Has UFC Found Its Transcendent Star?
You can watch it a dozen times and not believe it. The first man cinches his arms around his opponent's waist from behind, bucks forward and then simply dead-lifts him up and drops backward with him, tracing an arc of perhaps 140 degrees so that they land together, their weight on the neck of the man being thrown.
As they grapple for leverage on the mat, the first man catches onto the second man's left leg, working down toward the ankle as they rise, and then drops it, spinning to his right and catching his opponent flush with an elbow to the head that knocks him down to the mat, helpless again. From impact to impact, the whole fluid sequence lasts 10 seconds
"I've never seen anyone throw anything like that," said the second man, a tough veteran fighter named Stephan Bonnar. "I didn't even know it hit me. I was laying there thinking someone from the audience threw a bottle or something."
The fight was a test, Jon Jones's eighth in less than a year and his second in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, the leading mixed martial arts promotion. Five fights, four wins and just more than two years later, Jones, 23, is preparing for his first chance at a UFC title.
Saturday at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., he is scheduled to fight Mauricio "Shogun" Rua, champion of the 205-pound division, a feared Muay Thai artist and Brazilian jiu-jitsu player who has finished two-thirds of his 24 professional fights by knockout or technical knockout.
At stake, though, is more than a championship. Since first gaining purchase on the American consciousness five years ago, fighting has won a hard sort of semi-legitimacy as a sport. Major televised bouts draw around six million viewers, top fights regularly sell more than a million pay-per-view orders and an upcoming show in Toronto has, according to the promotion, sold about 55,000 tickets, with an estimated gate of $11 million.
The gap between a status as underground freak show and grudgingly tolerated niche sport, though, may be smaller than the one between fighting as it is now and as it aspires to be. If it is ever to become anything near a major sport, it will have to present a transcendent athlete. Jones may not be that man, but he's likely closer than anyone yet has been—which in its way just shows how far fighting has yet to go...
Herb Dean to Officiate UFC 128 Main Event, Rua-Jones Judges Also Named
Well respected referee Herb Dean has drawn the assignment as the third man in the cage for Saturday's UFC 128 main event pitting champion Mauricio "Shogun" Rua against challenger Jon Jones.
New Jersey state athletic control board legal counsel Nick Lembo informed MMA Fighting of the decision on Tuesday.
Dean is one of the most experienced officials in the sport, reportedly presiding over 4,000 matches during his career. His most recent UFC main event was in last month's UFC 127 draw between BJ Penn and Jon Fitch in Australia.
While Dean will decide things in the cage, if the fight goes to the judges, Douglas Crobsy, Cardo Urso and Dave Tirelli will be scoring the bout at cageside...
Gina Carano Visiting New York Next Week to Promote ‘UFC Personal Trainer’
The UFC’s ongoing tour of the East Coast includes a public press conference at Radio City Music Hall in New York tomorrow, UFC 128 in Newark on Saturday, and the TUF 14 tryouts next Monday. But there’s one more little surprise in store for fight fans — Gina Carano will be doing an appearance in New York next Wednesday to promote “UFC Personal Trainer,” a fitness game slated for a June release on the Xbox 360 Kinect, PlayStation Move, and Nintendo Wii.
White Reveals Vague (But Allegedly Harsh) Punishment for Michael Bisping Spitting Incident
When Ariel Helwani showed up at UFC headquarters over the weekend, he and Dana White didn’t just talk about the company’s surprise purchase of Strikeforce or the impending dissolution of the Jones-Evans bromance, they touched on a number of juicy topics, including exactly how White planned to punish Michael Bisping for conduct unbefitting an Englishman at UFC 127. Turns out, he already has … or at least he says he has. Hard to tell really, since White refuses to get into specifics.
All we know is that in the wake of Bisping blasting Rivera with an illegal knee and then spitting at/on one of Rivera’s corner men following their grudge match, White says the British toolbox “didn’t get a bonus.” We assume that he doesn’t mean the ol’ run-of-the-mill, FOTN-KOTN-SOTN bonuses either, instead referring to the long-rumored, under-the-table bonuses that are sometimes alleged to make up the bulk of a UFC fighter’s pay. So, yeah, that seems … vague. Whatever he did though, White assures us it was a pretty big deal.
