Strikeforce champ Melendez wants next crack at UFC 136's main-event winner
Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez (19-2 MMA, 8-1 SF) attended this weekend's UFC Fan Expo Houston 2011 representing his longtime employer, but he hopes to leave the city with a different tag: UFC title challenger.
Melendez today said he plans on pressing UFC president Dana White for the next crack at the winner of UFC 136's lightweight championship bout.
"I'm a vet in this sport," Melendez told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com). "I've been here for a long, long time, and I'm ready to prove I'm No. 1.
"I'm ready to start taking over and holding down the weightclass, promoting the sport and representing MMA. I've been ready for that awhile."
Melendez's resume makes a strong case. Currently riding a five-fight win streak with impressive wins over Tatsuya Kawajiri, Shinya Aoki, Josh Thomson, Mitsuhiro Ishida and Rodrogo Damm, "El Nino" is generally considered one of the very few lightweights not currently in the UFC capable of competing at the top of the promotion's 155-pound division.
For years, Melendez was tied down to his longtime employers at Strikeforce, and the UFC's position against cross-promoting prevented him from facing top UFC contenders. But with those two companies now operating under the same umbrella, Melendez is ready to prove he's capable of beating either current UFC champ Frankie Edgar or his opponent at Saturday night's UFC 136 event at Houston's Toyota Center, Gray Maynard.
For UFC 136, 'Chael Sonnen Show' takes a break
For most fighters, the path from the cage to the dressing room to the press conference to the hotel to the airport, and finally, the deafening quiet of home is like a space shuttle in reentry – one-thousand miles per hour to 25 in a school zone.
Then it's back to the day job of the gym, the occasional interview, the signings, the seminar. The next fight comes around, and blastoff.
After 14 months away from fighting, it's been a bumpy ride back for Chael Sonnen. The world he's created and the world in which he finds himself day to day, well, they disagree.
In MMA, he's a onetime middleweight title challenger who jolted us to attention and then seemed to implode on the weight of his shortcomings. He's a blowhard, a pathological liar, a funny man, a talented guy who almost took the mighty Anderson Silva's title. Almost.
In West Linn, Ore., where Sonnen lives and leaves as little as he can, he says he lives a regimented and insular existence. It's easy to forget all the noise. With its Northwest green and suburban sprawl, West Linn is not a place that screams fighting, no matter what his alter-ego says.
"Every day I get up, I do the same thing," Sonnen tells MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com). "I get up at the same time. I walk my dog, I feed him, I go to practice, I coach the kids, and I go to bed. I never felt popular. I never felt unpopular. I never felt rich. I never felt poor. I don't drive a different car; I don't use a different phone.
"I fought Anderson. I didn't buy myself so much as a new T-shirt. My life has never changed. I just hear it from other people. I hear other people say, 'It must have been hard for you.' Or, 'this must have been exciting' or 'you must be happy.' And sometimes they're right. You do have the right emotion. Sometimes, I'm thinking, 'I don't know what for.'"
Sonnen (25-11-1 MMA, 4-4 UFC) knows what his audience wants, though, and it's the devil on his shoulder. They want a show, and not just his fight Saturday with Brian Stann (11-3 MMA, 5-2 UFC) at UFC 136, which takes place at Houston's Toyota Center. Whether it be the handful of reporters who follow the UFC's traveling circus or the throngs of fans who live and breathe the sport, they're waiting for him to put his opponent on blast. They're waiting for the guy you love to hate, and hate to love.
Middleweight champ Anderson Silva named cover athlete of 'UFC Undisputed 3'
UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva will grace the cover of "UFC Undisputed 3."
On the main stage of UFC Fan Expo Houston 2011, UFC president Dana White today revealed the winner of a fan-driven vote that ran from Aug. 26 to Sept 30.
"I'm very happy," Silva said after the announcement. "Thank you to my fans and my family. For me this is a great, great, great dream."
Silva emerged from a pool of five UFC champions that also included Frankie Edgar, Jon Jones, Georges St-Pierre and Cain Velasquez.
The third installment of the critically acclaimed and bestselling "UFC Undisputed" videogame franchise is set for a January 2012 debut.
Notable additions to the upcoming edition include the inclusion of the UFC's bantamweight and featherweight divisions, a "PRIDE rules" game-play option and fighter walkouts, as well as a roster of more than 150 fighters. THQ is also making additional tweaks to gameplay.
