Ranking Fedor Emelianenko among the MMA greats

nullLast week, “The Last Emporer” Fedor Emelianenko decided to call it a career following his first round KO win over Pedro Rizzo at a M-1 Global event.

It wasn’t the way many envisioned Fedor stepping away from MMA.

For a man that went undefeated for a 10-year span, Fedor should have been someone that ended his career in a blaze of glory.

Instead, he ended his career on a three-fight win streak over fighters that had passed their prime long before he did.

The lasting images of Fedor seem to be a tapout to Fabricio Werdum, a bloody face at the hands of Antonio Silva, and face-down body thanks to a big hand from Dan Henderson.

There is no shame in Fedor’s losses, as time makes cowards of us all, but we all hoped for greater things from Fedor. Perhaps greater than he could really achieve.

Fedor is following in the footsteps of many MMA legends before him.

There was a time that Tito Ortiz seemed unbeatable in the UFC. Now, he is not even top 10 in the light heavyweight division.

Chuck Liddell was untouchable when he finally won the UFC title, but he soon developed a glass jaw and simply couldn’t beat anyone.

Matt Hughes is still referenced as the greatest welterweight champion in UFC history, but he has not been a title contender for five years.

All of these men should have no shame. Nobody can sustain a level of performance that they achieved for very long.

Even today, the likes of Jon Jones and Anderson Silva appear to be flawless. But, there will be a day when they too must accept the fate of time.

Looking back, it is hard to imagine anyone will have the kind of run Fedor did during the first 10 years of the new millennium. He won 28 fights in that time without a single loss and fought the majority of the top fighters in the heavyweight division at that time. He also did so as an undersized heavyweight.

Anderson Silva has been unbeaten since 2006 and has done so very impressively, but in today’s age of MMA, with fighters evolving so quickly, you have to imagine someone will have his number sooner rather than later.

The same can be said for Jon Jones. A better, younger, and stronger Jon Jones is being built right now in gyms around the world.

Fedor did what few have. He managed to stay ahead of the game for 10 years. It is a feat that may never be repeated. For that reason, it is fair to call him the greatest heavyweight in MMA history and maybe even the greatest fighter in all of MMA history.

Matt Hughes: A gateway to today’s MMA

nullWhen I think of Matt Hughes, I am reminded of quote from the classic movie Old School.

“I hate your guts, but damn do I respect you.”

I have never been a fan of the UFC Hall of Famer and former welterweight champion.

He has always been overly critical of other fighters while failing to evolve with the sport himself, in my opinion.

However, as he took to the octagon for perhaps the final time at UFC 135, I have to admit, I felt a little conflicted.

Though Hughes is not even a top 10 welterweight in my eyes, but his accomplishments are undeniable.

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UFC 135 Recap – Jones backs up the hype

nullJon Jones has been as impressive as anyone in his short UFC career, but on Saturday, he continued to impress.

The UFC Light Heavyweight Champion ran through another opponent at UFC 135, beating Quinton “Rampage” Jackson by submission in the fourth round to retain his title.

The first three rounds saw Jones dictate the fight with his long reach, especially with his kicks. Jackson was never able to get inside that long reach, but did show some good takedown defense in the fight.

Once the fourth round came, Jones caught Jackson with a big straight punch that seemed to stun Jackson. The fight then soon went to the ground and Jones quickly secured a rear-naked choke and forced a tap of Jackson. It was just the second submission loss of Jackson’s career and his first since 2001.

Jones seemed to only hurt himself in the fight as opposed to take damage from Jackson. He appeared to injure his feet from throwing a number of kicks at Jackson. Hopefully he doesn’t have a broken foot so he and Rashad Evans can face off sooner rather than later.

In the co-main event, Josh Koscheck knocked out Matt Hughes at 4:59 of the first round to get his first win in over a year. Hughes put on an impressive striking display in the early portion of the round but eventually got cracked, and that led to the finish.

