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Iggy Azalea is sexy (46 pics)

December, 2012

The Travel Chronicles, Part 4: California Inspiration


(Photos courtesy of the author. If you missed the first three installments of The Travel Chronicles, click here to catch up.)

By Elias Cepeda

After any failure one natural inclination is to enter a depressive state. Another is to get on to the next thing you can take action on as quickly as possible, replacing success for failure, joy for disappointment, in order to stave off depression.

I’d just gotten my ass kicked in Canada. I very badly wanted to instantly transport to LA and Vegas where fun, work, and training awaited me. Instead, I had a long, sleepless night and ten hours of layover-ridden air travel ahead of me.

I could only be so active during that time. Mostly, I sat and thought. My cell phone was not working well up north and so I didn’t even have text messaging and phone calls to distract me. As I write this, it has been nearly four months since my fight in Canada and I have yet to watch tape of it even once.

I have, however, seen the fight, what I can remember of it, over and over in my head enough to satisfy me for some time. Most of that replay happened at the airports I arrived at, waited in, and departed from over and over that day after the fight.

I arrived in Las Vegas after 11 p.m. on Friday. The initial idea was to get a rental car and drive straight away to Los Angeles where I’d be staying with my friend Dave Doyle. Perhaps more than any other major media editor or writer over the past decade, Dave has been a major driving force in getting MMA covered in the mainstream. When he was at Fox Sports, Dave got his bosses to let him cover MMA, a true coup for the sport. He also got the Associated Press involved, doing great coverage for them and later, as an editor of the MMA and boxing sections at Yahoo! Sports, built the largest and most widely read combat sports pages in the English speaking world.

Dave now writes for MMA Fighting. Lucky for me, his smarts extend beyond the reporting and writing realm and he gave me some useful advice on my plan to drive from Vegas to LA through the night after a whole day of traveling. “You can come here any time you want, Elias, that’s fine. But if you try to make that drive as tired as you will be, you’ll probably die in the desert.”

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Ask and Ye Shall Receive: MacDonald vs. Condit II Set for UFC 158, GSP vs. Diaz on the Horizon


(“Perfect, Rory, now we can finally finish our conversation about Huey Lewis and the News that you are always going on about.”) 

Rory MacDonald has the kind of lifeless, black eyes that would make Dr. Sam Loomis shiver at night. For an example of this, see his post-fight call-out of Carlos Condit at UFC on FOX 5, in which he delivered a speech so precise and monotone that it begged audiences to ask whether or not he had practiced it over and over and over again on the collection of flesh-covered marionettes he keeps locked in that one room in his house with a deadbolt on the door.

Obviously shaken up by MacDonald’s speech was that of Dana White, who, fearing he would end up as a bald cap on one of those marionettes, caved into Rory’s demands faster than the French in insert war of your choice here. So just five days out from his dominant win over B.J. Penn, MacDonald has already been booked to rematch the ironically-nicknamed “Natural Born Killer” in Condit at UFC 158 in Montreal. The man responsible for both MacDonald’s only professional loss and the shrine of hair and blood samples that looms over the Canadian’s fireplace, Condit is fresh off a title-losing bid to Georges St. Pierre at UFC 154. Condit and MacDonald first met at UFC 115, where despite stealing the first two rounds, “Ares” found himself eating elbow sammiches for the majority of the third until referee Kevin Dornan called a stop to the bout with just seven seconds remaining. It is no coincidence that Kevin Dornan has been missing ever since.

And speaking of people getting exactly what they wanted, it looks like GSP will likely be defending his title against rival Nick Diaz at the same event, although according to Dana White, the “deal isn’t done yet.” Diaz’s manager, Cesar Gracie, confirmed that the former Strikeforce welterweight champion has been offered the bout, but if you ask us, we’d recommend that you save your excitement for the moment these two are actually staring at each other from across the cage. Celebrating before that is simply setting yourself up for disappointment.