Jiu-jitsu instructor at heart, Gabriel Gonzaga still happy to fight again
Onetime UFC heavyweight title challenger Gabriel Gonzaga (11-6) admits he wasn't really sure what he wanted to do.
An October 2010 loss to Brendan Schaub dropped Gonzaga to just 1-3 in his previous four outings, and the former Brazilian jiu-jitsu world champ strongly considered forever hanging up his gloves.
But Gonzaga returns tonight for a heavyweight title fight against Parker Porter (5-2) at the aptly named "Reality Fighting: Gonzaga vs. Porter" event at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn. "Napao" admits he doesn't know what comes after that, but he's touched by those that encouraged him to return.
"There were a lot of fans and students of mine asking me to return," Gonzaga recently told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) in his native Portuguese. "There were some e-mails that touched me – from people I've never met – talking about how I helped them in life. That was very gratifying."
And so the 32-year-old, who studied under Wander Braga from his grappling beginnings until he was awarded his black belt, turned to Marco Alvan, Alexandre Moreno and the rest of the crew at Massachusetts' Team Link and sought their advice.
"Fight," came the answer.
Grishin replaces champ Gugenishvili in Showtime's M-1 Challenge 27 headliner
An injury has forced heavyweight champion Guram Gugenishvili (11-0) out of next week's M-1 Challenge 27 headliner.
In his place steps Maxim Grishin (9-5), who now meets Kenny Garner (7-3) for an interim title.
M-1 Challenge 27 takes place Oct. 14 at Grand Canyon University Arena in Phoenix, and the main card airs on Showtime.
According to M-1 officials, Gugenishvili, who was wrapping up his camp at Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas, suffered an elbow injury during a Wednesday training session. After meeting with a physician, he wasn't cleared to fight and is expected to be sidelined four to six weeks.
"This is tremendously unfortunate as it is now the second time this has happened," M-1 Global Director of Operations Evgeni Kogan stated. "No one is more disappointed about the change in circumstances than Guram himself. He was absolutely gutted when breaking the news to us. We hope Guram makes a swift recovery so he can return to action as soon as possible."
Garner was supposed to rematch Gugenishvili, who earned a submission win a year ago in their first meeting. Since the loss, Garner has picked up a pair of knockout victories (and owns five KOs in his seven career victories).
UFC 140 tickets on sale next week, fans invited to Wednesday presser in Toronto
Tickets for December's UFC 140 event go on sale next week, and fans are invited to a Wednesday press conference in Toronto to promote the event.
As UFC president Dana White announced this past week, UFC 140 takes place Dec. 10 and features a championship headliner between UFC light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones and Lyoto Machida.
Both the event and presser take place at Toronto's Air Canada Centre.
The latest UFC 140 card includes:
Champ Jon Jones vs. Lyoto Machida (for light-heavyweight title)
Frank Mir vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira
Antonio Rogerio Nogueira vs. Tito Ortiz
Brian Ebersole vs. Rory MacDonald
Mark Hominick vs. Chan Sung Jung
Mark Bocek vs. Nik Lentz
Igor Pokrajac vs. Krzysztof Soszynski
Rich Attonito vs. Claude Patrick
Dennis Hallman vs. John Makdessi
John Cholish vs. Mitch Clarke
After fearing for career, Josh Koscheck moving to UFC's 'moneyweight' division
After returning from a nine-month layoff on short notice to defeat Matt Hughes at this past month's UFC 135 event, perennial welterweight contender Josh Koscheck (16-5 MMA, 14-5 UFC) is currently awaiting his next assignment.
And while UFC president Dana White has made it clear a coveted spot on November's UFC 139 card isn't going to happen, Koscheck says he'd like to return near the end of the year.
But whether or not that appearance comes at 170 or 185 pounds remains to be seen. Koscheck, a 19-time UFC veteran, said he's got a new perspective on fighting.
"I'm a money fighter," Koscheck told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) during this weekend's UFC Fan Expo Houston 2011. "I want big fights.
"I'm 33 (years old). I've been fighting for a long time now. I just want big fights. I'll fight anybody at 185 or 170. I don't care. I just want big fights, big names."
