Franklin Balancing Gameplan With Cardio For UFC 88
Rich Franklin expects a tough time of it when he faces Matt Hamill in a light-heavyweight bout on Saturday.
The former middleweight champion says his gameplan is all about speed and footwork – but that might be difficult when carrying extra weight.
“I’ve got to be quick on my feet... I need to use my footwork to confuse him and stick and move and stick and move and avoid takedowns,” he told MMA Stomping Grounds.
But he noted that if he is carrying “an extra 20 pounds... and it goes the full 15 minutes, that takes a toll on conditioning”.
Franklin is campaigning at 205lbs after losing his middleweight title to Anderson Silva and then failing to win it back in a rematch.
Both were heavy losses for the former champion and he says the UFC was not interested in seeing him fight Silva for a third time.
Houston Alexander signs five-fight UFC contract extension
The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) recently inked light heavyweight Houston Alexander to a new five-fight contract extension, locking-in the services of the hard-hitting Nebraskan slugger well into 2009 if the promotion decides to keep him on the roster, according to WrestlingObserver.com.
Alexander was relatively unknown to the masses until he burst onto the scene with two destructive performances inside the Octagon, taking out top contender Keith Jardine in his debut back at UFC 71: “Liddell vs. Jackson” in May 2007 and then crumbling Alessio Sakara at UFC 75: “Champion vs. Champion” less than four months later.
“The Nebraskan Assassin,” however, quickly returned to Earth with back-to-back losses to Thiago Silva and James Irvin. In fact, Alexander didn’t last more than four minutes combined in those two bouts.
Despite his recent struggles, Alexander remains a fan favorite and a crowd pleaser win or lose. That’s more than likely the reason the promotion made the decision to keep him around.
He will have his opportunity to get back on the winning track against Brazilian jiu-jitsu specialist Eric Schafer at UFC Fight Night 15 in front of a hometown crowd at the Omaha Civic Auditorium in Omaha. Neb., on September 17.
Jason Lambert looks for new life in middleweight division at UFC 88
Jason Lambert (23-8 MMA, 4-3 MMA) was riding high in 2006. Riding an eight-fight win streak, including three wins in the UFC, "The Punisher" was on top of the world.
But after three losses in his next four fights, Lambert made the decision to try the UFC's middleweight division. Lambert will make his 185 pound debut for the UFC at UFC 88 in Atlanta this Saturday night.
Lambert discussed the process for dropping to 185 pounds while a recent guest of TAGG Radio (www.taggradio.com), the official radio partner of MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com).
"After my last 205 (pound) fight I didn't go back up to my normal walk-around weight," Lambert explained. "I stayed right around 205 (pounds). So it wasn't too hard for me to start getting down to [185 pounds]."
Lambert said with two days left before weigh-ins he is already at his target weight.
"I'm not cutting right now," Lambert said. "I'm ready. I've been focusing on keeping my power and strength. I think it should be a good time for me to get down to [185 pounds]."
Lambert had fought at 185 pounds earlier in his career, but had fought excusively at 205 pounds while signed with the UFC. The North County Fight Club product had hoped for an opportunity to try a practice run at making the weight, but UFC plan changes didn't allow that luxury.
"People have been asking me if I did [a mock weight cut]," Lambert said. "I was waiting to hear from the UFC. I was asking them for a fight and they weren't getting back to me. So I didn’t think that I had a fight.
"I was waiting, and then they came back with September when I thought I was going to fight in October because they hadn't gotten back to me. So I was getting ready to do [a mock cut], and then they called. So I didn't want to do a mock one when I was starting to ramp up for a training camp. I just put it on hold and started training for the fight."
Lambert said that differences in training were necessary, but that diet was the biggest factor in reaching the lower weight class.
"I've been doing a lot of the circuits and stuff like that with my strength coach," Lambert said. "It's just real high-energy, really fast-paced circuits with all kinds of things.
"I've had a dietitian for a while, I just never listened to him. I just had to pay a little more attention to what he was telling me. Just be smart about it so I'm not having to cut too much and killing myself."
In addition to dealing with a new weight class, Lambert was also forced to deal with an opponent change just three weeks out from the fight. Lambert's original opponent, Jason Day, was forced off the card due to an arm injury and veteran middleweight Jason MacDonald filled in.
