Like it or not, Griffin and Bonnar belong in UFC Hall of Fame

Image ALT text goes here.Lost in the madness of another UFC PPV weekend was Forrest Griffin announcing his retirement from MMA.

Griffin hadn’t fought in over 10 months and was battling injuries. Given that he wasn’t much of a contender in the light heavyweight division, he decided to call it a career.

What was even more lost in all the news was Dana White telling the media after UF 160 that the UFC will be inducting Griffin and Stephan Bonnar into the UFC Hall of Fame together, later this year.

To me, this is a no-brainer. To others, they think either Bonnar, or both, don’t deserve the honor.

Griffin has a strong case in his own right. He was the first winner of The Ultimate Fighter reality series and went on to win the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship. His record, 19-7, isn’t awful and he had a number of memorable fights.

Bonnar is another story. His record was just 15-8 and he lacked a victory against an elite-level opponent during his career. Essentially if you are going to put Bonnar in based on his win-loss record, you would also have to include fighters like Shane Carwin, Frank Trigg and Joe Stevenson.

But, this induction isn’t about overall bodies of work. This induction is about one thing and one thing only, their war in the initial Ultimate Fighter Finale.

That bout was the first time the UFC aired live fighting on Spike TV and its importance cannot be understated.

It wasn’t a technical masterpiece, but it was two men fighting with every ounce of energy they had for 15 minutes. It was everything Dana White and the UFC management wanted to showcase about its sport.

That three-round war, that classic did more for the UFC than any other fight in its history. That fight, along with the enormous audience it drew as it played out, set the stage for the UFC to branch out nationally and has been the foundation for The Ultimate Fighter to continue its operation to this day.

The UFC Hall of Fame wouldn’t be relevant if it weren’t for that fight.

Sometimes a singular moment transcends a sport and those involved are elevated forever in the eyes of the fans and management. This fight is representative of that and Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar should be in the Hall of Fame for this season. You can’t talk about the greatness of the UFC without bringing up that fight.

Velasquez vs. Dos Santos: The trilogy the UFC needed

Image ALT text goes here.There was a time when two men ruled the UFC heavyweight division.

Those men were Tim Sylvia and Andrei Arlovski.

The two had established themselves as the best heavyweights in the UFC at the time, and had a trilogy of fights for the UFC to capitalize on.

At that time, it was also clear that there were better heavyweight fighters out there, mainly in PRIDE, thus the trilogy didn’t have that feel of greatness.

Now, years later, the UFC finds itself with the heavyweight trilogy that it always longed for.

There is no question that heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez and top contender Junior dos Santos are the top two heavyweight fighters in the world. They verified as much on Saturday with their knockout wins over Antonio Silva and Mark Hunt, respectively.

Now, the UFC is able to market a rubber match between the two after each one has decisively beat the other.

Velasquez and dos Santos have provided a legitimacy to the heavyweight division that has been lacking for a long time.

Sure, there have been some impressive fighters over the last decade, but none that were as technically skilled as Velasquez and dos Santos.

Brock Lesnar was a draw, and a physical freak, but he proved he wasn’t a fighter when he cowered in a ball at the first body kick he took.

Velasquez and dos Santos would have dominated the UFC in the early 2000s and the winner of this upcoming trilogy fight could rule the roost for quite some time.

The UFC finally has its mega heavyweight fight, and it is Velasquez vs. Dos Santos III.

UFC pound-for-pound rankings

Image ALT text goes here.It has been a while since a pound-for-pound rankings has been done on this site, but there is no time like the present. Here we go:

1. Anderson Silva (33-4) – Silva is still the pound-for-pound king due to his dominance in the middleweight division and his ability to finish his opponents.

2. Jon Jones (18-1) – I put Jones ahead of GSP because Jones really hasn’t lost yet. His one loss was a DQ where he essentially finished his opponent. Jones has shown well-rounded skills, winning with strikers, submissions and wrestling. He has truly dominated a division that was stacked a few years ago, the 205-pound division.

