he said. "We couldn't find any fights. We just had bad luck. ... Shows would get canceled; guys would back out of fights. We had about six or seven fights that didn't happen that we were getting ready for."
Undaunted, Velasquez continued to plug away in the gym. The education major graduated as a two-time wrestling All-American from Arizona State and relocated to San Jose in August 2006 to train with American Kickboxing Academy. Lacking additional fights to showcase Velasquez's talent, AKA's Bob Cook used his connections to take the heavyweight directly to the UFC's decision maker.
"Me and 'Crazy' Bob went to Vegas and took a couple of other guys and trained in front of Dana White," Velasquez said. "I'm not going to lie to you; I felt a lot of pressure to perform, but once I was there, I felt really good and training went well."
The grappling-and-sparring "audition" late last year at the UFC training center with Christian Wellisch and Mike Kyle impressed White enough that he signed Velasquez to a four-bout contract, and Velasquez finally had another fight. He looked sharp in his UFC debut, with a first-round TKO of Australia's Brad Morris at UFC 83 in April.
For an encore, Velasquez (3-0) has landed on Saturday's UFC Fight Night 14 card on Spike TV in a supporting role to the Anderson Silva-James Irvin headliner. He's set to face another wrestling-bred fighter in Jake O'Brien (10-2 MMA, 4-1 UFC), who's getting a second shot in the UFC after being cut earlier this year.
"This is a great opportunity," Velasquez said. "It's another step up the ladder and getting me closer to achieving my goals. I think I'm a lot more comfortable with my hands, and if I can stop his shots, I'll return with some hands and kicks."
Even though Velasquez's only previous exposure to boxing was hitting the heavy bag as a kid with his father by his side, learning the standup game has come naturally. Velasquez feels at home on his feet and initiating exchanges with opponents. However, while that adjustment has "come pretty easily" for Velasquez, learning the ins and outs of jiu-jitsu hasn't been quite as smooth. At this point, he's only two years into fulltime MMA training and isn't in a hurry to rush through learning the finer points of the sport's multiple disciplines.
In addition to the time spent on grappling, sparring and technique, Velasquez has been focused on becoming a more powerful fighter through specialized work with Joe Grasso, who runs the Elite Fitness gym in San Jose.
"I think my power (in striking) has improved a lot," Velasquez said. "Once I started with Joe, I felt like my power increased tremendously in a short period of time. We're doing a lot of explosive stuff to get my power up in both my punches and kicks."
While Velasquez once considered coaching wrestling as a career option, with his immediate future now mapped out in the UFC, he's committed himself to being a fighter, and he's planning for championship-level success. With only three pro fights to his name, he already has a publicist scheduling his interviews with the media.
C.B. Dollaway in another must-win situation
"The Doberman," favored by many to win the seventh season "The Ultimate Fighter," instead went out with a whimper, suffering back-to-back losses to the unheralded Amir Sadollah. Due to the rules used in the filming of the reality show, only one of the losses was an official fight for Dollaway. That technicality doesn't make this weekend any less important.
"It was pretty disappointing," Dollaway told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) of his feelings of the finale loss. "That was one of the toughest training camps I've ever had. I worked my butt off, and then to have it end so quickly, it was real disappointing."
After that first-round loss in the finale to Sadollah via arm bar, the same technique used to finish Dollaway in the season's semifinals, the 24-year-old is excited to return to the octagon in the main card of this weekend's UFC Fight Night 14 for a shot at redemption.
"It's great to get back in," Dollaway said. "I didn't really have to do a whole training camp over again to compete, to get back in there again."
Dollaway's opponent, Jesse Taylor, also returns to the octagon under somewhat shaky conditions. Despite qualifying for the season's finale, Taylor was removed from the show after an alcohol-induced night of destructive antics.
Dollaway said he supports the decision to bring Taylor back to the UFC, and he feels the bout provided a favorable match-up.
"It didn't really bother me, [Taylor] coming back," said Dollaway, who blogged about "TUF" experience for MMAjunkie.com . "It's a good match-up for me. I think that my strengths are better than his, where he's strongest -- in wrestling."
After the consecutive submission losses, many questioned Dollaway's defensive capabilities on the ground. The Arizona Combat Sports-trained fighter believes the issues in question have been resolved.
"It's something that needed to be fixed," Dollaway said of the issue. "It's one of those things when mixing punches in with jiu-jitsu, sometimes you leave yourself vulnerable. When I'm just doing straight jiu-jitsu, I don't ever have a problem with it. When I am throwing punches, I tend to leave myself vulnerable sometimes. It's just something I had to work on."
Dollaway will be looking to avoid his third-straight loss in the UFC, a mark that would almost certainly spell his release from the organization in which he was once expected to figure so prominently. But Dollaway insists the pressure on him is no different than any other fight.
"I don't go in there to lose," Dollaway said. "So every fight is a must-win situation. ... (I plan on) going out there and going after it, and trying to make for an exciting fight."
