Alessio Sakara vs. Joe Vedepo likely for UFC Fight Night 15
Another Midwest-based fighter could make his UFC debut when the organization heads to Omaha next month.
A source close to UFC newcomer Joe Vedepo (7-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC) today told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) that the middleweight fighter has verbally agreed to meet Alessio Sakara (12-7 MMA, 3-4 UFC) at next month's UFC Fight Night 15 event.
The bout has not been signed, but bout agreements should be distributed shortly, the source said.
UFC Fight Night 15 takes place Sept. 17 at the Omaha Civic Auditorium and airs on Spike TV. The event, co-headlined by Nate Diaz vs. Josh Neer and Mac Danzig vs. Clay Guida, precedes the debut episode of "The Ultimate Fighter: Team Nogueira vs. Team Mir."
Vedepo, a part of the Cedar Rapids-based Team Hardrive MMA, won the Midwest Cage Championship middleweight belt with a June victory over Brian Green (15-10). Both fighters entered the bout knowing that a major-league contract offer could be on the line. The bloody, back-and-forth main-event fight ultimately ended via a third-round verbal submission in favor of Vedepo.
The 25-year-old former light heavyweight and stand-out high school wrestler has never gone to decision; he's won four fights via knockout and three by submission.
Sakara, meanwhile, will look to push his UFC record to .500. He most recently suffered a loss to Chris Leben at UFC 82 in March. The hard-hitting Italian's other losses have come to Houston Alexander, Drew McFedries and Dean Lister; victories have come over James Lee and Victor Valimaki via knockout, and Elvis Sinosic via unanimous decision.
The American Top Team fighter has lost four of his past six fights.
Jason Lambert vs Jason Day UFC 88 fight set
Jason Lambert (23-8) and Jason Day (17-7) will meet inside the Octagon at UFC 88: “Breakthrough” at the Philips Arena in Atlanta, Ga., on September 6.
MMAmania.com was able to independently confirm the booking, which was originally posted over at FiveOuncesOfPain.com.
“The Punisher” appears to be making the drop to middleweight after competing most of his career in the heavyweight and light heavyweight divisions. Perhaps back-to-back losses to 205-pounders Wilson Gouveia and Luis Arthur Cane, respectively, convinced Lambert to try his luck in the 185-pound division.
Lambert has three losses in his last five attempts within the eight-sided cage.
Day was victorious in his debut for the promotion against Alan Belcher at UFC 83: “Serra vs. St. Pierre 2? in April, upending Alan Belcher via first round technical knockout. The Canadian product was then stopped himself in the same fashion less than two months later when he locked horns with Michael Bisping at UFC 85: “Bedlam.”
Dana White impressed with Heath Herring 2.0
“The thing about Heath Herring is that he not only says he’ll fight anyone, he proves it because he gets in there and does it. But he kind of always teetered between being a success and mediocrity. He’d win one, he’d lose one, and he just sometimes struck you as a flabby guy who wasn’t particularly dedicated. He’s all of a sudden changed his tune, and he’s much more serious and focused and dedicated. And when Heath Herring is focused and in shape, he’s a tough guy for anyone to beat.”
– UFC President Dana White tells Yahoo!Sports.com that he likes what he sees with the improved Heath Herring, who has adopted a new nutritional program and re-dedicated himself to training. Perhaps the massive man who will stand across from him inside the Octagon, Brock Lesnar, at UFC 87: “Seek and Destroy” this weekend has lit a fire under the “Texas Crazy Horse.” It should be real interesting to see how this unfolds on Saturday night.
BJ Penn On Future, Plans For DEC 27 Showdown
In an exclusive video interview with MMAWeekly.com at last weekend’s International Mixed Martial Arts Expo, Ultimate Fighting Championship lightweight champion B.J. Penn spoke about his future plans.
In a meeting with UFC president Dana White last week, Penn extended his UFC contract for “a couple more years,” and said a Dec. 27 return to the Octagon is imminent.
Penn returned to the gym recently after a two-month layoff. After realizing a gap between his talents and ambition, Penn poured himself into training over the last year and a half, delivering stellar performances against Jens Pulver, Joe Stevenson, and Sean Sherk in the process. Now the undisputed champion, Penn needed to take a break before his intensity compromised his health.
“It came to the point where it was like, if you don’t do this it’s going to hurt you really bad down the road,” he said.
Healed up from nagging injuries, Penn is again eyeing the welterweight and lightweight divisions for December. Two benchmark fights happen at this weekend’s UFC 87 event in Minnesota: Georges St. Pierre vs. Jon Fitch and Kenny Florian vs. Roger Huerta. The result of those contests could very well determine Penn’s next two opponents. He made it clear that his preference is for the 170-pound division, which means that he is watching the main event of UFC 87 very closely.