Hughes hinted that Saturday’s loss could be his last fight, but didn’t say the actual word “retire”. I will touch more on that tomorrow.

For full UFC 135 results, check out the jump. Read the rest of this entry »

UFC 135 Picks and Predictions

nullUFC 135 kicks off an amazing two-month span for the premiere MMA organization.

The card features a light heavyweight championship bout and a number of exciting fights.

Here are my picks for the main card bouts.

UFC Light Heavyweight Championship – Jon Jones (13-1) vs. Quinton “Rampage” Jackson (32-8) – Jones faces his biggest challenge to date in his young MMA career while Rampage is looking to stay in the spotlight of the UFC. There are some big questions here as Jones has yet to face any adversity in the octagon or really have his chin tested. Jackson has big power in both his hand, and if he can get inside the reach of Jones, he can knock him out. However, Rampage is somewhat one dimensional, using just boxing to win fights. I have no doubt that Jones has the ability to get Jackson to the ground if he so chooses. I think he will use his kicks and jabs to keep Jackson uncomfortable in the beginning and then eventually get the fight to the ground where I see him finishing Jackson with ground-and-pound strikes. Look for Jones to win this one in the third round.

UFC Welterweight Bout – Matt Hughes (46-8) vs. Josh Koscheck (17-5) – Hughes was originally scheduled to face Diego Sanchez, but an injury forced Koscheck into the mix. Hughes had a better chance of beating Sanchez in my opinion as I don’t see him being able to wrestle Koscheck to the ground. Koscheck seems to be the better wrestler and the better striker in this fight. Koscheck’s only issue is that he is a wild striker, so he could leave himself open to a counter by Hughes. Hughes doesn’t have great power, but Koscheck doesn’t have a great chin. Still, I see Koscheck doing enough to earn a decision win over the UFC Hall of Famer.

UFC Heavyweight Bout – Travis Browne (11-0-1) vs. Rob Broughton (15-5-1) – Browne appears to be a rising star in the heavyweight division. He has some great striking as he uses his powerful fists and mixes in nice leg kicks. Broughton is tough, but I think he is the sacrificial lamb in this fight to push Travis Browne into the MMA spotlight. Look for Browne to win by TKO in the first round.

UFC Lightweight Bout – Nate Diaz (13-7) vs. Takanori Gomi (32-7) – Gomi fought Nick Diaz years ago in an amazing fight and I see this bought being just as exciting. The big issue with Gomi is that he tires easily and that will allow Diaz to get him to the ground and secure a choke. I like Nate Diaz to win by rear-naked choke in the third round of this one.

UFC Heavyweight Bout – Ben Rothwell (31-7) vs. Mark Hunt (6-7) – Hunt was promising back in the day, but he just doesn’t have the skills to compete with most in the UFC. I see Rothwell overwhelming him early in the fight and getting a TKO finish with a flurry of punches in the first round.

UFC 135 Weigh-In Results – All Fighters Make Weight

nullThe fight card for UFC 135 is official as all 20 fighters came in on weight on Friday for Saturday’s card.

The main event of Jon Jones vs. Quinton “Rampage” Jackson had a little intensity added to the anticipation of the fight as the two had an intense stare down after each weighing in at 204 pounds for their UFC Light Heavyweight Championship bout.

Jones, who typically looks off to the side during a stare down, looked right in the eyes of Jackson, which led Rampage to look back and tell him “I’m going to end your hype.” Jones kept yelling “Let’s Go” back, but nothing physical took place. Both men looked in good shape and ready for a war on Saturday night.

Matt Hughes weighed in at 170 pounds for his welterweight showdown with Josh Koscheck, who came in at 170.5 pounds. There wasn’t much added by their stare down, as they stayed pretty distant from each other. Koscheck had a very intense and focused mindset, as he looked like he was ready to get into the cage as soon as possible.

For the full weigh-in results for Saturday’s UFC 135 card, check out the jump.

