Sonnen-Stann winner not guaranteed UFC title shot, Henderson could make bid with win
While this weekend's UFC 136 event is headlined by a pair of title fights, the middleweight contest between Chael Sonnen (25-11-1 MMA, 5-4 UFC) and Brian Stann (11-3 MMA, 5-2 UFC) is also rife with championship implications.
However, the winner won't necessarily book a future date with 185-pound kingpin Anderson Silva (31-4 MMA, 14-0 UFC).
Recent Strikeforce import Dan Henderson (28-8 MMA, 5-2 UFC) meets Mauricio "Shogun" Rua (20-5 MMA, 4-3 UFC) in November, and UFC president Dana White said a win could rush him to the front of the line.
"Should Dan win, he's definitely one of the guys that could go take that fight," White said today following a UFC 136 pre-event press conference.
The move would seem a slight departure from White's August claims that the winner of the Sonnen-Stann matchup "should be" in line to meet Silva. But White said that his position hasn't necessarily changed. There are just more options available with Henderson's arrival.
"I'm not even thinking about [Silva's next opponent] yet," White told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com). "We'll figure it out after. But I still feel that way."
UFC prez on Strikeforce champ Melendez: "If I have to yank him over here, I'll do it"
There have been strong indications that Gilbert Melendez's run in Strikeforce is over and that his UFC run is just beginning.
Following Saturday's UFC on Versus 6 event, UFC president Dana White said he wanted the lightweight champ in the UFC "ASAP," which prompted speculation that Melendez's headliner with Jorge Masvidal at a December Strikeforce event had been dissolved pending his imminent departure for the octagon.
Masvidal and his representatives say the bout – which is set for Dec. 17 at Valley View Casino Center in San Diego – is still a go, and while White said today that he isn't sure when Melendez will make the jump.
It could happen at any time, he said.
"I've got to run my business, so if I have to yank him over here, I'll do it," White told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) following a press conference for UFC 136, which takes place Saturday at Houston's Toyota Center.
Of course, UFC 136's headliner – a highly anticipated rematch between lightweight champ Frankie Edgar and challenger Gray Maynard – is set to clear the way for the next lightweight contender, and Melendez is on a long list of possibilities, according to White.
UFC boss says no to Edgar vs. Maynard IV regardless of UFC 136 outcome
If champ Frankie Edgar (13-1-1 MMA, 8-1-1 UFC) beats challenger Gray Maynard (10-0-1 MMA, 8-0-1 UFC) at Saturday's UFC 136 event, that will give each a win to accompany a frustrating draw in their second bout back at UFC 125.
Usually, rubber matches are booked when a series is tied. But UFC president Dana White today said that he'd rather just move on.
"(Let's) put it behind us," White today said at a pre-event press conference in support of Saturday's fight, which takes place at Houston's Toyota Center. "This division is stacked with tons of talent, and there's a lot of good fights to make at 155."
For the past 10 months, the UFC has been unable to make a lot of those fights given the inconclusive result of UFC 125. White often refers to the situation as a logjam, and for good reason. Contenders such as Clay Guida, Ben Henderson and Melvin Guillard have made strong cases for No. 1 contender's status, to say nothing of the long-rumored arrival of Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez in the UFC.
When a winner does emerge on Saturday, he'll have a long list of potential future bookings.
Mike Swick and Roger Huerta's Thailand gym meets resistance, but venture continues
Mike Swick is fulfilling a longtime dream, and with fellow UFC vet Roger Huerta, he's opening an MMA gym in Phuket, Thailand.
MMAjunkie.com Radio recently caught up with Swick while he's in the U.S. following back-and-forth 24-hour trips to the Asian country.
Swick currently is finalizing plans for the new gym's opening. And though the venture has ruffled some feathers at Tiger Muay Thai and Mixed Martial Arts – a Phuket gym Swick nearly purchased – Swick said his team at American Kickboxing Academy has been quite supportive.
Chael Sonnen: I don’t talk trash
Chael Sonnen was recently interviewed on Mauro Ranallo's The MMA Show.
Mauro Ranallo: Why has there been so little trash talk for the Brain Stann fight?
