UFC 133 Opening Odds: Evans favored over Ortiz

nullUFC 133 will take place this upcoming Saturday, and despite the number of changes in the lineup, the card still has some interesting fights.

Our friends at BetOnFighting.com have released their odds for UFC 133 and there aren’t many surprises.

In the main event, Rashad Evans is a clear favorite at -430 to beat Tito Ortiz, who has a money line of +330. These two fought back at UFC 73 to a draw where Ortiz was penalized a point, or else he would have won the contest.

Still, Evans has evolved a lot over the years and has a great combination of striking and wrestling. Ortiz seems to have a new fire with his submission win over Ryan Bader, but he is taking this fight on very short notice, with just a few weeks to prepare.

In the co-main event, Vitor Belfort is favored at -300 to beat Yoshihiro Akiyama, who has a money line of +240. These two middleweights are fighting for position in the division. Belfort is coming off a KO loss to Anderson Silva while Akiyama hasn’t fought since a decision loss to Michael Bisping last October and is currently on a two-fight losing streak.

For all of the odds available for UFC 133, check out the jump.

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Fedor Emelianenko: The Fall of the Last Emperor

nullWith every great moment in sports history, there is typically one that is just as sad a little further down the road.

No matter how invincible we think people like Anderson Silva or Georges St. Pierre are, time will make a coward of them all.

Such is the case with Fedor Emelianenko.

From 2000-2010 Fedor was considered a god in MMA. He went 10 years without losing a fight. It seemed impossible, but he kept finding ways to win. Through PRIDE to Affliction to Strikeforce, he kept finding himself on top.

But, as time moved on, fighters kept improving, while Fedor has hit a standstill with his evolving in the sport.

Now, a loser of three straight after being stopped by Fabricio Werdum, Antonio Silva, and now Dan Henderson, “The Last Emperor” looks like someone that has been dethroned.

Is Fedor still a top-level fighter? Yes.

He is still someone that can compete with the best.

But, he is far from the legend that he created over the last 10 years.

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Strikeforce Recap: Henderson hands Fedor another loss

nullAnother big Strikeforce event is in the books and the storied career of Fedor Emelianenko continues to have a somber ending.

“The Last Emperor” suffered a first round TKO loss to Dan Henderson in a heavyweight clash that saw Emelianenko basically taking on a light heavyweight.

The action was fast and furious in the bout, with Fedor coming out swinging early. After surviving a few big punches early, Henderson answered with some of his own and then controlled most of the round in the clinch.

The end came after Fedor landed a big uppercut that sent Henderson to the ground. As Fedor looked for the finish, Henderson managed to reverse the position and land a big right during a scramble that put Fedor down. A few punches later, referee Herb Dean stopped the fight just 4:12 into the contest.

Fedor has now lost three straight fights, all by stoppage. His future is in doubt while Henderson is on a nice roll and just secured one of the biggest wins in his legendary career.

In the co-main event, Miesha Tate pulled off a surprising arm triangle submission on submission specialist Marloes Coenen to win the Strikeforce Women’s Welterweight Championship.

The fight was close from the start, with Tate surviving a second round that saw Coenen on her back for nearly the full five minutes. Still, in the fourth round Tate managed to score a takedown and catch Coenen off guard with a quick transition to an arm triangle that force the champion to tap at 3:03.

For full main card results from Saturday’s fights, check out the jump.

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Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Henderson Picks & Predictions

nullStrikeforce: Fedor vs. Henderson takes place Saturday night and here are my picks for each of the five main card bouts.

Heavyweight Bout – Fedor Emelianenko (31-3-1) vs. Dan Henderson (27-8) – This is a tough fight to call, but I like Fedor to bounce back and get over his losing streak. I think his size will be too much for Henderson, as he has similar wrestling skills but improved submissions. Both pack a good punch, but Fedor looks like he is in good shape for this fight and will be able to push a faster pace. Give me Fedor to win in the third by submission.

