Henderson vs. Shogun planned for UFC 139

nullDan Henderson disposed of one former PRIDE legend, can he do it again in his return to the octagon.

MMAWeekly.com is reporting that the current Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion has agreed to return to the UFC to take on former PRIDE champion, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua.

Dan Henderson and Mauricio “Shogun” Rua have verbally agreed to face off at UFC 139 on Nov. 19, MMAWeekly.com has learned.

Independent sources confirmed the fight, which will stand as Henderson’s return to the organization after defeating Russian heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko in Strikeforce.

The bout will likely be the new main event for the card that saw its prior main event between heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez and no. 1 contender Junior dos Santos get moved to the main event of the Nov. 12 UFC on Fox fight card.

This is an exciting addition to UFC 139 and likely could be a No. 1 contender’s match in the division after Rashad Evans takes on the winner of Jon Jones vs. “Rampage” Jackson.

It’s surprising that these two never met in PRIDE, as both were legends and champions in the organization.

Both men have one-punch KO power and formidable skills on the ground, with Henderson being a wrestling specialist, and Rua being a submission specialist.

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

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.

Top 10 Light Heavyweight Rankings

nullI waited a week to release my latest light heavyweight rankings as I wanted to see how the UFC 133 main event turned out.

Rashad Evans did as I expected and beat Tito Ortiz, but his performance was very impressive and it made me consider putting him on top of the list.

You have to consider the quality of opponents that Evans has over Jones. Granted, Jones has been unphased in any fight. But, he also hasn’t fought the best of the best throughout his career.

Still, I left Jones on top for now, but No. 2 is a lot closer than he was a few months ago.

1. Jon Jones (13-1): Jones will defend his UFC championship next month against Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, in his biggest fight to date. Jones has yet to face any adversity, but a win over Jackson would prove that he can handle almost anyone in MMA. Wrestling will likely be the key in this one, as I don’t think Jones will want to slug it out with Rampage.

2. Rashad Evans (16-1-1): Evans bulked up in his time away from fighting and he looks like a determined fighter. He seems angry based on what happened with Greg Jackson and Jones, and it seems to have improved his skills as opposed to hurt them. Evans is next in line for a title shot. Only time will tell if he and Jones will finally square off.

3. Quinton “Rampage” Jackson (32-8): Rampage has had some issues away from the cage, having his trainer decided to leave camp over “creative differences.” Still, Rampage says he is ready to go. He will face a fighter unlike anything he has really seen. It will be interesting to see how Rampage plans to attack Jones at UFC 135.

Read the rest of this entry »

UFC 133 Results & Recap: Evans at his best

nullIt had been 14 months since Rashad Evans (AP Photo) competed inside the UFC Octagon, but clearly he was making the most of his time off.

The former light heavyweight champion looked as good as he ever has in a second round TKO win over Tito Ortiz in the main event of UFC 133 on Saturday.

Evans looked thicker, faster, and smarter in the octagon. His lone hiccup came when he was slightly taken down by Ortiz early in the fight, but he suffered no damage and turned the tide in his favor soon after.

Evans peppered Ortiz with heavy punches in the first round, but Ortiz managed to make the bell.

The dominance continued in the second round, as Evans landed a big slam of Ortiz and then beat on him for a few minutes before ending the fight with a knee to the sternum and a flurry of punches from the ground.

Evans clearly has established himself as the No.1 contender for the UFC title, and now he waits for the Jon Jones-Rampage Jackson winner. I think Evans has a style that could cause Jones a lot of problems, and he already owns a win over Jackson.

For Ortiz, he deserves credit for taking the fight on short notice. But, his performance on Saturday seems to be a better representation of his current abilities in the UFC than his win over Ryan Bader at UFC 132.

Read the rest of this entry »

UFC 133 Picks & Predictions

nullUFC 133 takes place on Saturday night from the Wells Fargo Arena in Philadelphia.

The card is somewhat tame for the UFC as of late, but still has some exciting fights.

Here are my picks for the five bouts on the main card.