Undefeated Mendes predicts Aldo win at UFC 136, wants next crack at champ
Chad Mendes (11-0 MMA, 2-0 UFC) is excited to watch UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo defend his title against challenger Kenny Florian at Saturday night's UFC 136 event in Houston.
That said, he's not exactly happy about it.
"It's definitely a little frustrating," Mendes admitted to MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) at this weekend's UFC Fan Expo Houston 2011.
You see, Mendes was expected to be next in line to face Aldo. After defeating Michihiro Omigawa at this past February's UFC 126 event, Mendes was believed to be the top contender in the division.
It made sense, what with his undefeated record and 5-0 mark in Zuffa-owned promotions. Mendes and Aldo were even penciled in for a contest at this past August's UFC 133 event, but the champ couldn't be ready in time. Mendes elected to stay busy and earned a decision over Rani Yahya, but he was largely panned for the effort.
Mendes admits the criticism was frustrating but thinks much of it was largely undeserved.
"Obviously, I would love to get a finish," Mendes said. "Who wouldn't want to get a finish? To me, that's like the easiest way out. You get in there, you go through whole camp, and then you finish the guy in 30 seconds. You're done. Of course I want to get in there and make it as quick as possible, but we're facing tough guys.
UFC Calendar to Grow to 34 Events in 2012
HOUSTON -- Saturday night's UFC 136 marks the fourth event in four weeks for the Las Vegas-based promotion.
Get used to it.
The schedule continues to grow at an exponential rate, according to UFC president Dana White, who said that the organization has already penciled in dates on its 2012 calendar.
The final tally? Thirty-four events. That's a serious increase from 2011, which will see 27 live events by the time Brock Lesnar and Alistair Overeem close out the UFC's year in Las Vegas on December 30.
Jon Jones Says Rashad Evans Ducked UFC 140 Fight
Did you tell the UFC that since Evans wasn't ready to fight in December that you would rather wait a month or two to fight him so you can finally put this beef behind you?
Well, Dana White basically needed someone to save 140. I didn't necessarily want to fight at 140, but because it was Rashad, I said, 'You know what? I would take the fight in nine weeks.' I'm already in shape. I already know what I want to do. Rashad, predicting that I would say no, he kind of kicked himself in the butt because I said yes, he turns around and says, 'Oh, I didn't expect Jon to say yes. I don't want to fight him that soon.' So in reality, he's kind of the one who's ducking the fight. I feel like he's ducking the fight.
- Jon Jones in an interview
UFC 136's Melvin Guillard promises knockout on undersized Joe Lauzon
Melvin Guillard (29-8-2 MMA, 10-4 UFC) is grateful to Joe Lauzon (20-6 MMA, 7-3 UFC) for fighting him at UFC 136 because, apparently, the line of willing opponents was pretty short.
"A lot of guys turned down the fight, so I respect Joe," Guillard said. "He's a very dangerous guy, and he's very talented. Does he present any problems for me? Yes, if I allow him to."
The thing is, Guillard is not planning on that. Just like other grappling specialists on his recent resume, he's planning to blast Lauzon into orbit.
About the only way Lauzon is favored in the fight, which takes place Saturday at Houston's Toyota Center and airs live on pay-per-view, is on the mat, where his Brazilian jiu-jitsu skills have earned him five wins in the UFC.
But he's got to get there first, and Guillard has enlisted several parties to make sure that doesn't happen. He's worked with Mike Van Arsdale and Rashad Evans, among others, at Imperial Athletics in Florida. He's worked with "Henry," a Dutch kickboxing specialist brought in by his agent. Then there's the supercamp at Greg Jackson and Mike Winkeljohn's in Albuquerque, N.M. And don't forget his own style of MMA, which currently has no name but counts concussions as its chief technique.
With five consecutive wins on his resume – three of them by KO or TKO – it's hard to find a more intimidating lightweight.
Despite hectic turn, UFC champ Jones insists Evans no distraction for Machida bout
UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones has been on quite the whirlwind adventure in the past 14 days.
After defeating Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, Jones was planning to take a little vacation. Then came a challenge from Rashad Evans, which Jones answered. Now, it's Lyoto Machida. No sweat, says "Bones."
"Obviously taking Lyoto on nine weeks has sped up a lot of things, but I feel between every great challenge lies great reward," Jones today told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com). "I think I'm on the verge of something amazing happening by beating three champions in one year. I'm honored."
