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February, 2013

Vitor Belfort vs. Luke Rockhold to Serve as Headliner for [UPDATED] UFC on FX 8 In Brazil


(Image via CombatLifestyle)

Fight bookings continue to dominate the MMA headlines, Potato Nation. Fortunately for us, it looks like 2013 will be a year where at least half of these announced fights actually make it to the cards they were originally intended to be on.

Although the matchup was hinted at a few weeks ago, both Vitor Belfort and Luke Rockhold vehemently denied that a bout between them was anywhere near a done deal. In fact, the final Strikeforce middleweight champ even went as far as to call out Costa Philippou for his promotional debut, a move that seems like a classic bait and switch in hindsight. In either case, it has been announced that Belfort and Rockhold will indeed be facing off next at a yet-to-be-named event in Brazil, go figure.

Belfort is fresh off a second round destruction of Michael Bisping at UFC on FX 7 that was first attributed to an omniscient higher power but later revealed to be at least partially influenced by the highest power of them all (other than bath salts, of course): testosterone. Rockhold, on the other hand, was scheduled to face Lorenz Larkin at Strikeforce’s once-named Champions event last month, but was forced to pull out from the fight with a wrist injury. Or as Lorenz would call it, a “wrist injury.”

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The IOC Is Stupid, And So Is HandBall: 10 Olympic Sports to Drop Instead of Wrestling

As you all no doubt have heard, the International Olympic Committee has decreed that wrestling is no longer worthy of a place in the Summer Games, in order to make way for other, more lucrative events. I tell you now that this decision is the worst kind of folly, made for the worst reasons possible. I won’t rail about the corruption in the IOC, or the nepotism and naked commercialism that seems to hold sway in any of their decisions. I will point out that kicking wrestling out of the Olympics does seem rather…historically disconnected.

On the other hand, it’s possible that this is only a con from the IOC in order to drum up support (read: money) to get wrestling back into the Olympic arena where it belongs.

In any case, here is a list of ten sports that should be rightly removed from the Games, even if we weren’t talking about making room for an original Olympic event. Let’s just cut all this extra fat, and strip the Olympics down to the more raw athletic events. (And gymnastics. You have to keep gymnastics.)

The Modern Pentathlon

This was the ass-backwards event that everyone with a brain in their head assumed would get the axe, for two reasons. First, it’s an oddball series of activities based on an archaic skill set — cavalry officers still ride horses? — that is no longer relevant. Second, it’s redundant: Take this away, and athletes could still do the triathlon. Or the decathlon. Or just, you know, pick an event instead of being a scatterbrained dipshit.

Table Tennis

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Cain Velasquez vs. Bigfoot Silva Rematch, Dos Santos vs. Overeem Set for UFC 160 in May


(But other than that, how was the fight, Antonio? / Photo via Getty Images)

As first reported by a “random Irish person” and officially confirmed last night on UFC Tonight, Cain Velasquez will defend his heavyweight title at UFC 160 (May 25th, Las Vegas) in a rematch against Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva, just one year after Velasquez tore Silva apart at UFC 146. Though Bigfoot is coming off back-to-back stoppages of Travis Browne and Alistair Overeem, the news still comes as a bit of a surprise; even Bigfoot’s management felt that he should win a couple more fights before testing his fate against Cain Velasquez again.

Unfortunately, there aren’t many better options in the heavyweight division right now. Velasquez won’t fight his teammate Daniel Cormier, and the rest of the UFC’s heavyweight contenders either have their next fight booked already, or lack the kind of hype that Bigfoot currently carries after his comeback win over The Reem. And what are you going to do, have your champion sit out until a totally legitimate contender emerges? Come on. That’s not how you run a business.

So will Velasquez smash Antonio Silva for the second time, or should we start preparing for “The Bigfoot Era”? (Step one: Stock up on canned goods. Step two: Limber up.) In other UFC 160 heavyweight booking news…

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Diego Brandao vs. Pablo Garza Joins ‘UFC on FUEL 9′ Along With Two Other Fights


(Only Brandao can make a mouthful of Tropical Skittles seem so Goddamn intimidating. Photo via MMAWeekly.) 

A plethora of fights have recently been announced for the UFC’s return to Sweden on April 6th, starting with a featherweight scrap that is all but guaranteed to deliver some high-level thrills. Since winning the TUF 14 plaque back in December of 2011 following a dominant run on the show, Diego Brandao has gone just 1-1 in the UFC, dropping a unanimous decision to Darren Elkins in his sophomore appearance at UFC 146 before scoring a UD win of his own over Joey Gambino at UFC 153. For his next appearance, the 5’7″ Brazilian will be forced to somehow negate the distance created by 6’1″ Pablo Garza, who recently bounced back from a two-fight losing streak (including a UD loss to TUF 14 runner-up Dennis Bermudez) by retiring Mark Hominick at UFC 154. 

