UFC Live 4 Preview: Nate Marquardt vs. Rick Story

nullDespite making his 170-pound debut this Sunday, there is a lot of buzz about where Nate Marquardt fits into the UFC welterweight division.

Rick Story just recently proved at UFC 130 that he isn’t someone to be taken lightly after beating Thiago Alves by unanimous decision.

Now, the two will meet, and there is only room for one to climb up the contender ladder.

Here is a look at both fighters heading into this contest.

Nate Marquardt (31-10-2): Nate “The Great” has been one of the top middleweights in the UFC for years but has now decided to make the drop down to welterweight. Marquardt is well rounded, but uses his striking and strong wrestling to win his fights. Marquardt likes to bully his opponents, which is something that Story likes to do as well. His weakness in the new division could be speed and conditioning, as his opponents may be able to push a faster pace.

Rick Story (13-3): Rick Story is on a six-fight win streak as he has worked his way up the 170-pound division. Story is a fearless fighter that will bring the fight to his opponents and not be afraid to let the fight go anywhere. He has strong wrestling and respectable striking. He is pretty much a mauler that just tries to smother his opponents and not let them get comfortable. While his strength has been his wrestling, he may struggle with the size and strength of Marquardt in this fight.

Who Will Win: Story is a tough fighter, but Marquardt has a style that I think will pose problems for him. Grapplers that weren’t as strong as Marquardt have struggled with him and I think that will be the case in this fight. I don’t think Story will be able to get him to the ground and that is when Marquardt’s striking will take over. I look for Marquardt to overwhelm Story and get a clear decision victory.

Story steps in for Johnson, will face Marquardt at UFC on Versus 4

nullNo rest for the wicked.

Just a few days after scoring the biggest win in his young MMA career, Rick Story found out he won’t have to wait long to return to the octagon, as he will fill in for the injured Anthony Johnson at UFC on Versus 4.

Story will take on Nate Marquardt in his welterweight debut on June 26 from Pittsburgh, Penn. MMAMania.com has the details.

Story has accepted this bout less than a week removed from his three-round war against Thiago Alves at the UFC 130 event on May 28. He absorbed a ton of punishment but outlasted “Pitbull” on his way to a unanimous decision win.

It was the sixth in a row for “Horror” who has been campaigning for a shot at the welterweight title. He’s steadily working his way up the ladder, picking off contenders as he goes.

This fight is just as interesting as Johnson vs. Marquardt, if not more. Story relies on being a bully in the cage, using his size and pressure to win fights. But, Marquardt is just as good at that as anyone and will likely be the bigger fighter of the two.

This will truly be a big test for Story.

Jon Fitch wants to fight the best, nothing less

nullJon Fitch is tired of the days of facing lesser opponents.

After Rick Story called out Fitch following his win over Thiago Alves at UFC 130, Fitch has made it clear that he wants just one of two possible fights in an interview with MMAWeekly.com.

“I’m at a point in my career where I need to be fighting main events and main event fighters,” Fitch told MMAWeekly.com. “And if you don’t have a belt, currently, or you haven’t owned a belt in the UFC, I’m not really interested.”

“I’ve gone out of my way throughout my career to just fight everybody they put in front of me and it’s cost me dearly. When you fight somebody who no one knows and don’t recognize their name, it doesn’t matter how bad you beat them.

“I kind of had a talk with Rashad Evans during the expo up in Canada. (It) kind of opened up my eyes to it a little bit. He was telling me I (have to) stop screwing around, I have to think about my career, and I’m a main event fighter. I should only be fighting main event people.”

“I want BJ or GSP. Those are the only two guys I care (to fight) or have any interest in right now. If I (have to) sit out a year and wait for them, I’ll do it. That’s what I’m waiting to fight for.”

Fitch is currently out until late 2011 after shoulder surgery, but the 23-3-1 veteran of the UFC has a point. He has faced a number of unknown opponents during his UFC run and went through them all.

Fitch is a big enough name that he can demand top fights and not many people are going to argue. Still, the UFC doesn’t seem keen on giving him another bout with St. Pierre after GSP beat him up for five rounds in their first meeting.

MMA News & Notes for May 31

nullFollowing UFC 130, all seems to be quiet on the MMA front.

However, I was able to find some tidbits that you may be interested in.

- It appears that Tito Ortiz and Jenna Jameson are having another lovers’ quarrel. Like any media hungry respectable couple, the two have taken to their Twitter accounts (Here’s Tito’s and here’s Jenna’s) to hurl insults at one another. Tito accuses Jenna of cheating and Jenna accuses Tito of domestic abuse. Boy, if these two level-headed people can’t make it work out, what couple can? Any chance Ortiz uses this as a reason to pull out of his UFC 132 bout with Ryan Bader in hopes to get a lesser opponent?