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UFC 135 Betting Odds: Jones Favored

nullUFC 135 takes place this Saturday night and the card has a number of big matchups, including the long-awaited first title defense of UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, Jon “Bones” Jones.

Betting odds have been released for this weekend’s bouts and Jones is the overwhelming favorite to defeat Quinton “Rampage” Jackson on Saturday. Jones has been given a money line of -485 while Jackson has odds of +385. Jones (13-1) has ran through his last four opponents, winning each fight by TKO or submission. Jackson (32-8) has won his last two bouts, both coming by decision. Jackson has had six of his last seven fights end with a decision, as his last KO win was in 2008.

In the co-main event, Josh Koscheck is the clear favorite to defeat Matt Hughes in a welterweight contest. Koscheck has odds of -455 to defeat Hughes, while the former welterweight champion has odds of +355 to win. Koscheck (15-5) is taking this fight on short notice and he hasn’t competed since last December when he lost to Georges St. Pierre. Hughes (45-8) hasn’t competed since last November, when he lost in 21 second to B.J. Penn. Hughes doesn’t have much left to fight for, but still is a dangerous wrestler with some good submission skills.

For complete odds for UFC 135, check out the jump.

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MMA News and Notes – Henderson vs. Guida set, Diaz skips media event

nullLost in the announcement of Lesnar vs. Overeem on Tuesday were some other big news in the world of MMA, mostly concerning the UFC.

- In another big fight announcement, MMAFighting.com is reporting that top lightweight contenders, Ben Henderson and Clay Guida will collide on the UFC on FOX undercard. Henderson is coming off his dominant win over Jim Miller at UFC on Versus 5 while Guida defeated Anthony Pettis at the Ultimate Fighter Finale. The winner of this bout could find themselves in top contender status for the lightweight title. It should be a good grappling match, but I see Henderson favored based on styles.

- MMAFighting.com also reported that Matt Hughes has accepted a fight with Josh Koscheck for UFC 135. Koscheck will replace Hughes’ original opponent, Diego Sanchez. Sanchez had to pull out of the fight with a broken hand.

- You can’t a teach a dog new tricks apparently. Despite Dana White insisting that Nick Diaz would conform to the various media requests that are expected of a top contender for his UFC 137 title bout with Georges St. Pierre, apparently the Strikeforce welterweight champion skipped a press conference on Tuesday in Toronto to promote the event. The UFC had to explination for his absence according to the Winnipeg Free Press, but another scheduled press conference is to take place today in Las Vegas. Will Diaz be there? Will he be punished for his absence?

- Fedor Emelianenko will return to action on Nov. 12 when he takes on Jeff Monson for a M-1 event in Russia according to MMAMania.com. Fedor has lost his last three bouts and will face Monson, who is coming off a loss to Daniel Cormier on the undercard of Strikeforce: Overeem vs. Werdum. Stylistically, this is a good matchup for Fedor, but will do nothing to get him back into the American spotlight.

- Another announcement that took place on Tuesday is that the UFC is heading back to Japan in 2012. Sherdog.com reports that Feb. 26, 2012 is the set date for the organization to make its return to Japan, which is nearly 14 years since the UFC first stepped foot in Japan. Expect to see many of the countries top starts on that card.

Diego Sanchez out of UFC 135 with broken hand, Koscheck says he is in

nullWell a summer of injuries that plagued the UFC is starting to force its way into a stacked fall lineup.

According to UFC President Dana White’s Twitter account, Diego Sanchez is out of his co-main event bout with Matt Hughes at UFC 135 due to a broken hand.

White indicated that the UFC is searching for a replacement for Hughes, but just moments later, Josh Koscheck posted this on his Twitter account:

Oh ya 19 days then or something like that!!!! Either way it looks like I am in to fight matt Hugh if he takes it????

