Thales Leites ready for wherever Anderson Silva takes him at UFC 97
“I can fight him standing. I will not be afraid to fight him in the standup game. I will never be afraid. I’ve been training my Muay Thai and boxing for five years and I think that I’m ready for any situation. I will be ready for anything. I know he wants to fight me standing to try and knock me out. But anything can happen. Cote was doing a good job with him closing the distance and keeping him down every time and moving forward in front of him. I’m thinking I have to do the same thing…. The most important thing is I trust in me and believe in me. He has two arms and two legs like me and like everyone else. If I believe in me and trust me and do my job I can do it. That’s it.”
– Top middleweight contender Thales Leites talks to Sherdog.com about how his skills match up against division champion Anderson Silva. The two Brazilians are scheduled to collide at UFC 97: “Redemption” at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, on April 18. Leites — a talented Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt — feels that he can stand with the deadly striker if necessary, but feels his ground game is the one area where he is better than “The Spider.” Perhaps he can snag one of those four limbs and ride off into the sunset as the new (and unlikely) 185-pound champion? Easier said than done, but stranger things have happened inside the Octagon … like if he were able to somehow finish Silva via strikes.
Wilson Gouveia: "I Don't Need Ten Punches to Put Someone Away. I Just Need One."
CagePotato.com: Thanks for talking with me, Wilson. How is your preparation coming for the fight with Nate Marquardt?
The training has been very intense. I’m taking this fight very seriously. I think it’s going to be the most important fight of my career so far. Right now I feel very good. I’m in great condition, no injuries, just ready to go.
Are you doing anything specifically to prepare for him?
Not really, to tell the truth. In all my fights I try to be prepared for everything. With Nate it’s no different. He’s a pretty well-rounded fighter. He’s good at everything. I have to try and be prepared for the worst-case scenario. He’s a good wrestler. He’s got better takedowns than me. I’ve been training a lot of jiu-jitsu off my back, a lot of stand-up.
I think he’s good in everything, but I don’t think he’s great in anything. I think his jiu-jitsu is good, but it’s not amazing. His wrestling, I think, is his greatest strength. But even with that, I don’t think he’s the best wrestler in the UFC. His striking is good, but if you watch his last fight with [Martin] Kampmann, he spent like ten or more punches to put him away. I really don’t need ten punches to put someone away. I just need one.
You were on a good roll in the UFC until your loss to Goran Reljic. What do you think went wrong for you in that fight?
What happened in that fight, that not many people know because it happened behind the scenes, was an argument between my coaches and his agent. I made a huge mistake after that and treated that fight like a personal problem. And I have no problem whatsoever with any fighter. But I tried to punish the guy and put him away. When I was on the top throwing punches I gave everything that I had. So when we both stood up again I was tired. I tried to rest for a second and that’s when he threw a hook or something that caught me. When you use those small gloves, anything can hurt you.
The only thing standing between Wilson Gouveia and Anderson Silva is Nate Marquardt
“I have a lot of respect for Nate Marquardt. He is a great fighter who always trains really hard and always leaves his all inside the Octagon. After the champion, Anderson Silva, he’s the best fighter in the division. In my eyes he’s the number one contender, so a win over him would be huge. I’ve been training harder than ever for this fight. I’m focused on Marquardt and not looking past him at all. He’s a very tough fighter, but once I beat him I don’t see anybody between me and Anderson Silva. He’s next as far as I’m concerned.”
Nate Marquardt on Anderson Silva loss: "Best thing that happened for me"
The specter of Anderson Silva is, in some ways, haunting Nate Marquardt.
"People are asking more about the fight coming up," Marquardt told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) during a day of interviews leading into his main-card middleweight fight at Saturday's UFC 95 event. "But I haven't talked to anyone who hasn't asked about a title shot."
That's the line Marquardt is walking. On one side, the eight-fight UFC veteran is continuing his 10-year career that made him a Japanese champion before leading him to a successful run in the U.S. On the other side is Silva, the daunting UFC champion who gave Marquardt his most notable, most motivating and most educational UFC bout in July 2007.
The focus on the present is sometimes skewed by a strong desire for another shot at the middleweight crown.
This week, though, Marquardt won't think much about "The Spider." His attention is on Wilson Gouveia (12-5 MMA, 6-2 UFC), whom he will meet at The O2 in London, England. Gouveia, after all, is a Brazilian who is difficult to study because he is dropping to 185 pounds for the first time.