These subtle Cake references doing anything for you guys? OK, I’ll stop.

Although Garza hinted at a drop to 135 following his win over Hominick, it appears as if he will be looking to build a little momentum at featherweight before doing so. That, or Garza came to realization that he already resembles Brian Robeson at the end of Hatchet come fight night and dropping another ten pounds would likely kill him.

Also on par for UFC on FUEL 9 is a lightweight pairing between Reza Madadi (1-1 UFC) and TUF 12 runner-up Michael Johnson (4-3 UFC), both of whom are coming off losses at UFC 153 and UFC 155, respectively. Middleweights Tom Lawlor and Michael Kuiper will also meet at the event. Lawlor most recently dropped a controversial decision (controversial meaning “bullshit” in this case) to the highly-touted Francis Carmont at UFC 154, whereas Kuiper last scored a second round TKO over Jared Hamman at UFC 150. 

The full lineup for UFC on FUEL 9 is after the jump.

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Meanwhile, In Boxing: Former NFL Defensive End Ray Edwards Scores The Phantomest of Phantom Punch KO’s [VIDEO]


(Your move, Sonny Corleone.)

I have seen some incredible flops in my day, Potato Nation. I’ve watched nearly 1000 hours of World Cup soccer, I spent two summers in the 90′s at the Vlade Divac School of Basketball, and I even made it through the first 40 minutes of Cloud Atlas before I faked a stroke to get out of that God forsaken theater. But believe me when I say that nothing, nothing I’ve come across compares to the flop that took place during former Atlanta Falcons defensive end Ray Edwards’ most recent boxing match.

Edwards — who was released by the Falcons in November — was actually competing in his third professional boxing match last Saturday. But like Kimbo Slice and more notably Aleksander Emelianenko before him, the opponents being put before Edwards all seem to be suffering from various degrees of sudden onset narcolepsy. Here’s a video of Edwards’ second fight against Corey Briggs, a man I can only assume has since lost at least a foot to diabetes. And if you think that looked fishy, just wait until you see his most recent farce.

Video after the jump. 

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Invicta FC 5 Announced With Two Title Fights, Zoila Gurgel and Sarah Kaufman’s Debuts, And the Return of Bec Hyatt and Veronica Rothenhausler


(Thai glamour shot via Michelle Waterson’s Facebook page.)

Not that we don’t appreciate the UFC’s generous one-female-fight-every-couple-months schedule, but in terms of competitive matchups and depth of talent, Invicta FC is still the premiere promotion for women’s MMA. And as long as they can avoid more technical foul-ups this time, Invicta’s fifth card looks like a real corker.

As announced yesterday via press-release, Invicta FC 5 will go down Friday, April 5th at the Ameristar Casino Hotel in Kansas City, Missouri, featuring two title fights and 12 more bouts featuring a deep roster of well-known contenders. Check out some of the matchup highlights below, and the full event lineup at the end of this post…

Jessica Penne (10-1) vs. Michelle Waterson (10-3), for atomweight championship: Penne won Invicta’s inaugural 105-pound title last October at Invicta 3 with her submission victory over Naho Sugiyama. The Karate Hottie won her Invicta debut at the same event, defeating Lacey Schuckman by split-decision and increasing her total win streak to four.

Barb Honchak (7-2) vs. Vanessa Porto (13-5), for inaugural flyweight championship: Honchak is on a roll with six straight wins — including a decision over Felice Herrig and a submission of Roxanne Modafferi — and has gone 2-0 under the Invicta banner. Porto is coming off her decision win over Tara LaRosa at Invicta FC 3, which followed a loss to Sarah D’Alelio.

Zoila Frausto Gurgel (12-2) vs. Jennifer Maia (6-2): With her Bellator career now in the rear-view mirror, Zoila Gurgel will make her Invicta FC debut in a flyweight bout against Chute Boxe-bred newcomer Jennifer Maia.

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Gather Your Torches and Pitchforks: Wrestling Dropped as an Olympic Sport in 2020 Games


(Jordan Burroughs defeats Sadegh Saeed Goudarzi of Iran to become the 2012 Olympic champion at 74 kilos.)

In an utterly baffling move, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has decided to drop the sport of wrestling, a.k.a the reason the Olympics even exist, as of the 2020 games. The Associated Press reports:

The IOC program commission report analyzed more than three dozen criteria, including television ratings, ticket sales, anti-doping policy and global participation and popularity. With no official rankings or recommendations contained in the report, the final decision by the 15-member board was also subject to political, emotional and sentimental factors. 

The IOC, however, did decide in its infinite wisdom to keep the modern pentathlon, a sport which combines pistol shooting, fencing, riding a horse and some other crap. Forgive my facetiousness, but I fail to see how a sport that managed to bring in athletes from just 26 different countries last year has somehow been deemed more important than one that brought in athletes from 71. And oh yeah, golf will be added as an Olympic sport in 2016.

Yup. Golf.