- Quinton “Rampage” Jackson made us all a little uncomfortable by sexually harassing a female reporter on camera, again. The incident isn’t the first time that Rampage has been sexually aggressive toward a female interviewer. He is just begging to have a major lawsuit handed to him and the UFC. (MMAFighting)

- Dream “Fight for Japan” took place on Sunday and top lightweight, Shinya Aoki, added to his impressive record with a submission of former UFC contender, Rich Clementi. Aoki improves to 28-5 in his MMA career and the submission against Clementi came in the second round from a face lock. Aoki has now won his last three fights by submission. (Sherdog)

- Thiago Alves thinks he won his UFC 130 bout with Rick Story. Apparently Alves forgot about the first two rounds where he mounted little offense and spent a great deal of time on his back. Alves did have an impressive third round, but he didn’t finish the fight. Last time I checked, winning one round isn’t as good as winning two rounds. (MMAMania)

A few thoughts from UFC 130

nullWell, UFC 130 is in the books.

The PPV was a little uneventful but still had plenty of intriguing storylines emerge. Here are some thoughts I took away from Saturday’s event.

- Rampage had a solid performance despite what the fans thought – The main event might have had a number of boos surround it, but I thought that Quinton “Rampage” Jackson had a solid performance against Matt Hamill. You have to consider a few things. First, Rampage had a fractured hand coming into the bout and still peppered Hamill with some big punches that didn’t manage to send him down. Second, Rampage stuffed each and every takedown attempt Hamill had with ease. To me, Rampage looked about as good as I have ever seen him and I think a healthy Rampage that shows that kind of takedown defense could pose a real threat to Jon Jones, if he is indeed the next in line for a title fight.

- Roy Nelson really needs to do something with himself – In the co-main event, Frank Mir had little difficulty winning a decision over Roy Nelson. Mir simply had to survive the opening five minutes and then Nelson could barely breathe for the final two rounds. Nelson has the talent to be a real impressive fighter. He has the ground skills and the punching power to contend with anyone, but his lack of conditioning and his desire to stick with his obese physique is hampering his career. I would like to see Nelson commit to losing weight and see where that takes him. Maybe he fights as a smaller heavyweight, or maybe he can even cut down to light heavyweight. The window for him to succeed is closing, and the blueprint for beating him is out there. It is only a matter of time before his UFC run ends because he fails to commit to change.

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UFC 130 Results & Recap

nullUFC 130 took place on Saturday night with a card that lacked a marquee fight, but provided plenty of entertainment.

- In the main event, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson (32-8) def. Matt Hamill (10-3) by unanimous decision in a light heavyweight contest. Hamill came into the fight expecting to be able to score takedowns, but Jackson showed impressive defense by stuffing every shot Hamill had. Jackson landed some big punches and knees, but never could do enough to put Hamill down. Jackson’s defense and superior striking were enough to earn him a unanimous decision after 15 minutes of fighting.

- Frank Mir (15-5) made his case to still be considered a top 5 heavyweight with a decision win over Roy Nelson (15-6). Neither fighter was that impressive, but Mir showed more conditioning and better grappling against a fatigued Nelson. Joe Rogan often pointed out how Nelson’s fat shape is affecting his MMA career. Will “Big Country” make any changes, or will he stick with his gimmick?

- Travis Browne (11-0-1) made a big statement in the heavyweight division with his brutal KO of Stefan Struve (21-5) in the first round. The two traded heavy kicks early in the bout but Struve attempted a kick late in the first round and Browne land a big straight punch that sent Struve crashing. Browne added two hammer fists, but Struve was already out. The fight ended at 4:11 of the first round.

- Rick Story (13-3) showed that he is a legit title contender in the welterweight division by beating Thiago Alves (18-8) by unanimous decision. Story was able to get Alves to the ground often in the opening two rounds and then took a number of big punches in the third round but was never knocked to the ground. Story did enough to win the bout 29-28 on all three scorecards.

-“The All American” Brian Stann (11-3) picked up another big KO victory, as he disposed of Jorge Santiago (23-9) in the second round of their middleweight contest. Stann flattened Santiago with a big left hook in the first round and then continued to land big shots before closing out the fight in the second round with another big punch and a furious follow up. The fight concluded at 4:29 in the second round. Stann is now 3-0 since moving down to the middleweight division.

Check out the quick results after the jump.

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UFC 130 Picks & Predictions

nullI have been breaking down UFC 130 all week with my takes on each contest.

Here are my full picks for the five bouts on the main card for Saturday night’s event, which airs live on PPV at 9PM ET. Check back tonight for complete results from the show.

UFC Light Heavyweight Bout – Quinton “Rampage” Jackson (31-8) vs. Matt Hamill (10-2) – I think this will be a very tough fight for Jackson if Hamill is in the right mindset. Hamill has the ability to get Jackson on his back, and that has been Jackson’s weakness as of late. Still, I think Hamill will get caught up in the moment of his first PPV main event and show Jackson too much respect, which will allow Rampage to win by decision by being the more aggressive fighter.

UFC Heavyweight Bout – Frank Mir (14-5) vs. Roy Nelson (15-5) – This should be a good scrap, but Mir’s desire to trade strikes in recent bouts will be his downfall tonight. I see Nelson getting an opportunity to land a clean punch, and that will lead to the end of the fight. Look for it in the second round.