‘Rush’ to judgement: An exclusive interview with UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre
It’s impossible for mixed martial arts fans to agree on who is the best fighter in the world. But one thing they can agree on is that UFC welterweight champion Georges “Rush” St. Pierre is on the very short list of names for consideration.
At 16-2 and just 27 years of age, the Canadian phenom has already been through a meteoric rise and fall - and subsequent rise in the annals of UFC superstardom.
“There were problems” the champ tells me when I ask him about the difficulties in his past, including his loss to Matt Serra. “But part of growing up is recognizing what is wrong and then doing what is right”.
St. Pierre had the unenviable task of growing up in the public spotlight. And in that spotlight, sometimes you’re only as good as your last fight.
Yet that seems to be an approach that ‘Rush’ has embraced heading into his fight against Jon Fitch at UFC 87. No more looking back on what he’s done. Conversely, no more looking ahead to what he might do.
“Jon Fitch is my focus right now. Nothing else.”
I spoke to the St. Pierre at 35,000 feet, en route to Minneapolis for his August 9 showdown with Jon Fitch at UFC 87: ‘Seek and Destroy’. We covered everything from training in Brazil to a possible showdown with Anderson Silva.
And what about all that talk from BJ Penn about gunning for a rematch?
Check it out.
Jesse Holland (MMAmania.com): Georges, first and foremost thank you for taking the time to talk with us again at MMAmania. Let’s get the requisite health question out of the way. How are you feeling physically?
Georges St. Pierre: I am 110%. I am in the best shape of my life.
Jesse Holland (MMAmania.com): How good does it feel to have the two Matt’s (Serra and Hughes) finally behind you?
Georges St. Pierre: It is a relief and it is good for my health, but I cannot relax because there are still so many challenges ahead of me. There is no resting anymore.
Jesse Holland (MMAmania.com): On Saturday you’ll be facing Jon Fitch who trains with Josh Koscheck - one of the few fighters that took you to a decision. Does that put you at a disadvantage coming into this fight?
Herring confident of success
Heath Herring will head into the Octagon against Brock Lesnar at UFC 87 on Saturday with no sense of fear.
Former WWE star Lesnar is looking to get his UFC career up and running following his defeat to Frank Mir at UFC 81, but he has been pitched in at the deep end against veteran Herring.
Herring, known as The Texas Crazy Horse, will not underestimate Lesnar but feels he has come up against better fighters during his career.
“I’ve fought bigger guys than him and better wrestlers than him,” Herring told ufc.com. “My experience is definitely a major advantage for me.
Emerson: I have the edge
Rob Emerson believes he has a psychological advantage over Manny Gamburyan ahead of their meeting at UFC 87.
The pair will meet at lightweight on the undercard to Goerges St-Pierre’s bout with John Fitch in Minnesota on August 9.
Gamburyan is a former national junior judo champion and is likely to fight on the inside and take the bout to the floor.
Emerson is aware of Gamburyan’s tactics and feels their sparring sessions on The Ultimate Fighter 5 give him the edge.
“Prior to the (TUF 5) show, we did go against each other in the tryouts and he couldn’t take me down,” Emerson told ufc.com. “I think that got to him.
Chris Wilson Looks To Prove His Worth At 87
Fighting on short notice and going against a red hot Jon Fitch isn’t exactly a dream scenario for an MMA fighter making his Octagon debut. Five months ago at UFC 82, Chris Wilson was placed in that exact predicament. After surviving three rounds against arguably the second best welterweight in the world, Wilson knew he officially belonged in the UFC. This Saturday at UFC 87, the former Sportfight welterweight Champion looks to rebound and get his first UFC win when he faces American Top Team member, Steve Bruno. MMARated.com’s Jeffrey Lee recently caught up with “The Professor” to talk about his loss to Fitch, preparing for Bruno and his place in the UFC’s welterweight division.
Interview w/ UFC Lightweight Champ BJ Penn
Michael Moody had the chance to speak with UFC Lightweight Champion BJ Penn this past weekend in Long Beach, CA and he talked about numerous topics in this two part interview.
Some of the topics covered include, his greatest challenge, GSP Vs. Fitch, licking blood off his gloves, should fighters unionize, fighting for other promotions other than the UFC, his favorite movie, his diet and more.
Explosive Dana White Radio Interview
Explosive Dana White Radio Interview
Dana White just got finished with an explosive radio interview on Hardcore Sports radio. I don't have a link yet, and I joined halfway, but here are some highlights:
--He is obviously very unhappy with Roger Huerta. He basically called him a moron for complaining and bitching about PR. Said he hasn't beat anyone to justify millions of dollars that he's demanding, but if he beats Kenny Florian it's a different story. (This week in the Observer, Dave Meltzer reported Huerta is asking for a bigger contract than BJ Penn has.)
