Shields to fight Sept. 17 despite loss of father

nullI am not the biggest Jake Shields fan in the world.

But, I have to give the guy a lot of credit.

Shields will stick with his upcoming bout against Jake Ellenberger on Sept. 17 despite losing his father, Jack, at the age of 67 on Tuesday.

MMAFighting.com first reported that Shields would be fighting in a few weeks.

Jake Shields has decided to go through with his Sept. 17 fight against Jake Ellenberger at UFC Fight Night 25 following the recent death of his father and manager, Jack Shields. MMA Fighting confirmed the fighter’s decision with UFC officials.

GracieFighter.com broke the news of Jack Shields’ passing on Tuesday. He was 67 years old.

No word just yet on the cause of death. According to Sherdog.com, Shields died in his sleep on Monday at his Sacramento, Calif., home.

“Lost my father manager and one of my best friends today!! R.I.P jack you will be greatly missed and loved by many,” Shields was quoted as saying on the Web site.

I am fortunate to still have my father alive and well, but just the sheer thought of him passing away is enough for me to not want to do anything the rest of the day.

I am sure this is a tough time for Jake and I wish him my best as he goes through this period. I also give him a lot of respect for taking the fight with Ellenberger. It is a dangerous fight for him but I am sure he will have a lot of support going into the contest.

Top 10 Middleweight Rankings

nullThe middleweight division had a big fight this past weekend but the result wasn’t too surprising.

Anderson Silva maintained his top spot in my top 10 middleweight rankings with his win on Saturday and it seems he has only one man that can truly pose a threat to his championship.

Here is a look at the top 10 in the 185-pound division in my eyes.

1. Anderson Silva (31-4) – Silva made Yushin Okami look like an amateur last Saturday and he has cemented himself as the best middleweight in UFC history. Next up for Silva will likely be a rematch of some kind, with either Chael Sonnen or Dan Henderson.

2. Chael Sonnen (25-11-1) – Sonnen hasn’t competed since pushing Silva to the limit last fall, but he is scheduled to face Brian Stann at UFC 136 in early October. Sonnen appears to be the lone hope to dethrone Silva someday, but the champion still managed to submit Sonnen despite an injured rib and 20 minutes of pummeling.

3. Vitor Belfort (20-9) – Belfort showed his explosive ability in his quick knockout of Yoshihiro Akiyama at UFC 133. He still may have the fastest hands in the division, but he missed his opportunity when he faced Silva back in February. A few more wins for Belfort may get him another crack at the title.

4. Yushin Okami (26-6) – Okami also had his chance, but couldn’t find a way to make his fight with Silva a grappling one. He seemed to passive and allowed Silva to get comfortable on his feet, and that is always a losing combination. Okami has to go back to the drawing board, and will likely need a long winning streak to get another title fight.

5. Michael Bisping (21-3) – Bisping is going to face off with Mayhem Miller later this year for a chance to propel himself into title contention. Bisping is still looking for a marquee win in his career and he hasn’t been terribly impressive since his TKO win over Denis Kang back at UFC 105 in 2009. Bisping needs an emphatic victory over Miller to really be considered a title contender.

6. Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza (14-2) – The Strikeforce Middleweight Champion is set to return to action next week against Luke Rockhold, who is good competition in the Strikeforce organization, but not a great opponent on the world stage. Someday, with Strikeforce slowly merging into the UFC, I would expect Souza to compete in the elite organization someday.

7. Brian Stann (11-3) – Stann faces his toughest test to date when he squares off with Chael Sonnen at UFC 136. Stann has established himself as a feared striker in the division with respectable grappling skills. In this fight, he will need to have tremendous takedown defense to keep the relentless Sonnen from getting top position.

8. Mark Munoz (11-2) – Munoz will take on Chris Leben at UFC 138 in the highest-profile fight of his career. Munoz is a grinder that has some big punching power without the technique. His strength is his wrestling, but he will mix it up with anyone. He should probably stick to the wrestling in his bout with Leben.

9. Chris Leben (22-7) – Leben breaks into my top 10 list after his impressive KO of Wanderlei Silva at UFC 132. Leben clearly has the striking power to beat anyone on this list, but lacks the grappling skills and pure boxing technique to really become a top 5 contender. His bout with Munoz will test how far his grappling has come and show if he is ready to make a serious run at the title.

10. Alan Belcher (16-6) – Alan Belcher will make his return to action in a couple weeks after an eye injury sidelined him for more than a year. Belcher was on his way to becoming a title contender before getting hurt. When he returns on Sept. 17, he will face off with Jason MacDonald, another UFC veteran. The long layoff will be something Belcher has to overcome, but a win over the submission specialist will be a nice start for his return.

Jones denies spying claims from Jackson

nullIt didn’t take long for Jon Jones to respond to Quinton “Rampage” Jackson’s accusations of spying.