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CagePotato Databomb #6: Breaking Down the UFC Bantamweights by Striking Performance


(Click chart for full-size versionFor previous Databombs, click here.)

By Reed Kuhn, @Fightnomics

It’s almost time for the interim bantamweight championship fight between Renan Barao and Michael McDonald. But first, let’s examine the whole UFC bantamweight division in several key striking metrics. As one of the youngest divisions with quite a few newcomers, there were several chart busters who have performed either really well in a certain metric, or in Mike Easton’s case, really poorly, so those outliers are noted. Usually those fighters will regress towards the mean, but they’re worth keeping an eye on. A full explanation of the chart and variables is included at the end of this post.

As a group, the 135’ers are the hardest to hit, as illustrated by their lowest power head striking accuracy of any UFC division. But they manage to maintain a high pace of action, with the second-highest significant strike attempts per minute average. (Flyweights have the highest.) So which fighters get the awards in this frenzied group?

The Winners

Sniper Award: Rangy southpaw Alex Caceres leads the division with 48% power head striking accuracy. Though he has yet to score a knockdown in the UFC, the Bruce Lee superfan has definitely put on entertaining fights including sharp striking, rapid pace, and some very retro body suits.

Energizer Bunny Award: Johnny Bedford has been outstriking his UFC opponents more than 2:1 on his way to two finishes. Bedford’s size has been an advantage for him in one of the smallest weight classes, and we’ll see if he can continue his streak.

Biggest Ball(s) Award: In addition to outworking his opponents, double award winner Johnny Bedford is 2-0 in the UFC with two knockout finishes. But an honorable mention also goes to knockout machine Michael “Mayday” McDonald, who has landed four knockdowns during his 5-0 streak with Zuffa. McDonald gets his biggest test yet against higher volume striker and interim champ Renan Barao, in an interesting contrast of power and finesse.

The Losers

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John Moraga (Yes, THE John Moraga) to Face Demetrious Johnson Next at the TUF 17 Finale in April


(Aaaannndd in the blue corner, fighting out of…uh…parts unknown, and sporting a professional record of…*cough*teen and one…Juan Mordana!) 

Right now, the UFC’s flyweight division consists of less fighters than there are students in the average Introduction to Genetics and Evolution class at Kentucky Mountain Bible College. And while this doesn’t exactly provide fans with a plethora of matchups to get excited about, it does provide several of the division’s fighters with a short path to a title shot. Take John Moraga, for instance, the flyweight fighter sporting a 2-0 UFC record who was announced earlier today as the next challenger to Demetrious Johnson’s throne. Moraga will be given a chance to shock the world in the main event of the upcoming TUF 17 Finale, which transpires from the Hard Rock Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada on April 13th.

To be fair, Moraga has about as impressive a two fight (UFC) win streak as you can have, especially given the size of the pond he is swimming in. After knocking out the highly-touted former Tachi Palace Fights champion, Ulysses Gomez, in his promotional debut, Morega scored a third round come-from-behind submission victory over experienced octagon vet Chris Cariaso at UFC 155. In fact, the only loss you’d find on the 14 fight record of Moraga dates back to December of 2010 and came, ironically enough, to the last man that was defeated by “Mighty Mouse,” John Dodson. Like we said, it’s a(n appropriately) small pond.

So this is a bit of an odd pairing, sure, but if Moraga’s debut performance was any indication, the dude can trade with the best of them and has some devastating KO power to boot. But as was the case with Dodson, this fight won’t be a question of when Moraga lands, but if he can land when dealing with the inhuman speed of Johnson.

Also scheduled for the TUF 17 Finale…

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Chad Mendes to Face Clay Guida at UFC on FOX 7, Following Manny Gamburyan Fight Cancellation


(If only he used his moustache powers for good. Photo via Tracy Lee/Yahoo!)

With his UFC 157 appearance up in smoke due to an injury withdrawal by Manny Gamburyan, featherweight contender Chad Mendes has been officially removed from the February 23rd card, and was just given a new match at UFC on FOX 7: Henderson vs. Melendez (April 20th, San Jose). Mendes, who is coming off back-to-back knockout victories in what could charitably be called “rebound fights,” will face Clay Guida, who is coming off a questionable split-decision victory in his featherweight debut against Hatsu Hioki, which followed his Worst Fight of the Year runner-up against Gray Maynard.

For Mendes, the matchup represents a return to tough competition that’s long overdue. For Clay, it’s another opportunity to bounce around the Octagon between takedowns and long stretches of top-control. (I’m just saying, remember the beast-version of Clay Guida who put in legendary battles against Roger Huerta and Diego Sanchez? Well, he got tired of losing fights and changed his strategy a bit. It is what it is.)

In addition to the headlining lightweight title fight, UFC on FOX 7 will feature Daniel Cormier vs. Frank Mir, Nate Diaz vs. Josh Thomson, and Dan Hardy vs. Matt Brown.

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