Jason Lambert looks for new life in middleweight division at UFC 88
Jason Lambert (23-8 MMA, 4-3 MMA) was riding high in 2006. Riding an eight-fight win streak, including three wins in the UFC, "The Punisher" was on top of the world.
But after three losses in his next four fights, Lambert made the decision to try the UFC's middleweight division. Lambert will make his 185 pound debut for the UFC at UFC 88 in Atlanta this Saturday night.
Lambert discussed the process for dropping to 185 pounds while a recent guest of TAGG Radio (www.taggradio.com), the official radio partner of MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com).
"After my last 205 (pound) fight I didn't go back up to my normal walk-around weight," Lambert explained. "I stayed right around 205 (pounds). So it wasn't too hard for me to start getting down to [185 pounds]."
Lambert said with two days left before weigh-ins he is already at his target weight.
"I'm not cutting right now," Lambert said. "I'm ready. I've been focusing on keeping my power and strength. I think it should be a good time for me to get down to [185 pounds]."
Lambert had fought at 185 pounds earlier in his career, but had fought excusively at 205 pounds while signed with the UFC. The North County Fight Club product had hoped for an opportunity to try a practice run at making the weight, but UFC plan changes didn't allow that luxury.
"People have been asking me if I did [a mock weight cut]," Lambert said. "I was waiting to hear from the UFC. I was asking them for a fight and they weren't getting back to me. So I didn’t think that I had a fight.
"I was waiting, and then they came back with September when I thought I was going to fight in October because they hadn't gotten back to me. So I was getting ready to do [a mock cut], and then they called. So I didn't want to do a mock one when I was starting to ramp up for a training camp. I just put it on hold and started training for the fight."
Lambert said that differences in training were necessary, but that diet was the biggest factor in reaching the lower weight class.
"I've been doing a lot of the circuits and stuff like that with my strength coach," Lambert said. "It's just real high-energy, really fast-paced circuits with all kinds of things.
"I've had a dietitian for a while, I just never listened to him. I just had to pay a little more attention to what he was telling me. Just be smart about it so I'm not having to cut too much and killing myself."
In addition to dealing with a new weight class, Lambert was also forced to deal with an opponent change just three weeks out from the fight. Lambert's original opponent, Jason Day, was forced off the card due to an arm injury and veteran middleweight Jason MacDonald filled in.
Lambert said the change was not an issue.
"[Opponent changes] are just part of the business," Lambert said. "Things like that happen, so you can't let it just completely rattle you. You've just got to be ready for it.
"You can kick and throw a tantrum and all that, but it's not going to do you any good. Re-focus on who you've got now and get back in there in the gym. Maybe tweak some things mentally. But typically you prepare the same for anybody. It's usually just mostly mental for me -- doing the visualizations and things like that with whoever I'm going to be fighting."
Lambert has suffered through a tough stretch in his recent bouts. But the recent struggles haven't deterred him from wanting to put on a great show for the fans.
"I want to go out there and excite the fans," Lambert said. "I always have had exciting fights, and I'm always looking to be fight of the night. I do get a little bit nervous, but it's more so the fact that I want to have a really good showing."
Lambert hopes to excite a ground that he knows has the potential of being quite loud.
"I anticipate a crazy crowd," Lambert said. "I think my fight with (Renato) 'Babalu' (Sobral) was the first fight in Ohio, and that place was a zoo. I couldn't believe the streets -- everywhere was just packed. It was just crazy.
"I'm expecting it to be like that here. Because anytime it's the first time [the UFC] comes to a place, usually it's pretty crazy."
UFC Quick Quote: Rich Franklin didn’t want to be a middleweight gatekeeper
“I was talking to the UFC after the second [Anderson] Silva loss and they encouraged me to move up to 205. They told me my position there would be more appealing to them from a business perspective. They weren’t interested in a third match between me and Silva and they didn’t want me fighting contenders because I could eliminate possible title fights, so I was stuck in that I was going to be fighting people on the back end of their losses to Silva and I didn’t care for that gatekeeper position. After the Travis Lutter fight, I said I would try my hand at 205 again.”
– Former middleweight champion Rich Franklin reveals to the his reasons for moving back up to the light heavyweight division for his upcoming fight against Matt Hamill at UFC 88: “Breakthrough” at the Philips Arena in Atlanta, Ga., on September 6. “Ace” was soundly defeated twice by UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva, which essentially meant that he’d be relegated to fighting — and possibly knocking off — new contenders.
(If you have the time click the Baltimore Sun interview. Its longer but a good read)
Win and he’s back in?: MMAmania.com exclusive UFC 88 interview with Nate Marquardt
Ever since losing a title shot to Anderson Silva at UFC 73 back in July of last year, Nate “The Great” Marquardt (26-8-2) has been looking to get back into title contention. He welcomed Jeremy Horn back to the UFC with a guillotine choke submission at UFC 81 in February.
And he looked … um, “Great” in a well-publicized UFC 85 bout with Thales Leites.
Adam Wagner (MMAmania.com): Your split decision loss to Thales Leites has got to be a bitter pill to swallow. How do you feel about the two points that you were docked, the second of which looked unjustified?