Women’s Welterweight Championship – Marloes Coenen (19-4) vs. Miesha Tate (11-2) – I like Coenen to win this fight by submission in the later rounds. I don’t expect either to land a big strike and expect the fight to be primarily on the ground. There, I look for Coenen to neutralize Tate’s wrestling ability before finding a way to sneak in a submission.

Middleweight Bout – Robbie Lawler (19-7-1) vs. Tim Kennedy (13-3) – Lawler has a pretty obvious weakness against ground fighters, so I think Kennedy should win this one with some ease. Lawler will swing big early, but that will open him up to a takedown, and eventually a submission. I will take Kennedy in the second by choke.

Welterweight Bout – Paul Daley (27-10-2) vs. Tyron Woodley (7-0) – Like Lawler, Daley is somewhat one dimensional, which should allow Woodley to get the win. This will be a big test for Woodley, but I like him to win by TKO with ground and pound as Daley will struggle to hit his big punch.

Welterweight Bout – Scott Smith (17-7-1) vs. Tarec Saffiedine (10-2) – Smith is a dangerous striker and an exciting fighter, but he lacks the all-around skills to compete at the highest level. I look for Saffiedine to control the fight on the ground and get a decision win over Smith.

Shinya Aoki: Bad Scheduling or Bad Fighter?

nullFor quite a while we have heard about the great Shinya Aoki and his legendary submission skills.

Even I have been caught up in his hype, as I have him listed as one of my top 5 lightweights in the world.

However, I am growing tired of reports like this, where it says Aoki will take on Rob McCullough at Dream 17 in September. (MMAJunkie.com)

That will make Aoki’s last two opponents Rich Clementi and Rob McCullough.

McCullough used to be a champion in the WEC, but he still lost his way out of the company and was knocked out by Patricky Freire in his only Bellator appearance. He doesn’t strike me as a real tough lightweight opponent.

Clementi has been out of the UFC for a couple of years and has now lost three of his last four.

While I am impressed with Aoki’s submission ability, I haven’t forgotten that his last great test was against Gilbert Melendez last year in Strikeforce, and he failed miserably.

He put up little fight and was dominated by a legit lightweight contender for 25 minutes.

I like what Aoki can do, but I would like to see him fight in the states and consistently compete against the best in the world. Anyone can look like a beast against cupcake opponents, it is another thing to do it against the best.

Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Henderson Weigh-In Results

nullThe weigh-ins for Saturday’s Strikeforce card took place on Friday night and all main card fighters were cleared to compete.

In the main event, both Fedor Emelianenko (223 lbs.) and Dan Henderson (207) came in rather light for a heavyweight contest but Henderson has never fought above light heavyweight and Fedor is working his way down to that weight class.

This fight is being billed as one of the biggest in Strikeforce history, as it pits two PRIDE legends against one another. It should be an explosive matchup.

In the co-main event, Marloes Coenen defends her Women’s Welterweight Championship against Miesha Tate. Both combatants weighed in at 135 pounds, the exact mark they needed for the contest.

Coenen and Tate are both strong on the ground with Coenen being superior in jiu-jitsu while Tate is a wrestling-based fighter.

For all of the weigh-in results, courtesy of Sherdog.com, check out the jump.

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Strikeforce releases Alistair Overeem

nullThe interesting career of Alistair Overeem has taken another turn.

On Friday night, MMAFighting.com reported that the Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion was released from his contract by the promotion.

The organization has released its heavyweight champion, MMA Fighting confirmed with multiple sources close to the fighter, including his trainer Martijn de Jong. HDNet first reported the news on its Inside MMA program Friday night.

Overeem had one fight left on his current contract. He was not immediately available for comment. When contacted by MMA Fighting, Strikeforce officials would not confirm or deny Overeem’s departure from the organization.

The news comes on the heels of the announcement that Overeem was removed from the Strikeforce heavyweight grand prix last week after he told Zuffa he wouldn’t be ready to fight Antonio Silva in the semi-finals on Sept. 10 due to scheduling and multiple injuries.

