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January, 2009

Helio Gracie Buried in Petropolis

Rolker Royce Gracie Helio funeral Brazil MMA BJJ jiu-jitsu
Rolker Royce Gracie Helio funeral Brazil MMA BJJ jiu-jitsu
(Rolker and Royce Gracie pay their last respects to their father. Photos courtesy of Sherdog.)

Less than 10 hours after he passed away at the Beficência Portuguesa Hospital after contracting pneumonia, Helio Gracie was laid to rest in a modest ceremony in Petropolis, Brazil, witnessed by about 70 relatives, close friends and students. As Sherdog writes:

Sons Royce and Rolker led the procession, a kilometer in length, from the chapel to the tomb where Gracie was buried. At the tomb, Royce asked for a round of applause for his father and placed a black belt over his coffin.

Speaking on behalf of Helio’s son Rickson Gracie, who was unable to reach Brazil in time for the funeral, Mario Aielo said:

“Thanks to this man, there are thousands of teachers around the world making a living from jiu-jitsu and thousands of fighters making a living from MMA. Without Helio Gracie, Rorion could not have brought Vale Tudo to the US and MMA would not exist, giving jobs to many fighters, promoters and managers and fun to millions of fans around the world.”
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Atenicio Denies Rumors That Affliction MMA Is Finished

Tom Atencio MMA Affliction
(Props: CombatLifestyle)

BloodyElbow kicked up a lot of dust last night when they published a rumor saying that Affliction was preparing to shut its doors as an MMA promotion, and might be trying to arrange a deal with Zuffa to cut some of their extensive losses. In response, Tom Atencio went on the Hardcore Sports Rage show (Sirius 98) to deny the reports, saying that Affliction’s MMA promotion still had the backing of Golden Boy Promotions, Donald Trump and M-1 Global:

"The rumors are just that, rumors, they’re not true, there’s no truth to it. People love to build you up, but they love to watch you fall even more and hopefully I’m not that guy. I’ve always maintained that I’ve taken the high road, I don’t talk shit about people."

The rumor apparently originated from an incident on the Tom Leykis Show, where someone called in claiming to be the Affliction VP. The real Tom Atencio denies he was on the show, and denies that Affliction is reaching out to the UFC for a parachute, though he wouldn’t speak about the details of the company’s financials. ("That’s like me coming in and asking you how much you make at your company," he said.) Atencio suggested that the UFC felt threatened by Affliction’s relationship with Fedor Emelianenko, and asked everyone to just please chill out:

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UFC 94 Afterparty…IN HELL!!!

Dana White MMA UFC afterparty LAX Hell Satan
(Props: UFC‘s e-mail newsletter)

If you’ll be in Las Vegas for tomorrow night’s fights, don’t forget to stop by LAX afterwards to party with Our Great Lord Satan. Special appearance by Heidi and Spencer!

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UFC 94 Danablog #4, + the Return of the Pick-em Contest

You know, it’s nice that even as hard as Dana White works he still finds time for a little fun, mainly by busting the balls of subordinates and playing office pranks on co-workers.  Whatever gets you through the day, right?  Although you can’t help but feel that Dana might not be as fun-loving were he on the business end of these pranks (remember the shock pen?).  But I guess that’s one advantage of being the boss.  The video blog cameraman aptly sums up his situation at the end of this installment, saying: “It’s like National Geographic.  They don’t stop the lions from eating the gazelles; they just film it.”

In other UFC 94 news, many of you have noticed that there’s no official Cage Potato Pick-em Contest for this event, mainly because we’ve been giving away so much stuff we’re pretty tapped at the moment.  That doesn’t mean you can’t still play for pride though, as the more enterprising among you have discovered.  

Head on over to our forums right now and enter your picks for a chance to win…a swift kick in the balls?  Dammit, you guys aren’t using our forums to try and turn this into one of your weirdo fetish sites again, are you?  Either way, best of luck to you all in the informal UFC 94 Pick-em Contest.

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Gambling Addiction Enabler: UFC 94


(‘Hope you got that camera turned on, ’cause I ain’t doing this shit again.’)

Looks like “running the rock” wasn’t enough to impress oddsmakers, as B.J. Penn is still the betting underdog just two days before UFC 94.  Maybe if we got the impression that the rock exercise was something he did every morning, rather than just once to show off for the cameras, things would be different.  

Today’s betting lines come from BestFightOdds.com, and they’re tighter than usual all across the board, with one exception.