Following his UFC 135 win over Jackson, Jones told anyone who would listen that he was ready for a little time away from the sport after fighting three times in just seven months, as well as both capturing and defending the UFC's light heavyweight title.
Champ Edgar seeks definitive UFC 136 win, ready to put Maynard rivalry behind
When Saturday night's UFC 136 event hits Houston's Toyota Center, it will have been three-and-a-half years since UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar (13-1-1 MMA, 8-1-1 UFC) and his nemesis, Gray Maynard (10-0-1 MMA, 8-0-1 UFC), first locked horns.
In other words, a little too long thinking about one man, according to Edgar.
"I'm sick of talking about how sick I am of talking about him," Edgar told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com). "I have a loss to him and a draw to him. I want something definitive. I want a definitive win."
The pair's history began innocently enough. Just budding prospects with only 12 fights between them at the time, the two met in April 2008 at "UFC Fight Night 13: Florian vs. Lauzon." Maynard outmuscled Edgar en route to a unanimous-decision win, and the lightweight division simply rolled on, ostensibly taking little notice of the result.
UFC 136's Brian Stann: In 2012, 'I want to fight for a title or be ready for a title'
As in his former life, Brian Stann is always looking for objectives – and how to trample them.
Next, he'd like to put his boot on a middleweight title shot, and Chael Sonnen is the obstacle he must surmount.
"My goal this year was to get into the top 10 (and) solidify myself on the UFC roster," Stann today told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com). "No more being on the bubble or the guy who could be cut. My next goal, now, is to fight for a title."
That's an entirely reachable goal for the former Marine Stann (11-3 MMA, 5-2 UFC), who on Saturday meets Sonnen (25-11-1 MMA, 5-4 UFC) on the main card of UFC 136, which takes place at Houston's Toyota Center. The middleweight fight airs live on pay-per-view while preliminary action airs on Spike TV and streams live on Facebook.
UFC 136's Lauzon wary of foe's striking but thinks he's bad matchup for Guillard
Gone are the days of true "striker vs. grappler" affairs at the UFC level, and UFC 136's Joe Lauzon (20-6 MMA, 7-3 UFC) is quite aware of that fact.
But his main-card matchup with Melvin Guillard (29-8-2 MMA, 10-4 UFC) appears about close as one can get – see Lauzon's three "Submission of the Night" victories in his past five fights vs. Guillard's seven (out of eight total) career losses via tapout.
So Lauzon's strategy for Saturday night's event at Houston's Toyota Center should be no shocker. The 27-year-old jiu-jitsu specialist said he knows the task won't be easy, but he's willing to go out on his shield making an effort.
"If I can't get the fight down, I'm going out on my shield," Lauzon said. "I'm going to do my best to get the fight to the ground. If I find that I can't get it, I'm going to keep working at it, but I'm going to have to throw punches the entire time.
"The days are gone when you could just shoot on a guy from way out and take him down. Melvin's a great wrestler. He's not going to give up any takedowns. I'm going to have to fight for every single one."
It's not that Lauzon has never faced a striking stud before. In fact, he boasts career contests with Jeremy Stephens, Sam Stout, Jens Pulver and Jorge Masvidal to name but a few. But Guillard represents a special kind of beast, a rare blend of speed and power, and Lauzon knows it will prove a tall order.
'The Ultimate Fighter 14' ratings: Episode No. 3 scores 1.3 million Spike TV viewers
Ratings for the third episode of "The Ultimate Fighter 14" slipped compared to the first two installments.
Overall, episode No. 3 of the Spike TV reality series scored a 1.0 household rating and averaged 1.3 million viewers on Wednesday. The first and second episodes scored 1.5 million and 1.6 million viewers, respectively.
Spike TV officials today emailed the ratings information to MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com).
This season features Michael Bisping and Jason "Mayhem" Miller as coaches. For the first time ever, the show spotlights bantamweight and featherweights fighters. In an elimination round of fights, an initial group of 32 was whittled down to 16, who are now official cast members.
In the third episode, Team Miller's Johnny Bedford defeated Team Bisping's Josh Ferguson via unanimous decision to advance to the semifinal round of the bantamweight division's tournament. Team Miller now leads 2-0.