--Rampage Jackson is "okay" now. After he was arrested, he was in psych evaluation, and they found there was no psych problem. It was exhaustion and dehydration that caused delirium, and he will be at UFC 87. He has legal problems, but he is physically and mentally better. From the sound of this, they are 100% behind him.
Razor Rob, Rampage, Tiki and the cops
From "Razor" Rob McCullough's latest blog:
"That night, I ended up being the sober driver for my boys, Rampage, Tiki and Ryan “Loco.” The nite ended up with us on the side of the road pulled over by the police for speeding. After getting a ticket, the cops were super cool and asked if they could take some pics with their camera phones. They shook our hands as we left. I suppose that could’ve ended up a lot worse."
Check out Razor Rob's entire blog here:
Roger Huerta and UFC ‘far apart’ on contract extension
Roger Huerta is getting a ton of attention lately. And it appears to be for all the wrong reasons.
“El Matador” has perhaps his biggest test to date this weekend when he takes on Kenny Florian at UFC 87: “Seek and Destroy” at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minn., on August 9. With a win he will likely distinguish himself as the clear-cut number one contender in the division.
But he may never get to challenge for the title even if he does win if he can’t ink a contract extension, which is a very real possibility if things don’t change soon, according to Dave Meltzer at WrestlingObserver.com.
Here’s his analysis:
“Huerta, who has one fight left on his contact after the Florian fight, is far apart with UFC on terms for a renewal. Huerta, who has gotten a new agent, was asking for six-figures guaranteed per fight as well as points on the PPV, in negotiations that haven’t gone well for some time. That’s a better deal then [BJ] Penn, so he wasn’t going to get it. The UFC position is that they groomed Huerta and pushed him hard and were careful of his opponents, with the exception of Clay Guida….”
Kenny Florian: "I Have an Advantage Everywhere"
Following a dominant victory against Alvin Robinson in July 2007, Kenny Florian gave a warning to the lightweight division that he was looking to clear out all of the top contenders on his way back to a second shot at the title. He also let it be known that he was looking to finish each and every one of them just as he did Robinson.
Two more fights and two more finishes followed and at UFC 87, Florian faces another tough challenge as Roger Huerta now stands in his way of a possible shot at the 155-pound divisional crown.
Florian has been working hard alongside long time trainer Mark DellaGrotte, while focusing on all the things he needs to do to win his next fight. While Florian respects Huerta, he doesn’t believe there is one facet of the game that his opponent out matches him going into the fight.
“I really believe I have an advantage everywhere,” he said during a recent appearance on MMAWeekly Radio. “If I go in there and I fight a dynamic fight, like I can, he’s not going to be sure whether I’m going to take him down, whether I’m going to strike with him, whether I want to come with a knee or if I’m going to do a kick, a punch, an elbow; he has to be worried about a lot of things with me.”
Both fighters have always been extremely well spoken of each other in the past, but a now controversial interview with Roger Huerta produced by the UFC has spurned a little extra motivation in Florian.
“He’s got to go in there and be confident and know that he’s going to win and I’m the same way,” commented Florian. “Of course there’s a way to do it respectfully, but Roger’s saying it’s going to be a cakewalk. I don’t think he believes that and if he does believe it, he’s going to be in trouble.”
Regardless of hype, the real prize in this fight could be a shot at the UFC lightweight title, but current champion B.J. Penn has his sites set on a welterweight showdown with the winner of Georges St. Pierre and Jon Fitch. While titles are great, Florian is only focused on one thing right now.
“I don’t know first of all what B.J.’s going to do. Who knows what B.J.’s going to do tomorrow or the next day? Looks like he’s going to fight GSP at the end of December. That’s what I feel is going to happen. That’s what I’m hearing is going to happen,” Florian said. “One thing I know for sure is when I fight Roger Huerta, I’m going to have another tough fight. And that’s exactly what I want.
“The belt is great of course. I want that, great prestige, a lot of prestige with that and probably more money of course, but the main thing is me being able to fight the top guys.”
The Boston native will get a chance to take one more step towards that title shot when he faces Roger Huerta on Saturday night in Minnesota at UFC 87.
Cheick Kongo: International Man Of Mystery
Cheick Kongo certainly looks the part. At 6-foot-4, 240 pounds, with a physique that appears carved out of granite, the former Euro Savate champion seems like the kind of guy you wouldn’t want to run into in a sinister Parisian alleyway.
Wait, do they have sinister alleyways in Paris?