Georges St. Pierre (-175) vs. BJ Penn (+166)
Lyoto Machida (-245) vs. Thiago Silva (+232)
Stephan Bonnar (-165) vs. Jon Jones (+156)
Karo Parisyan (-271) vs. Dong Hyun Kim (+260)
Nate Diaz (-117) vs. Clay Guida (+107)
Jon Fitch (-500) vs. Akihiro Gono (+450)
Chris Wilson (-295) vs. John Howard (+285)
Manvel Gamburyan (+116) vs. Thiago Tavares (-120)
Jake O’Brien (-240) vs. Christian Wellisch (+236)
Matt Arroyo (-170) vs. Dan Cramer (+161)

Thoughts…

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Videos: GSP vs. BJ in ‘Undisputed,’ Diaz and Guida Exchange Words + More


(Props: ‘Card’ on the UG)

Hey look, it’s another demo trailer for UFC Undisputed, which now has a 6/2/09 release date. I’m still not sold on the way faces look in this thing, particularly when Penn’s slapping himself in the mug or when Edith is blowing a kiss to the camera. But the gameplay looks solid, and we can only hope that the real action on Saturday night is as crazy as what we see here. Still, if this is all just a little too high-tech for you…


(Props: MMA Scraps)

…you may be interested in this remix of Georges St. Pierre‘s fight against Jay Hieron at UFC 48, done in the style of Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! Hieron’s brief loss of consciousness at the 1:06 mark is even more entertaining with 8-bit sound effects.

After the jump: Nate Diaz explains why he stormed out of the press conference after UFC Fight Night 15 — like everything he says, it makes a lot of sense — and he and Clay Guida discuss pace and height difference for their matchup on Saturday. Also, complete footage of yesterday’s UFC press conference at the MGM’s Hollywood Theatre in Las Vegas, featuring Georges St. Pierre, BJ Penn, Lyoto Machida, and Thiago Silva.

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Ben vs. Ben: UFC 94 Edition

Georges St. Pierre MMA UFC
(And his tailor’s better, too. Photo courtesy of GSPFightClub.com.)

Hello, and welcome to another installment of "Ben vs. Ben." With the OMFG GREATEST FIGHT IN HISTORY just two days away, we decided to sling some bullshit about the deciding factors in St. Pierre vs. Penn, the likely bonus-earners at UFC 94, and the legitimacy of Machida vs. Silva as a #1 contender match. And now we offer our humble thoughts…to you. Enjoy, and holla back in the comments section, ‘kay?

***

How and when will the B.J. Penn-Georges St. Pierre fight end?

BF: Whether you think Penn has been slacking during his training or not, the fact is that he doesn’t have the kind of talent around him that GSP does. Guys like Nate Marquardt, Donald Cerrone, Keith Jardine, etc. Name one training partner Penn has who is as good as any one of those guys. Like his brother said, Penn is the president of his own camp. That’s not a good place for a fighter in training, especially if the fighter in question has had some conditioning and motivation issues. He ought to be more like a Congressional aide, getting bossed around and possibly sexually harassed every single day.

This being a welterweight fight only hurts Penn more. Not because of the strength and size he’ll be giving up – he’s talented enough to compensate for that – but because it doesn’t absolutely force him to be in excellent shape like he was against Sean Sherk, and so he won’t be. He may be in very good shape, but that’s not enough to go five rounds with GSP.

Penn will start off winning this fight with his striking and takedown defense. But by the third round he’ll begin to slow down. St. Pierre will stay right on top of him, wearing him down mentally and physically, and by the fifth round he’ll be looking for a way out. GSP will grant it to him by holding him down and punching him in the face until the ref stops it at around the three-minute mark. Penn has never gone five rounds in a winning effort. He won’t start against St. Pierre.

BG: In a perfect world, BJ Penn would have a tune-up fight at welterweight before taking on Georges St. Pierre. After all, Penn hasn’t won a match as a 170-pounder since May 2004, and it would be helpful to test out the new weight at least once before putting his legacy on the line. I think your observation that the welterweight division doesn’t force BJ to show up in optimal shape is a good one. I also think GSP is two days away from the greatest performance of his life.

St. Pierre’s game-plan is a closely guarded secret, but you have to assume that he knows Penn is great with his hands, and he’ll be looking to avoid them early. I don’t think Penn wins the first round, or the next two. The fight will end late in the fourth — around the 4:24 mark, let’s say — with Penn fading and GSP turning on his reserve boosters. Yes, it’ll be a TKO due to strikes. St. Pierre has done the work in the gym and the hype hasn’t affected his emotions. There’s only one way this can end.

How worthy of a title shot is the winner of Machida/Silva?

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MacDonald/Quarry, Cane/Cantwell and More Added to UFC 97

Nate Quarry UFC MMA
(Nate Quarry [left] shows off the move that made him famous. Photo courtesy of CombatLifestyle.com.)
 