UFC Middleweight Bout – Brian Stann (10-3) vs. Jorge Santiago (23-8) – In this clash of strikers, I see Stann coming out on top. He has crisper boxing and is the stronger fighter. Santiago has the ability to land a big kick or a big knee, but I see him trying for something flashy and leaving himself open to a big counter punch from Stann that will lead to a second round TKO.

UFC Welterweight Bout – Thiago Alves (18-7) vs. Rick Story (12-3) – There should be some fireworks here as Story will bring the fight to Alves. Story has the right style to pull off the upset, but I think he lacks that explosion in his takedowns to really get Alves on his back. I see “The Pitbull” using his punches and kicks to slowly tire Story before getting a TKO finish in the third round.

UFC Heavyweight Bout – Travis Browne (10-0-1) vs. Stefan Struve (21-4) – This is a classic grappler vs. striker contest and I see the striker winning. Struve has struggled with powerful strikers in the past and I look for Browne to come out quickly and win by first round TKO.

UFC 130 Weigh-In Results: All fighters make weight

nullAll 20 competitors that will be taking part in Saturday’s UFC 130 successfully weighed in on Friday.

Main-event light heavyweights Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Matt Hamill both hit the 205-pound limit on the dot and then had an intense stare down to hype up the live crowd. Jackson is likely fighting for a title shot against Jon Jones with a win while Hamill is seeking the biggest win in his pro career.

In the co-main event, heavyweights Frank Mir and Roy Nelson came in at 260 pounds. Nelson adorned some lovely pigtails with pink ribbons while Mir looked to be all business.

Thiago Alves, who has had a history of missing weight, looked healthy in his 170-pound weigh-in. He will face off with Rick Story, who also weighed in at 170 pounds. Alves is looking to get back into the UFC welterweight title picture while Story is seeking the biggest win in his young career.

Check out the rest of the UFC 130 weigh-in results after the jump.

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UFC 130 Preview: Thiago Alves vs. Rick Story

nullWill it be a “Story”-book ending for Rick Story on Saturday night?

Alright, that is lame, but how can you not incorporate that into the biggest fight of Rick Story’s career? At UFC 130, we will see just how legit Story is when he takes on former No. 1 contender in the UFC welterweight division, Thiago Alves.

Here is a look at both fighters heading into the contest.

Thiago Alves (18-7) – Alves is trying to get himself back into the title picture as back-to-back decision losses to Georges St. Pierre and Jon Fitch set him back. Alves has since picked up an impressive win over John Howard and with the work of weight-cutting master, Mike Dolce, he seems to be a newly energized fighter. Alves has some of the best striking in the division as his leg kicks are considered to be among the most powerful in all of MMA. Alves is a very explosive and quick fighter and he can take a punch too. Where “The Pitbull” has struggled in recent fights is with his takedown defense. Fitch and GSP were able to get Alves to the ground with relative ease and Story will be looking to do the same thing on Saturday.

Rick Story (12-3) – This 26-year-old is on a tear, winning his last five fights in the Octagon, including wins over Brian Foster and Johny Hendricks. Story is a scrapper that just likes to push the pace no matter where the fight goes. He doesn’t let his opponents get time to think and forces them to have to make bad decisions, which opens the door for him to exploit a weakness. This will be the toughest test in Story’s career and be on the biggest stage, so nerves could be a factor for him. We haven’t seen Story face someone with the kicks that Alves has either, so it will be interesting to see how Story deals with the pain of those kicks as they come. Story can’t afford to be too cautious and let Alves get planted to throw his big strikes.

Who Will Win: This could be a bad matchup for Alves because of Story’s grappling ability, but I think Story lacks the explosiveness that St. Pierre and Fitch have with their takedowns. If the fight stays standing, which I think it will, I look for Alves to eventually land a big strike and finish off the up-and-coming fighter.

Is Nick Diaz the man that can beat GSP?

nullIt didn’t take fans long after Georges St. Pierre beat Jake Shields at UFC 129 to start clamoring for St. Pierre’s next opponent.

Despite talk of a super fight between GSP and Anderson Silva, the fans are requesting a champion vs. champion showdown between St. Pierre and Strikeforce Welterweight Champion, Nick Diaz.

Diaz’ hype man trainer, Cesar Gracie, had some very strong thoughts about the fight that he told MMAMainia.

“Nick is a superstar already. He is. Wherever we go with the guy, everybody, fan support, whether you love him or hate him, you have to respect his fighting style.”

“You got a guy like GSP and he’s fighting to just win and you’ve got a guy like Nick Diaz, who’s fighting to beat your ass. The fans, I think know the difference now and I think that’s why if you go to forums, if you wanted to talk about after this particular show, look at all the amazing things that happened: Randy Couture retiring, that’s huge. You had that great kick from Machida, you had so many things happen that were phenomenal but what most people were talking about is Nick Diaz and he didn’t even fight.”

“You want to talk about superstardom? Nick Diaz IS the superstar right now and he didn’t get there by playing any games. He’s not gonna play the game. He is who he is and I think people are finally getting sick and tired of the BS and the polished answers. These guys are great athletes but they’re not fighters and a guy like Nick captures the imagination of what MMA is truly about or was supposed to be about.”

Diaz has been impressive, but I think the level of competition for both fighters has been vastly different.

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