In other fight booking news…

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If You Have a Thousand Bucks to Spare, You Can Share a Meal With Rich Franklin


(“Look, I’m an escort not a hooker. I’m just here for good food and good company, and whatever happens later…well, it happens. You’re not a cop, right?“)

I can’t tell if this is a better or worse deal than talking to Ken Shamrock on the phone for $11.99 a minute. A “sports fan experience” company called Thuzio is now selling personal interactions with former UFC middleweight champion Rich Franklin. Leading off their menu of services

“Lunch or Dinner: $1,000
Invite Rich to join you and your guests for lunch or dinner. You choose the restaurant and you choose what you want to talk about. Ask Rich questions about his career as a professional mixed martial artist. (Up to 2 hours)”

Man, I really want to start a Kickstarter account just so I can take Rich to Arby’s and talk about Anderson Silva‘s career for two hours. Does that make me a terrible person? I don’t know. But if I’m shelling out a friggin’ thousand bucks, I want to make sure my guest of honor is having as bad a time as possible.

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Wanderlei Silva vs. Brian Stann Confirmed for ‘UFC on FUEL 8′ Headliner, Diego Sanchez Returns to Lightweight vs. Takanori Gomi


(“Yeah, I have a question for the group: Is anybody *not* getting too old for this shit?” / Photo via Sherdog)

A pair of former PRIDE champions will be anchoring the UFC’s return to Japan. As confirmed by the promotion yesterday, UFC on FUEL 8 is slated for Sunday, March 3rd, at the Saitama Super Arena, with Wanderlei Silva vs. Brian Stann booked for the main event. [Update: The fight will take place at light-heavyweight.] Both men are coming off of decision losses, with Silva dropping his rematch to Rich Franklin at UFC 147 in June, and Stann losing to Michael Bisping in September.

Though Silva probably has little recollection of the last time he competed in Saitama, the Axe Murderer became an MMA superstar in Japan, where he went undefeated through his first 20 fights in PRIDE and held the middleweight title for over five years. But his current stint in the UFC — where he’s won just three of eight fights since 2007 — has suggested that Silva is nearing the end of the road, and his next bad loss could be his last. Can he come up with another heroic effort against the All American?

Speaking of PRIDE legends, longtime lightweight champ Takanori Gomi will be welcoming Diego Sanchez back to the lightweight division at UFC on FUEL 8. Gomi has won his last two UFC fights against Eiji Mitsuoka and Mac Danzig, while Sanchez is coming off a decision defeat against Jake Ellenberger in February. Sanchez hasn’t competed at 155 pounds since being utterly shredded by BJ Penn during their lightweight title fight three years ago.

Pretty damn good for a free card, right? Keep in mind that the event will also feature the heavyweight battle between Mark Hunt and Stefan Struve, plus the following newly-announced supporting bouts…

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UFC on FOX 5 Salaries: Ben Henderson Needs to Hire Mauricio Rua’s Agent, Like, Pronto


(I had to downgrade from my platinum toothpick for this shit?!) 

The UFC recently released the figures for UFC on FOX 5, and suffice it to say, it pays much better to be a fading legend than it does a rising star, or a lightweight champion for that matter (Author’s note: I guess Bisping was right after all *dials revolver*). Check out the full list of figures below, then get our thoughts on the matter after the jump.

Benson Henderson: $78,000 (includes $39,000 win bonus)
def. Nate Diaz: $50,000

Alexander Gustafsson: $60,000 (includes $30,000 win bonus)
def. Mauricio Rua: $175,000

Rory MacDonald: $42,000 (includes $21,000 win bonus)
def. B.J. Penn: $150,000

Matt Brown: $54,000 (includes $27,000 win bonus)
def. Mike Swick: $48,000

Yves Edwards: $32,000 (includes $16,000 win bonus)
def. Jeremy Stephens: $24,000

Raphael Assuncao: $38,000 (includes $19,000 win bonus)
def. Mike Easton: $14,000

Ramsey Nijem: $20,000 (includes $10,000 win bonus)
def. Joe Proctor: $8,000

Daron Cruickshank: $16,000 (includes $8,000 win bonus)
def. Henry Martinez: $8,000