Manager: Anderson Silva Wouldn't Have a Problem Fighting Georges St. Pierre at a Catchweight
"Anderson has proven he’s the best fighter and he handles it quite good. It’s a complicated fight to GSP… It’s a pretty bad fight for him. Anderson has this biotype, he loses weight easily, he can make any weight, so I believe a catchweight division would be perfect for GSP, and Anderson wouldn’t have problems with that. Who’d have a problem would be GSP, because Anderson can lose that weight easily and, at the day of the fight, he’d be on his usual weight, so I believe it’s complicated for Georges St. Pierre"
Evans-Jones Rift Escalates; Rumors Swirl That Rashad Has Left Team Jackson
The Jon Jones-Rashad Evans situation is heating up as we get closer to Jones’ fight with Mauricio “Shogun” Rua at UFC 128 Saturday night in New Jersey.
If you haven’t been following along at home, here’s the score:
• Jones hungrily accepted the UFC’s offer to fill in for Evans against Rua when his Team Jackson teammate injured his knee and had to postpone fighting for the title.
• Evans took umbrage with Jones hopping the line since he waited on the sidelines for over a year to get a crack at Rua while the UFC light heavyweight champ recovered from knee surgery, but he took the high road and decided to bite his tongue on the matter.
• Jones reneged on an earlier pact to never fight Evans and goes on record saying during an interview with Versus that he would have no problem facing “Suga.”
• When put on the spot about Jones quote about fighting him during MMA Live, Evans basically said “he ain’t no bitch” and that if that’s what “Bones” said, he would have to fight him.
• Jones tells reporters during a media conference call for UFC 128, “I absolutely hate when people mention Rashad Evans, especially throughout this training camp….for people to even be mentioning Rashad Evans right now…I think it’s ludicrous. Rashad is not in my mind, he’s not in my being, he has absolutely zero to do with my heart and who I am right now. This guy has nothing to do with Shogun and from here on out, I don’t think I’ll answer a question about Rashad. I have a lot of people outside of Rashad who I can draw energy and power from and they’ll all be with me.”
Which brings us to this week.
Schaub Ready for Cro Cop Thanks to Team Intervention
Brendan Schaub's coaches were worried about him. He'd started his training camp roughly three months out from his fight with Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic at UFC 128, and the wear and tear was starting to show.
His body wasn't reacting the way it should have, he said. He'd do one round of sparring or mitt work and feel exhausted. It was like he was getting in worse shape as the weeks wore on. To put it simply, he'd burned himself out. That's when his coaches got together and insisted that he leave the gym and not come back for at least three days.
Melvin Guillard vs. Shane Roller set for UFC 132 in Las Vegas
Melvin Guillard has another hurdle to clear before he breaks into the role of lightweight title challenger.
"The Young Assassin" meets recent knockout artist Shane Roller at UFC 132, which is expected to take place July 2 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas.
The UFC today announced the bout. It's unknown if Guillard vs. Roller will air on the pay-per-view event's main card.
Matt Brown meets Rich Attonito at The Ultimate Fighter 13 Finale
"The Immortal" likely has one last shot to get a win before he gets shuffled out of the octagon.
Matt Brown is expected to meet Rich Attonito at The Ultimate Fighter 13, according to sources close to the event who today told MMAjunkie.com that verbal agreements are in place for the bout.
Heavy.com first reported the fight.
Sam Stout vs. Yves Edwards on tap for UFC 131
A lightweight bout between veterans Sam Stout (16-6-1 MMA, 5-5 UFC) and Yves Edwards (40-16-1 MMA, 8-4 UFC) will be part of UFC 131.
Sources close to the negotiations today told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) the matchup is in the process of being finalized.
Another excellent fight for this ppv. I'm really excited for this one. This could easily be FOTN. I can't even pick a winner here, maybe the slightest of edges to Stout because I'm Canadian?
Any thoughts on this matchup Playground?
Mac Danzig vs. Donald Cerrone grudge match slatted for UFC 131 in Vancouver
Some good good ol' trash-talking has secured Mac Danzig (20-8-1 MMA, 4-4 UFC) a fight with fellow lightweight Donald Cerrone (14-3 MMA, 1-0 UFC) at UFC 131.
UFC officials today announced the June 11 bout, which came about after Danzig's recent Twitter insults.
"So all you have to do to secure a fight you haven't earned is wear a silly hate, call yourself 'Cowboy' and talk trash?" Danzig wrote in January after Cerrone earned a late-replacement booking with Paul Kelly.
