PELLEGRINO LOOKS INTO THE MIRROR AT UFC 88
Ultimate Fighting Championship lightweight Kurt Pellegrino is the midst of his own personal transition period.
After years of training and fighting out of Florida, under the eye of other people, Pellegrino has struck out on a new path, returning to his native New Jersey in hopes of rebuilding a career that has always seemingly been on the cusp of something big, but never quite breaking through.
Eager to put the memory of his most recent outing behind him, he has stepped up to face an equally difficult challenge in Thiago Tavares at the upcoming UFC 88 in Atlanta.
“I’m real excited to get my feet back in the octagon,” stated Pellegrino. “I’m looking to erase that loss (to Nate Diaz at UFC Fight Night 13 in April) with a big win over Thiago.
“That’s why I suggested this fight; was to move on and not fight a lesser opponent, but in my eyes, fight an extremely dangerous and tough fighter.”
As he puts it, having a good showing and getting back on the winning track against Tavares is imperative for his career.
Josh Burkman Feeling Pressure to Win at UFC 90
Saying Josh Burkman has been inconsistent in his UFC tenure could be an understatement. He has a 5-4 record in the Octagon, including two straight losses to Mike Swick and more recently to Dustin Hazelett. “This is a big fight for me. I’m coming off 2 losses in a row and my contract is coming up in Nov. So there is some serious pressure to win.” Burkman recently said via his MySpace blog.
Since his season 2 appearance on “The Ultimate Fighter” reality series, Burkman has become one of the more well known fighters from the show but success in the Octagon hasn’t followed.
It’s hard to complain about losing to the likes of Jon Fitch and Karo Parisyan but Burkman didn’t looked too impressive in his losses to Swick or Hazelett. To Burkman’s defense though, it could be argued that he really won the fight with Swick.
Burkman has made changes to his training for his upcoming fight with Pete Sell at UFC 90. “I’ll do the majority of my training in Las Vegas at Xtreme Courture,” Burkman continued.
Quach, Murphy Withdraw from ShoXC
Bao Quach and Jon Murphy have both withdrawn from their respective bouts at the latest edition of ShoXC: Elite Challenger Series, which is scheduled to take place at the Chumash Casino in Santa Ynez, California on September 26th, according to reports by Five Ounces of Pain and MMA Junkie.
Quach, who was slated to take on skilled grappler Wilson Reis for EliteXC’s vacant featherweight title, has been forced off the card after suffering a “facial injury” during a recent training session. A timetable for his return is unknown at this time.
MMA on Tap has since confirmed with EliteXC Vice President Jared Shaw that King of the Cage flyweight champion Abel Cullum will move up in weight to challenge Reis for the belt.
Wolfslair manager comments on signing of "Rampage" Jackson
The life of Quinton "Rampage" Jackson has been bizarre recently, to say the least.
Struggles in the courtroom and a parting with coach and mentor Juanito Ibarra have left the former UFC light heavyweight champion's life chaotic.
Recently Jackson announced he had inked a deal with Wolfslair management. The British-based gym is home to UFC fighters Michael Bisping and Paul Kelly, as well as several other highly regarded U.K. prospects.
Manager of the stable Anthony McGann recently spoke to MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) on the formation of Jackson's new deal.
"We have had a relationship with Quinton for a while now, so that made this arrangement possible," McGann said. "We became friends when he came over for a seminar which never happened, and he ended up staying at my house.
MACHIDA THE NEXT LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT CONTENDER?
Undefeated light heavyweight Lyoto Machida quietly entered the Ultimate Fighting Championship in December of 2006 as an asset of the defunct World Fighting Alliance and quickly became the dark horse of his weight division. Former UFC light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz begrudgingly fought the last fight of his contract against Machida at UFC 84 in May and was sent packing by the Brazilian’s methodical attack. Casual fans finally took notice of Machida’s threat.
