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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What did we learn this week? For May 6, 2012

nullIt has been a while since I have posted on here, but I am back with weekly looks at MMA, mainly the UFC.

So, here is a look at what we learned this week.

- Nate Diaz may be an unsolvable problem for 155 pounders – Nate Diaz looked more than impressive against Jim Miller in the UFC on FOX 3 main event on Saturday. Miller had the kind of style that I expected to give Diaz some trouble, but he ran right through him. Diaz’ long reach has really been a problem for his opponents and he seems to be a vastly improved fighter since moving back from welterweight to lightweight. Miller was one of the top fighters in the division and Diaz made him look like a first timer. Diaz could legitimately become the UFC champion as I don’t know that a Benson Henderson or Frankie Edgar will be able to outwork him or deal with his jabs.

- Where does Josh Koscheck go from here? – Certainly it would be hard to say that Josh Koscheck was dominated by Johny Hendricks and you could maybe make the argument that he beat Hendricks on Saturday. Regardless, Koscheck certainly didn’t dominate Hendricks either. Koscheck seems to have become a fighter that refuses to go back to his roots when needed. He is one of the top wrestlers, and perhaps most explosive wrestler, in the 170 pound division. Koscheck is relying on his big swings and limited striking to try and win fights, even when it is clear he is not winning. Koscheck has only been out-wrestled one time in his career, and that was by Georges St. Pierre. In a fight like Saturday’s, I would have liked to see him take Hendricks down and work his ground striking as opposed to hoping for a knockout punch. Now Koscheck is lost in the welterweight division and not capable, in my mind, to make a run at middleweight. He needs to reinvent himself if he hopes to ever win UFC gold.

- Where would Alan Belcher be if he never got injures? – Belcher had about as good of a performance as Diaz, as he stopped Rousimar Palhares in the first round with some vicious ground and pound. Belcher was on a nice run in the UFC prior to an eye injury that nearly ended his career and sidelined him for over a year. Since his return, Belcher has first round finishes of Jason MacDonald and Palhares and he has won four straight overall. The middleweight division has quickly become very competitive with the addition of Hector Lombard. With Chael Sonnen, Brian Stann, Mark Munoz, and Michael Bisping all in the mix, Belcher should be right there with them.

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.

Top 10 Middleweight Rankings

nullThis week the rankings move back to the middleweight division.

The 185-pound weight class had some interesting developments over the last few months as Chael Sonnen has had his return to the UFC pushed back and one of the top fighters, Nate Marquardt, is moving down to 170 pounds.

Nonetheless, here is what the top 10 in this weight class looks like.

1. Anderson Silva (28-4) – Silva is not only No. 1 on this list, but also on my pound-for-pound list. I think he has a tough test ahead of him in Yushin Okami at UFC 134, as Silva has shown a weakness against big wrestlers. Still, many of Silva’s opponents show him too much respect, which plays right into his hands.

2. Yushin Okami (26-5) – I am moving Okami up to number two because Sonnen’s future is in question and he seems to be losing steam with each passing day. Okami has beaten many of the best in the UFC, but he now has a chance to face the very best in Silva. Okami is a grinder, and that is what will be the most dangerous opponent for Silva to face.

3. Chael Sonnen (25-11-1) – Sonnen has a good skill set, but his mouth and his poor choices have caused him to have a questionable future. Despite the fact that he pushed Silva to his limit, Sonnen still was unable to come through with a win. Sonnen has a clear weakness against submission specialists, but he has easily handled some of the top fighters in this division.

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Reports: Bisping, Mayhem to coach TUF 14

nullThe next season of The Ultimate Fighter has its coaches and it is certainly an interesting pair.

Sherdog.com has all the details on the middleweight tandem that will coach TUF 14.

Michael Bisping and Jason “Mayhem” Miller will serve as coaches for the upcoming 14th season of Spike TV’s “The Ultimate Fighter.” MixedMartialArts.com on Friday reported that UFC President Dana White has confirmed the “TUF” pairing, and Sherdog.com has independently confirmed the booking with a source close to the situation.

The slot opposite Bisping was initially planned for Chael Sonnen, but the Team Quest fighter was reportedly removed from the plan due to his suspension in California.

Miller had been slated to square off with Aaron Simpson at UFC 132 on July 2, but that bout has reportedly been scrapped to allow Miller to participate in the show. Simpson should receive a new opponent shortly. According to Sonnen’s testimony at his most recent appeal, the winner of his bout with Bisping would have been awarded a middleweight title shot. It is unknown at this time if that scenario is applicable with Miller now in the fold.

Well, though both men aren’t amongst the elite of MMA, both certainly provide entertainment value. It will be interesting to see how much Miller pokes at Bisping in hopes of getting him riled up.

In terms of a matchup, I think Miller is signing up for a bad fight. Bisping is going to be bigger, stronger, and have much superior striking. I don’t see Mayhem being able to get Bisping to the ground and that is the only way he can win that fight.

Sonnen’s suspension upheld

nullThe road to getting back inside the octagon just got a whole lot tougher for Chael Sonnen.