3. Georges St. Pierre (24-2) – St. Pierre has been on top of the 170-pound division for five years now, but his inability to finish opponents has gotten tiresome. St. Pierre has great wrestling and striking, but he doesn’t have the finishing ability of the top two on this list.

4. Jose Aldo (22-1) – Aldo can start making an argument to move up this list if he beats Anthony Pettis later this year. A win there may earn him a lightweight title fight. Aldo has tremendous striking, but he has shown the ability to fatigue over 25 minutes. That could be a problem as he starts fighting elite-level fighters.

5. Cain Velasquez (11-1) – The heavyweight champion is very light on his feet and he pushes a pace that can’t be matched in the division. He may not be the top striker, but that didn’t matter against Junior Dos Santos, as he constantly forced JDS to use energy. Velasquez never tired, but JDS did quickly.

6. Benson Henderson (19-2) – Henderson has some great skills, but he also isn’t overwhelmingly winning his recent fights. He isn’t losing them either, but his razor-thin decisions hurt his ranking on this list.

7. Renan Barao (30-1) – Barao doesn’t get a lot of credit for being as impressive as he has been. He is arguably the bantamweight champion, since Dominick Cruz has been out for so long. Sure the 135-pound division isn’t filled with a lot of big-name talent, but Barao has dominated all of the would-be contenders, including Urijah Faber. Barao hasn’t lost since 2005 and has 20 finishes since that time.

8. Demetrious Johnson (17-2-1) – Johnson is the fastest fighter in the UFC and he has great wrestling and conditioning. The 125-pound division doesn’t have a lot of superstars yet, but Johnson is the king of that hill and has looked impressive on top.

9. Gilbert Melendez (21-3) – Melendez gave a good accounting for himself in his UFC debut, nearly beating Henderson for the lightweight title. After a lengthy run as champion in Strikeforce’s lightweight division, Melendez looks to be a real force in the UFC’s 155-pound division.

10. Johny Hendricks (15-1) – Hendricks doesn’t have the look of a dominant MMA star, but he keeps beating the big names that get thrown before him. A great wrestler already, Hendricks has developed the most powerful hands in the welterweight division and he has now cleared out the division, leaving himself and St. Pierre on top. The two will meet later this year and that should be an epic fight.

After loss to Jon Jones, Chael Sonnen should call it a career

nullChael Sonnen has done a good job running his mouth, but now, his mouth may not be able to support his fighting career.

After losing to Anderson Silva in an underwhelming performance back at UFC 148, Sonnen was stopped in 4:33 against UFC light heavyweight champion, Jon Jones, on Saturday night at UFC 159.

Sonnen didn’t really deserve a title fight in the first place. He hadn’t fought at 205 pounds in the UFC in over six years, yet somehow got an immediate title fight with Jones.

Sonnen can sell a fight, but even his promos are outdated and tiresome. If you really want to know where Chael Sonnen gets his material, watch tapes of pro wrestling from the 90s.

I will give credit to Sonnen for being one of the best at 185 pounds, but he had no business competing against Jones on Saturday night, and with an unimpressive loss in the first round, he finds himself without any direction for his career.

A rematch with Silva isn’t in the cards and he certainly isn’t going to talk his way into a rematch with Jones after failing to put forth much offense on Saturday night.

Sonnen should do what he does best and that is sell fights, but not for himself, for the UFC. He should stick to being a broadcaster and realize that he had a successful career, despite not winning a title.

An interview with UFC President Dana White

nullAs I mentioned yesterday, I had the chance to do an interview with UFC President Dana White on Tuesday afternoon to discuss this week’s UFC on FOX 7 event.

You can read the entire interview, which was done for Bullz-Eye.com, here.

Below are a few excerpts from the interview:

One of the things I was really excited about with this deal with FOX was being able to bring big fights back to free television. That has always been my goal since we bought this company. Coming off “The Ultimate Fighter” finale last weekend, every fight was sick, it was an amazing finale. We pulled 1.7 million viewers. We were the highest-rated thing on network and cable television with males 18-34. This fight on FOX is going to be a big one. Ben Henderson is defending his lightweight title again, this time against Gilbert Melendez, who is probably the toughest guy at 155 pounds that has never had a shot in the UFC. Everybody thinks this guy might be the best in the world, so we are going to find out on Saturday.