Anyway, if a Hollywood movie producer or comic book artist were to dream up a prototype of what a “cagefighting champion,” might look like, they’d likely come up with a character resembling Kongo. But after six fights in the UFC – including one where he made Mirko Cro Cop look downright dwarfish en route to a unanimous decision win – Kongo may still be the least known of all the company’s legitimate contenders for the heavyweight strap.
It’ll likely take a highlight reel knockout of Dan Evensen to even get him back on TV this weekend, as a UFC 82 loss to Heath Herring has relegated the Frenchman to the unaired preliminaries at UFC 87.
Critics say Kongo is a fearsome and athletic striker, but with a ground game that is just barely adequate enough to pass at the highest level. Even the UFC promotes him as something of a work in progress, saying that he has “looked better each time out,” before his split decision loss to Herring in March. English is also Kongo’s second language – a problem for many top level heavies trying to make it in America – so it’s hard to learn much about the guy from his own words.
Meia Will Be Sub-Hunting On Saturday Night
Demian Maia is looking for his third submission win in the UFC when he faces Jason MacDonald on Saturday night.
Five of his seven consecutive wins have come by way of submission, and Maia believes if something isn’t broke, there is no point trying to fix it.
“I train always what I do best,” he told Tatame magazine this week. “If I need to fight stand up I’m ready to do it, but I believe jiu jitsu has always been my strongest part, I’ll always go for submission.”
Maia is a highly decorated grappler in his native Brazil and internationally, having won Pan American and ADCC titles, national and world championship sand seven state titles.
But he is aware that anything can happen in an MMA fight so to prepare himself for the stand-up element, he has drafted in a fellow Brazilian known for his aggressive Muay Thai.
“I’m at Las Vegas now and will train a little this week with Wanderlei Silva,” he revealed, adding that Silva will also be his cornerman at UFC 87.
Tyson Griffin agrees to meet Sean Sherk at UFC 90
Former UFC lightweight champion Sean Sherk (32-3-1 MMA, 6-3 UFC) and lightweight contender Tyson Griffin (12-1 MMA, 5-1) have agreed to meet at UFC 90, which takes place Oct. 25 at Allstate Arena just outside Chicago.
A source from Griffin's Xtreme Couture camp today told MMAjunkie.com that a verbal agreement is in place and bout agreements have been distributed.
The fight will likely end up on the night's televised main card, which features a main event of UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva vs. Patrick Cote.
JON FITCH WANTS GOLD, NO MORE EXCUSES
Jon Fitch may be the best fighter at 170 pounds that many fans don’t know much about. He has gone under the radar in the Ultimate Fighting Championship defeating top competition like Thiago Alves, Brock Larson, Roan Carneiro and Diego Sanchez. He is undefeated in the UFC going 8-0 in his tenure. The hard work is about to pay off as he gets his shot at the welterweight crown on Saturday night against Georges St. Pierre.
MMAWeekly Radio caught up with Fitch prior to his fight with St. Pierre to discuss his preparation and training. “All of the hard stuff is done. Now it's just time to have fun,” said a confident Fitch. “I'm just letting my body recover. It's been getting beat up for 12 weeks, so I finally get to rest now.”
This fight will be Fitch’s first foray into a five-round title fight. Known for his rigorous training, he has prepared himself a little differently for a full five-round fight. “Just more and more work. Almost double the cardio work as normal. It's pretty crazy. When I started the camp, I couldn't believe it that I was going to do double the workouts as before. I've always been a cardio guy. I always pushed my cardio. I was doubling my output. Halfway through my camp it started getting pretty easy and I started seeing changes in myself.
Rampage's Problems Aren't Mental + UFC Looking To Return To Montreal This Year
TORONTO - The UFC is looking to return to Canada later this year.
''I literally just left a meeting where we were talking about that,'' UFC president Dana White told The Canadian Press on Tuesday. ''We're looking to come back to Montreal.''
White said the mixed martial arts organization hopes to return in November or December.
The UFC made its Canadian debut April 19, drawing a loud and proud crowd of 21,390 at the Bell Centre to see Montreal's Georges St. Pierre reclaim his welterweight title from Matt Serra. The Canadian card was the UFC's biggest ever in terms of attendance, its fastest ever sellout, and produced a gate of some $5 million.
''The energy tonight was more powerful here than anywhere I've ever been. The fans were amazing,'' White said that night.
''Everybody delivered. It was a great night.''
Zuffa Mourning "A Loss In The Family"
The Zuffa family is mourning the loss of in-house graphic designer Nelsen Bernardo, who tragically perished in an automobile accident Monday morning. He was 29. He joined Zuffa in February 2007.