His methodical nature is a blessing and a curse. The UFC’s marquee division is short on undefeated contenders – everyone has a blemish on their record. But Machida’s patient, karate-infused style, along with his native Portugese tounge, has not made him an easy subject to market, or an easy fighter to book. He remains the aficionado’s choice of light heavyweights.
Machida’s next challenge is against Thiago Silva at UFC 89 on Oct. 18 in Birmingham, England. Silva, another wrecking ball of a Brazilian with Machida’s 13-0 record, has torn through all but one of his four UFC opponents with strikes. It’s a good fight for Machida, but manager Ed Soares said he expected his client to get a title shot after defeating Ortiz.
NOGUEIRA HANGING TUF, PREPARING FOR MIR
Season 8 of “The Ultimate Fighter” will be starting on Sept. 17 with Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Frank Mir as coaches. This season will feature lightweights and light heavyweights looking to become the next emerging star in the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Nogueira defeated Tim Sylvia back in February to become the interim UFC heavyweight champion and has not fought since. He will take his years of wisdom and experience and implement them to the fortunate members of his team this season. Helping with the coaching duties will be some of the best in the business as UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva and top light heavyweight contender Lyoto Machida will be there to assist. “I'm sure you'll see them pop on there,” said Nogueira's manager, Ed Soares.
Nogueira has been involved in some of the most memorable match-ups in mixed martial arts history. His unbelievable victories over Bob Sapp and Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic were some of the most exciting fights ever in the sport.
2008 OLYMPIAN BEN ASKREN CONSIDERING MMA
Ben Askren, a 2008 Olympic wrestler, who just returned from the Beijing Olympics will soon decide if he will continue to work toward the 2012 games in London or make a move into the sport of mixed martial arts.
The University of Missouri wrestler, who won the 2006 and 2007 NCAA National Championship in wrestling in the 174-pound weight class, is a long time fan of the sport and sees the level of competition he could face as a whole new challenge.
“I see it as the ultimate competition, one man against another man, very limited rules, and the toughest guy wins. So that’s definitely what I like about it,” said Askren during an appearance on MMAWeekly Radio.
He competed at 174 pounds while in college and at 163 pounds while in the Olympics, but he said if fighting is his ultimate choice, he would compete in the 170-pound welterweight division.
MMA VETERAN PELE SIGNS WITH RAW COMBAT
Following a devastating injury in his last fight, Brazilian fighter Jose “Pele” Landi-Jons has signed on with RAW Combat in Canada, as announced by the promotion this week.
Pele suffered a broken leg during his fight against Brian Gassaway in February 2008, in which the fighter’s shin snapped completely in half, sending him crashing to the mat in agonizing pain.
Questions began to circle immediately if Pele could ever return to action, but that inquiry has now ended with his new deal with RAW Combat.
"I am 100% in boxing, wrestling and jiu-jitsu," explains Landi-Jons. "I'm relaxed. I helped make this sport. The old fans know me from a long time ago. Now I'm sending a message to the new fans. I am a Samurai. I'm not afraid of anything. I'll fight anyone."
During his impressive career, Pele has defeated the likes of Matt Hughes and Pat Miletich and boasts two wins in kickboxing over current UFC middleweight kingpin Anderson Silva.
Sources: Couture versus Emelianenko targeted for early 2009
The long-rumored heavyweight superfight between UFC champion Randy Couture (16-8 MMA, 8-5 UFC) and WAMMA champion Fedor Emelianenko (28-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC) is currently being discussed for an as-yet-unspecified date in January or February of 2009.
Sources inside Couture's Xtreme Couture camp today informed MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) of the ongoing negotiations between the UFC and both fighters.
The fight is far from a done deal. Many of the same issues that prevented Emelianenko from signing with the UFC during previous negotiations must still be ironed out. But it appears that the UFC and representatives for both Couture and Emelianenko are working towards bringing the two legends together for a Feb. 2 bout.