Chael Sonnen: “Look, I don’t try to get under someone’s skin. I don’t talk trash. I hear that said about myself but I don’t do that. I’m the most respectful guy in the sport. The difference is I’ve got a different opinion of what respect is. A lot of guys think it’s to be fake. A lot of guys think it’s respectful to bow to your face and stick a knife in your back when you turn around. I will tell you to your face that when you turn I’m going to put a knife in your back and then I’ll do it.
MR: What kind of game plan will you implement against Stann?
CS: “What’s a game plan? What does that mean? You got a bunch of guys with their 8th grade educations and their gold teeth sitting around trying to break down a fight. Listen, it’s a fist fight in a steel cage in Texas on Saturday night. There is nothing more simplistic in life than that. I don’t exactly need a plan. I walk out there when the guy in the shark suit gets out of my way and the referee with the dreadlocks says ‘get it on,’ I get it on.”
MR asked him about the suspension and if he would fight in California again after issues relating to ‘elevated testosterone’ levels.
CS: “First off, shame on you for putting out a false report. Not only did I not have elevated testosterone (levels), I was never even accused of that. The state of California never even accused me of that. Josh Gross went on ESPN and falsely reported that. I was never even up against those charges. I took testosterone and testosterone is 100% legal and shame on you as a member of the media for not coming out and not blasting the commission for that. I took testosterone, I offer no apology. Testosterone is not a banned substance in any of the 46 states that govern MMA or the two provinces in Canada. It is completely legal. They banned me for taking a legal substance and I never took an elevated amount, ever. I was never even accused of that other than by Josh Gross who got it on ESPN and by then it was all over the wire.
Bobby Lashley Returns to MMA in November
Former pro wrestler turned MMA fighter Bobby Lashley has his next fight set. The former Strikeforce fighter will face Darrill Schoonover in the main event of a Shark Fights show on November 11. Schoonover is the reigning Shark Fights Heavyweight champion (though he has not defended the title since winning it in 2009), and the bout will be a title fight.
Bellator 52 Ratings on MTV2 Are Up
Like the UFC this past weekend, Bellator 52 also experienced an upswing in ratings. The card was the quarterfinals of the heavyweight tournament. The ratings for Bellator has appeared to be disappointing since they made the move to MTV2 and in some ways they have been. However, it is all about putting things in perspective. This weekend's show did a combined rating of 465,000 viewers with a .33 market share. The telecast peaked between 9:30 and 9:45 p.m. with 345,000 people tuning in for the fights.
Lyoto Machida Will Likely Not Return Until 2012, Doesn't Know If He Is Being Punished
Former UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida hasn't competed since UFC 129 when he knocked out Randy Couture in spectacular fashion, and people have been wondering when he's going to fight next. He was asked to step in at UFC 133 and replace an injured Phil Davis to face Rashad Evans, but his monetary demands weren't to Dana White's liking (he wanted "Anderson Silva money") so the bout went to Tito Ortiz instead. Machida was asked a couple of weeks ago whether he felt he was being punished for his demands
Clay Harvison vs. DaMarques Johnson targeted for UFC on FOX 1
After bowing out of a fight with Clay Harvison (9-3 MMA, 1-1 UFC) due to injury, DaMarques Johnson's next opponent will be: Clay Harvison.
MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) has learned that Harvison and Johnson (12-9 MMA, 3-3 UFC) have each verbally agreed to meet at UFC on FOX 1, and bout agreements are expected to be distributed shortly.
The two were first expected to fight at this past month's UFC Fight Night 25 event, but Johnson was forced to withdraw. Harvison instead faced Seth Baczynski and lost via submission.
Bellator 58 sees champ Hector Lombard face Trevor Prangley in non-title affair
Bellator Fighting Championships middleweight champ Hector Lombard returns to action on Nov. 19, when he'll face longtime vet Trevor Prangley in a 195-pound non-title matchup.
Bellator officials today announced the contest, which will headline Bellator 58.
"I just want November to get here and knock someone out," Lombard stated in an official release. "It doesn't matter who it is, I just want to do what I do and that's win."
Peralta vs. Semerzier, Bradley vs. Pierce, Lucas vs. Rosa added to UFC on FOX 1
A trio of new bouts has been added to UFC on FOX 1.