Fabricio Werdum: UFC heavyweight division is ‘weak’ besides Nogueira
“I would fight with anyone, but if I could choose, I would like to make a rematch with Arlovski. That fight wasn’t cool, it was a debut against an ex-champion. Some people said that I won, others that he won or tied, but I want a rematch with him and then fight with Fedor, which is the will of everyone, he is the best in the world. This thing of saying that (Brock) Lesnar is the best in the world doesn’t exist, I’m against that. The guy has four fights and is already the world champion? Everybody knows that Fedor is the best. In heavy, I think the best are in Affliction. Apart from Minotauro, the rest in the UFC are weak. The UFC has what he wanted, two Americans to fight the “final”. The marketing is the most important thing, they are good at it. Frank Mir also, this final among them doesn’t exist.”
Former Pride FC and UFC veteran Fabricio Werdum shares his thoughts on the talent level in the current UFC heavyweight division, calling it “weak” with the exception of Antonio Rodrigo “Minotauro” Nogueira. Werdum competed three times inside the Octagon before getting cut, losing to Andrei Arlovski, defeating Gabriel Gonzaga (again) and getting floored by Junior “Cigano” Dos Santos. The Brazilian is particularly not impressed with the two champions atop the division, Brock Lesnar and Frank Mir, which is “what the UFC wanted” for marketing purposes.
TKO Leaves Hyped Velasquez Unsatisfied
TAMPA, Fla. -- Cain Velasquez hears the hype.
Viewed by some as a man who can contend for the heavyweight championship sooner rather than later, the 26-year-old American Kickboxing Academy prospect knows the UFC expects much from him. He believes his latest effort -- a second-round stoppage of pudgy newcomer Denis Stojnic in the UFC Fight Night 17 co-main event on Saturday at the Sun Dome -- left plenty of room for improvement.
“My timing was off,” Velasquez told UFC.com after he was pushed into the second round for the first time in his career. “The last two weeks of my training camp, I wasn’t able to spar. I think that had a lot to do with it. Other than that, I felt great.”
Still, he cannot argue with the results. Velasquez (5-0) battered Stojnic throughout the fight with knees, kicks and punches from the clinch. He did well in space, too, as he nearly finished the Golden Glory product with clean strikes from the outside in the first. A two-time All-American wrestler at Arizona State University, Velasquez mauled Stojnic on the ground and forced the referee to intervene 2:34 into the second round. Even so, he was not satisfied.
“I just wasn’t relaxed out there,” Velasquez said. “I think I need more ring time. I kind of tightened up. I was just throwing two punches [at a time]. I want to be able to throw more … head movement, sit in the pocket and keep that progress going. I was throwing and backing off. That’s not what I want to do. I want to be more active.”
Anderson Silva may not retire after all
When he came out and we started representing him, I asked him what his long term goal was. He always said he imagined himself retiring at 35. That’s his goal. And my goal as his manager is to set him up financially so that he has a choice. Do I think he’s going to retire at 35? No, I don’t.”
The Weekly Wrap: Jan. 31 - Feb. 6
The Weekly Wrap walks readers through the last seven days in MMA, recapping and putting into context the week's top story, important news and notable quotes. by Jack Encarnacao (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Exclusive Interview: Cain Velasquez
Cain Velasquez is a former All-American wrestler and undefeated MMA fighter who has yet to see what the second round looks like in his pro career. This Saturday at UFC Fight Night 17 he faces Octagon newbie Denis Stojnic, and all indications are that Velasquez’s undefeated streak will still be intact on Sunday morning.
In this exclusive interview, Velasquez talks with us about the choice of opponents, his transition from wrestling to MMA, and his thoughts on AKA’s recent dust-up with the UFC over the video game licensing deal.
CagePotato.com: You’re facing a guy who’s making his UFC debut in Denis Stojnic. What do you know about him and how have you been preparing for him?
The only thing I know about him is from watching YouTube videos of him. He’s an aggressive fighter, he throws some wild punches, and he’s an extremely tough dude. I’m working on turning the corner, not really standing there and banging with him, but looking for shots from there for the takedown.
You’re 4-0 and beat a fairly established UFC fighter in Jake O’Brien your last time out. Why do you think the UFC decided to put you up against a guy stepping into the Octagon for the first time?
I’m not really sure, but they did. I’m glad they did because that’s just more ring time for me. When I get up to the big guys, the big names, I’ll be more ready.
No Apologies From Georges St. Pierre
Less than two days removed from his successful welterweight title defense, Georges St. Pierre is already in the throes of another battle. Only, this one revolves around Vaseline.
B.J. Penn's corner alleges St. Pierre's trainers greased his back in between rounds, and SI.com learned earlier today that Penn's camp plans to file a formal complaint with Nevada State Athletic Commission.