I have been thrilled with the Strikeforce fighters. A lot of bad stuff happened at Strikeforce. A lot of guys didn’t get paid for a while and these guys are hungry. First of all, they are happy to be back fighting and getting paid to do it. These guys want to prove to the world that they can fight and become the best in the world. The UFC is the place to do that. These guys have been fighting like maniacs, and I love it.

UFC President Dana White sounds off on Boston Marathon attack

nullUFC President Dana White is a busy man, but he is passionate about the things he cares about.

With the UFC set to hold its seventh event on FOX this Saturday (its third of four events in April alone), I had the chance to speak with him for an interview for Bullz-Eye.com.

The interview will come out later this week, but I wanted to post White’s thoughts on what happened on Monday at the Boston Marathon. White previously lived in Boston and is a known supporter of the Boston pro-sports teams.

“It really bummed me out because when the city that you lived in gets attacked like that….you know, you think about when I lived there, we used to watch the race all the time, we would walk up and down Newbury Street. It was just a disgustingly, cowardly act. It makes me sick. To attack a race like that, where people have trained to run this thing from all over the world and their friends and family are waiting at the finish line for them, it’s just so (expletive) cowardly that it makes me sick. The one thing about the city of Boston and the United States as a whole, it’s one of those things where people will all come together, just like 9/11, and the city will bounce back. It’s just unfortunate that….not to mention that it’s the most popular marathon in the world and the oldest marathon in this country, to just do something like that is just….ugh. I can’t even put it into words without going crazy and sounding like an absolute psycho.”

I will post the rest of the interview with White later in the week.

Women’s MMA is stealing the show in the UFC

nullDana White once stated that he’d never have a women’s bout in the octagon that is the UFC.

White didn’t feel there was a market there.

Not only is there a market in women’s MMA, but the market is rising at a very fast pace.

Ronda Rousey put the women on the map in the UFC with her win over Liz Carmouche in the main event of UFC 157 in February. Though the fight went just one round, it was exciting from start to finish and featured great grappling and striking.

On Saturday, in the season finale of The Ultimate Fighter 17, the UFC held its second women’s bout, with Miesha Tate taking on Cat Zingano.

These two bantamweights put on an even better show than Rousey and Carmouche did, going nearly 15 minutes before Zingano finished Tate with an impressive flurry of knees and elbows.

The crowd was electric for the fight, knowing the winner would face Rousey next and get a spot coaching against Rousey in The Ultimate Fighter Season 18. The two battled it out on the feet and on the ground for the entire duration of the fight. Each showed tremendous skills and a determination to win.

When the fight ended, it felt like the fans and viewers had just witnessed the main event. It is clear that the fans appreciate a good fight, and the women have been giving the fans great fights.

White isn’t stupid either. He is trying to capitalize on the buzz surrounding the women’s bantamweight division by having Rousey and Zingano coach TUF next season. With Rousey already pulling in over 400,000 pay-per-view buys, and Zingano stealing the show Saturday night, there is a lot of evidence that the UFC should look to expand its women’s crop to more divisions.

The women have showed an aggression that has been lacking in some of the marquee men’s fights as of late. The fans always want to see two fighters leave it all in the cage, and the women are doing exactly that.

I personally am excited to see upcoming women’s bouts because the bar has been set very high by Rousey and Zingano.

Gegard Mousasi wins in a no-win situation

nullGegard Mousasi faced the most dangerous situation he has faced in his MMA career on Saturday afternoon.

He faced an unknown opponent if his UFC debut and was expected to run right through him.

After preparing for months to face top UFC light heavyweight contender, Alexander Gustafsson, Mousasi would instead be forced to face Ilir Latifi after Gustafsson wasn’t cleared to fight after suffering a cut earlier in the week.

Latifi, a native of Sweden, where the fight was taking place, was making his UFC debut and trains with Gustafsson. So, Latifi had some insight on what to expect of his opponent, while Mousasi knew nothing of the man he was to face.