The blow is tough for Sanchez, who had won his last two bouts to improve to 23-4 in his career. A fight with Hughes gave Sanchez a chance to pick up a win over a Hall of Fame fighter and really put a stamp on his career. Sanchez was coming into the fight as the favorite to win.

Hughes (45-8) hasn’t fought since last November when he was KO’d by BJ Penn in 21 seconds. There don’t seem to be a lot of options left for Hughes in the octagon, but a fight with Koscheck wouldn’t seem too favorable for him.

Koscheck hasn’t competed since UFC 124 last December when he lost to Georges St. Pierre and suffered a broken orbital bone. Koscheck indicated he would be returning to action in November as a middleweight. Apparently plans have changed. Koscheck has the skill set to beat Hughes as his wrestling is on par with Hughes and his striking is far superior.

UFC 135 takes place Saturday, Sept. 24 from Denver.

UFC 135 taking shape with Jones vs. Rampage as main event

nullUFC 135 is set to take place from the Pepsi Center on Sept. 24 and the card has really begun to take shape over the past few days.

MMAMania.com is reporting that UFC Light Heavyweight champion Jon Jones has verbally agreed to make his first title defense against former champ, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson in the main event.

Along with that, four other bouts have been announced around the MMA world with Matt Hughes and Diego Sanchez expected to square off in a welterweight showdown as the co-main event.

Bantamweights Damacio Page and Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto are also expected to square off in a battle to two guys trying to get into the top 10 picture.

There will also be a pair of big heavyweight contests as Ben Rothwell has signed on to face Mark Hunt and recent knockout of the night winner, Travis Browne, will face relative UFC newcomer, Rob Broughton.

While more fights will be added in the upcoming months, UFC 135 already has some solid name power and rising stars.

Jones vs. Rampage should be a big draw as it will be a little bit of the old vs. the new as those two collide. You also have a Hall of Famer taking on an always exciting competitor as Hughes meets Sanchez.

I for one will be excited to see Travis Browne in action again. I think he has the potential to be a real contender in the heavyweight division.

Five fighters that might survive the Apocalypse

nullIn case some of you haven’t been paying attention, the Apocalypse is set to take place tomorrow.

If there are any athletes who might survive on the post-apocalyptic planet, it would be mixed-martial artists.

Here are the five guys I would like to be around tomorrow, once The Rapture saves those who will be saved.

1. Matt Hughes – As his walk-out song goes “A Country Boy Can Survive”. Hughes is a farm boy that can probably do anything and everything as long as he has a pair of boots and a piece of John Deere equipment that he can break down into parts. He can certainly kill any other living animal and will likely know how to build a fire and refine liquid into water. The question is, will he spend too much time making smart-ass remarks about how much of a girl you are for trying to get your IPhone to work? You also would have to put up with his stories about how boring a fighter Georges St. Pierre is.

2. Lyoto Machida – Machida is almost like an animal more than a human when you consider his cat-like speed and reflexes. I would think no zombies stand a chance against him. Also, the man drinks his own urine, so a lack of water won’t be a big issue for him. Let’s just hope if we can’t find food that he thinks your bodily releases will also make for a good replacement.

3. Forrest Griffin – The man wrote a book about it, so I have a sense he is prepared. He doesn’t seem too concerned with bathing or looking good, so he wouldn’t waste time with that. He also is a scrapper, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him try and take down a cougar or a lion for food. Problem with Forrest is, he might kill you, and not just for necessity.

4. Chael Sonnen – As a man in an apocalyptic world, you are going to need to tap into your survival instincts and really draw on adrenaline and testosterone. Well, Chael has plenty of that. In fact, he has some by the bottle full. So, you may have to put up with a lot of idiotic statements that he will later claim he never said, but at least your motor should always be on high.

5. Roy Nelson – Sure, he doesn’t look like much of an athlete, but the guy can hit hard and he can choke out any zombies or animals that might attack. He has a big appetite, so food will always be a priority in your survival group, which means you should eat well. Also, his belly should make a nice pillow during the down times