Lambert said the change was not an issue.
"[Opponent changes] are just part of the business," Lambert said. "Things like that happen, so you can't let it just completely rattle you. You've just got to be ready for it.
"You can kick and throw a tantrum and all that, but it's not going to do you any good. Re-focus on who you've got now and get back in there in the gym. Maybe tweak some things mentally. But typically you prepare the same for anybody. It's usually just mostly mental for me -- doing the visualizations and things like that with whoever I'm going to be fighting."
Lambert has suffered through a tough stretch in his recent bouts. But the recent struggles haven't deterred him from wanting to put on a great show for the fans.
"I want to go out there and excite the fans," Lambert said. "I always have had exciting fights, and I'm always looking to be fight of the night. I do get a little bit nervous, but it's more so the fact that I want to have a really good showing."
Lambert hopes to excite a ground that he knows has the potential of being quite loud.
"I anticipate a crazy crowd," Lambert said. "I think my fight with (Renato) 'Babalu' (Sobral) was the first fight in Ohio, and that place was a zoo. I couldn't believe the streets -- everywhere was just packed. It was just crazy.
"I'm expecting it to be like that here. Because anytime it's the first time [the UFC] comes to a place, usually it's pretty crazy."
UFC Quick Quote: Rich Franklin didn’t want to be a middleweight gatekeeper
“I was talking to the UFC after the second [Anderson] Silva loss and they encouraged me to move up to 205. They told me my position there would be more appealing to them from a business perspective. They weren’t interested in a third match between me and Silva and they didn’t want me fighting contenders because I could eliminate possible title fights, so I was stuck in that I was going to be fighting people on the back end of their losses to Silva and I didn’t care for that gatekeeper position. After the Travis Lutter fight, I said I would try my hand at 205 again.”
– Former middleweight champion Rich Franklin reveals to the his reasons for moving back up to the light heavyweight division for his upcoming fight against Matt Hamill at UFC 88: “Breakthrough” at the Philips Arena in Atlanta, Ga., on September 6. “Ace” was soundly defeated twice by UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva, which essentially meant that he’d be relegated to fighting — and possibly knocking off — new contenders.
(If you have the time click the Baltimore Sun interview. Its longer but a good read)
Win and he’s back in?: MMAmania.com exclusive UFC 88 interview with Nate Marquardt
Ever since losing a title shot to Anderson Silva at UFC 73 back in July of last year, Nate “The Great” Marquardt (26-8-2) has been looking to get back into title contention. He welcomed Jeremy Horn back to the UFC with a guillotine choke submission at UFC 81 in February.
And he looked … um, “Great” in a well-publicized UFC 85 bout with Thales Leites.
Adam Wagner (MMAmania.com): Your split decision loss to Thales Leites has got to be a bitter pill to swallow. How do you feel about the two points that you were docked, the second of which looked unjustified?
Nate Marquardt: Yeah, you know, it’s not as bad as it seems to be honest. That fight got me a lot of publicity. Everyone who saw the fight said that I won. So it’s not really like I really lost that fight.
Yeah, I thought the second point deduction … I don’t feel like what I did was illegal, but sometimes that happens in fights. To be honest, I think I could have finished Thales, and that was my fault for not keeping on him at a couple of points in that fight.
Adam Wagner (MMAmania.com): I read that after the fight, Leites didn’t want to grant you an immediate rematch. Is that true?
Nate Marquardt: Yes. We asked Joe Silva immediately after, and he said that Thales didn’t want a rematch.
Adam Wagner (MMAmania.com): Do you think he was trying to dodge you?
Nate Marquardt: I don’t know. It’s the smarter decision on his part. He ran away with the win on his record. And he’s looking to get a title shot, so it would be a smart choice on his part.
Adam Wagner (MMAmania.com): So is it difficult to bounce back from something like this, or are you looking at it as a win … or at least not a loss?
Nate Marquardt: Yeah, exactly. I see some mistakes I made during that fight, and I always try to work on that. I just try to get better after every fight. I’m not trying to look at it as a win or as a loss. I’m just trying to look at it and see what I did right, and try to copy that, and see what I did wrong and try to fix it.