As with Rolles Gracie, UFC 136's Joey Beltran eager to ruin Stipe Miocic's debut
Joey Beltran admits that if fights were fought on paper, he would have lost them all.
And to look at him, you might agree with that statement. Physically, he's not particularly an impressive character.
In the cage, though, he consistently bucks expectations. And with all the hype surrounding opponent Stipe Miocic's octagon debut, he's interested in proving yet again that he's not what he appears to be.
"I would really like to finish it on my feet and just outbox this guy who gets praise for his great boxing credentials," Beltran today told MMAjunkie.com Radio (www.mmajunkie.com/radio). "On paper, he's supposed to be way better than me. So I think it would be really cool to go in there and knock him out."
Beltran (13-5 MMA,3-2 UFC) meets Miocic (6-0 MMA, 0-0 UFC) on the preliminary card of UFC 136, which takes place Saturday at Houston's Toyota Center. It's the first of four prelims streaming on Facebook prior to fights on Spike TV and pay-per-view.
Thiago Santos vs. Josh Burns tourney-reserve fight added to Bellator 53
Saturday's Bellator 53 main card has a late addition.
With heavyweight-tournament semifinalist Mike Hayes potentially facing a scratch due to a medical suspension, officials have booked a tourney-reserve bout between Thiago Santos (8-1 MMA, 0-0 BFC) and Josh Burns (6-4 MMA, 0-1 BFC).
The winner gets the tourney spot if Hayes isn't cleared to continue.
Bellator 53 takes place at Buffalo Run Casino in Miami, Okla. The night's main card airs on MTV2 (and in high-definition on EPIX), and the preliminary card streams on Spike.com.
To make room on Saturday's main card, a Darryl Cobb (5-3 MMA, 0-0 BFC) vs. Giva Santana (16-1 MMA, 0-0 BFC) middleweight bout has been demoted to the prelims, Bellator officials today confirmed to MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com). However, the bout gets first dibs on any available TV time if the main-card action ends early.
Rashad Evans 'fully understands' decision to book Jones-Machida UFC 140 headliner
He may not like the decision, but he understands it.
While Rashad Evans was next in line for a shot at UFC light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones' title, he wouldn't be healed in time for a planned UFC 140 main event on Dec. 10.
So he "fully understands" why the UFC instead went with Lyoto Machida for the Toronto event.
As MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) previously reported, the UFC initially wanted to put Jones vs. Evans in the UFC 140 main-event slot. But once Evans wasn't cleared to fight, the UFC had to look to Machida, who was one of the few top-level light heavyweights who was both healthy and not already booked for a fight.
Evans (16-1-1 MMA, 11-1-1 UFC), of course, sat out most of 2010 waiting for a title shot with injured Mauricio "Shogun" Rua. But a planned March bout was scratched when Evans suffered his own knee injury, and Jones got the fight and took the title instead.
Evans' bout with the newly crowned Jones then was delayed due to the champ's uncertain timetable for his recovery from a hand injury. Evans instead fought and defeated Tito Ortiz, and the UFC 133 bout left him with a lingering injury. Jones (14-1 MMA, 8-1 UFC) instead fought and defeated Quinton Jackson, and he now meets Machida (17-2 MMA, 9-2 UFC).
Paul Daley to train with champ GSP, wants Nick Diaz rematch in UFC
It's been longer than you think since Paul Daley (28-11-2) was dismissed from the UFC following his post-fight incident with Josh Koscheck at UFC 113.
His post-fight "swipe" at Koscheck was 16 months ago, and a lot has happened since then.
Daley has fought for four different promotions (soon to be five), posted mixed results, and tried to maintain an acceptable level of decorum in the hopes of one day returning to the world's top MMA promotion.
"If (UFC Chairman and CEO) Lorenzo (Fertitta) came to me and said, 'What you did we can look past that. Would you like to come back to the UFC?' I just want everyone to be clear that yeah, I've got nothing personal against the UFC, and I do think they are a great organization," Daley told MMAjunkie.com Radio (www.mmajunkie.com/radio).
Technically, Daley has had ties to the UFC again since the organization purchased Strikeforce in March. He became property of Forza LLC (the subsidiary of UFC parent company Zuffa LLC), which was created to house the acquired Strikeforce assets.