WHITE NOT SURE WHAT'S UP WITH VERA
Sporting an undefeated record through his first eight fights, UFC light heavyweight competitor Brandon Vera has now dropped three out of his last four bouts and seems to be at a crossroads for his future with the promotion.
Always confident before his fights, Vera quickly became a fan favorite early in his career with his exciting style and killer instinct that earned him wins over top opponents like Frank Mir while competing at heavyweight.
Now after two fights at 205 pounds, Vera is 1-1 with two fairly lackluster fights and UFC president Dana White commented on the fighter's performance after his loss to Keith Jardine on Saturday night in England.
"Brandon Vera, it's like he lost something," White commented. "That year off, I don't know what it was. He doesn't have that killer instinct, he doesn't go after it. This kid used to be so cocky, and you know he wanted to fight everybody."
In a pre-fight interview with MMAWeekly.com, Vera mentioned that after his fight with Jardine he would have one fight remaining on his current contract. But has he lost some of his negotiating power after his last two performances in a 205-pound weight class that seems to add new talent with almost every show?
Bisping To Face Winner of Franklin vs. Henderson
Michael Bisping’s next test inside the Octagon will be by far his toughest.
Announced as a coach for season nine of “The Ultimate Fighter” reality series, Bisping will meet the winner of the UFC 93 bout between one-time middleweight champion Rich Franklin and former dual Pride Fighting Championships titleholder Dan Henderson. The Franklin-Henderson victor will also coach against Bisping on TUF; a Spike TV representative on Sunday confirmed shooting on the show’s ninth season would commence in late January.
Though talk around Bisping continues to center on a potential showdown with reigning middleweight king Anderson Silva, he will have to clear at least one more hurdle before he throws leather with the champion.
UFC Quick Quote: Chris Leben couldnt land that one big shot on Michael Bisping
“I said [to myself] I gotta draw him in somehow. I was playing every card I had. At that point I was like ******* screw it, let’s trade. Let’s try to get him to come in and bang with me a little bit and maybe I could land that shot. Sometimes you do and sometimes you don’t. And this time I didn’t. It was Bisping’s night tonight.”
– Chris Leben talks in the post-fight press conference about his mindset as he realized he was losing the main event fight against Michael Bisping at UFC 89
Dana: ''Win Over Alves Will Give Koscheck Title Shot''
Josh Koscheck will find himself back in title contention if he beats Thiago Alves at UFC 90 next week.
Asked by Fighters Only if winning the fight after taking it o two weeks notice would put Koscheck back in the title race, UFC president Dana White said “Yeah, obviously.”
“Obviously Thiago Alves had a couple of big wins, knocking out Karo Parisyan, knocking out Matt Hughes, and Koscheck is the guy who beat Diego Sanchez,” he explained.
Koscheck was offered the fight on just two weeks notice after Sanchez dropped out because of injury.
There had been speculation that Sanchez would be in title contention had he won over Alves, with that speculation passing to Koscheck once he was announced as the replacement opponent.
Koscheck handed Sanchez his first ever loss, with a controversial split decision win over him at UFC 69 last year.
UFC 89 AWARDS NET $40,000 BONUSES (UPDATED)
BIRMINGHAM, England – The Ultimate Fighting Championship handed out its usual post-fight awards following UFC 89 in Birmingham, England on Saturday night. The winners of each "of the Night" award also took home a bonus check worth $40,000 U.S., a UFC official informed MMAWeekly.com
As billed, Chris Lytle and Paul Taylor went toe-to-toe for the course of their three-round battle. At the end, it was Lytle that scored a unanimous decision victory, but both fighters went home with some extra pay for their extra efforts in the Octagon, winning the Fight of the Night award.
It was definitely a rough night for Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou, who was finished via TKO by Luiz Cane in the second round of their bout. Cane dropped Sokoudjou with a flurry and finished him off with successive punches on the ground, scoring the Brazilian a $40,000 bonus check for Knockout of the Night.
MMAWeekly.com initially announced that Marcus Davis was taking home Submission of the Night honors for the guillotine choke that he used to end Paul Kelly's night in their main card fight. After further clarification, we made an error; it was Jim Miller that was actually the fighter the UFC determined to receive the Submission of the Night award and $40,000 bonus.
Miller submitted David Baron in their preliminary bout with a rear naked choke. It was Miller's Octagon debut and he made it in style taking home the UFC 89 Submission of the Night and $40,000 bonus.
UFC 89 AWARDS AND BONUSES
(Each fighter received a $40,000 bonus.)
