Ben Saunders on UFC 86 fight, roster cuts, and upcoming video game
Ben Saunders (5-0-2 MMA, 1-0 UFC), who last competed in December at The Ultimate Fighter 6 Finale, is best known for his Jeet Kune Do style -- and his constant smiling during fights. Don't let the smile fool you, though; the American Top Team member is very serious about fighting.
MMAjunkie.com (www.MMAjunkie.com) recently had a chance to speak with the 25-year-old as he prepares for a fight against fellow "TUF 6" alumnus Jared Rollins.
Saunders spoke about a number of topics, including the recent UFC roster cuts, the upcoming UFC video game, his future in the welterweight division, and his upcoming fight at UFC 86 on July 5.
MMAJUNKIE.COM: Can you officially confirm that you will be fighting Jared Rollins at UFC 86?
BEN SAUNDERS: <laughs> I 'm never sure when it's OK to say something. I never want to make a mistake and say something I'm not supposed to say, but yeah, I can confirm it now. I'll be fighting J-Roc in July.
In Bisping, Day Gets What He Wants
The day after his surprising dismantling of Alan Belcher (Pictures) at UFC 83 in Montreal last month, Jason Day (Pictures) told Sherdog.com that he wanted Michael Bisping (Pictures) as his next opponent.
Now, three weeks later, he has gotten his wish.
The UFC officially announced last week that the Canadian middleweight will be replacing Chris Leben (Pictures) as Bisping's opponent in London on June 7.
Leben was sentenced to 35 days in jail last Thursday following a probation violation that stemmed from an old DUI charge. With his release scheduled for less than two weeks before the June 7 bout in London, the UFC pulled Leben from the card and inserted Day. v The 29-year-old, who holds a 17-5 record, told Sherdog.com that he feels all of his hard work over the years is finally paying off.
"Everything is falling into place," Day said. "It's just clicking, and I'm loving it."
Lol at the meeting with Eddie Bravo.
Think American MMA Is Brutal? Check Japan
Mixed martial arts has a perception problem in the United States. From the guy who runs CBS saying it was a mistake to sign a deal with EliteXC to athletic commission officials saying there's more drug use in MMA than in boxing to negative stories in the Washington Post and Associated Press, a lot of casual American sports fans are left with the impression that the sport is savage and dangerous.
But the reality is that MMA in the United States is far more advanced than MMA in other countries in terms of taking the health of fighters seriously. Take this from Dave Meltzer's piece about this weekend's Dream.3 show:
Japanese MMA is still a completely different animal than the UFC, because the former has no governmental regulation. There is no steroid testing. Many of the matches are made at the last minute, and in one case, a fighter, Melvin Manhoef, was in the ring just two weeks after taking a knockout in a kickboxing match, something that would never be allowed in a major U.S. commission state.
Gouveia expects a step towards title at UFC 84
“I'm kind of going in blind for this fight. I just trained everything for this fight. For him, there is no information at all. I just have to be 100% for everything. He's supposed to be a very good jiu-jitsu guy. Every Croatian guy is supposed to be a very good striker. I'm not taking him as just being a jiu-jitsu fight.”
Since Reljik is stepping up in competition and exposure, Gouveia feels that can only put more pressure on his upcoming opponent. “I think it's going to be a shock. His fights were in small shows. That's a factor that will be in my favor.”
When Gouveia knocked out Lambert, most would believe that his next fight would be against a top ranked opponent. While Gouveia is slightly disappointed about not getting a top ranked contender, he does not take Reljik lightly. However, he would like to get a really tough fight following this one.
“To be honest, I pulled four wins in a row. My last fights I won by submission or knockout. I was expecting a real tough (opponent). It's no problem. I fight anybody they put against me,” said the American Top Team fighter. “I want to fight a big name. If I could pick the fights I want right now, I would like to fight Chuck (Liddell) or a rematch against Keith (Jardine). They are the two guys that are in my mind right now. I'm taking this fight very seriously though. I trained very hard.”
Winner of Four in a Row, Wilson Gouveia Makes His Move
Light heavyweight is known as the glamour division in the UFC, with the most recognizable fighters in the sport, such as Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Chuck Liddell, and Forrest Griffin campaigning in the 205 pound weight class. Just as these three and a few others are household names in the mixed martial arts world, Wilson Gouveia of Brazil is not, but if he keeps dominating fights the way he has been, he will soon join them.
Gouveia brings a four fight winning streak into his May 24th fight against unbeaten Croatian fighter Goran Reljic as part of UFC 84: Ill Will, with his last win a spectacular knockout over Jason Lambert. Although that impressive victory inched him closer to a title shot, Gouveia admits he’s in better shape for his fight against Reljic than he was for the matchup versus Lambert.