Nate Marquardt: Yeah, you know, it’s not as bad as it seems to be honest. That fight got me a lot of publicity. Everyone who saw the fight said that I won. So it’s not really like I really lost that fight.
Yeah, I thought the second point deduction … I don’t feel like what I did was illegal, but sometimes that happens in fights. To be honest, I think I could have finished Thales, and that was my fault for not keeping on him at a couple of points in that fight.
Adam Wagner (MMAmania.com): I read that after the fight, Leites didn’t want to grant you an immediate rematch. Is that true?
Nate Marquardt: Yes. We asked Joe Silva immediately after, and he said that Thales didn’t want a rematch.
Adam Wagner (MMAmania.com): Do you think he was trying to dodge you?
Nate Marquardt: I don’t know. It’s the smarter decision on his part. He ran away with the win on his record. And he’s looking to get a title shot, so it would be a smart choice on his part.
Adam Wagner (MMAmania.com): So is it difficult to bounce back from something like this, or are you looking at it as a win … or at least not a loss?
Nate Marquardt: Yeah, exactly. I see some mistakes I made during that fight, and I always try to work on that. I just try to get better after every fight. I’m not trying to look at it as a win or as a loss. I’m just trying to look at it and see what I did right, and try to copy that, and see what I did wrong and try to fix it.
Don Frye undeterred by loss, looking to continue fighting career
Although approaching 43 years old, UFC, PRIDE and K-1 veteran Don Frye (19-7-1) continues to ply his trade in the MMA business. However a recent submission loss to Ikuhisa Minowa (40-28-8) has caused many to question the aging veteran's fighting future.
Frye recently joined TAGG Radio (www.taggradio.com), the official radio partner of MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) to discuss his disappointing loss, and he spoke candidly about his desire to continue to fight despite approaching an age where most choose to retire.
"I didn't show up to fight," Frye admitted. "I showed up to just drink beer and ended up looking at the lights at the top of the ceiling. He opened up a can of whoop-ass I couldn't close.
"Like a dumbass I thought I could go out and charm my way to a victory because I was Don Frye. Unfortunately he didn’t find me charming."
Any time a fighter of Frye's age experiences defeat, questions are immediately raised about their thirst for competition.
Jeremy Stephens vs. newcomer Rafael dos Anjos at UFC 91
Youngster Jeremy "Lil Heathen" Stephens (13-3 MMA, 2-2 UFC), whose three-fight win streak was snapped with a recent unanimous-decision loss to Spencer Fisher, will meet UFC newcomer and Brazilian fight veteran Rafael dos Anjos (11-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC) in November at UFC 91.
The lightweights have agreed to the fight, and bout agreements are expected to be signed shortly, according to a source close to one of the fighters.
The bout is the latest addition to UFC 91, which takes place Nov. 15 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Sengoku 5 Fights Added, UFC Vet & Japanese Wrestler Featured
World Victory Road yesterday announced 3 more fights for its Sengoku 5 card on September 23, highlighted by UFC veteran Kazuhiro Nakamura making his Middleweight debut and Japanese pro wrestler Takashi Sugiura returning to MMA after a 2-year absence to face the debuting Alexandre Ribeiro in a superfight.
UFC 88: IS PALHARES UFC CHAMP'S NEXT CHALLENGE?
Heading into this weekend’s UFC 88 in Atlanta, there will be an intriguing match-up in the middleweight division of two fighters headed in different directions at this point in their careers.
On one hand, you have former Pride dual titleholder Dan Henderson, nearing the twilight of his career and currently on a two-fight skid. On the other, you have Rousimar Palhares, in just his second year of fighting and on an impressive six-fight winning streak.
UFC 88: MARQUARDT SEES KAMPMANN AS UPGRADE
“You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need.”
When Mick Jagger wrote the classic song “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” he obviously had no idea that it would one day relate to the sport of mixed martial arts, but for Nate Marquardt there may not be a more perfect theme song.
MacDonald Plans to Wear Lambert Down
“I think at this point in my UFC career all the fights I face are tough, and I don’t think Lambert will be any different. What I do think is that the first time you cut the weight down to a level you haven’t before it’s tough. With Lambert, we’re talking about a guy who has fought at heavyweight, then was down to light-heavyweight, and now he’ll have his first fight at 185. I think that’s definitely to my advantage. As the rounds go on, I think the weight cut will wear on him.”
INEXPERIENCE ASIDE, BROCK LESNAR EYES UFC GOLD
When Brock Lesnar signed with the Ultimate Fighting Championship, the former collegiate wrestling champion and former professional wrestling superstar said he wanted to fight the top heavyweights. He was serious.
At UFC 91 on Nov. 15 from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Lesnar will face Randy "The Natural" Couture for the UFC heavyweight belt in only his fourth mixed martial arts bout and third time in the Octagon.
"I've wanted a fight with Randy since before I signed a contract with the UFC," Lesnar told the media on Tuesday.
