Steroids in MMA
Which MMA Fighter Will Test Positive For Steroids Next?

April, 2008

Exclusive: Dean Lister’s Next Challenge

Dean Lister

by Ben Fowlkes

Dean Lister is in a tough spot. He’s a world class grappler, an Abu Dhabi champion, and depending on who you talk to, he may be the best pure jiu-jitsu fighter in the world. Trouble is, when you carry around a reputation like that it’s hard to surprise anyone.

Because Lister’s ground game is so advanced, most of his opponents will do anything to avoid it. They’d rather force him to stand and strike – which he admits he’s been less comfortable with – and rely on providing just enough offense to win.

“It’s frustrating,” Lister says. “Everyone so far has had pretty much the same strategy. My last opponent (Jordan Radev) was supposed to be an Olympic wrestler from Bulgaria. He didn’t want to go to the ground with me at all. I guess that’s how a lot of people approach it though, just trying to stay on their feet no matter what. I don’t look at it as a negative thing. It’s just how it is.”

The problem for Lister is that as good as his ground game is, when he can’t win with it he’s struggled to find other paths to victory. His recent losses to Nathan Marquardt in the UFC and to Ricardo Arona in Pride were both the result of decisions, as were all five of his career defeats.

The UFC recently announced that Lister will get a chance to avenge one of his early losses when he takes on Jeremy Horn at The Ultimate Fighter Finale show in June. The two first faced off in 2003, when Horn took Lister’s King of the Cage middleweight championship belt from him with a split decision victory.

“We’re both different now,” says Lister. “I’m about three times as experienced as I was back then. I only had like five fights back then, now I have fifteen. Then again, he’s probably fought way more than fifteen times since then, the way he goes.

“One thing Jeremy is known for is he’s not afraid to fight on the ground or on the feet. He’s very well-rounded. I just think that no matter what happens, it’s going to be an exciting fight. It doesn’t matter if it’s on the feet or on the ground – of course everyone knows that I have a preference.”


CagePotato vs. Fightlinker: The Devil’s Wager


As mentioned on Saturday, I’ve agreed to put my dignity where my mouth is and accept Ryan Harkness of Fightlinker‘s challenge to a UFC 84 pick-off. Whoever predicts “Ill Will” more accurately wins; the loser will have to do something unpleasant, of the winner’s choice.

Here’s the fun part: I need your help to determine the punishment that Ryan will endure in the very likely event that I win. Something practical perhaps, that helps promote in the Great White North? Something that demonstrates the superiority of my beloved New York City to Mudville Montreal? The usual naked donkey riding? Shoot us your ideas in the comments section. Just remember, these guys have no shame, so you’ll have to be creative. If we use your suggestion, we’ll make it worth your while. All proceeds go to charity. (Just kidding!)

By the way, Ryan and I will be keeping score not just based on which fighter wins each matchup, but how and in what round those victories are achieved. So if God talks to you some time in the next couple weeks and mentions anything about UFC 84, let us know, m’kay?

UPDATE: Or, you could go here to toss in suggestions on what I would have to do in the event of a loss. Please be gentle.



Aoki Beats JZ in DREAM.2 Rematch; Kang + Minowaman Bounced Out of Middleweight GP

(Shinya Aoki, man of steel.)

While us Westerners were hitting the snooze button over and over again this morning, DREAM‘s second event was going down in Japan’s Saitama Super Arena. In a night full of surprises, the biggest one was how easily Shinya Aoki handled Gesias Calvancante. The “Master of Jumping Locks” played it true to his nickname, spending a large chunk of the first round hanging off of Calvancante’s back and working for a choke, and nailing a flying guard-pull in the second round. JZ landed shots where he could, but Aoki’s ground control and multiple submission attempts convinced the judges to give him the match unanimously. With the win, Aoki advances to the second round of DREAM’s lightweight tournament, which goes down May 11th. Now that he’s made it through Calvancante, he’s a strong favorite to go all the way.

The rest of DREAM.2 was devoted to the first round of their middleweight grand prix. Kazushi Sakuraba’s match with Kyokushin karate practitioner Andrews Nakahara (0-0 in MMA competition before the fight) was as lopsided as expected, with Sak schooling Nakahara on the ground en route to a neck crank submission. But there were two major upsets on the card, as crowd favorites Ikuhisa “Minowaman” Minowa and Denis Kang were eliminated from the GP. Minowa put in a lethargic performance against Taiei Kin — who owned a 2-2 record coming into the tournament — and was mostly unsuccessful in his repeated takedown attempts, absorbing a ton of leg kicks and knees to the head in the process. During the times when Minowa did have Kin on the ground, he failed to inflict any damage, and was eventually handed a loss by the judges.