“I feel better than when I fought Jason,” Gouveia said. “In January everyone was away from the gym. They were out traveling for Christmas and New Year’s. Now everyone’s back and my training has been more intense. I know this guy (Reljic) is a tough guy and if I beat him big things are coming up for me.”
Gouveia (10-4) knows he can’t take Reljic (7-0) lightly. The 24 year-old will be making his UFC and United States debut when he fights Gouveia, but the native of Fortaleza, Brazil isn’t looking past Reljic to the “big things” that are right around the corner for him. He knows a loss to Reljic sets him back, and that’s something Gouveia knows he can’t afford to let happen.
Roger Huerta readies for UFC 87
Well rested from what will end up being an eight-month break from competition, UFC lightweight contender Roger Huerta is poised for his return to the organization and an upcoming August fight.
DREAM Elite: Dream & ProElite Announce Partnership
At today's DREAM 3 pre-fight press conference in Japan, DREAM and ProElite announced a working relationship between the two promotions that will include sharing of fighters and referees, as well as co-promoted shows in the future. This could also result in both promotions running more shows in Europe, Korea, and elsewhere.
Jason Day’s Whirlwind UFC Ride Continues
A Canadian veteran who had finally started to find his groove in the fight game after a rocky start that saw him lose three of his first five pro bouts, Jason Day was on the fringes of the UFC in 2007, with all but one of the four opponents he faced that year current or former UFC fighters.
He won two of those fights, submitting Jonathan Goulet and stopping Ron Faircloth, with the only loss coming in June of last year to Patrick Cote. It got the buzz going about the Lethbridge, Alberta native, and when he kicked off 2008 with a hard-fought decision win over former world title challenger David Loiseau, it was clear that the next stop for Day would be the UFC.
First test? A bout against up and comer Alan Belcher in front of close to 22,000 Canadian fans on April 19th. If there was going to be a case of the first-time UFC jitters, this was it. Surprisingly though, Day wasn’t affected by the atmosphere surrounding the biggest fight of his career.
Old School Beatdown: MMAmania.com exclusive interview with Tito Ortiz
Adam Wagner (MMAmania.com): You’ll be fighting Lyoto Machida at UFC 84 on May 24 for your last contracted fight in the UFC. Machida’s undefeated and is a noted counter striker. How have you been preparing for this fight, particular in preparation for his style?
Tito Ortiz: I really just think about being a great champ, you know. I don’t think Machida’s ever fought anyone like me — someone who’s aggressive, someone who pushes the pace, and I’m going to be that person.
He’s had some tough guys that he’s fought, but it was a B.J. Penn at 175 pounds or a Rich Franklin who was a 185 pounder who was maybe 202, 203. So when he has someone on him who’s 220 fight time — I mean, I’ll make weight at 205 without a problem at all, you know, coming from a wrestling background, but I’ll be 220 fight time — so let’s see if he can handle a bigger man on top of him. Let’s see if he can be as elusive as he has in his fights.
I have a lot of guys up here who are great wrestlers, great strikers — southpaw guys too — who really mimic what Machida’s fight style is — elusive, always circling out, always running away. I’m going to push the pace, man, like all my fights. I bring the fight when it’s fight time. That’s why so many fans watch pay-per-view (PPV) of Tito Ortiz, because they want to see a fight, and I bring the fight every time I fight.
BJ Penn: ‘You cant confuse steroids with heart,’ Sean Sherk
“… I know there are a lot of people out there doing steroids, cheating and every time I run into one of them, I’m going to call them on it and then I’m going to beat the shit out of them.… It’s going to be a historic night because all the kids out there will realize that you can do it with just hard work alone … he wants to say he has heart and all this different shit, but you can’t confuse steroids with heart…. It’s two different things, a guy with heart is a guy doing it with blood, sweat and tears, waking up with the sore back, the sore body.… What would happen in the old days when you get caught with a couple of aces up your sleeve, they kill the guy right there and that’s why I say Sean Sherk is dead….”
A fired up UFC Lightweight Champion, BJ Penn, talks about his upcoming title defense against Sean Sherk at UFC 84: “Ill Will” at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, on May 24. “The Muscle Shark” tested positive for steroids after his win against Hermes Franca at UFC 73: “Stacked” in July 2007 and has not competed since because of a six-month suspension. Penn doesn’t like steroids or steroid users very much … this one is personal.
Wanderlei Silva both a fighter and a fan
LAS VEGAS – For many years, Wanderlei Silva was regarded the same way at Zuffa headquarters that Derek Jeter is at Fenway Park.