St. Pierre sat down with SI.com to tell his side of the controversy, discuss his scientific gameplan and his thoughts on B.J. Penn.
Kizer: Penn yet to file UFC 94 appeal, St. Pierre's corner could face action
While the utter domination of B.J. Penn by Georges St. Pierre during the two champions' UFC 94 main-event bout cannot be questioned, the tactics implemented by the Canadian's team between rounds of Saturday's fight has left the group open for disciplinary action.
Nevada State Athletic Commission Executive Director Keith Kizer today told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) that an improper application of Vaseline to St. Pierre's back by his cornermen has already merited a stern warning from the commission, and further actions may follow.
"There was no need for it," Kizer said of the incident in question. "It was disturbing. Where it goes from here, if anything, I don't know."
Immediately following the end of Saturday's UFC 94 bout, reports of an impending appeal to be filed by Penn's camp began to surface. Kizer said that though nothing official has been filed by Penn or his camp, the NSAC was already well aware of the improprieties in question.
Kizer and his team actually began dealing with the possible application of Vaseline to St. Pierre's back and shoulders during the match.
"The first round, one of the inspectors that was on the outside of the cage came over to me and said it looked to him that when the cornerman, who I think in that case was Phil Nurse, put the Vaseline on Georges' face then rubbed his shoulders -- which you see the guys rubbing the other guy's shoulders to help him out -- he didn't wipe off his hands between doing that. I said, 'Well, I'm going to watch very closely after this round.'"
NSAC Comments on Vaseline Controversy
The sweat had not yet dried when accusations began to fly against welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre after his lopsided victory against B.J. Penn in the UFC 94 main event on Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Not long after his win, St. Pierre and his corner, including trainer Greg Jackson, came under fire for allegedly using a “greasing” agent between rounds. Nevada State Athletic Commission Executive Director Keith Kizer on Monday confirmed improprieties had occurred in the champion’s corner after the first and second rounds.
“After the first round, one of my inspectors came to me and told me he thought he saw one of the cornermen -- I believe it was Phil Nurse … after putting Vaseline on [St. Pierre’s] face, he saw him rub his shoulders, and it appeared as though he might not have wiped off his hands,” Kizer said. “After the second round, we observed Mr. Jackson putting Vaseline on Mr. St. Pierre’s face and then putting his hand on his back.”
At that point, Kizer attempted to get Jackson’s attention from outside the cage.
“I don’t think he heard me because of all the noise in the arena, so I immediately walked into the Octagon myself -- I’ve probably done that two other times in my career -- and told him to take his hand off Mr. St. Pierre’s back,” he said. “We took a towel and wiped off his back. After the third round, we went in again and made sure his back and shoulders were wiped off to ensure a level playing field.”
Kizer informed Penn’s camp of the situation after the bout ended. Penn’s manager and brother, J.D., told Sherdog.com on Sunday that the Hawaiian’s camp planned to file a complaint with the NSAC, but, as of Monday afternoon, Kizer had not heard from Penn’s representatives. Penn has 10 days to file...
Long Road Back: MMAmania.com interview exclusive with Stephan Bonnar
Adam Wagner (MMAmania.com): How’s the knee?
Stephan Bonnar: Great. It feels good.
Adam Wagner (MMAmania.com): You trained for a long time in Chicago under Carlson Gracie until his passing in 2006. You’ve also worked with Mark DellaGrotte and Sityodtong, and now you’re with Xtreme Couture. Now that you’ve relocated to Vegas and have access to a lot of different trainers and sparring partners, how would you compare this experience to your days back in Chicago?
Stephan Bonnar: You know, it’s just a lot easier. I still go to a couple different gyms, but it seems like everything’s at my fingertips. Every gym is like within two miles of the other one. I got great sparring partners at Couture, I got a great jiu-jitsu teacher up at Sergio Penha’s, which is a few miles from there.
In Chicago, I’d get some good sparring, at some boxing gyms or with Arlovski, but it was a lot more difficult. I was traveling a lot more, going all over. But (in Vegas) you got a lot more places, a lot of different guys. It feels like everything out here is really close and convenient, not too far out of the way.
In Chicago, I was going up to Miguel Torres’ school a couple of times a week for MMA work. I tried to make it to Duke Roufus’ like twice a week for Muay Thai — that was in Milwaukee, that was killing me. And then also with the boxing too, I had Arlovski, I had some guys that jabbed, but even then, it’d be something I’d have to set up. I’d have to make calls and ask, are you going to go to the gym today? You gonna do sparring?
Down here, I just go to Couture’s and show up there, and there’s a bunch of guys to work with.