Jeremy Stephens vs. newcomer Rafael dos Anjos at UFC 91
Youngster Jeremy "Lil Heathen" Stephens (13-3 MMA, 2-2 UFC), whose three-fight win streak was snapped with a recent unanimous-decision loss to Spencer Fisher, will meet UFC newcomer and Brazilian fight veteran Rafael dos Anjos (11-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC) in November at UFC 91.
The lightweights have agreed to the fight, and bout agreements are expected to be signed shortly, according to a source close to one of the fighters.
The bout is the latest addition to UFC 91, which takes place Nov. 15 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
UFC 88: IS PALHARES UFC CHAMP'S NEXT CHALLENGE?
Heading into this weekend’s UFC 88 in Atlanta, there will be an intriguing match-up in the middleweight division of two fighters headed in different directions at this point in their careers.
On one hand, you have former Pride dual titleholder Dan Henderson, nearing the twilight of his career and currently on a two-fight skid. On the other, you have Rousimar Palhares, in just his second year of fighting and on an impressive six-fight winning streak.
UFC 88: MARQUARDT SEES KAMPMANN AS UPGRADE
“You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need.”
When Mick Jagger wrote the classic song “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” he obviously had no idea that it would one day relate to the sport of mixed martial arts, but for Nate Marquardt there may not be a more perfect theme song.
MacDonald Plans to Wear Lambert Down
“I think at this point in my UFC career all the fights I face are tough, and I don’t think Lambert will be any different. What I do think is that the first time you cut the weight down to a level you haven’t before it’s tough. With Lambert, we’re talking about a guy who has fought at heavyweight, then was down to light-heavyweight, and now he’ll have his first fight at 185. I think that’s definitely to my advantage. As the rounds go on, I think the weight cut will wear on him.”
INEXPERIENCE ASIDE, BROCK LESNAR EYES UFC GOLD
When Brock Lesnar signed with the Ultimate Fighting Championship, the former collegiate wrestling champion and former professional wrestling superstar said he wanted to fight the top heavyweights. He was serious.
At UFC 91 on Nov. 15 from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Lesnar will face Randy "The Natural" Couture for the UFC heavyweight belt in only his fourth mixed martial arts bout and third time in the Octagon.
"I've wanted a fight with Randy since before I signed a contract with the UFC," Lesnar told the media on Tuesday.
Despite his inexperience and Couture's year-long layoff from competition, expectations are high that the match-up will generate record numbers. "We actually do research on these things if you can believe it or not," said UFC president Dana White.
UFC’s upcoming big-money run
If Chuck Liddell is able to defeat Rashad Evans this Saturday night in Atlanta, Georgia at UFC 88, UFC could well be on its way to the company’s biggest three-month run in PPV business — ever.
That’s a bold statement to make, especially given how much of a party crasher Rashad Evans could be to the proceedings if he is able to pull off the upset against Chuck Liddell.
If Liddell is able to defeat Evans, UFC will have three major blockbuster events in four months. UFC 91 on November 15th will be headlined by Randy Couture vs. Brock Lesnar. UFC 92 on December 27th could feature Chuck Liddell vs. Forrest Griffin for the UFC Light Heavyweight title and Wanderlei Silva vs. Quinton Jackson on the undercard. UFC’s ‘Super Bowl’ event will feature Georges St. Pierre vs. BJ Penn in a clash between the UFC’s 170-pound champion and UFC’s 155-pound champion. That’s a lot of PPV buys at stake for a company that continues to get richer while everyone else (outside of Strikeforce) continues to lose a lot of money financially in MMA.
Hughes: ''I'll fight Serra In January''
Matt Hughes expects to fight long-time rival and fellow former welterweight champion Matt Serra in January.
He expects his knee to be healed and able to withstand competing by then, according to an interview with Ohio newspaper The People's Defender.
Having participated in nine successful title fights, Hughes admits that he sometimes finds it hard to motivate himself for bouts.
"I have a harder time motivating myself... I'm not sure if it's my Christianity, my kids, or the fact I'm just getting older," he said.
But he will "definitely" be firing on all cylinders for the Serra fight because there are "a lot of things" that irritate him about the New Yorker.
"I am just different than him. I was raised to be courteous, respectful, and kind to people. He obviously wasn't raised that way," Hughes explained.