Abel Trujillo: $12,000 (includes $6,000 win bonus)
def. Marcus LeVesseur: $8,000

Dennis Siver: $62,000 (includes $31,000 win bonus)
def. Nam Phan: $10,000

Scott Jorgensen: $41,000 (includes $20,500 win bonus)
def. John Albert: $10,000

Thoughts…

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‘UFC on FOX 5′ Ratings Update: Henderson vs. Diaz Was the Ninth Most Watched MMA Fight of All Time in the U.S.; Kimbo Still Reigns Supreme


(Well, you can’t say he didn’t warn you. / Photo courtesy of Getty Images. Click for full-size version.)

According to a Yahoo! Sports report, Saturday’s UFC on FOX 5 broadcast averaged 4.4 million viewers, with viewership climbing steadily through the night until it peaked at a hearty 5.7 million sets of eyeballs for the main event of Benson Henderson vs. Nate Diaz.

Although total viewership still fell short of the first two UFC on FOX offerings, the 4.4 million average for “Henderson vs. Diaz” nearly doubled the audiences of the last two FOX broadcasts, which both averaged just 2.4 million viewers apiece. More importantly, “Henderson vs. Diaz” was television’s most-watched broadcast on Saturday night among males 18-34, males 18-49, adults 18-34, and adults 18-49. As Dana White told Yahoo!: “We just killed it. We killed it in every demo.”

The ratings performance was also enough to clinch Henderson vs. Diaz as the ninth most-watched MMA fight of all time in the United States. Four years ago, the top ten list was dominated by Kimbo Slice — and not much has changed since then. Here’s Dave Meltzer with an update on MMAFighting.com (number rankings added for clarity):

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Quote of the Day: TUF 16 Finalist Mike Ricci Wanted to Sue the Show “For Psychological Damages”

*Super Friends announcer voice* MEANWHILE, IN THE DINING ROOM…

If you thought watching the sixteenth season of The Ultimate Fighter was hell, just wait until you hear how bad it was to be one of the show’s participants, and a winning one at that. As finalist Mike Ricci will tell you, TUF 16 wasn’t exactly Dancing With the Stars, where everyone got to take their perfect-bodied Ukranian supermodel partner home and have their way with them (although to be fair, the above video makes the case that there certainly was a lot of banging going on). No, TUF was much, much uglier. In fact, during a recent appearance on The MMA Hour, Ricci admitted that he hated his time on the show so much — despite being a finalist, mind you — that he wished he could sue the show for the “psychological damages” he suffered:

It was an absolute nightmare, I wanted to sue for psychological damage, I wasn’t the same person. I actually thought I had a case, ‘I’m not the same person, I can do this and win.’ But, I felt like don’t get me wrong, I knew what I was getting into I knew how I was going to react. Even some of the producers in the house toward the end were like, ‘Geez, you’re the most institutionalized fighter we’ve ever seen, we’ve done 11 seasons and we’ve never seen anyone like you, you’re like a robot now. 

Much more from this interview is after the jump.

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Hot Fighter Alert: NFL Cheerleader Turned MMA Prospect Rachel Wray


(Image via Rachel’s Facebook page. Click for full-size version.)

Rachel Wray‘s unlikely transition from NFL eye-candy to aspiring cage-fighter started with a fateful trip to a boxing gym. As she explained to KCMMA:

I have been a cheerleader or dancer my whole life and I moved [to Kansas City] from Arkansas to cheer for the Kansas City Chiefs. I started working out at Title Boxing Club with some of the girls for an alternative workout. I really enjoyed it and started taking private lessons after a little while. One day, I came in and they wanted me to spar. I was nervous about someone actually punching me in the face, but I did it.