UFC brass today announced that Robert Peralta vs. Mackens Semerzier, Paul Bradley vs. Mike Pierce and Matt Lucas vs. Aaron Rosa will all take place at the Nov. 12 event in Anaheim, Calif.
UFC on FOX 1 features a heavyweight title fight between current champ Cain Velasquez and top contender Junior Dos Santos. The main event airs on FOX, but broadcast plans for the remainder of the contests have yet to be announced.
Dana White: 'I always thought Melvin Guillard was the biggest waste of talent'
"I like Melvin and I like how he’s training hard. I always thought he was the biggest waste of talent and he really turned that around and I’m happy to see it. There’s so many good guys in that 155 pound division, we’re trying to figure out who’s next. That division is so stacked and there’s so many good fights to make. I’m excited to see him in there with Lauzon. If he beats Lauzon, it’s gonna be interesting to see who we end up pitting together to fight for the title next."
MMAPlayground Interview Series - Vol. 5 (Nik "The Carny" Lentz)
As with any successful professional, mixed martial artists eat, sleep and breathe their craft. They put everything on the line when they wake up, hit the gym and pour their blood, sweat and tears into the sport we all love. When they enter that cage, for the fan, it's all about the entertainment, but these athletes go through the daily rigors with more in mind. For some fighters, it's a paycheck. For others, it's the glitz and glamour, but for some it's a lifestyle fueled by a deep passion and connection to the sport of mixed martial arts.
In our newest site feature, MMAPlayground would like to introduce you to some of these men and women of MMA that you may not know much about.
Our mission? To introduce. To educate. To spread the word.
Nik Lentz is a mixed martial artist hailing from the great state of Minnesota. He's a veteran of seven fights undre the UFC banner, and is still yet to surrender a loss. He is currently 5-0-1-1, with a draw coming against Thiago Tavares and a no contest being rendered after the controversial fight with Charles Oliveira which saw him take an illegal knee while downed, breaking his eye socket. Lentz has recovered, and he took time out of his busy schedule to answer questions.
* * * * *
MMAPG : Nik, first of all, thanks for taking time out of what must be a ridiculously busy schedule, to talk to us. We really appreciate it.
LENTZ : Yeah, no problem. Anytime I get a chance to reach a wider audience, I enjoy it. Thanks for interviewing me and thanks to everyone else for reading.
MMAPG : You’re a few months removed from your controversial fight with Charles Oliveira. How are you feeling physically? How’s your training going?
LENTZ : I feel normal. The eye healed quite quick, the neck is still a little sore, but it is strong and back to normal. The pain does not really matter, all that matters is that I can work out and fight properly, which I can now.
MMAPG : Do you harbor any resentment toward Oliveira for that illegal knee? How relieved were you that the PSAC overturned the decision?
LENTZ : No, I don’t really think of him as an individual. I don’t think of people I have fought really as people at all. They are more like objectives or things that I have to overcome. Once I'm done with the fight I will analyze what went right and wrong, but I don’t care or choose to look into what they are like in their everyday life. So no, I have no hard feelings, I really couldn’t care less about Oliveira until I'm scheduled to fight him again. At that point, I will just know that once he sees that I don’t get finished as easy as everyone else, be ready and watch out for his illegal tactics. I'm very glad that the decision was overturned, but I think who is allowed to be a ref should really be looked into and fixed.
Frankie Edgar Says Going for Featherweight Title "Interesting Possibility"
Edgar almost suffered a knockout loss against Maynard to begin 2011 at UFC 125. Edgar rallied back from what seemed like a definite loss and somehow salvaged a draw to retain his belt for a little while longer.
"I'm winning, man," Edgar said. "I'm very confident, especially after that last fight. I think my confidence keeps building from fight to fight. Obviously from B.J. [Penn] to the next B.J. fight. With Gray I know I had a pretty bad first round, but showing what I showed—which I didn't realize right away until I went home and saw it—in character, it gave me a lot of confidence."
After almost suffering a loss and being beaten the first time around by Maynard, Edgar wants to go home early come his title fight at UFC 136.