You can look at this one of two ways: 1. Zuffa wants nothing to do with Overeem or 2. Zuffa wants to sign Overeem into the UFC.

Hopefully option two is the case because he is too talented a striker to not be prominent in American MMA.

Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Henderson Odds

nullThis Saturday Strikeforce presents one of its best cards in the history of the promotion as Fedor vs. Henderson takes place from Chicago.

The main card airs live on Showtime at 10 p.m. ET and features a championship bout and the long-anticipated showdown between former PRIDE legends, Dan Henderson and Fedor Emelianenko.

Oddsmakers from BetOnFighting.com have Fedor as the favorite in the main event. Fedor comes in with a money line of -260 while Henderson has odds of +210 to win this heavyweight clash. Ememlianenko should have the size edge on Henderson, who has fought at middleweight and light heavyweight for his career. Henderson will have a wrestling edge, but submissions and striking may go to his opponent. It should be an exciting fight where both men leave it all in the cage.

In the co-main event, Marloes Coenen is a slight favorite at -130 against Miesha Tate (+100) as she defends here Strikeforce Women’s Welterweight Championship. Coenen is a submission specialist while Tate is primarily a wrestler. Neither has shown tremendous striking ability, so this fight will likely remain on the ground. Whomever can control the fight from there will emerge victorious.

Check out all the available odds after the jump.

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Top 10 Heavyweight Rankings

nullThe rankings list has made its way back to the heavyweight division.

There have been a few shake ups in this group as of late, mainly near the top. Still, the division has remained pretty solid as we work toward the big meeting of Velasquez vs. dos Sanots.

1. Cain Velasquez (9-0): Velasquez will return in November to take on Junior dos Santos. It will be a tough test for the UFC champ, as he has not fought in nearly a year and is coming off a major surgery.

2. Junior dos Santos (13-1): dos Santos tore through Shane Carwin in an impressive victory that solidified his spot as the top contender to the UFC crown. Junior has proven he can out-strike a striker and stuff a takedown, but will he be able to handle the explosiveness and speed of Velasquez?

3. Brock Lesnar (5-2): Lesnar may not return anytime soon, but I still think he deserves a high ranking as he was able to beat some of the best on this list before getting injured. Lesnar is going to need to show he can handle getting hit when he returns if he hopes to contend for the title ever again.

4. Alistair Overeem (35-11): Overeem was able to beat Werdum without too much difficulty but wasn’t impressive in his own right. Now, some debate with Zuffa has gotten him taken off the rest of the Strikeforce Grand Prix and leaves his MMA future in question. Hopefully Overeem will return and maybe someday step inside the octagon.

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MMA Game Changers: Anderson Silva

nullIt’s not hard to figure out which UFC middleweight has changed the face of MMA.

The middleweight champion of nearly five years, Anderson Silva, quickly established himself as a game changer when he made his debut with the promotion back on June 28, 2006.

His opponent was current middleweight contender, Chris Leben. The fight didn’t last long as Silva seemingly landed every punch and kick he threw, knocking Leben out in just 49 seconds.

From there, Silva stamped his credibility by running through UFC champion, Rich Franklin, in just three minutes.

Since then, Silva has continued to be a dominant force in the middleweight and light heavyweight divisions.

His striking was something unlike anything we’d ever seen. Chuck Liddell was considered a striker back then, but Silva was on another wavelength.

Silva uses all four of his appendages in a beautiful mix of strikes. His fists, feet, and knees are all deadly.

Since his arrival in the UFC, only Chael Sonnen has put up a fight against the champion, but that still wasn’t enough. Silva used his jiu-jitsu black belt to submit Sonnen and retain his title.

His highlight reel KO’s are stuff of legend as he has made Franklin, Leben, Vitor Belfort, and Forrest Griffin look like amateurs in the cage.

What also makes Silva so special is that you could see him being successful 10 years from now, even as MMA continues to evolve.

There may never be another Anderson Silva again.