I give credit to Mousasi for taking the fight on such short notice, because he really had nothing to gain. Everyone expected him to win. A loss would have set his career back a great deal, especially in a crowded light heavyweight division.

Mousasi didn’t look overly impressive in a decision win over Latifi, which was to be expected, but he did escape a dangerous situation with a victory.

The win doesn’t propel the former Strikeforce champion into title contention in the UFC, but it at least gives him some experience and he can now focus on bigger things, perhaps a fight with Gustafsson.

UFC marketing magic

The UFC has become a marketing machine. Here’s an interesting article from Fast Company that addresses this topic in depth.

On the afternoon before one of the biggest mixed-martial-arts fights of 2012, a group of Ultimate Fighting Championship employees takes up position in a sun-blasted parking lot outside the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. It’s July in Las Vegas. It’s 103 degrees of unpleasant. And it’s about to get worse–because UFC president Dana White just tweeted their location. White is giving away 20 $1,200 tickets to this weekend’s UFC 148 (most fight cards are named by number), headlined by a rematch between Brazilian middleweight champion Anderson Silva and his American nemesis, Chael Sonnen. Any fan who shows up within 20 minutes with a can of UFC-branded Edge shave gel will be entered into a ticket raffle.

It takes less than 10 seconds for Isiah and Dominique Quintanilla, teenage brothers from Visalia, California, to materialize from the back stairs with cans. “Some guy offered us $66 for one,” Isiah says. UFC fans, it seems, had cleaned out drugstores on the Las Vegas Strip.

Minutes later, a horde bursts from the casino–mostly men in the UFC’s coveted 18- to 34-year-old demographic, but women, too, in a dead sprint. They stampede toward the UFC team, grooming products in hand. Some hurdle a chain in the parking lot. One woman tries to scale a fence and bloodies her knee. In the fight business, these fans are known as hardcores. They buy the UFC’s pay-per-view shows, which blend wrestling, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai, and other combat styles into an action-packed, often-bloody sport known as mixed-martial arts, or MMA. They buy apparel and merchandise. Above all, they buy into a UFC lifestyle that celebrates everyone’s inner warrior.

Check out the entire article.

UFC 152 Results & Recap – Jones subs Belfort

nullJon Jones maintained his hold on the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship on Saturday with a fourth-round submission win over Vitor Belfort in the main event of UFC 152.

Jones came into the fight as the heavy favorite and he dominated most of the fight. Jones did nearly get caught in an armbar in the early going, but escaped and controlled the fight from there. Jones used his grappling and elbows to bloody up Belfort, and in the fourth round, caught the challenger in an Americana for the victory.

Belfort deserves credit for his effort and taking the fight on short notice in a bigger weight class, but Jones is just the better man.

With Dan Henderson dealing with his injury, there is no clear contender for Jones in the 205-pound division. That champion is becoming as dominant in his class as Anderson Silva is at 185 pounds.

In the co-main event, Demetrious Johnson won the first ever UFC Flyweight Championship with a decision victory over Joseph Benavidez.

The fight had a fast pace and was very competitive, as expected. The difference in the bout was the array of leg kicks that Johnson landed on Benavidez. The kicks slowly wore down Benavidez and allowed Johnson to control the pace. Benavidez still did enough to earn the victory on one of the scorecards, but Johnson was the victor on the other two cards, and in the eyes of most of the fans.

Johnson now is the first 125-pound champion in the UFC. It will be interesting to see how this division grows in the near future with a thin roster of talent in the weight class.

In another big bout, middleweight Michael Bisping defeated Brian Stann by decision to improve his ranking in the 185-pound class.

Bisping was able to out-point Stann with his technical striking and wrestling ability. Bisping actually utilized some nice takedowns in the latter stages of the fight to neutralize Stann.

Looking at Bisping, his resume is pretty strong and it appears he deserves a title shot. He has never been given a crack at the gold but has steadily been near the top of the division for years.

Check out the full results after the jump.

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