Light Heavyweight Bout – Rashad Evans (20-1-1) vs. Tito Ortiz (17-8-1) – In this rematch, I like Evans to win. Ortiz is taking the fight on short notice and Evans has evolved much more since their first meeting. Evans should have a striking edge and probably has more explosive takedowns. My pick is for Evans to win by decision.

Middleweight Bout – Vitor Belfort (19-9) vs. Yoshihiro Akiyama (13-3) – Akiyama has a style that could pose problems for Belfort, but I ultimately see Belfort winning by TKO in the second round. Belfort has to stay out of the clinch and off his back, which I think he will find a way to do.

Welterweight Bout – Dennis Hallman (65-13-2) vs. Brian Ebersole (47-14-1) – This is a fight of two war-torn veterans of MMA. Both men have excellent grappling ability and respectable striking. I expect this to be a war, but I ultimately see Hallman coming out on top due to his past competition and experience in the UFC.

Middleweight Bout – Jorge Rivera (18-8) vs. Constantinos Philippou (7-2) – Rivera is a tough guy, but I don’t think he has the skills to really compete at a high level in the UFC. Philippou is unproven, but I expect this hungry fighter to get past Rivera by TKO with some ground and pound in the second round.

Welterweight Bout – Rory MacDonald (11-1) vs. Mike Pyle (21-7-1) – Pyle is a great grappler, but so is MacDonald. I think MacDonald has the better striking and is just the overall more-skilled fighter. Look for the young Canadian to continue to rise up the rankings with a decision win over the one-dimensional Pyle.

UFC 133 Weigh-In Results: All main card fighters make weight

nullUFC 133 weigh ins took place on Friday evening and all of the main card fighters made weight for the event.

Rashad Evans and Tito Ortiz (AP photo) had an intense stare down following their weigh ins. Evans played the role of the villain to the Philadelphia crowd while Ortiz pandered to the audience by wearing Philadelphia sports clothing. Despite just weighing a pound more at 205.8 to 204.4, Ortiz looks like a much bigger fighter than Evans.

In the co-main event, Vitor Belfort (185.4) and Yoshihiro Akiyama (184.6) made weight for their middleweight contest. The two are battling for position in division with Belfort possibly earning a title shot with an impressive win.

In an interesting contest, welterweights Rory MacDonald (170.6) and Mike Pyle (170.8) had an intense stare down of their own following their weigh ins. Pyle is the veteran looking to upset the promising star in MacDonald.

The lone fighter to not make weight on Friday was bantamweight, Ivan Menjivar, who weighed in at 138 pounds and opted to take the financial hit as opposed to attempt to lose two more pounds.

For complete weigh in results, check out the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

Top 10 MMA Pound-for-Pound Rankings

nullIt has been two months since my last pound-for-pound rankings list, and only one fighter on the list has competed in that time.

Bantamweight Champion, Dominick Cruz made his UFC debut, and successfully beat Urijah Faber, but his win wasn’t strong enough to move him ahead of Frankie Edgar. So, my top 10 is the same, but there could be some serious shakeups in the next few months with the UFC putting together a number of big fights in the fall and early winter.

1. Anderson Silva (28-4): Silva is still the most feared opponent of anyone in MMA due to his devastating and unique striking ability. Chael Sonnen is the only man to make him look beatable, but Silva still found a way to beat him by submission despite a serious rib injury. Yushin Okami is next up for “The Spider” at UFC 134, which will be a good test for Silva, who has an obvious weakness in wrestling.

2. Georges St. Pierre (22-2): GSP will return to action in October to take on Nick Diaz. The welterweight kingpin hasn’t been challenged much in his recent fights, but he also hasn’t been that impressive either. St. Pierre is in need of a dominant win with a finish to really be considered for the top spot.

3. Jose Aldo (19-1): Aldo is set to face off with Kenny Florian in early October, defending his featherweight title for the second time in the UFC. Aldo is similar to Silva in the fact that his striking is so strong that many opponents have a hard time coming up with a game plan that they can stick to when they face off with him. Florian will provide a good test for Aldo, but it may not be enough to beat “Junior.”

Read the rest of this entry »