Denis Kang’s submission loss to Gegard Mousasi was just as disappointing. After an energetic striking exchange to open the match, Kang took Mousasi to the ground and worked for a kimura while dodging Mousasi’s rabbit-punches and knees to the head on the ground (both of which seemed to be quite legal at this event, for some reason). But Kang was eventually kicked off, and when he went in to throw a punch at the downed Mousasi he literally fell into a triangle choke; it was the kind of a loss that only an amateur would experience, and it would be hard to argue for Kang as a top-ten middleweight at this point.

Full results are after the jump. Come back later for videos from the event, and if you get HDNet, set your DVRs now: DREAM.2 will be broadcast this Saturday, May 3rd, at 10:30 p.m. ET.


Huerta/Florian Booked for UFC 87


We’ve called it “a Fight of the Year waiting to happen” — and luckily, it’s happening. Sources have confirmed that top UFC lightweight contenders Roger Huerta and Kenny Florian will face each other at UFC 87 (August 9th; Minneapolis, MN), with the winner all but guaranteed an immediate shot at the 155-pound belt.

Huerta is 16-0 with one no-contest in his last 17 fights (22-1-1 +1 NC overall), including six consecutive victories in the UFC; by UFC 87, he will have been inactive for eight months. Kenny Florian most recently dispatched Joe Lauzon at UFC Fight Night 13, and hasn’t suffered a defeat since his title fight against Sean Sherk in October 2006. As Florian told MMAWeekly:

“[Huerta is] a game opponent, and he’s never going to quit. It doesn’t matter how tired he gets, he’s gonna keep going, and those are the kind of guys that I want to fight. He’s on a roll, he’s very confident right now. And I like the kid. I know him personally. He’s a good kid, and we get along great. He has a bright future, regardless of what happens in the fight with me.”

See, when Florian talks trash, it’s so subtle that you barely notice it.

Huerta/Florian is such an outstanding matchup because it seems like both fighters’ career trajectories have been pushing them towards each other. It’s not a title fight, but it has all the importance of one, and will help to establish a clear ranking order in the UFC’s lightweight division. (For the same reasons, Rich Franklin vs. Dan Henderson is also one of those fights that needs to happen.) Let us know your early predictions in the comments section and in our new poll. For those of you who have bought into the “Roger Huerta is overhyped and hasn’t faced tough competition” line, here’s my rebuttal: Winning 16 straight fights is an amazing achievement no matter who you’ve fought, because 1) every opponent represents a different style challenge that may cause problems for you, even if they’re a lesser fighter on paper, and 2) everybody gets caught once in a while. An undefeated record or a monstrous win streak like Huerta’s shows that a fighter is well-rounded enough to handle whatever he encounters in the cage, and doesn’t make the minor errors in judgment that lead to eating an unexpected right hook.

I’m not saying he’ll win; I’m just sayin’.


Chuck Liddell Has More To Say About Kimbo Slice

Chuck Liddell
(But does he love them?)

So you thought the war of words between Chuck Liddell and Kimbo Slice was over. You just assumed that after Liddell called Kimbo overrated, and then Kimbo replied that he had “nothing but these” (indicating his fists) for Liddell, that would be the end of it, didn’t you?

Well obviously, you haven’t been paying attention to the way things work in the world of MMA. The first rule of a nascent fighter feud? Never let someone else have the last word.

“The Iceman” knows how to play the game. That’s why he went on the unfortunately named “Rear Naked Radio” this weekend to clarify his earlier comments about Kimbo. And by clarify, we mean add fuel to the fire. From MMA Junkie:

“Before he talks about fighting me, he might want to think about beating somebody that has a winning record,” Liddell said. “He’s an internet sensation who beat up guys at Taco Bell. Come on. How hard is that to do?”

Oh. No. He. Didn’t.

Chuck Liddell obviously hasn’t been to a Taco Bell in Queens, because there are some pretty rough customers hanging around and waiting for their pregnant girlfriends to get off work. If you even suggest that she forgot your Baja Chalupa, she bursts into tears and then it’s out come the switchblades. You fight your way out of that one, you deserve some bragging rights.