According to MMAFighting.com, Jones took to the internet to deny the spying rumors.

Addressing Jackson directly via Twitter, Jones said he would never cheat because he has too much respect for mixed martial arts — and Jones suggested that makes himself different from Jackson.

“Just so you know, I’m not a person who looks for shortcuts in life. Unlike you, MMA is not something I do because of money,” Jones wrote. “It’s a way of life for me and I would never disrespect the integrity of that.”

It sounds like this issue may be more about Jackson’s camp and teammates rather than anything Jones is doing.

If Jackson can’t trust his teammates, it is going to distract him from being ready for Jones come fight night in September.

On a side note, this fight continues to pick up intrigue and is quickly developing into a nice rivalry that has left the Jones vs. Rashad Evans talk on the backburner.

Rampage Jackson accuses Jon Jones of spying

nullAthletes always want to get an edge.

In MMA, there are the old classics of greasing and PED’s, but it appears there may be a new method breaking into the fold.

UFC 135 headliner, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson did an interesting interview with Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports in which he accuses light heavyweight champion and upcoming opponent, Jon Jones, of having a spy in Jackson’s camp.

Not only that, but Jackson also claims that he had a rat in his camp when he took on Rashad Evans.

Jackson said in an interview with Yahoo! Sports on Monday that he made up a story about having a hand injury last week. Yet, four hours after he mentioned the story in his gym, he said his manager received a call from UFC matchmaker Joe Silva asking about it.

Jackson said he first became wary about a spy in his camp during the days prior to his May 29, 2010, fight at UFC 114 in Las Vegas with Rashad Evans. He said he injured his knee in training, but kept it quiet and let no one know. He was pleased when the injury never found its way into the media.

Yet, Jackson said that during the fight, Evans punched him repeatedly on the injured knee.

“In all my years of fighting, I’d never been punched in the knee before and I never saw anyone punch someone in the knee,” Jackson said.

These are some pretty strong accusations, but intriguing nonetheless.

If I were a member of Jackson’s camp, I would be pretty nervous right now. It’s like something out of The Departed.

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Cerrone steps in for Stout, to face Siver at UFC 137

nullThe passing of trainer Shawn Tompkins has had its impact on the MMA world.

For Sam Stout, who was a brother-in-law and training partner with Tomkins, the impact has been even greater.

MMAJunkie.com confirmed that Stout has withdrawn from his fight with Dennis Siver at UFC 137 on Oct. 29 and former WEC star, Donald Cerrone, will fill in.

Donald Cerrone (16-3 MMA, 3-0 UFC) has stepped in for Sam Stout (17-6-1 MMA, 6-5 UFC) and now meets Dennis Siver (19-7 MMA, 8-4 UFC) at October’s UFC 137 event.

As MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) first reported earlier today, Stout recently withdrew from the event for undisclosed reasons. Event sources confirmed the opponent switch.

Fellow lightweight Cerrone now takes his spot on the card and fights for the fourth time in 2011.

Cerrone is 3-0 in the UFC and is coming off a first-round TKO of Charles Oliveira at UFC Live 5 earlier this month.

Siver has won his last four, including a close decision victory over Matt Wiman back at UFC 132 in July.

The winner of this contest will quickly emerge as one of the top contenders in the lightweight division.

UFC 134 Recap: Big Nog shows he still has something left

nullWas it the scene, or is Antonio Minotauro Nogueira back?

A spirited effort by “Big Nog” allowed him to pick up a win over Brendan Schaub by knockout in the first round of UFC 134.

Nogueira, who had lost two of his last three by knockout, showed an improved chin against Schaub, taking some big punches early in the fight.

The longer the fight remained standing, the more it looked like it was just a matter of time before the Brazilian legend got knocked out by the rising American star.

Instead, Nogueira flashed some of his boxing and landing a big straight punch that stunned Schaub. From there, a flurry of fists flatlined Schaub and gave Nogeuira one of his biggest wins of his career, due to the fact he was fighting in his hometown of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

I would debate that the loudest roar to come from that energized UFC 134 crowd came when Big Nog knocked out Schaub.

Now, the question for Nogeuira is what is next? Is he still a legit contender in a crowded heavyweight division.

I would personally like to see him square off with the likes or Frank Mir or Shane Carwin next.

A win over someone of that caliber puts him in line to be a top-5 member of the heavyweight division.

UFC 134 Recap: What’s left for Forrest Griffin

nullOne of the major stories to come out of UFC 134 Saturday night was Forrest Griffin suffering another KO loss, this time to Mauricio “Shogun” Rua (AP Photo).

Griffin is now 2-3 in his last five fights, with all three losses coming by knockout.

Griffin didn’t look good at all in the fight, as he attempted some ugly high kicks that were very slow in delivery. His boxing has always been a strength for him, but it didn’t do him any good against Shogun.