UFC 89 FIGHT OF THE NIGHT:
-Chris Lytle vs. Paul Taylor
UFC 89 KNOCKOUT OF THE NIGHT:
UFC 89 SUBMISSION OF THE NIGHT:
DARK MATCHES LIGHT UP UFC 89 IN ENGLAND
BIRMINGHAM, England – Save for one, every preliminary bouts at UFC 89 in Birmingham, England went into the third round or went the distance, but it wasn't for lack of exciting action.
Dan Hardy and Akihiro Gono took it to the wire in their split decision effort. It was Hardy who was able to maintain the pace for the better part of the fight, but Gono was able to get some licks in as well in this three-round throwdown. Most definitely the crowd favorite, it was Hardy that walked away with two judges in his pocket, but the performance of both fighters surely ignited the crowd at the National Indoor Arena.
Coloradan Shane Carwin has wasted no time disappointing British fans that were pulling for countryman Neil Wain. In just one minute, 31 seconds, he bloodied Wain into a referee's stoppage, sending Old Skool back to school. Carwin now stands at 2-0 in the Octagon and 10-0 as a professional mixed martial artist.
Swedish fighter David Bielkheden used an onslaught of takedowns and ground and pound to secure a unanimous decision victory over Jess Liaudin – a French import making his home in England.
In a lightweight battle, Terry Etim used his technique and stamina to outlast a frustrated Sam Stout in their preliminary bout at UFC 89. Etim suffered a flash knockdown in the opening stanza, but it wasn't enough to faze him or the judges, as he ended a two-fight skid – sending Stout onto his own slippery two-fight slope – with a unanimous decision victory.
Jim Miller finally made his UFC debut and he did not disappoint. The former Ring of Combat champion had to go deep into the third round with French fighter David Baron, but he controlled the majority of the fight before finishing with a rear naked choke.
Miller is an interesting addition to the UFC ranks. He now holds a 12-1 professional record with his only loss being to Frankie Edgar, a UFC veteran that Miller may now have the chance to rematch in hopes to avenge his lone blemish.
In the evening's opening bout, Per Eklund made up for a disappointing Octagon debut in January at UFC 80 by submitting Samy Schiavo. He had to survive being dropped in the first round, but Eklund persevered and locked on rear necked choke to put an end to the contest less than two minutes into the final round.
Preliminary Bouts Results:
-Dan Hardy def. Akihiro Gono by Split Decision, R3
-Shane Carwin def. Neil Wain by TKO (Strikes) at 1:31 R1
-David Bielkheden def. Jess Liaudin by Unanimous Decision, R3
-Terry Etim def. Sam Stout by Unanimous Decision, R3
-Jim Miller def. David Baron by Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 3:19, R3
-Per Eklund def. Sammy Schiavo by Submission (Rear Naked Choke) at 1:47, R3
UFC 89 REVIEW: BISPING TOO TUF FOR LEBEN
Home country fighter Michael Bisping did not disappoint his fans in Birmingham, England on Saturday night as he pulled out a hard fought unanimous decision win over Chris Leben at UFC 89 in front of 9,515 fans crowded into the National Indoor Arena.
Early in the fight, Bisping showed his gameplan and discipline by using an effective counter striking game to work against an aggressive Chris Leben attack.
The British fighter used good combinations to land solid shots to Leben's chin, as the American kept moving forward throughout the opening session, only to be met by the quicker and more accurate fighter in Bisping.
"People talk about it, if you're backing off and using counter footwork, they say you're running away," Bisping commented about his strategy. "That's not the case at all. I'm countering, I'm landing strikes, and that was the plan."
The second round saw Leben stick to a similar attack, stepping forward over and over again, but Bisping stayed patient feeding his opponent a steady diet of short jabs and body kicks which landed with more effectiveness throughout. Late in the round, Leben seemed to get frustrated with Bisping's gameplan almost inviting him to attack, but the former "Ultimate Fighter" winner didn't take the bait, sticking to his counter striking strategy.
As the third round started, based on damage alone, it looked as if Leben was fighting an uphill battle, but he stuck in the fight coming after Bisping with everything he had left in the gas tank.
UFC interested in Yoshihiro Akiyama
Korean MMA superstar Yoshihiro Akiyama appears to be a free agent and is reportedly no longer on good terms with his former promotional company, FEG, which operates both K-1 and DREAM in Japan.
During a press conference in Japan earlier this week to promote FEG’s annual “Dynamite!” event on New Year’s Eve, Akiyama was a notable omission from a list of possible participants for the show, according to a report on Sherdog.
The Sherdog report indicates that Akiyama is not longer contractually obligated to FEG and could be looking to sign a deal with FEG’s primary MMA rival in Japan, World Victory Road’s Sengoku promotion.