But Liddell wasn’t done. He had some in-depth analysis of Kimbo’s recent opposition, most notably Bo Cantrell:

“That first fight they had on HDNet, he fought a guy that had been knocked out two times before in less than 30 seconds, and he tapped on his way down in [that] one. That was three fights that he lost in less than 30 seconds. How many guys do you know who’s done that?”

Truly, that is an impressive feat by Mr. Cantrell. Kimbo’s next opponent, James Thompson, is also coming off back-to-back first-round KO losses. At least his total ring time for those fights is a more respectable 2:34. Maybe a win over him will be enough to impress Liddell. Don’t count on it, though.

Ball’s in your court, Kimbo.


Quote Stew: Bisping, Quarry, Hunt + More

(James Irvin: Fighting his way off of the C-list.)

“He’s lost his last two fights now, against Franklin and Anderson Silva, so the UFC’s decision makes sense. No fighter can guarantee winning a fight but you can go into a bout in shape. If you can’t go the distance then you’re not preparing well enough and you’re not taking your job seriously. We work for the UFC and it’s our job to get off our a**es and train and be in shape. That’s what we get paid for and if we don’t do that then we’re not doing our job. That’s the way I look at it.”
Michael Bisping on the recent sacking of Travis Lutter.

“I just decided to make light of the situation and be like, hey man, this is what I’m seeing. I’m seeing a running man. That just came to me out of nowhere. When there were ten seconds left I just said to myself, all right, I’m calling the technique the ‘rock-hammer.’ I don’t know if that name will stick or not.”
Nate Quarry on the instant-classic ending of his fight with Kalib Starnes.

“I’m just so happy that he would even take the fight against me. I consider him an ‘A’ level fighter, and I consider myself a ‘C’ level fighter, maybe a ‘B’ level because I just beat Houston trying to claw my way up to the top. So for him to take a step down and fight me, I’m greatly appreciative of the guy, who is someone I look up to as one of those top tier fighters.”
James Irvin on his UFC 85 opponent, Rashad Evans.

“Mentally I think BJ has some quit in him. I’ve seen it, I’ve seen it in the past. If you push him, he’ll quit.”
Sean Sherk on his UFC 84 grudge match with BJ Penn.

“Now that the K1 thing is out of the way it’s all good baby: all MMA and MMA only. These guys (DREAM) want me to fight Aleksander (Emelianeko) in about three weeks time on May 11th! I was like no way because it’s too short a time with no training. I don’t want to risk fighting like that. But if they compensate me enough for taking that risk then it’s all good and I’ll fight. DREAM’s plan was to see how Fedor (Emelianeko) goes and when and if he wins the DREAM title, and then I will fight him…First time I fought him, my wrestling wasn’t great — actually it was pretty shit but I did alright with him. This time I will be ready.”
Mark Hunt, who may eventually be battling the Emelianenko brothers in DREAM. Hunt was submitted by Fedor via armbar at PRIDE Shockwave on New Year’s Eve 2006.


Video: Nick Serra, The Mad Monkey

MMA Mania reports that welterweight Nick “The Mad Monkey” Serra — Matt’s brother — will be competing on the undercard of EliteXC: Primetime (May 31st; Newark, NJ) against Matt Makowski, a 2-0 fighter who most recently submitted Joe Schilling at a ShoXC event in January. Serra has only competed professionally five times since his August 1999 debut at a “Vengeance at the Vanderbilt” event that also saw the pro debut of his brother, and has compiled a record of four wins (all by submission) and two losses (both by decision). Below are two of those wins: First, Serra’s 2003 fight with Rick McCoy where the Monkey took it to the ground early with a flying arm-triangle then did some Nate Diaz-style showboating en route to an eventual tapout; then, his most recent bout with Mike Varner last June at CFFC 5 – Two Worlds, One Cage.


Epic Fail: Hong Man Choi


A couple of weeks ago, we lamented the fact that Hong Man Choi’s mandatory army service would take him out of the fight game for three years. The good news is, he failed a physical and will be sent back home. According to the report (which is translated here):

Choi submitted medical records indicating that his pituitary adenoma may compress his optic nerve and cause visual problems. His condition was deemed problematic for basic training and was discharged. It is likely that he was determined to be unfit for the next three months.

Choi will likely get a re-examination in which case he will “re-start” his duties, get an exemption, or be sent home for yet another physical at a later date, depending on the results…

As of now, it is quite likely that Choi may get an exemption since he has a clear reason and has all the necessary documents. Also, it has been reported that his vision has been deteriorating since last year. In an interview with My Daily, Choi was quoted as saying “I couldn’t see the right hook when I fought Mighty Mo.”