On Wednesday, the California State Athletic Commission voted 4-1 to uphold an indefinite suspension against Sonnen that will keep him from returning to competition for the foreseeable future. Josh Gross of ESPN.com has all the details.

The suspension, issued April 19, came after the commission’s legal counsel felt Sonnen may have perjured himself during testimony at an appeal hearing in December related to his ban for elevated levels of testosterone following a UFC middleweight championship fight against Anderson Silva on Aug. 7. The commission also addressed whether Sonnen’s guilty plea in January — to money-laundering charges related to his real-estate business for which he was sentenced to 24 months probation, a $10,000 fine, and loss of his real-estate license — brought “discredit” to the state as a licensee.

The indefinite suspension runs through June 29, when Sonnen’s license in California expires. Sonnen will be placed on the MMA registry used by regulators to monitor medical and administrative suspensions. He is free to apply for licenses in other jurisdictions, but California requested that other commissions contact it in the event that Sonnen requests a license.

The trial has the attention of most everyone in MMA as Sonnen was still coming off his near win over Anderson Silva last summer, as he won four-straight rounds against the champion before being submitted late in the fifth round.

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Top 10 Middleweight Rankings

nullThis week I turn my rankings to the middleweight division.

Really, the field is Anderson Silva and everyone else.

Still, here is my take. If you need to go back and find my pound-for-pound, heavyweight, or light heavyweight rankings, click on the links.

1. Anderson Silva (28-4) – Silva is my top fighter in any weight class, let alone middleweight. “The Spider” is like an artist in the cage. He rarely throws a strike that doesn’t land and he doesn’t waste energy while fighting. Everything he does has a purpose and thought to it. Chael Sonnen may have found a small hole in his game with his takedown defense, but he still managed to submit Sonnen and then bounce back with a devastating front kick to Vitor Belfort in the first round of his last title defense. Up next is Yushin Okami, had poses the right skill set to give Silva problems.

2. Chael Sonnen (25-11-1) – Sonnen is almost here by default. The other top guys in the group have either lost to him, or lost to someone that he has beaten. Sonnen is a grinder and a tremendous wrestler, but he has a clear weakness in his submission defense. Eight of his 11 losses have come by submission. Sonnen is also coming off a long layoff from a steroid suspension and legal issues. We will see if he can get back to being the fighter that nearly dethroned Silva.

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The 5 books that need to be written in MMA

nullAs MMA has grown in popularity a common occurrence amongst the fighters has been to write books.

The latest is Brock Lesnar, who is set to release “Deathclutch: My Story of Determination, Domination, and Survival,”on May 24.

Lesnar joins the likes of Chuck Liddell, Matt Hughes, Randy Couture, B.J. Penn, and Forrest Griffin as fighters who have come out with books, all of which have been best sellers.

Look for this trend to continues as the sport continues to progress. Here are some ideas I have for potential books featuring mixed martial artists.

“You Can’t Handle My Rhythm,” by Georges St. Pierre – The UFC welterweight champ finally breaks down his walls and talks about his “rhythm” and what makes him one of the best fighters in the world. While the hard cover edition may not be a hot seller, GSP’s self-spoke audio book will be a must own.

“Clay Guida: My Life as a Rock Star,” by Clay Guida – The UFC lightweight showman talks about his hair, his tattoos, and his undying love for the Carpenters and Millwrights union. Tie in the book release in a promotion with a new version of “Rock Band” that features walkout songs of the UFC, and the book is sure to sell quickly.

“How to Cope with Trash Talk,” by Michael Bisping – In this book, the UFC middleweight talks about finding your Zen and not letting opponents get to you with their trash talk. Tips include bottling up your rage and fun ways to kill time after you get suspended from fighting due to losing control in your post-fight celebration.

“Decisions, Decisions” by Jon Fitch – Fitch discusses his ability to continually win in the octagon without ever finishing opponents. This book includes an autographed mouth piece to help prevent grinding your teeth.

Urine For A Treat,” by Lyoto Machida – The karate master provides a great recipe book for meals that compliment his morning glass of urine. (Hey, he admitted to it)

Sonnen a TUF 14 coach & other ideas to help the series

nullThe debut of The Ultimate Fighter 13 wasn’t quite the ratings boom that the UFC or MMA fans in general were expecting.

The debut of the new season pulled between 1.4 and 1.5 million viewers, which isn’t bad, but it still wasn’t what was expected given Brock Lesnar’s drawing ability.

And, there is already talk of who is going to coach the next season. ESPN is reporting that the UFC is targeting middleweights Michael Bisping and Chael Sonnen.

While Sonnen is an interesting character who will be fun to watch, I don’t know that his trash talk will draw in anyone outside of the hardcore UFC fans. Bisping has already done the show and is somewhat of a villain in the UFC, but again, he isn’t much of a draw.

My guess is that the UFC is looking for controversy to increase ratings—Bisping and Sonnen will most likely do just that. But, if Brock Lesnar can’t bring fans into the series, maybe nobody can. On a side note, how many fans will begin to lose interest in the reality show before the next season even airs?

It isn’t surprising that a show may be running its course through 13 seasons, but I still think there are some options the UFC could explore to help the series and its longevity.

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