UFC president Dana White, who for years had been eager to see Chuck Liddell knock Silva unconscious, makes no bones about his feelings toward the man who was the face of the rival PRIDE Fighting Championship.
"He was my enemy," White says unhesitatingly.
No longer is that true, however. Because on any given day, White will saunter downstairs from his office into the tiny gym located in the bowels of UFC headquarters to find Silva preparing for his fight with Keith Jardine at UFC 84 on May 24.
They greet each other with an embrace and a smile and while away the time discussing their mutual passion for mixed martial arts.
Silva is such a fan of the sport, he said he's pleading with White to make a match between middleweight champion Anderson Silva and welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre, who currently are ranked Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, on the Yahoo! Sports poll of the world's best fighters.
"If Dana can make that fight, I'll be in the line to buy a ticket," Silva said, beaming. "What a great fight. I am a fighter, yes. It is my job, and it is a job I love. But before I'm a fighter, I am a fan. I love this sport."
And that's why White has fallen for Silva the way a high school football star might for a sultry cheerleader.
White is making money, and lots of it, in the UFC, but it's a double bonus to him because he's indulging his passion.
"The reason I got into this (expletive) in the first place is because I love it so (expletive) much," White said. "Part of the way I run the company is from a fan's perspective. If I want to see a fight as a fan, then I know it's a fight that we should make and that's what I do.
"Well, Wanderlei is the same way. You see the passion he has for this sport. He told me once that he'd rather lose a fight and have the fans going crazy instead of winning a fight where the people are booing. That's the kind of guy I want in my company fighting on my shows."
Leben Out, Day In For Bisping at UFC 85
With legal issues preventing middleweight contender Chris Leben from being able to prepare sufficiently for a June 7th bout with Michael Bisping in London, England, Canada’s Jason ‘Dooms’ Day has stepped in to face ‘The Count’ in a featured bout on the UFC 85: Bedlam card at the O2 Arena.
Lytle On Kos At UFC 86: Don't Pull A Matt Hughes
Chris Lytle recently shared his thoughts on his next fight, to be against Josh Koscheck at UFC 86. Lytle hopes that Kos doesn't fight like Matt Hughes did against Lytle in their last fight, where Lytle was on his back defending against submissions the whole fight.
Dana White Wants 250 Wanderlei Silvas
Or guys like him, at least. In a recent interview, Dana put "The Axe Murderer" over and indicated that it won't matter if he keeps losing (Wandy's lost 3 straight overall) because he always puts on a show for the fans.
Tito's Last Stand
TITO’S LAST STAND
Former Champion Ortiz Blames UFC President for Pending Separation
By Brian Knapp (email@example.com)
The rift between UFC president Dana White and former light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz appears to have passed the point of no return.
The 33-year-old Ortiz will fulfill the final bout on his current contract with the Las Vegas-based promotion when he faces unbeaten Lyoto Machida at UFC 84: Ill Will on Saturday, May 24 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Afterwards, he plans to walk away from the organization that gave rise to his stardom. The blame for the pending separation, he says, rests at White’s feet.
“I think just about 90 percent of this is me just wanting to get away from Dana White,” Ortiz told Live Audio Wrestling’s Dan Lovranski. “He has a vengeance for me. He’s a person who’s very hateful towards me, and he doesn’t want to see me grow as a superstar. He’s always been like that. He’s always been trying to hold me down and not let me go further, and it’s just really sad to see.”
Matt Hughes wants to prove his time hasn’t passed
One of the classic symptoms of an aged, or aging, fighter is seeing openings and being unable to take advantage of them.
It's no different than a running back who once could burst through a hole for a 15-yard gain when he ran a 4.4 40, but who now runs a 4.65 and can't hit it quick enough to get more than three yards before the pile collapses upon him.
And what Matt Hughes was describing as a problem in his loss to Georges St. Pierre in December sounded suspiciously like a man losing the battle with time. But the two-time former UFC welterweight champion, who saved the UFC yet again when he agreed on short notice to fight Thiago Alves in the main event of UFC 85 in London on June 7, insists he's far from through.
Leben gets 35 days in jail
UFC fighter Chris Leben, who turned himself in to Clackamas County officials in Portland, Oregon, last week, went before a judge on Thursday for sentencing for his probation violation case.
According to Clackamas County Court officials, Leben’s probation was revoked and he was sentenced to 35-days in jail. With credit given for time already served, his release would come at the end of May, putting his release inside of two weeks prior to a scheduled bout against Michael Bisping at UFC 85 in London.
Following the completion of his jail time, Leben will be clear of his probation, which stems from a DUI arrest in 2005.