UFC 94 Preview w/PRO PICKS!
UFC 94 ‘GSP vs. PENN II’ Preview and LIVE Coverage! w/PRO Fighter Picks!
Hermes Franca – “Both guys are A+ level fighters and it is really hard to pick a winner for this fight. In my opinion the fans are going to be the biggest winners when this fight is over. In their first fight two years ago BJ came into the fight very strong and was able to push him around at the beginning but Georges St. Pierre won the second round and the third round was very close which lead to the split decision. I am going to stick with my pick that the fans are going to be the biggest winners.”
Rob Kaman –“This is a very tough fight to call. I think that BJ is the more animalistic fighter and that Georges St. Pierre is the more athletic fighter. Georges is always ready to go the distance and BJ’s conditioning has come into question throughout his career. This fight could end up being a fast win for BJ or decision win for GSP. They are both great fighters and like I said earlier, BJ is more animalistic in the sense that he enjoys punishing his opponents. Where as Georges St. Pierre is the more technical fighter, a pure athlete with the ability to knock out his opponents. I also think that GSP is going to have an advantage with his reach and it will be interesting to see how BJ counters that. If the fight ends in the first 3 rounds then I think it will be BJ. If the fight makes it into the championship rounds then I would have to take Georges St. Pierre.”
Varner Fears Career-Ending Injury
WEC lightweight champion Jamie Varner’s split decision victory over Donald Cerrone at WEC 38 last Sunday in San Diego, Calif., could become a costly title defense.
“I broke my right index metacarpal, completely fractured,” Varner said on Sherdog Radio Network’s “Beatdown” show on Wednesday. “So I have to get pins put in it [Thursday]. Then I go next week to see my eye doctor to make sure my retina isn’t detached. And if it’s detached it could be a career-ending injury.”
Varner, who said he is still having trouble with his peripheral vision four days following the injury, has been indefinitely suspended until he can provide medical documentation that says the eye has recovered.
But it was the fight’s stoppage and the reaction it got that might have affected Varner the most.
“What hurt me the most was the crowd. They had no idea about the pain or suffering I was going through,” said Varner. “They had no idea I broke my hand in the first or second round. I don’t know exactly where. I remember one time in the fourth round that I just couldn’t hit him with it. I told my corner that I couldn’t use it anymore.
For Varner, the injuries kept on coming.
“He checked one of my kicks early in the fight and that’s where I fractured my foot,” said the Arizona Combat Sports fighter. “Then I kicked him in the head with it in the fourth and that was it. My foot was completely done. So I walked out for the fifth round with one hand and some takedowns. I had to grind out a decision… I knew the fifth round was going to be boring. I couldn’t offer anything really damaging.”
Varner (16-2) couldn’t see anything out of his right eye immediately following the illegal knee from Cerrone (9-1) that came in the final round and led the referee Josh Rosenthal to halt the bout. When a fighter can’t continue from an unintentional illegal blow, the bout goes to the scorecards. Varner was awarded the split decision...
Arlovski and where he goes next
Arlovski held a video chat tonight for his fans. Some interesting stuff. Check it out. Talked about his fight with Fedor, his next fight, his boxing career, his "glass jaw", a possible return to the UFC, among other things.
Thiago Silva: I'll be the last one standing at UFC 94
Lyoto Machida (13-0 MMA, 5-0 UFC) is elusive, that Thiago Silva (13-0 MMA, 4-0 UFC) knows.
But while many MMA observers continue to debate whether Machida's defensive style is an impressive display of technical prowess or a prime example of avoiding a fight, Silva has his mind made up.
"I know a lot of fans don't like Machida's style because he's always running and winning the fights by decision," Silva recently told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com). "I don't like it either."
The two undefeated Brazilian light-heavyweights will meet Saturday in the co-main event of "UFC 94: St. Pierre vs. Penn II" in Las Vegas. Silva believes the contrast between his aggressive, attacking style and Machida's defensive, elusive gameplan will make for a complete test.
"I definitely study my opponents," Silva said. "I'm a complete fighter, and I can adjust to whatever position or situation comes in the fight. I'm the kind of fighter that is always open to learn more. You will see a new Thiago Silva on Saturday night.
"But I think this fight is going to be more psychological than physical. I'm ready for that. I trained a lot, and I won't let this fight go to a decision."
Affliction Day of Reckoning post fight quotes
Here are post fight quotes from the winners of Affliction Day of Reckoning. Fedor talks about capitalizing on Arlovski's mistakes, Barnett talks about his performance, and Dan Lauzon makes mentions of the low blows by Bobby Green. Some interesting quotes in case anyone hasn't seen