Chris Lytle inks UFC contract extension, UFC 89 bout with Paul Taylor
"The Ultimate Fighter 4" runner-up and longtime UFC fighter Chris Lytle (25-16-5 MMA, 4-8 UFC) has signed a four-fight contract extension with the UFC and has also signed to fight Paul Taylor (9-3-1 MMA, 2-2 UFC) at UFC 89.
His manager, Ken Pavia, confirmed the deals with MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) on Tuesday.
UFC 89 takes place Oct. 18 at The NIA in Birmingham, England.
"The UFC expressed satisfaction with his past performances, and they extended his deal by four fights," Pavia said. "Chris has a home in the UFC. He's comfortable fighting for the UFC. Both sides will benefit from the deal. We're very happy with it."
Lytle, a nine-year veteran who made his octagon debut in 2000, most recently suffered a unanimous-decision loss to Josh Koscheck earlier this month at UFC 86.
However, after a spirited loss to Thiago Alves in November, Lytle essentially promised to throw caution to the wind. He said calculated game plans made for boring fights, and his two bouts since then -- a February knockout victory over Kyle Bradley and the loss to Koscheck -- have shown streaks of that carefree attitude.
"He appreciate the types of match-ups [UFC officials] have given him," Pavia said. "Chris has re-devoted himself to being exciting, and the UFC has provided him opponents who let him do that. ... Chris' sole goal is to entertain fans."
His next opportunity will come against Taylor, a British fighter who's competed in four consecutive UFC U.K. events. After opening his UFC career with a TKO of Edilberto de Oliveira, Taylor suffered back-to-back losses to Marcus Davis and Paul Kelly.
Knowing the fight was a must-win, he then scored a split-decision victory over Jess Liaudin in June at UFC 85.
Jake Rosholt vs Danillo Villefort WEC 36 fight set for September 10
UFC President Dana White got his man … sorta.
Former three-time NCAA Oklahoma State University Wrestling champion Jake Rosholt has inked a contract to compete in the Zuffa-owned World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) promotion.
Rosholt –- who is undefeated as a mixed martial artist (4-0) since he turned pro more than one year ago -– is widely regarded as the top 185-pound prospect around. In fact, White recently gushed over the Team Takedown talent in a recent interview with ESPN The Magazine.
Here’s the quick snip:
“He’s the real deal.”
Rosholt was reportedly approached about competing on this season of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF); however, the Spike TV reality series features light heavyweights and lightweights. And Rosholt was apparently not interested in moving up 20 pounds to showcase skills.
Who can blame him with that kind of talent and upside. Besides, it all seems to have worked out for the best.
Rosholt has been on the sidelines with an injured hand after a third round technical knockout win over Chad Jay during an Extreme Fighting League middleweight match back in March. He has finished all four of his opponents thus far and will look to do the same when he makes his WEC debut on September 10.
MMAmania.com has learned that his first test will be Danillo Villefort. “Indio” has also won his last four fights, including a submission (kneebar) over Mike Massenzio at an IFL back in May.
Expect to hear a lot of hype around Rosholt. And if he’s successful in his debut there will be a lot of talk that he will soon challenge Paulo Filho or the champion for his strap.
He’s that good.
WEC 36 features the rematch between Filho and Chael Sonnen, as well as featherweight champion Urijah Faber putting his 145-pound belt on the line against Mike Brown.
For an extensive piece on Rosholt check out this story on Yahoo!Sports.com.
Razor Rob's latest blog
Former WEC lightweight champ Razor Rob McCullough is writing a weekly blog for the OC Register. Rob blogged about the elation of finding out his girlfriend was pregnant on his first blog. Last week he found out his girlfriend had a miscarriage. Check what Rob had to say about how he is dealing with the situation:
'The Fire' Inside Kevin Burns
It made perfect sense. With only six professional bouts under his belt, Kevin Burns was a massive underdog going into his UFC 85 fight against emerging contender Roan Carneiro. Instead of getting tapped by the Brazilian jiu-jitsu maestro, however, Burns wound up submitting him via triangle choke midway through the second round.
A phantom welterweight from Iowa had tapped out a submission guru. Suddenly fans were introduced to "The Fire."
Miami New Times Rips MMA.... Calls it "Gay"
"A trio of women in their midtwenties is huddled in a dark booth in a corner of Gatsby's (8575 SW 124th Ave., Miami, 305-412-2220). Most of the bar is amped, but these women sit far from all the beer and chest pounding. Staring quietly at a cartoonish Britto-inspired mural, they curl their stiff fingers around the stems of sweating martini glasses.
Our husbands forced us to come," says a mousy blonde with the stylized Hispanic accent you find only in Miami's suburbs.
On a gargantuan screen, two fighters roll around on the floor, twisting each another into a knot of slippery, glistening flesh. One wraps his muscular legs around his opponent's rippled waist. It's the Ultimate Fighting Championship — "human cockfighting" to John McCain, and one of the most popular things on cable.
"It's gay," all three women say as they roll their eyes in unison.