"That's my goal. I know I get a lot of flack for not [finishing]. I think it has to do with sometimes I am the smaller guy. But I always go into fights looking for it," Edgar said. "If I could stun a guy, I'm going to try and finish him. And if I can stun him and get him on the ground, I'm going to try and finish him there."
If Edgar were to defend his belt against Maynard and a few times after that, would a drop to featherweight be a good idea?
"That's something that a lot of my teammates talk about and stuff, and my coaches," said Edgar. "Things got to work out the right way, but I think it's definitely an interesting possibility, and an intriguing one."
Brian Stann: Sonnen 'very difficult to overcome'
Q: Chael Sonnen will be the highest-ranked opponent you've fought so far. What does it say about your development as a fighter?
Stann: I definitely take it as a compliment. It's a great challenge.
I think they were having a hard time finding anybody to fight Chael, to be quite honest with you. I think he had a lot of people he wanted to fight; nobody would fight him.
Regardless of what people want to say about him, people can't deny the guy's record, what he's been able to do. So when they called me and told me that's who I was fighting next, I looked at it as a huge opportunity.
It's not very often you get to fight somebody who's that much higher than you in the rankings. You have to take those opportunities, take advantage of them. You have to go out there and win.
I think UFC knows I'm a guy who's going to stay in the upper echelon of this weight class for years to come. I'm very happy with the match-up.
Why do you think UFC had difficulty finding an opponent for him?
At this point in his career, he's got a lot of fights. He's been doing this since 1997. He's the best at what he does.
He does a great job of putting people in the positions where he is very dominant, by using a very high-tempo striking game and world-class wrestling. It's very difficult for people to overcome.
In all honesty, I haven't seen anyone really overcome it. Even in the fights he loses, he's normally winning the bout, and if he does lose it, it's usually because he got caught with a submission while he was executing his game plan.
Much longer interview after the link.
Relaxed Ron Sparks believes Bellator tourney finally his time to shine
Bellator heavyweight Ron Sparks (8-0 MMA, 3-0 BFC) felt a strange sensation leading into his fight with Mark Holata (11-3 MMA, 2-1 BFC). His usual pre-fight nerves were replaced by complete calm – almost happiness.
"When I walked into that cage, I felt great," the affable heavyweight today told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) about his win at Bellator 52, which took place Saturday at L’Auberge du Lac Casino and Resort in Lake Charles, La., and aired on MTV2.
Sparks knocked Holata out in 84 seconds. It was his seventh first-round stoppage in an eight-fight pro career. What's his secret?
"Man, I keep my chin down and keep my hands moving," Sparks said with a chuckle.
But despite his already-impressive ledger, the undefeated fighter said this win was more significant than others.
"My biggest thing is believing in myself," Sparks said. "I try not to get into the hype. I know I'm a great fighter, but I know I'm not the best out there. I know that.
Dominick Cruz to have finger surgery
UFC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz ignored the pain, clenched his right hand, and fought for 25 minutes Saturday night. The result: his fourth consecutive title defense and a badly damaged hand that requires surgery.
In the opening round of a unanimous decision against Demetrious Johnson in Washington, D.C., Cruz (19-1) dislocated his middle finger at the knuckle and tore ligaments and tendons, the UFC champion told ESPN.com.
"It just hurt and felt off," Cruz said. "My finger kept popping out of the socket."
"It's basically the exact same injury I had on my left hand," Cruz said. "Same knuckle, same everything. The tendon is completely ripped off the bone and my finger is popping out of its socket due to that. And the knuckle just dislocates when I make a fist. I have to get that tendon that ripped reattached with surgery."
Bellator heavyweight Hayes' tourney spot in jeopardy with medical suspension
Mike Hayes passed the first gauntlet of Bellator's season-five heavyweight tournament, but he may have taken too much damage to continue.
Hayes (16-4 MMA, 2-1 BFC) has been issued a preliminary suspension of 60 days by the Louisiana Boxing and Wrestling Commission following his split decision over Neil Grove (11-4-1 MMA, 3-2 BFC) at Bellator 52, which hosted the quarterfinals of the eight-man competition.
A final report due soon will determine whether Hayes suffered a fractured orbital in the bout.