Rua was able to tear right through him and leave us with another image of Griffin out of the cage before hands were raised.

Shogun is now back in the light heavyweight title picture while we are left to wonder what is next for the original Ultimate Fighter winner.

In the last few years, Griffin has now lost convincingly to two of the top light heavyweights and the middleweight champion.

His two wins were close decisions over the likes of Tito Ortiz and Rich Franklin, who are also lost in the light heavyweight shuffle.

While a third match with Ortiz or a rematch with Quinton “Rampage” Jackson may make sense in terms of dollars, it seems pretty clear that Griffin will never contend for a championship again.

UFC 134 Recap – Silva still the man

nullIt’s hard to know what to say after watching Anderson Silva run through another opponent (AP Photo).

The first thought is, Wow! This guy is amazing.

But, then, you chew on the fight for a little while and you are left with this thought: What was Yushin Okami doing?

Coming into this fight I said all that stood in Okami’s way of winning this UFC Middlweight Championship fight was his aggression.

Sure enough, Okami played right into Silva’s hands. He didn’t pressure. He didn’t attempt a takedown. He didn’t get into a “fight” as Chael Sonnen would call it.

What part of standing around and letting Silva pick you apart did Okami think was going to help him win?

Even he had to know when Silva stood right in front of him with his hands down that he was screwed.

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UFC 134 Picks & Predictions

nullUFC 134 takes place on Saturday night from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and has an exciting main card.

Here are my picks for tonight’s featured bouts.

UFC Middleweight Championship – Anderson Silva (28-4) vs. Yushin Okami (27-5) – Okami has the right skill set to actually pull off this upset, but he lacks the one thing that he truly needs to win …. aggression. Chael Sonnen had success against Silva by coming out fast and not letting Silva get settled in. If you watch Silva’s fights, he likes to take the first two minutes to dance around and develop a timing for his opponent. Once he has found it, he starts to dance a little and that is when the fight is usually over. Okami can’t let Silva get comfortable, but I fear he will. For that reason, I see Silva scoring a knockout in the second round.

Light Heavyweight Bout – Mauricio “Shogun” Rua (19-5) vs. Forrest Griffin (18-6) – Griffin won the first fight and I think he wins the second. I think this is a bad matchup for Rua because Griffin is a “dog” that will keep coming at him and push a pace that Shogun can’t handle. I see Rua tiring again in the middle of the fight, which will allow Griffin to control the fight on the ground and with his boxing. I pick Griffin by decision in an upset.

Heavyweight Bout – Antonio Minotauro Nogeuira (32-6-10 vs. Brendan Schaub (9-1) – I love the heart that Nogueira has, but I think his chin has taken a beating over the years and eventually Schaub will catch him with a knockout punch. Nogueira has the edge on the ground if the fight goes there, but he lacks the wrestling ability to takedown the likes of Schaub, who is a strong and burly heavyweight. I pick Schaub to win this fight by knockout in the first round.

UFC Lightweight Bout – Ross Pearson (14-4) vs. Edson Barboza (8-0) – Pearson is a tough fighter that likes to scrap, but it would be difficult to prepare for the type of leg kicks he will see against Barboza. After being hit with a few of those, it can completely throw a fighter off his game. For that reason, I see Barboza winning by decision as he will land the most effective strikes and control the pacing and style of the fight.

Light Heavyweight Bout – Luiz Cane (12-3) vs. Stanislav Nedkov (11-0) – Cane has been an all-or-nothing fighter as of late. His last three fights have ended in the first round, two of them saw him getting knocked out. In this fight, he takes on a fighter in Nedkov that can go to the ground and stay standing. If Cane can keep the fight standing, I think he can win, but he doesn’t have great technical skills, and I think that opens the door for Nedkov to get him to the ground and control him. I will take Nedkov to win his debut by decision in this one.

UFC 134 Weigh-In Results: All Fighters Hit Weight

nullWeigh ins for UFC 134 took place on Friday afternoon and each of the competing fighters made weight for Saturday’s card.

In the main event, UFC Middleweight Champion, Anderson Silva, received a hero’s welcome from the Brazilian fans as he weighed in at 184 pounds while his opponent, Yushin Okami, came in at 183 pounds.

The 183 pounds was somewhat surprising for Okami, who typically fights near 200 pounds come fight night.

Following the weigh in, the two had a mild stare down, but lacked intensity leading up to the fight.

In the co-main event, both Forrest Griffin and Mauricio “Shogun” Rua came in at exactly 205 pounds. The two also had a distant stare down where they didn’t get to close to each other. This fight is a rematch of an upset for Griffin back in 2007. Griffin was booed heavily by the crowd while Rua had the full support of the arena.

For complete weigh-in results from UFC 134, check out the jump.

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