Choi’s pituitary adenoma was revealed to the media in June of last year through the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) right before Dynamite! USA. The CSAC deemed Choi unfit to compete and refused to issue him a fighter’s license.

Hong Man Choi was quoted as saying “It has been a fun two days and everyone was nice to me. I’m sorry that this happened.”

Man, we thought stapling papers for three years in an Army office would be bad; this optic nerve thing might end HMC’s fight career for good. Besides the fact that he was rejected in California, K-1 may not allow him to continue to fight anywhere for their organization with his visual handicap now public knowledge. Thank God he has his rap career to fall back on. And hey, if Yao Ming ever needs a stunt double…


Monte Cox With Strong Words For Ken Pavia

Monte Cox and Fedor Emelianenko
(Guess which one of these men works on the business side of the fight game. Go on, guess.)

MMA supermanager Monte Cox has caught his share of flack recently. First, there was the whole M-1 Global debacle, and then the creation of Adrenaline MMA, which relied upon Cox signing the fighters he managed to the company he was heading up. The phrase “conflict of interest” comes to mind, but I digress.

Now, in a strange twist, Cox is taking aim at rival MMA agent Ken Pavia. In a recent interview on MMA Rated Radio he told Ariel Helwani that Pavia shouldn’t attempt to try his hand at promoting his own organization since he “struggles to be a manager.”

Ouch. But then it got personal:

“I’m taller than him as is most everybody (laughs)… He’s never developed a fighter in his life. You know, it is what it is. I mean, we’re completely different. You have two kinds of people: He calls himself an agent, which is probably right. I’m a manager; I take guys in the beginning of their career and develop them.”

You can’t help but wonder what’s going on under the surface here. Has “The Pav” run afoul of Monte in some way? Cox elaborates:

“Anyone can watch a UFC and pick out a guy who does well and say ‘man I should manage that guy.’ Well, that’s nice but what about the guy who’s been managing and handling that guy for the four years before he got there? In my business, we call those agents ‘poachers.’”

And there you have it. Monte Cox (in his own roundabout way) calls Ken Pavia a fighter poacher. So much anger in this business. So little love.

Props: Five Ounces of Pain


Gerald Harris Blogs ‘TUF 7′ for CagePotato!

(Harris [right] rocks Fabio Leopoldo during their IFL match last April.)

Gerald “Hurricane” Harris, who fought in the IFL (as a member of the Portland Wolfpack) and the Freestyle Cage Fighting organization before being chosen for The Ultimate Fighter: Team Rampage vs. Team Forrest, has agreed to be a super-special CagePotato guest blogger for the rest of this season of TUF. Tune in every Thursday morning as the Team Quest fighter and Tulsa, Oklahoma native gives his reactions to each new episode (Wednesdays, 10 p.m., SpikeTV). If you haven’t been keeping up, Gerald recaps the first four episodes below. Enjoy…


Surprise (Episode #1)

I‘ll start by saying that I was one of the “smart” ones who thought I was flying to Vegas to move into the house. In the past, people have had this privilege and thrown it away for a girlfriend, small injury, or because they couldn’t make weight. This year Dana White had a solution for that. He described those past cast members as “pussies and poseurs” — and I don’t fit either one of those names.

In the first episode, 16 fighters entered the UFC building with high-fives and hugs, only to be met by another 16 competitors in the gym. It was so quiet you could hear a flea fart. At first I told myself, “look at those 16 alternates,” until Dana announced that the 32 men standing in the gym would fight each other to get into the house. It didn’t really affect most fighters until he said we had to make weight in 24 hours and fight in 48. Some of the fighters had gained a lot of weight since we arrived the day before. I was lucky enough to only be six pounds over, along with many others. Also, I wrestled all my life — so cutting weight has never been a problem. Losing would have been devastating, because I came to the show with $67 in the bank and I planned on being the next Ultimate Fighter!

The day of elimination fights started off with a bang. Mike Dolce hit Prince McClean so hard he dropped as if he was hit with a taser. I felt bad for McClean, but Dolce is a fellow Team Quest member so I was rooting for him. In other action, Cale Yarbrough battled with Clark in a scramble-filled bout that was going well until Clark proved that his weight cutting had an effect on him. Yarbrough punished the extremely fatigued Clark with haymakers and wild kicks until the stoppage. With one UFC fight already under his belt, Steve Byrnes was seen as a guaranteed cast member. But in a back and forth match, he was eventually stopped with an armbar by Amir Sadollah, who had never had a pro fight.