Akiyama has already reportedly expressed an interest in fighting Japanese MMA superstar Hidehiko Yoshida, who is one of Sengoku’s top draws.
However, it is believed that the UFC is also expected to make a play for Akiyama’s services, as it has long-term plans to promote shows in South Korea and a deal with Akiyama would bolster the U.S.-based promotion’s marketing potential in Korea.
UFC 89: JARDINE WORKING BACK INTO THE MIX
When you think of fighters with topsy-turvy careers in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, it's hard not to think about Keith Jardine, product of the Greg Jackson Submission Fighting Camp in Albuquerque, N.M. He has developed well through the camp and has compiled some extremely impressive wins in his career. However, he has also had some deterring losses in his tenure in the UFC.
Jardine was a product of the Ultimate Fighter in season two. He made it to the semi-finals in the show, losing to his current teammate Rashad Evans. His first two victories in the UFC were against Kerry Schall and Mike Whitehead. His next fight would be against the extremely popular Ultimate Fighter season one runner up Stephan Bonnar. Jardine controlled a lot of the fight landing some very strong leg kicks. However, the judges didn't rule in his favor, much to the chagrin of many fans.
In his next bout, he would out-point Wilson Gouveia and move on to take on current UFC light heavyweight champion Forrest Griffin. Jardine shocked Griffin, hurting him badly with strikes and finishing him off on the ground. That fight put Jardine on the road to the light heavyweight title. Unfortunately, that road would hit a major stopping point at Houston Alexander. A relative unknown at the time, he stunned and knocked out Jardine in just 48 seconds of the first round.
SOKOUDJOU STILL OUT TO PROVE HE'S NOT A FLUKE
Few fighters have had a better burst onto the mixed martial arts scene than Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou. He had just three professional fights before debuting at Pride 33 against Antonio Rogerio Nogueira. Nogueira was a heavy favorite coming into that bout. Sokoudjou at that time was 2-1 and had just lost his first bout to Glover Teixeira at WEC 24.
In less than a minute, after a brief exchange, Sokoudjou landed a left that knocked down Nogueira. “The African Assassin” jumped on the opportunity and knocked him out cold with a follow up punch. Instantly, everyone was very excited to see him fight again. Fans wanted to see if this was simply a “lucky punch” or if he was the real deal.
Fans would soon find out as Sokoudjou was slated to fight Ricardo Arona - another Top 10 light heavyweight at the time. Once again, to the surprise of everyone, Sokoudjou finished Arona in less than a round.
All of a sudden, with two straight wins over Top 10 opponents, Sokoudjou found himself in everyone’s Top 1 rankings. After knocking out the aforementioned fighters, Pride dissolved and was purchased by the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Negotiations progressed and Sokoudjou signed with the UFC to add more depth to their already stacked 205-pound division.
Dana White: BJ Penn vs Anderson Silva ‘aint gonna happen’
“If GSP beats BJ then you’ll see Silva v GSP — possibly at a catch weight. But if Penn beats GSP there’s no way I’d let him move up to 185lbs, no way. He’ll f***ing fight, argue and cry about it but there’s no way – it ain’t gonna happen, I can tell you that right now – it ain’t gonna happen.”
UFC President Dana White is all about a superfight between welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre and middleweight champion Anderson Silva sometime in 2009. Of course, St. Pierre — who next fights lightweight champion BJ Penn at UFC 94 on January 31 — and Silva — who fights Patrick Cote next week — both more than likely need to win their next bouts for that to happen. Great idea and a colossal moneymaker. But here’s where it gets a little weird — White says he will not let Penn — a former welterweight champion who has competed against light heavyweights in the past — fight “The Spider” if he bests “Rush.” Penn has said numerous times that he would like to hold every belt in the UFC, but according to an emphatic White, it’s not going to happen. White is right in that Penn will more than likely raise a stink if he is not allowed to fight Silva … as he should be. It doesn’t make much sense, especially since Penn would have to vacate at least one title for it to happen. Hopefully, White will elaborate on the thought process in the near future.
UFC 89: PAUL TAYLOR WANTS WAR WITH CHRIS LYTLE
BIRMINGHAM, England – MMAWeekly.com caught up with a surprisingly chilled Paul Taylor on the eve of his encounter with tough MMA veteran Chris Lytle at UFC 89. For the Briton this fight is business like any other and he knows that Lytle has the same mindset. They are both hard chargers who love to throw leather, both have seen their fare shares of wars, and that’s what he is banking on.
“I am really looking forward to this fight with Chris. I respect him, he’s a great fighter, but I want a war. I don’t like to go out there and have a quick fight. Win, lose or draw I want to feel like I have been in war at the end of it,” he stated emphatically.