Despite his inexperience and Couture's year-long layoff from competition, expectations are high that the match-up will generate record numbers. "We actually do research on these things if you can believe it or not," said UFC president Dana White.
TKO SIGNS NEW TV DEAL, BEGINS AIRING FRIDAY
TKO Championship Fighting on Wednesday announced the signing of a television deal with the TQS television network in Canada.
The sport of mixed martial arts will be seen on network television in Quebec for the very first time beginning Sept. 5. TQS will air “TKO, Friday Night Knockouts” every Friday night at 9pm.
“For over eight years I have been working very hard to make the public understand and appreciate our sport and our athletes,” explained an elated Stephane Patry, president and founder of TKO Championship Fighting.
“When we first started in 2000, our events were held in small venues and TKO was available on DVD and on specialty sport channels only. In 2006, TKO Championship Fighting found a new home at the Bell Centre and our fans began to multiply. Now, thanks to this partnership with the Rémillard brothers and the team at TQS, I am confident that our sport will reach a whole new level of popularity which is exactly what the sport and our athletes deserve.”
AFFLICTION CLEARS ROADBLOCKS, READY FOR MORE
By now, Affliction vice president Tom Atencio has become used to swimming upstream against the doubters of his company. Since he launched Affliction Entertainment as the new fight promotion on the block in early 2008, he has faced naysayers at every turn, despite assembling one of the most talent-packed MMA cards in the sport’s recent history with “Affliction: Banned” this July.
None have been more vocal than UFC president Dana White. Since Affliction’s emergence, his not-so-affectionate moniker for the company, “the t-shirt guys,” has often been followed by a prediction of the company’s approaching demise. In a teleconference on Tuesday announcing Randy Couture’s return to the UFC, he was true to form.
“In this economy right now, losing money is a really bad thing,” White said. “There’s nobody out there looking to fund anything, nobody’s spending any money, nobody’s investing in anything. When you’re losing the kind of money that these guys are losing, you’ve gotta sell a lot of t-shirts to get back that money.”
UFC’s upcoming big-money run
If Chuck Liddell is able to defeat Rashad Evans this Saturday night in Atlanta, Georgia at UFC 88, UFC could well be on its way to the company’s biggest three-month run in PPV business — ever.
That’s a bold statement to make, especially given how much of a party crasher Rashad Evans could be to the proceedings if he is able to pull off the upset against Chuck Liddell.
If Liddell is able to defeat Evans, UFC will have three major blockbuster events in four months. UFC 91 on November 15th will be headlined by Randy Couture vs. Brock Lesnar. UFC 92 on December 27th could feature Chuck Liddell vs. Forrest Griffin for the UFC Light Heavyweight title and Wanderlei Silva vs. Quinton Jackson on the undercard. UFC’s ‘Super Bowl’ event will feature Georges St. Pierre vs. BJ Penn in a clash between the UFC’s 170-pound champion and UFC’s 155-pound champion. That’s a lot of PPV buys at stake for a company that continues to get richer while everyone else (outside of Strikeforce) continues to lose a lot of money financially in MMA.
Hughes: ''I'll fight Serra In January''
Matt Hughes expects to fight long-time rival and fellow former welterweight champion Matt Serra in January.
He expects his knee to be healed and able to withstand competing by then, according to an interview with Ohio newspaper The People's Defender.
Having participated in nine successful title fights, Hughes admits that he sometimes finds it hard to motivate himself for bouts.
"I have a harder time motivating myself... I'm not sure if it's my Christianity, my kids, or the fact I'm just getting older," he said.
But he will "definitely" be firing on all cylinders for the Serra fight because there are "a lot of things" that irritate him about the New Yorker.
"I am just different than him. I was raised to be courteous, respectful, and kind to people. He obviously wasn't raised that way," Hughes explained.
'Couture Vs Fedor' When Affliction Folds
Randy Couture will remain in the UFC whether he wins or loses his title fight with Brock Lesnar in November.
Dana White told media during a conference call that the heavyweight champion would not be walking away after one fight, regardless of its outcome.
Couture has signed a new three-fight deal while has delivered a severe blow to his hopes of eventually fighting Fedor Emelianenko.
Couture has "made it very clear he wants Fedor," said White. "We will do all in our power to make that fight, but we are not going to mess with other people's contracts."
"Fedor is under contract to another promotion," he explained, referring to the Russian heavyweight's agreement with Affliction that is rumoured to contain a North America no-compete clause.
"If we can work something out, great. If not, we will get him when Affliction folds," he said.
Rafael Cavalcante fights for EliteXC belt
Rafael “Feijão” Cavalcante just needed three fights do get his main goal: the opportunity to win the EliteXC light-heavyweight belt. Scheduled to be on October 5th’s edition, the Brazilian fighter still doesn’t know who will he face, but he knows that it’ll be a title bout. In an exclusive interview to TATAME, he spoke about the next fight, his preparation and his great time in the event. "That’s a goal that I had plan since the beginning of the year with my coaches, and thanks God we made it, and I hope I bring this belt to Brazil. I’m doing my best and I’ll get there in shape", said the athlete, in the exclusive interview that you can check today here in TATAME.com.