The Zuffa End Around
It is often said that business ethics is an oxymoron, but that is the case only if you conduct yourself in such a manner. Rob Maysey details the increasingly questionable nature of the UFC’s push for merchandising agreements with it’s fighters:
Multiple sources have indicated that UFC officials are now sending letters to fighters who have not yet signed the Merchandising Rights Agreement. The letter warns fighters that if they do not return the executed Merchandising Rights Agreement by the end of the week, the offer will be rescinded, and the fighter will not be included in the UFC’s licensing program.
Even more outrageous, UFC officials are directly contacting fighters, instead of the fighters’ selected agents. Fighters are told that they are hearing only one side of the story from their selected representatives, and that the UFC’s Merchandising Rights program really is a great deal. By not signing the Merchandising Rights Agreement, fighters are told they are leaving money on the table.
The old saw “he signed the contract, he should honor it” line of thinking is a bit of a dodge and hard to defend if the signature is attained by subverting the fighter-agent relationship and without the advise and consent of legal representation, in effect, duping the fighter. Moves of this nature are more at home in the moral morass that is the boxing scene, and not something that MMA promoters should be mimicking.
UFC 88: YOSHIDA WANTS TO BUILD ON PARISYAN
The influx of international talent into the Ultimate Fighting Championship continues to grow with almost every event. One of the most recent additions to the ever-growing welterweight division is Japanese standout Yoshiyuki Yoshida, who made his debut at UFC 84 picking up a quick submission win over Jon Koppenhaver.
Now the Judoka returns against one of the toughest tests in his career as he faces Karo Parisyan at UFC 88 in Atlanta, but it won’t be the first time he steps in as the underdog not expected to win.
Making his way through Japanese promotions such as Shooto, Yoshida worked his way into the GCM: Cage Force welterweight tournament as one of eight fighters vying for the championship title.
Brock Lesnar's Wrestling Coach Goes Full Time
Minnesota assistant wrestling coach Marty Morgan is leaving the program, to focus full time on former Gophers star Brock Lesnar's fledgling fighting career.
Lesnar is on the rise in the Ultimate Fighting Championship ranks. He was once an NCAA champion heavyweight at the school.
Morgan spent 16 years coaching at Minnesota after wrestling for the school himself. He says he will take the next year to concentrate on helping Lesnar train in the field of mixed martial arts before evaluating his career then.
To what extent Morgan understands the specificities of the MMA game is an open question, but adding his knowledge and oversight to the existing squad at the Minnesota Martial Arts Academy can only be a good thing. And while Lesnar is a self motivated fighter, having someone on the coaching staff who knows Brock Lesnar is a major plus for the budding heavyweight.
This is also a demonstration that MMA is offering financial opportunities beyond the wrestling mat...even to wrestlers who don't fight. Lesnar is a bit of an aberrant case, but his participation in the sport could be the tide that helps lift all boats.
Brock Lesnar: I'm tired of hearing about Fedor Emelianenko
For UFC newcomer Brock Lesnar (2-1 MMA, 1-1 UFC), the frustration was evident.
UFC President Dana White yesterday announced Lesnar would face a returning Randy Couture at UFC 91 for Couture's heavyweight title. And despite being part of what White referred to as "the biggest fight in UFC history," Lesnar was largely ignored for most of the hour-long media conference call.
The majority of questions focused on Couture's return and how it would impact a possible bout between Couture and current WAMMA heavyweight champion Fedor Emelianenko. Lesnar quickly grew tired of the hypothetical discussion.
"I'm hearing all this talk about Fedor Emelianenko," Lesnar said. "Who gives a [expletive] about Fedor? I don't care. I'm fighting Randy Couture. That's what this press conference is about."
Lesnar said he was not alone in his disdain for the discussions of Emelianenko.
"I don't give a damn about Fedor," Lesnar said. "I'm tired of hearing about [expletive] Fedor. Randy Couture is fighting Brock Lesnar Nov. 15. His No. 1 concern should be Brock Lesnar. And Dana White could care less about Fedor.
Johnson Recovered, Ready For October Return
During an appearance yesterday on TAGG Radio, Anthony Johnson talked about the controversial TKO loss to Kevin Burns, the fight's aftermath, and his recovery from eye surgery. Johnson said he is cleared to return now but will likely next fight in October.