Climbing Back: MMAmania.com exclusive UFC 88 interview with Dan Henderson
When I caught up with Henderson, he shed some light on his fight with Silva, his upcoming opponent, and the reasons he misses PRIDE.
Adam Wagner (MMAmania.com): I first wanted to get your take on the whole middleweight/light heavyweight thing. I’ve read on more than one occasion that you reportedly would prefer fighting at 205. Is this true?
Dan Henderson: Well, I prefer not to cut weight, and I compete just as well there as I do at 185, so …
Adam Wagner (MMAmania.com): So it’s just because cutting weight sucks?
Dan Henderson: Well, I have fun fighting no matter what. But I do just as well at 205 as I do at 185. So yeah … just cutting weight isn’t the funnest thing to do.
Adam Wagner (MMAmania.com): Did the UFC ask you to stay at middleweight for the time being?
Dan Henderson: No, they didn’t ask. I told them that I wanted to try to get a rematch with Anderson Silva. So they left me down at that weight class, but they didn’t give me an opponent that would expedite that … just because nobody knows him. Not because he’s not tough, just because nobody knows him.
Diaz camp responds to KJ Noons' statements
On Noons’ claim that Elite XC failed to promote his boxing career, as promised:
1) Earth to KJ; you don’t have a boxing career. No one in the boxing world knows who you are. 2) Another MMA company would have paid you less and not given you a title shot, especially when you were 1-1. 3) If you will not fight Diaz due to a breach of contract by EliteXC then why would you fight Alvarez for the same terms?
On Noons’ insistence that Elite XC isn’t promoting him, instead asking Diaz to sign baseball cards for the DVD of their fight:
1) Nick Diaz, Jake Shields and Frank Shamrock were flown in to shoot an instructional trailer on grappling for the CBS show. The signings were an after thought. You weren’t flown in because you aren’t a grappler. We are sure they will fly you in if they need an instructional on whining. 2) Your contract was for Showtime. Diaz and Shields both signed longer deals for CBS. Nathan Diaz signed a special long term contract for Spike TV etc…This is a business not Burger King, you can’t have it ‘your way’.
Couture vs. Lesnar in November?
Various online reports in recent days have surfaced claiming that disgruntled UFC heavyweight champion Randy Couture has been involved in negotiations with Zuffa about a possible return to the promotion.
Adding additional fuel to those reports is Michael Rome of BloodyElbow.com, who reported Friday that he had confirmed negotiations are indeed taking place between Couture and the UFC. And as first mentioned by FiveOuncesOfPain.com on Thursday, Rome also adds that Couture’s first fight back with the company could take place at UFC 91 on November 15 in Portland, Oregon against Brock Lesnar. It is unclear whether the Couture vs. Lesnar fight would have a title at stake.
2008 OLYMPIAN BEN ASKREN CONSIDERING MMA
Ben Askren, a 2008 Olympic wrestler, who just returned from the Beijing Olympics will soon decide if he will continue to work toward the 2012 games in London or make a move into the sport of mixed martial arts. The University of Missouri wrestler, who won the 2006 and 2007 NCAA National Championship in wrestling in the 174-pound weight class, is a long time fan of the sport and sees the level of competition he could face as a whole new challenge.
Sounds interesting, could we possibly add some more depth to the UFC welterweight division if he went to UFC?
Overeem: Cro Cop Bout 'Definitely Happening'
Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem (Pictures) confirmed to Sherdog.com that he will meet former Pride Open Weight Grand Prix winner Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic (Pictures) at Dream 6 on Sept. 23 at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan.
No contract signed yet, but this would be a pretty big boost for DREAM if it gets done.
Arum Flogs the UFC
As he was finishing up his promotion of the Miguel Cotto-Antonio Margarito fight, which by all accounts was a nice success for his company (Top Rank Inc.), boxing promoter Bob Arum was heard to say, “It’s tough selling tickets in this economy. The UFC guys say they sell out but that’s bullshit. What they do is give away the tickets and pay the 4% tax so they can say it’s sold out. Trust me, it’s not.”
Arum made reference to what he said was the UFC’s “business model,” which included not only misrepresenting the ticket sales for the sake of image, but also its monopolistic practices.
Henderson on Comeback Trail
Just a year ago, Dan Henderson was sitting on top of the MMA world. He was the only fighter to ever simultaneously hold two title belts, the PrideFC 185-pound and 205-pound crowns. In a short 12-month span, Henderson has since lost his last two bouts, as well as both of his titles in the process. Henderson now looks to get his career back on the winning track at the tender age of 38.
After the UFC officially purchased PrideFC nearly two years ago, they brought Henderson and his two titles over to unify the belts. Unfortunately for Henderson, instead of solidifying his status as the king in both divisions, he found himself searching for answers.
“I don’t think anyone else has had as tough a first two fights back in the UFC as I have, and that’s the way I prefer it,” Henderson stated. “I want to fight the best in the world, to test my skills and see how I am. You win some, you lose some—unfortunately, I’ve lost the last two. I’m definitely going out there this fight [with Palhares] to win and take nothing less than winning.”
Evans Ready for Battle with Iceman
Rashad Evans is spoiling for a fight. The unbeaten light-heavyweight has not seen action since November, with injuries to possible opponents playing havoc with his schedule.
Evans' wait will be over Sept. 6 in Atlanta, when the mixed martial arts fighter, winner of Season 2 ofThe Ultimate Fighterreality TV show, faces off against MMA icon and former champion Chuck "The Iceman" Liddell at UFC 88: Breakthrough.
"A lot of unfortunate circumstances happened. But it only makes you stronger as a fighter," Evans said of his recent bumpy road. "It tests your will.
"I've been training since, man, since the beginning of the year. I've been training for a while for this fight."
Initially, Evans was preparing for a May bout with Brazilian Thiago Silva. Then he was brought in to replace the injured Mauricio "Shogun" Rua against Liddell at UFC 85: bedlam in London on June 7. But that fell by the wayside when Liddell tore his hamstring training in April. James "Sandman" Irvin was brought in as a replacement opponent, but then broke his foot.
"Roller-coaster, man," Evans said. "It's just been crazy. It's kind of disheartening at times.
"You just have to constantly readjust your focus and keep your eyes on the prize and know that it's just a business. Sometimes it's like that."
Evans eventually dropped off the UFC 85: Bedlam bill totally, taking a two-week break to rest his body. Then it was back to training - and biding his time until Liddell was healthy again.
Joachim Hansen Living The DREAM
Fresh from winning the won the DREAM lightweight grand prix in Japan last month, Joachim ‘Hellboy’ Hansen was in a good mood when Fighters Only caught up with him earlier today.
The Norwegian first shot to fame when he beat Japanese standout Takanori Gomi at a Shooto fight in 2003, becoming both the first man to beat Gomi and the first Scandinavian fighter to hold a world title (the Shooto World Welterweight Championship).
“I think it was good for my career because Gomi was unbeaten till that point,” he says with typical understatement.
But his pleasure at being the first man to defeat the highly-regarded Gomi paled in comparison to the feeling of winning the DREAM grand prix. He smiles as he recalls the feeling of taking first place in a hard fought competition.
Hardy: ''I'll stop Gono In two Rounds
Dan Hardy expects to stop PRIDE FC veteran Akihiro Gono inside two rounds when they meet at UFC 89 in October.
Hardy will be making his UFC debut at the event, which will take place in Birmingham, around an hour’s drive from his home city of Nottingham.
Addressing Gono via his blog, Hardy wrote: “Birmingham is a long way to travel to from Japan just to get your backside kicked in two rounds!”
Hardy is not being disrespectful towards Gono – he knows that the Japanese fighter represents a tough test.
“That the UFC is putting me in the Octagon with a fighter as respected as Gono in my very first fight with them tells me that they know I've got the potential to go a long way,” he says.