Spike TV debuts "Jon Jones: In the Moment" on Thursday ahead of UFC 128
Spike TV unveils a new type of pre-event preview show on Thursday with the debut of "UFC Presents Jon Jones: In the Moment."
The special airs at 11 p.m. ET/PT ahead of Jones' UFC 128 title fight on Saturday with UFC light-heavyweight champion Mauricio "Shogun" Rua.
Officials told MMAjunkie.com the half-hour special follows the fighter's pre-fight preparations, told from his point of view with no narration.
UFC officials: Elbow strikes coming to Strikeforce, broadcast teams to remain intact
Ultimate Fighting Championship executives today said that Showtime will retain control over the broadcast and look of Strikeforce events.
But there is one big difference that fans immediately will notice when the recently purchased promotion next goes on air: the use of elbows on the ground.
UFC co-owner and executive Lorenzo Fertitta said the Strikeforce fighters now will compete under the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts, which allow the strikes.
Strikeforce currently forbids elbows on the ground. Officials claim they cause cuts that unfairly alter the course of a fight. Some MMA fans liked the rule while others said it neutered the action inside the cage.
Elbows to the Head on the Ground Now Allowed in Strikeforce
Although UFC President Dana White insists that things will remain "business as usual" now that his company has purchased Strikeforce, one rules change will be implemented: Elbows to the head on the ground will now be allowed in Strikeforce.
UFC Chairman and CEO Lorenzo Fertitta said on a conference call announcing the purchase Monday that Strikeforce will implement all of the unified rules of mixed martial arts that the UFC uses, and that includes allowing elbows to the head on the ground. The banning of those elbows has been the one significant difference between Strikeforce fights and UFC fights, and that difference will go away.
Pat Barry vs. Cheick Kongo on tap for UFC on Versus 4 in June
Pat Barry (6-2 MMA, 3-2 UFC) and Cheick Kongo (15-6-2 MMA, 8-4-1 UFC) are the first fighters earmarked for UFC on Versus 4.
Sources close to the event today told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) that the heavyweights have verbally agreed to meet, and contracts are expected to be signed shortly. MMAWeekly.com first reported the matchup.
UFC on Versus 4 takes place June 26, and the night's main card airs live on Versus.
The promotion hasn't locked down a city and venue to host the event.
UFC Fight Night 24: Amir Sadollah vs DaMarques Johnson booked with James Wilks out
Third time's the charm.
Amir Sadollah, initially set to fight Duane Ludwig before he was replaced by James Wilks due to injury, has yet another opponent for UFC Fight Night 24 on March 26 in Seattle, in the form of DaMarques Johnson.
MiddleEasy.com brought word of the change earlier today.
After winning The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) Season 7, Sadollah was plagued by injuries that kept him out of the Octagon for over a year. Following a disappointing TKO loss to Johny Hendricks at UFC 101, Sadollah earned unanimous decision victories over Phil Baroni and Brad Blackburn.
He recently rebounded from a unanimous decision loss to Dong Hyun Kim with a win over Peter Sobotta at UFC 122.
DaMarques Johnson will come into this fight, on just two weeks notice, looking to build on his impressive back-breaking win over Mike Guymon at UFC Fight Night 23: "Fight for the Troops 2" back on Jan. 22, 2011.
For now, Melendez vs. Kawajiri title fight a go for "Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Daley"
Although the past week's earthquake in Japan initially cast doubt on the fight, a championship bout between lightweight titleholder Gilbert Melendez (18-2 MMA, 8-1 SF) and Tatsuya Kawajiri (27-6-2 MMA, 0-0 SF) is a go.
On Saturday MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) reported that fellow lightweights K.J. Noons and Jorge Masvidal were told to remain on standby in case their Japanese counterparts were unable to make it to the U.S.
However, sources close to the organization told MMAjunkie.com the past 24 hours have brought word that Melendez vs. Kawajiri should remain part of the April 9 card.
"Mighty Mouse" vs. Barao, Yamamoto vs. Cariaso added to UFC 130
A pair of bantamweight bouts has been added to May's UFC 130 card in Las Vegas.
They include Demetrious "Mighty Mouse" Johnson vs. Renan Barao and Norifumi "Kid" Yamamoto vs. Chris Cariaso.
UFC officials today announced the fights, which takes place May 30 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas with a lightweight title fight and third match between champ Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard.