Alistair Overeem: Another quick fall in MMA

The MMA gods can be very cruel.

One minute you can be on top, the next you are at the very bottom.

Such is the case for heavyweight Alistair Overeem. His fight last night at UFC Fight Night 26 was almost a perfect example of how quickly a career can change.

Needing a win over respectable contender Travis Browne, Overeem seemed like the “Demoltion Man” early on, hammering Browne with big fists. He looked like a heavyweight contender once again.

However, just moments later Overeem ate a picture-perfect front kick that led to a surprising KO loss.

Now Overeem finds himself having lost two straight fights and, when you mix in a suspension that cancelled a title fight in 2012, he could be on the chopping block. It’s been a meteoric fall for Overeem, but he’s not the only one that has been in similar position. Here’s a few other notable quick collapses.

Chuck Liddell – The Iceman seemed unbeatable when he was the UFC Light Heavyweight champion in the mid-2000s, but that all changed with a Quinton “Rampage Jackson” hook. One big punch from Jackson ended Liddell’s title reign and set the course for his surprising demise in the UFC. Liddell went on to go 1-5 over the next three years, losing four times by KO. He was forced to retire in 2010 after being blasted by Rich Franklin.

Brock Lesnar – Lesnar seemed too good to be true, and he was. The physically imposing heavyweight broke onto the UFC scene in 2008 and was champion within a year. However, once Lesnar started to meet up with heavyweights that could match his strength and wrestling ability, he quickly turned into a softy. Though he beat Shane Carwin by submission, he was pummeled in the first round and that seemed to destroy his mystique. From there Cain Velasquez and Alistair Overeem ran right through him and Lesnar decided to retire from the sport.

B.J. Penn – Though Penn is still considered by many to be the greatest lightweight in MMA history, he didn’t go out on a high point in the UFC. He seemed to be a human wrecking ball at 155 pounds after dominating the likes of Kenny Florian, Sean Sherk and Diego Sanchez, but a pair of decision losses to Frankie Edgar seemed to put his career on the wrong track. While he did pick up a quick KO of Matt Hughes after, he looked sluggish in a draw against Jon Fitch and was thoroughly picked apart by Nick Diaz and Rory MacDonald before taking time away. The fear Penn used to put into his opponents is long gone.

UFC 146 Results & Recap – Junior Dos Santos Keeps Rolling

nullJunior Dos Santos verified himself as the top heavyweight in the UFC as he knocked out Frank Mir in the second round of the main event of UFC 146 on Saturday from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

Coming into his bout with the former UFC champion, Mir, Dos Santos was expected to win with his crisp striking, and that is exactly what led to the win.

After somewhat of an eventful first round that saw Dos Santos win thanks to his striking, the champion managed to finish off the fight in the second thanks to a big right hand that caught Mir flush on the cheek. JDS then followed up with a flurry on the ground to earn the TKO stoppage.

The win for JDS was as big for him as it was a big loss for Mir. The former champion likely won’t see another title shot anytime soon after losing his last three matches where a belt was on the line by devastating knockout.

Mir has had quite the career, but it is clear he doesn’t have the ability to contend with explosive strikers that have the ability to keep the fight standing. He has been brutally beaten by the likes of Brock Lesnar, Shane Carwin, and now Dos Santos.

In the co-main event, Cain Velasquez destroyed Antonio Silva in Silva’s UFC debut. The former heavyweight champ bloodied Silva thanks to a big elbow across the nose and he followed up with a number of strikes thereafter.

The win for Velasquez probably pushes him right back up to the No. 1 contender spot, as Dos Santos knocked him out in their meeting last November.

For complete results from UFC 146, check out the jump.

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Velasquez vs. dos Santos to headline UFC on FOX

nullThe UFC wanted a premiere fight for its FOX television premiere and that is just what it has.

Dana White announced via conference all on Friday that Cain Velasquez will defend his UFC heavyweight championship against top contender, Junior dos Santos, on Nov. 12 to headline the show.

The fight was originally scheduled to take place on Nov. 19 as the headline of UFC 139 from San Jose, but will now take place at The Pond in Anaheim.

White also indicated that this is the only fight scheduled for the 1-hour FOX premiere and if the fight ends quickly, they will air undercard bouts that took place earlier in the night.

Velasquez hasn’t fought since winning the championship from Brock Lesnar last October. He is 9-0 in his career.

Dos Santos is 13-1 and coming off a dominant win over Shane Carwin at UFC 131 in June. He has clearly established himself as being the top contender for Velasquez.

While these two may not be the highest-profile of fighters to the outside MMA fan, this is an amazing fight to get on free television.

The UFC is hoping for fireworks for this bout to really draw in a big audience and take the UFC to a new level. Hopefully this fight does just that.

The new main event for UFC 139 has yet to be announced but White indicated that it was in the works.

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.

Top 10 Heavyweight Rankings

nullThe rankings list has made its way back to the heavyweight division.

There have been a few shake ups in this group as of late, mainly near the top. Still, the division has remained pretty solid as we work toward the big meeting of Velasquez vs. dos Sanots.

1. Cain Velasquez (9-0): Velasquez will return in November to take on Junior dos Santos. It will be a tough test for the UFC champ, as he has not fought in nearly a year and is coming off a major surgery.

2. Junior dos Santos (13-1): dos Santos tore through Shane Carwin in an impressive victory that solidified his spot as the top contender to the UFC crown. Junior has proven he can out-strike a striker and stuff a takedown, but will he be able to handle the explosiveness and speed of Velasquez?

3. Brock Lesnar (5-2): Lesnar may not return anytime soon, but I still think he deserves a high ranking as he was able to beat some of the best on this list before getting injured. Lesnar is going to need to show he can handle getting hit when he returns if he hopes to contend for the title ever again.

4. Alistair Overeem (35-11): Overeem was able to beat Werdum without too much difficulty but wasn’t impressive in his own right. Now, some debate with Zuffa has gotten him taken off the rest of the Strikeforce Grand Prix and leaves his MMA future in question. Hopefully Overeem will return and maybe someday step inside the octagon.

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MMA Game Changers: Brock Lesnar

nullThis is the first in a series of posts I will be doing on game changers in MMA history.

Starting in the heavyweight division, I point to Brock Lesnar.

Love him or hate him, Lesnar’s arrival to the MMA scene changed the face of the division forever.

Despite just 7 pro fights in his career, you can clearly see a difference between how the division works now compared to how it worked when he first arrived.

Lesnar first appeared in MMA in 2007 and made his UFC debut in early 2008.

At the time, the heavyweight division had been run by the likes of Tim Sylvia and Andrei Arlovski, two predominant strikers.

Then came Randy Couture, a man who now can’t even fight at heavyweight due to the size differential. Couture was the heavyweight champion when Lesnar broke into the octagon.

When Lesnar showed up, everyone paid attention. Not only did it seem like a gimmick that a pro wrestler would move into MMA and into the UFC, but his shear size was hard to ignore.

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UFC targeting San Jose for Velasquez vs. dos Santos

nullLet’s not waste any time.

Junior dos Santos just defeated Shane Carwin last week to earn a future UFC Heavyweight Title shot against Cain Velasquez, but the UFC already appears to have the date and location set for the upcoming bout.

According to the L.A. Times, the two top heavyweights will meet on the champion’s stomping grounds of San Jose, California.

The Ultimate Fighting Championship is pursuing Nov. 19 as the date that heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez will make his first title defense against once-beaten Junior dos Santos at San Jose’s HP Pavilion, company chairman Lorenzo Fertitta told The Times Thursday.

Velasquez (9-0, 8 KOs) is from Yuma, Ariz., but he trains in San Jose and was born in Salinas, the son of a migrant worker.

Velasquez hasn’t fought since October, when he upset champion Brock Lesnar at Honda Center in Anaheim by first-round TKO. Velasquez underwent shoulder surgery after the fight, forcing the layoff.

The Nov. 19 date is expected to be UFC 138, and it will be the first time San Jose has held a UFC PPV event.

In fact, the promotion hasn’t been to California since Velasquez defeated Lesnar in Anaheim at UFC 121.

Future Fight Watch: Velasquez a slight favorite over dos Santos

nullThe next marquee heavyweight bout has been set with Cain Velasquez defending his title against No. 1 contender, Junior dos Santos.

Though the fight won’t come for months, the debate has already been heated about which fighter is favored.

The opening odds actually had Junior dos Santos as a -125 favorite over Velasquez (-105) but after some debate, it appears that the champion has now become the one to beat.

BetOnFighting.com has the champion as a -120 favorite while dos Santos now has odds of -110.

While dos Santos looked the best he ever has in his dominant win over Shane Carwin last Saturday, Velasquez is another animal.

Cain has solid, technical boxing, and his wrestling may be as strong as anyone’s in MMA. The takedown defense dos Santos had against Carwin may not be strong enough to keep him off his back. Also, Carwin didn’t display the technical striking I thought he would against dos Santos. I suspect Velasquez will have the ability to get inside that long reach.

While I won’t say that Velasquez will clearly win, I do feel he is being somewhat disrespected by the sportsbooks in this one. He is a complete package and a worthy champion.

UFC 131 Results & Review – Dos Santos A Legit Threat To Velasquez

nullJunior dos Santos was the No. 1 contender to the UFC heavyweight title coming into UFC 131, and he is still the No. 1 contender after UFC 131.

The 26-year-old heavyweight improved to 13-1 with a unanimous decision victory over Shane Carwin on Saturday, dominating the entire fight. Dos Santos’ reach proved to be a big factor as Carwin struggled to get inside Junior and dos Santos also showed impressive takedown defense to keep the fight standing.

In the first round, Carwin was nearly finished (and I personally would have stopped the fight) as he took a barrage of strikes from Junior that left him a bloody mess, but he managed to survive and last all 15 minutes.

Dos Santos looked as good as I have ever seen him and he appears to be a legit threat to UFC heavyweight champ, Cain Velasquez.

The co-main event saw Kenny Florian successfully make his featherweight debut by beating Diego Nunes by unanimous decision. Florian lost the first round on two scorecards but bounced back by controlling a tired Nunes for the final 10 minutes.

The other big win of the night came for Mark Munoz, who won a close decision over Demian Maia. All three rounds were competitive and close, but all judges scored the bout for the wrestler, Munoz. Maia showed impressive striking in the first round while Munoz controlled the fight with his wrestling in the final two rounds.

For complete UFC 131 results, check out the jump.

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UFC 131 Picks & Predictions

nullUFC 131 takes place on Saturday from the Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Here is a rundown of my takes on all the main card bouts.

Heavyweight Bout – Shane Carwin (12-1) vs. Junior dos Santos (12-1) – This should be an explosive fight and I see Carwin walking out the winner. I don’t see the fight going beyond five minutes as both fighters have explosive power. I suspect Carwin can take a punch better than dos Santos, which will allow him to earn a first round KO.

Featherweight Bout – Kenny Florian (13-5) vs. Diego Nunes (16-1) – This will be a tough test for Florian, who is making his 145-pound debut against Nunes, who is on a nice run as of late. If Florian can handle the weight cut and continue to fight his style, he should be able to out-class Nunes and secure a submission in the third. I suspect Florian will do just that.

Middleweight Bout – Demian Maia (14-2) vs. Mark Munoz (10-2) – Munoz is a tough guy, but I think he will struggle with Maia on the ground. I look for Maia to pull off an impressive submission in the second round on the wrestler.

Heavyweight Bout – John Olav Einemo (7-1) vs. Dave Herman (20-2) – Einemo seems to be one dimensional and just strong with his submissions while Herman is an impressive striker and well-conditioned fighter. My pick is Herman to win by knockout in the third round.

Lightweight Bout – Donald Cerrone (14-3) vs. Vagner Rocha (6-1) – I think Cerrone should control this fight from start to finish. I don’t see him finishing Rocha, who is good at submission defense, but I do see Cerrone getting the decision win.