I was absolutely horrible. This drove me to want it even more. I knew I had to make a choice between fighting and cheerleading. I chose fighting. I trained harder and took more private lessons. In the same shopping center was [Jason High and LC Davis's gym] HDMMA and I wandered in there to see what was going on. Everyone was so nice and just not what I expected from a MMA gym. So, I started training there too. One thing led to another, and now I feel comfortable enough to compete in the cage…I hope to fight 4-5 times over the next year.”

Though Rachel’s last scheduled match didn’t take place due to her opponent not showing up — gotta love regional MMA! — she won her amateur debut by second-round TKO. (You can watch it here and here.) Rachel’s next fight is slated for January 25th at Harrah’s Casino in Kansas City, against an opponent to be named later.

Get to know Rachel better by checking out her photo gallery after the jump, as well as our short-’n'-sweet interview with the lady herself…

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Knockout of the Day: Justin Scoggins Hook Kicks His Way to a Flyweight Title


(Props: ZombieProphet/OneStopMMASpot. Skip to 32:50 for the stoppage.)

For some reason, Sherdog has yet to update their fighter databases with the results from the Invasion 12/7/12 card that saw Charles Bennett get choked out by Ronnie Rogers, hence why we were unaware of all the fantastic action that unfolded on said card. Thankfully, our buddies over at MiddleEasy were able to secure a video of the evening’s most impressive stoppage, which took place just one fight before “Krazy Horse” was turned into glue. In a flyweight title fight, undefeated 20-year old phenom Justin “Tank” Scoggins squared off against Jacob Hebesison, and based on the title of this post, you can probably imagine how it ended.

But what you probably couldn’t predict is that the kick would stir up such a reaction in the crowd that random fans would start stripping down for no apparent reason shortly after it landed (33:25). Combine that with the fact that the kick made one commentator’s voice jump up about 5 octaves when attempting to describe it and you’ve got yourself one fantastic knockout right there.

Not since Shannon Ritch vs. John Wood have we seen such an effective use of “Sweet Chin Music” in MMA, but where does it stack up on your KO of the year lists, Potato Nation?

-J. Jones

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And Now He’s Retired: Mark Hominick, Canadian Hero and King of the Post-Fight Push-Up


(Photo courtesy of Sherdog)

After over ten years as a professional mixed martial artist, UFC/WEC veteran Mark “The Machine” Hominick has retired from the sport, with a career record of 20-12. The news was announced by Hominick himself on yesterday’s edition of UFC Tonight (which is co-anchored by Leeann Tweeden now? Huh.) As Hominick explained:

I have a young daughter, I have another daughter on the way, and I think that’s the next phase of my life, to put focus into that. Moving forward, I’m always going to be involved in this sport, this is my passion, this is what fuels me, but I think…I haven’t been able to make the same kind of sacrifices that got me to the title fight with Aldo, and I think it’s more important for me to focus on that, and again, moving on with my life as a part of mixed martial arts from the outside, I guess.”

An Ontario native and disciple of the late trainer Shawn Tompkins, Hominick first built his name in the Canadian organizations UCC and TKO, holding titles for both promotions, and earning nine victories, all by stoppage. In March 2006, Hominick was called up to the UFC for its “USA vs. Canada” card, and did his country proud by submitting Yves Edwards by triangle-armbar in the opening fight of the pay-per-view broadcast. Though a natural featherweight, Hominick won his next lightweight match in the UFC as well, out-pointing Jorge Gurgel at Ultimate Fight Night 5.

Hominick then returned to the 145-pound division and spent the next four years competing for TKO, Affliction, and the WEC — as usual, making it a point to fire off a set of push-ups in the center of the ring immediately following every match in which he wasn’t choked out or knocked cold. For an otherwise soft-spoken, non-descript-looking Canadian dude, it was Hominick’s most dramatic statement of identity, a non-verbal way of telling his opponent and the crowd that he could do this all night if he had to.

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