John Hackleman: "I'm not going to quit if Chuck doesn't win!"
was pretty stupid actually to say that. It takes away any kind of credibility. It's like a little kid, 'No, I didn't say you could have that.' Yeah, it was pretty lame and then he says he didn't mean he was going to retire from MMA, he meant from being a longshore man… I just don't think it was very Christian and it was kind of tacky," stated Pit Boss John Hackleman as he shared his thoughts on Juanito Ibarra's claim that he would retire if Rampage lost to Forrest Griffin
UPDATED Police: "Rampage" goes on one
Driver hits at least three cars during chase that begins on 55 freeway and ends with arrest on Balboa Peninsula.
Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, former light heavyweight champion of the Ultimate Fighter Championships, was arrested on suspicion of felony evading, hit-and-run and reckless driving Tuesday after he allegedly led police on a pursuit from Costa Mesa to Newport Beach, police said.
FRANK TRIGG RETURNS AT SENGOKU 4
World Victory Road on Tuesday confirmed an August 24 bout between Frank Trigg and Makoto Takimoto at Sengoku IV. The event takes place at Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan.
The bout marks the first action for Trigg since he defeated fellow UFC veteran Edwin Dewees at HDNet Fights in December of last year. Since departing the UFC in late 2005, he has fought sparingly, but made it to the semi-final round of the Rumble on the Rock Welterweight Grand Prix and held the ICON Sport middleweight title for a brief period.
Takimoto is an Olympic Judo gold medalist with little mixed martial arts experience, although he does have victories over former UFC champion Murilo Bustamante and Dong Sik Yoon on his resume. His last bout was a loss to Evangelista “Cyborg” Santos in March of this year at the first Sengoku event.
The only other bout officially announced for Sengoku IV is Peter Graham vs. Moise Rimbon. Former Pride lightweight champion Takanori Gomi is confirmed to be participating on the card, but an opponent has yet to be named.
TOKORO VS YAMAZAKI ADDED TO DREAM 5
Hideo Tokoro has been added to the fifth installment of Dream, which will be held on July 21 at the Osaka Castle Hall in Japan. The “Cinderella Boy” is slated to face Grabaka fighter Takeshi Yamazaki. The fight will be held at the featherweight limit.
Tokoro is coming off of a unanimous decision victory over newcomer Darren Uyenoyama at Dream 4. The match-up was highly considered the most entertaining fight of the event. Takeshi Yamazaki recently made a successful Dream debut, defeating Pancrase champion Shoji Maruyama in the opening bout at Dream 3.
Roger Huerta Talks Fight Preparation - Calls Out BJ Penn
Roger Huerta made the following statement via myspace bulletin:
"I feel really good mentally at this point, a month before I fight Kenny Florian at UFC 87. I feel relaxed and very knowledgeable as well, and I think that comes from being blessed with the guys I’ve been training with.
I flew to Denver, Colorado last week to train with Trevor Wittman. I’m here training with one of the best boxing coaches there is. I came here a week before Nate (Marquardt) fought in London to help him before his fight, and at the same time I got to know Trevor, who did some mitt work with me and helped me out. I fell in love with his training methods and his work as a striking coach and I knew that I had found my boxing coach. So I’m out here now and learning from him. I’ll be here until the 13th of July, and then we’ll all head down to New Mexico to work with Greg Jackson and Georges St-Pierre, and Nate will be coming down as well.
Alexandre “Pequeno” Nogueira: It Was the Goat’s Fault…
After testing positive for steroids under the watch of the California State Athletic Commission, one-time featherweight king Alexandre “Pequeno” Nogueira will now have to wait until next summer to be able to fight again, and it might actually be a goat’s fault according to the Brazilian.
In a recent interview with Tatame Magazine, Nogueira alleges that the positive test may have stemmed from tainted meat, from a cow or goat, that he ate in a restaurant while traveling and doing seminars prior to his loss to Jose Aldo at WEC 34 last month.
“I never used anything and should not use this type of rough steroid,” Nogueira said in the interview. “If I used something it would be growth hormones, which is what every top athlete usually uses. I took the usual supplements - Glutamine, Creatine and Myoplex.”
Cain Velasquez receives high praise from AKA trainer Javier Mendez
In Dave Meltzer’s latest column at Yahoo! Sports, he profiles up and coming heavyweight talent Cain Velasquez. Velasquez trains out of American Kickboxing Academy alongside talents such as Josh Koscheck, Mike Swick, and Jon Fitch. He was an All-American wrestler at Arizona State and is arguably the best heavyweight prospect in the UFC today (sorry, Shane Carwin). We all know how coaches talk their fighters up and how people from the same camp talk their teammates up, but coming from Javier Mendez, the head trainer at AKA, this is pretty high praise:
“Right now, he could walk in and be a good pro boxer,” said Mendez about someone who, aside from fooling around with gloves with some friends, had never even put on boxing gloves until August 2006. “He could not only be a good kickboxer, but he’s K-1 level (the Japanese group which is top organization for heavyweights in the world). He won a world championship in Jiu Jitsu (World No Gi world champion in the blue belt division in late 2007, 17 months after his first class). He’s the fastest learner I’ve ever had. And nobody trains harder. He trains harder than the lightweights.”