For many in the U.K., Taylor has been a staple of the welterweight division since joining the promotion, but things may not always stay that way. He sees this fight as being a benchmark for himself and the results will dictate if he makes a move to the 155-pound division or continues campaigning at 170 pounds. “I feel comfortable at 170, but if I get my arse handed to me I may consider the cut to 155. It all depends on how I show, but ultimately it’s a mixed bag. I am probably one of the tall guys in this division, but I am not necessarily a big guy here. My body type prevents that as I find it hard to pack on the muscle. This means I compensate on technical ability, speed, and movement.”
Pros Pick: Bisping vs. Leben
The Octagon returns to the UK for another round of caged-in, hand-to-hand combat at UFC 89 “Bisping vs. Leben” this Saturday at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham, England. The event will be carried on tape delay by Spike TV and should provide a solid night of action. The featured bout pits local hero Michael Bisping against Chris Leben in what promises to be a memorable middleweight duel.
Who wins? Sherdog.com polled a number of professional fighters and trainers, seeking their opinions on the UFC 89 main event.
Keith Jardine says he has a gameplan for Brandon Vera
While a middleweight matchup between Michael Bisping and Chris Leben is the marquee attraction for Saturday’s UFC 89 event at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham, England, the televised portion (SPIKE TV, 9 P.M. ET) of the show will also feature a light heavyweight battle between Keith Jardine and Brandon Vera.
Tomorrow’s bout is crucial for both fighters, as neither can afford a loss at this point. For Jardine, he has recorded major victories over the likes of Forrest Griffin and Chuck Liddell. However, he has been unable to convert those victories into a shot at the UFC light heavyweight title due to the fact that both wins were proceeded by tough losses to Houston Alexander and Wanderlei Silva.
After losing to Silva in quick fashion this past May at UFC 84, Jardine needs to deliver at UFC 89 in order to avoid suffering consecutive losses in a UFC light heavyweight division that seemingly gets deeper on a monthly basis.
Josh Koscheck confirms plans to fight at both UFC 90 and UFN 16
During a conference call to promote UFC 90, Josh Koscheck confirmed that he plans to fight twice in the next sixty days. First, Koscheck takes on Thiago Alves in the co-main event on October 25th. Then, If Koscheck comes out unscathed, he will have a six week turnaround to prepare for Yoshiyuki Yoshida on December 10.
There are some very interesting sub-plots going on though. One of the main reasons Koscheck took the short-notice fight with Alves is that Koscheck believes the winner will be the number one contender for welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre. However, Koscheck will be fighting Yoshida in the interim. Should Koscheck lose to Yoshida, it would seem highly unlikely that he would still receive the title shot.
Next, Alves is a very good fighter who has already had a huge 2008 that included victories over both Matt Hughes and Karo Parisyan. The odds of Koscheck coming out of the fight without injury in order to make such a quick turn-around would seem unlikely. That brings the next question as to who would the UFC replace him with in a TV main event match? Former Ultimate Fighter alums Diego Sanchez and Mike Swick are out due to injury. Typically, Spike likes to feature former TUF competitors on their shows, but that doesn’t seem possible in this case. That would leave Parisyan as a possibility since he and Yoshida have been rumored as opponents in the past. However, it’s hard to believe a Parisyan - Yoshida bout would be of that much interest to Spike, but Spike hopes that is not an issue. They want Koscheck. If Koscheck makes both fights, it will be a very impressive feat.
TUF 9: Bisping Definate, Vs Franklin/Hendo
Michael Bisping will be the UK team captain on season 9 of The Ultimate Fighter, UFC president Dana White has confirmed.
Speaking to Fighters Only at the UFC 89 weight-ins earlier, he said that Bisping would be the UK captain regardless of the result against Chris Leben tomorrow night.
“Win, lose or draw, he will coach the British team,” White revealed.
UFC matchmaker Joe Silva, standing nearby interjected: “Although if Bisping walks through Leben like he has his other opponents, that is going to be interesting.”
When then revealed that Bisping’s opposite number on TUF 9 will be either Rich Franklin and Dan Henderson.
“We’re looking for the right fight,” he said, explaining that the chosen coach would have to be a “step up” from Bisping’s previous opponents.
Asked if Henderson and Franklin were the two names on the shortlist, he confirmed: “That is who we are looking at.”
Franklin is a former UFC middleweight champion, while Henderson held both the middleweight and light-heavyweight belts in PRIDE FC.
UFC 89 Official Weigh-In Results
Michael Bisping and Chris Leben were deemed fit for battle at the official weigh-in for UFC 89 on Friday at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham, England.
The two middleweights will collide in the main event Saturday, as the UFC makes its final 2008 visit to the UK.