The UFC returns to Montreal on April 18th for UFC 97, headlined by the shrug-worthy title fight between Anderson Silva and Thales Leites, and the somewhat more compelling light-heavyweight battle between fading legends Chuck Liddell and Mauricio "Shogun" Rua. Here’s some of the supporting bouts that we’ll be seeing on the card…

Jason MacDonald vs. Nate Quarry (MW): MacDonald is coming off a first-round submission-via-strikes loss to Wilson Gouveia at last month’s TUF 8 finale, and hasn’t been able to put together two wins in a row since 2006. Quarry became Demian Maia‘s latest strangulation victim when he succumbed to a rear-naked choke at UFC 91 in November. The win-or-get-fired threat level on this one has been raised to Orange.

Luis Cane vs. Steve Cantwell (LHW): Though Cane was originally rumored to face Keith Jardine in his next fight, the Dean of Mean was booked to headline UFC 96 (March 7th, Columbus) instead. Cane will instead be taking on reigning WEC light-heavyweight champ Steve Cantwell, who famously snapped Razak Al-Hassan’s arm at last month’s "UFC Fight for the Troops," then gloated about it afterwards. Cane is coming off of impressive TKO victories over Jason Lambert and Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou, while Cantwell is on a four-fight win streak, dating back to his time in the WEC.

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BJJ Co-Founder Helio Gracie, 95, Passes Away in Rio


(Rest in peace.)

Sad, sad news for students and fans of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. From IntheGuard.tv:

Legendary master Helio Gracie died at age of 95 years old this morning, January 01/29, at his home in the mountain region of Rio de Janeiro. In preliminary information, Master Helio had not been well for the past two days and likely passed with complications from a general infection, as we were informed by an acquaintance close to the family members. The burial of the man responsible for the creation of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu is scheduled for 5:00 PM today in the Petropolis cemetery.

According to Tatame, the funeral may be postponed, as Helio’s sons Rickson, Royler, and Rorion were out of the country when he died. In addition to those three, Helio is survived by his wife Vera, his sons Relson, Rolker, Royce, and Robin, his daughters Rherica and Ricci, and an army of grandchildren, nephews, and niecesAccording to GracieMag, Helio’s last words were "I created a flag from the sport’s dignity. I oversee the name of my family with affection and nerves of blood." Wow.

Born October 1st, 1913, Helio and his older brother Carlos developed Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu circa 1929-1930, refining the techniques of their judo instructor Otávio Mitsuyo Maeda so that smaller fighters would be able to overcome larger ones through leverage. In 1932, Helio began competing in challenge matches, in which the Gracies would take on fighters of all styles to prove that their jiu-jitsu was the most superior method of ending a fight. These "vale tudo" (everything allowed) contests were popularized in the U.S. decades later when Helio’s son Rorion co-founded the Ultimate Fighting Championship, selecting his brother Royce as the representative of their art. Today, knowledge of BJJ is generally thought of as a requirement for competing as a mixed martial artist. A moment of silence for one of the sport’s true godfathers…

Related: The Top Ten Gracies of All Time

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Faking Or Not, Jamie Varner Was Pretty Effed Up

Jamie Varner WEC MMA
(F*ckin’ boo him.)

WEC lightweight champ Jamie Varner may have won a grueling title defense against Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone on Sunday — but between his injuries, the fan reaction, and his bank account, he isn’t exactly feeling like a winner right now. During an appearance on Sherdog’s "Beatdown" radio show yesterday, Varner rattled off the laundry list of ouchies that he left the cage with last weekend:

"I broke my right index metacarpal, completely fractured. So I have to get pins put in it tomorrow (Thursday). Then I go next week to see my eye doctor to make sure my retina isn’t detached. And if it’s detached it could be a career-ending injury…I broke my hand in the first or second round. I don’t know exactly where. I remember one time in the fourth round that I just couldn’t hit him with it. I told my corner that I couldn’t use it anymore…He checked one of my kicks early in the fight and that’s where I fractured my foot. Then I kicked him in the head with it in the fourth and that was it. My foot was completely done. So I walked out for the fifth round with one hand and some takedowns…I knew the fifth round was going to be boring. I couldn’t offer anything really damaging."

During that fifth round, Cerrone was able to score his first takedown of the night, then kneed Varner in the face when the champ was trying to get up. Varner’s knees — just barely — were touching the mat. Referee Josh Rosenthal halted the action and called the illegal blow unintentional, but Varner couldn’t continue, claiming that he couldn’t see. The fight went to the scorecards, and the crowd erupted in boos. Needless to say, the idea that some fans think Varner faked his injury to get out of finishing the last couple minutes of the fight doesn’t sit well with him:

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